Liverpool face Manchester United on Sunday with an eight-point lead in the Premier League table – with VAR having doubled their advantage over Manchester City.
The introduction of the video assistant referee system into the top flight this season has been frequently controversial, though the number of incidents reviewed and overturned has been surprisingly low.
Despite that, the effects on the league table are already clear – starting with the title race.
When Gabriel Jesus’ stoppage-time ‘winner’ against Tottenham in August was disallowed – with VAR showing the ball had brushed City team-mate Aymeric Laporte’s arm in the build-up – it immediately looked a key moment in the battle between Manchester City and Liverpool .
City had to settle for a 2-2 draw at home to Spurs, dropping points in just the second game – while six games later Liverpool still have a 100% record.
With another tense title fight expected between City and Liverpool, such moments could ultimately decide top spot.
Of course, City have lost twice since then – to Norwich and Wolves – meaning Liverpool’s lead has stretched to a yawning eight points.
But Jurgen Klopp’s side wouldn’t have won all eight games if it wasn’t for VAR. Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta had a goal disallowed in Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge, which had it stood would have cost the Reds two points.
So without VAR, Liverpool would have 22 points to City’s 18 – a rather less imposing gap of four points.
As it stands, Klopp’s men have 24 to City’s 16, giving Pep Guardiola’s side a huge uphill task to try and overhaul their rivals.
That Azpilicueta “goal”, when Mason Mount strayed offside earlier in the attack, would have also lifted Chelsea into the Champions League places at Leicester’s expense and up to third ahead of Arsenal – who would have lost to Manchester United , with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal only given after a review.
At the other end of the table, Southampton would be in the relegation zone had VAR not disallowed Oli McBurnie’s goal against them for Sheffield United in September – Saints ultimately won that match 1-0.