The surprise number of points Newcastle United could have without VAR in the Premier League this season

VAR took centre stage again for Newcastle United and the Premier League over the weekend.

A series of controversial decisions made by referees and VAR saw Premier League officiating come under serious scrutiny.

The Magpies were disallowed what would have been a potential winner in their goalless draw against Crystal Palace as Tyrick Mitchell turned the ball into his own net after pushing Joe Willock into goalkeeper Vicente Guaita. But a VAR check deemed that Willock had fouled the Palace goalkeeper, much to the dissatisfaction of the Newcastle players, bench and supporters in the ground – not to mention the likes of club legend Alan Shearer, who branded the call ‘pathetic’.

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Newcastle haven’t won a Premier League match since their opening day win against Nottingham Forest. Yet every match since has been impacted by at least one controversial referee call or VAR intervention.

Newcastle player Joe Willock heads in to score past Vicente Guaita but the goal is disallowed after a VAR review during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Crystal Palace at St. James Park on September 03, 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

But just how many points would Newcastle be better (or worse) off without VAR this season?

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Brighton & Hove Albion 0-0 Newcastle United

The second match of the season at the Amex Stadium saw Callum Wilson have an early goal disallowed for a high boot.

Andy Robertson of Liverpool challenges Alexander Isak of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United at Anfield on August 31, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

The referee had already blown his whistle for a free-kick by the time the Newcastle No. 9 had found the back of the net meaning VAR couldn’t intervene as play had officially stopped despite Wilson, the two Brighton defenders and goalkeeper all continuing briefly.

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Had the goal been given by the referee, a VAR check may well have seen the incident reviewed and the goal disallowed as Wilson’s foot was objectively high in trying to reach the ball. But it’s a frustrating one from Newcastle’s perspective as Wilson wasn’t close to making contact with any player.

The main gripe with this incident is the inconsistency in which the high foot rule is applied. Newcastle have previously been denied penalties for players quite literally being kicked in the head yet were penalised on this occasion.

Potential result without VAR: 0-0

Kieran Trippier of Newcastle United protests to Referee Peter Bankes after Raul Jimenez of Wolverhampton Wanderers (not in picture) scores a goal which is later disallowed after a VAR review during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Newcastle United at Molineux on August 28, 2022 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Eddie Keogh/Getty Images)
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Points change: 0

Newcastle United 3-3 Manchester City

The 3-3 thriller with Manchester City at St James’s Park actually saw a couple of big VAR decisions go in Newcastle’s favour as the officials were twice overruled.

Miguel Almiron’s first half equaliser was initially flagged for offside but replays showed the Paraguayan was onside and the goal was given.

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Newcastle United's Paraguayan midfielder Miguel Almiron celebrates after scoring his team first goal during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England, on August 21, 2022. (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)

Late in the game, Kieran Trippier was shown a straight red card for a cynical foul on Kevin De Bruyne only for VAR to prompt a check which saw the dismissal overturned and Trippier cautioned.

Still, Newcastle had a genuine first half penalty shout turned down by both VAR and the officials as Fabian Schar was brought down inside the area by John Stones.

Had VAR not been in place, Newcastle would have had a legitimate goal disallowed and finished the match with 10 men, surely seeing them fall to a defeat to the Premier League champions.

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Potential result without VAR: 2-3

Points change: -1

Newcastle United's English striker Callum Wilson (C) vies with Brighton's English defender Adam Webster (L) and Brighton's English defender Lewis Dunk (R) during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Newcastle United at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on August 13, 2022. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Newcastle United

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Newcastle were denied an early penalty at Wolves as Sean Longstaff was pulled down inside the area though neither the referee nor VAR felt it was enough to award a spot kick.

A harsh call upon reflection but VAR would actually come in to save Newcastle late in the day as Raul Jimanez thought he’d made it 2-0 to the hosts only for a check to disallow the goal due to a foul in the build-up as Allan Saint-Maximin went on to net a 90th minute equaliser.

Potential result without VAR: 2-1

Points change: -1

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Liverpool 2-1 Newcastle United

After Alexander Isak gave Newcastle a first half lead at Anfield, it looked as though the Swede had doubled the visitors’ advantage in the second half with a well-taken goal only for the offside flag to go up.

A VAR check deemed that the 22-year-old was offside by the narrowest of margins and did not prompt an overturn of the original decision.

Liverpool would go on to rub salt into The Magpies' wounds shortly after as Roberto Firmino equalised before Fabio Carvalho popped up with a 98th minute winner.

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While Newcastle can feel hard done by the officiating in the match, a lack of VAR wouldn’t have made a difference – though better officiating may have.

Potential result without VAR: 2-1

Points change: 0

Newcastle United 0-0 Crystal Palace

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Perhaps the harshest call against Newcastle so far this season is the aforementioned Mitchell own goal.

The goal was initially given, as it should have been, but Stockley Park intervened once again prompting a change of heart from the referee upon closer inspection.

In reality, Mitchell nudged Willock into Guaita so the original ‘foul’ was actually on the Newcastle man. If not a Newcastle goal, a penalty was the second most logical decision, but common sense didn’t prevail this time.

Potential result without VAR: 1-0

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Points change: +2

Conclusion

Amazingly, Newcastle would have exactly the same amount of points had VAR not been in place this season as they do with it being used.

The two points it cost them against Crystal Palace have so far been balanced out by the decision to disallow Wolves’ goal and award Almiron a goal that had originally not been given.

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So perhaps VAR isn’t the problem, it’s those using it and the level of officiating at play.

Although VAR hasn’t impacted Newcastle's net points total this season as such, they can make a case for several key decisions going against them. In a remarkably ideal world, Wilson’s goal against Brighton counts, Schar is awarded a penalty at 2-1 against Man City, Longstaff’s penalty shout at Wolves is given, Isak's second goal at Liverpool isn’t chalked off and Palace’s own goal stands.

If only football was that kind to The Magpies, as they could be sitting top of the table with six wins out of six.

But it’s those fine margins that have them frustrated to be sitting 11th on seven points.