Marcelo Bielsa's verdict on Premier League officiating after latest Leeds United VAR incident

The Whites have been involved in a number of incidents with VAR this season.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 9:49 am

Marcelo Bielsa has insisted Premier League referees are ‘very good’ following Leeds United’s latest run-in with video technology.

The Whites claimed a memorable 2-1 victory over champions-elect Manchester City last weekend after playing the whole second half with just 10 men.

Club captain Liam Cooper was handed his marching orders for a high follow-through on opposition striker Gabriel Jesus in stoppage time at the end of the first half.

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Referee Andre Marriner initially deemed the challenge worthy of a yellow card before upgrading it to red upon review at the touchline monitor.

The decision caused debate among supporters with Leeds also seeing Raheem Sterling going unpunished for a late challenge on winger Raphinha while Fernandinho only received a yellow for a cynical foul on the Brazilian in added time.

Leeds have endured a number of incidents with VAR (video assistant referee) throughout their first campaign in the Premier League since its introduction.

Patrick Bamford saw two goals chalked off for marginal offside decisions at Crystal Palace and Wolves due to the use of technology.

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa at Manchester City. Pic: Getty

Tyler Roberts also had his strike at West Ham ruled out as did Luke Ayling at Fulham just last month.

VAR, though, has also helped the Whites this season on a number of occasions.

Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe was sent off for a headbutt on Gjanni Alioski after it was missed on-pitch while Cooper and Diego Llorente have both seen the award of penalties against them overturned.

Mateusz Klich benefited in December after Hammers goalkeeper Lukas Fabianski was deemed to have left his line early to save his penalty before he found the back of the net at the second attempt.

Bielsa - who admitted earlier this year that VAR can ‘confuse’ players - believes that officiating in the top flight is of a good standard amid increased scrutiny on match officials and their use of technology from across the game.

“I consider the English referee in [a] positive and valuable [light],” Bielsa said.

“VAR is a resource that can end the doubts over a decision. With this in mind, where the decision [Liam Cooper’s red card] was made with the justification of VAR, my opinion is null.

“Because the referees are specialists and this tool of VAR helps them make their decision.”

He added: “I think the English referees are very good. VAR allows the margin of error to be reduced. I always think the referees have arguments to sustain their decisions.”