Football News

Arsene Wenger: VAR would have “changed the history of Arsenal”

By Ben Green

Published: 15:47, 5 September 2019

Arsene Wenger believes VAR would have intervened and disallowed Samuel Eto’o’s equaliser in Arsenal’s Champions League defeat to Barcelona in 2006. 

With just 15 minutes left on the clock, Arsenal were mere whiskers away from lifting a European crown having led Barca 1-0 courtesy of a Sol Campbell goal.

Was Eto’o’s goal offside? Five things to know…

  • In 2006, Arsenal reached the Champions League final and faced Barcelona in Paris.
  • Within 18 minutes Jens Lehmann had been sent off for Arsenal after bringing down Eto’o.
  • Despite being down to 10 men, Arsenal took the lead via a Sol Campbell header.
  • However, Barca struck back in the 76th minute thanks to Eto’o’s near-post finish.
  • Eto’o was placed through by Larsson but was accelerating at such a speed that it is near-on impossible to determine whether the goal should have stood without the involvement of VAR.

However, as the game approached the dying embers at the Stade de France, an exceptional lay-off from Henrik Larsson played Eto’o through on goal and the ex-Cameroon forward proceeded to slot home past substitute Manuel Almunia.

With the bit between their teeth and momentum in their favour, Frank Rijkaard’s side ultimately went on to win the match through Juliano Belletti just four minutes later, but Wenger still harbours doubts about the Blaugrana’s first goal, believing VAR would have chalked it off had the technology been in play 13 years ago.

When asked which game he would have liked VAR to be utilised in, Wenger had no doubts, telling beinSPORTS: “It is the final of the [2006] Champions League, because I think Eto’o’s equaliser was offside.

“That would have changed the history of Arsenal Football Club.”

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‘It is difficult to accept’

This is not the first time Wenger has brought up the issue of Eto’o’s supposed offside goal, explaining in the immediate afterglow of the showpiece event how it was difficult to watch his side falter as a result of a “wrong decision”.

Speaking at the time, he said: “It’s difficult to accept losing a game any way but worse when you have to accept losing it on a wrong decision.

“The equaliser was offside and it was proven on television. We have to do something about it. It is my biggest regret.

“To play 11 against 10 and be on top in that situation, but then to concede an offside goal, is difficult to accept.”