The 2022/23 Premier League campaign is over and Manchester City have been crowned champions for the third consecutive season.
There has been a lot to talk across the campaign, from Arsenal’s rise up the table and the failings of Chelsea, to Brighton and Brentford’s successes, as well as former Premier League champions Leicester saying goodbye to the top flight. But, of course, the season hasn’t been without its controversies.
Once again VAR and the overall standard of refereeing has come under fire at various points across the season due to mistakes, or perceived errors — indeed every team will have felt aggrieved with at least one decision. But while some teams have had to deal with the decisions, there have been occasions where PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) have offered an apology for an error.
While these apologies haven’t been officially released in a statement, news quickly breaks when they come to pass, whether through club-focused reporters or through the teams themselves in press conferences. They’re not always immediate either, with a couple of teams having to wait months for an admission.
So just how many times have PGMOL admitted they’ve got a decision wrong this season? And how might that have changed the final table?
Chelsea vs Tottenham
While there was no PGMOL apology for this in a sense, VAR Mike Dean did come out to admit he got the decision wrong and apologised himself. In the final minutes of the London derby at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were leading 2-1 and Tottenham had a corner. As the ball came in, Cristian Romero pulled Marc Cucurella’s hair inside the box as Eric Dier saw his header tipped over for another corner by Edouard Mendy. VAR Dean looked at the incident but did not deem it a red card offence, meaning Tottenham got their second corner, from which Harry Kane equalised.
Score at the time: Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham
Final score: Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham
Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa
After early action at Selhurst Park, which saw both Aston Villa and Wilfried Zaha score inside the opening 10 minutes, it was hard to separate the two sides until just before the hour mark. With Palace on the attack, Marc Guehi had a header saved by Emiliano Martinez and play was continuing while Joachim Andersen appealed for a penalty (which the referee wasn’t giving). However, after a review by VAR, a penalty was awarded for handball on Lucas Digne, as the ball brushed his arm before reaching Martinez. Zaha did miss the penalty but scored on the rebound. In December, the incident was later included in a list of six incorrect overturns by VAR in the first part of the season, with the ball hitting Digne from close range as he was challenging for the ball.
Score at the time: Crystal Palace 1-1 Aston Villa
Final score: Crystal Palace 3-1 Aston Villa
Chelsea vs West Ham
Another incident in a London derby at Stamford Bridge, this time favouring Chelsea. The Blues were leading West Ham 2-1 having come from behind but the Hammers looked to have equalised late on following a mistake by Edouard Mendy. The goal, scored by Maxwel Cornet, was awarded on the pitch but it was eventually ruled out for a foul by Jarrod Bowen on Mendy. At the time fans weren’t happy with the decision, as there was minimal contact by Bowen on Mendy and actually caused the Premier League to ask PGMOL to explain the decisions.
Score at the time: Chelsea 2-1 West Ham
Final score: Chelsea 2-1 West Ham
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Newcastle vs Crystal Palace
In the same weekend as Chelsea vs West Ham, and another decision which led to the Premier League asking PGMOL for an explanation, as Newcastle had a goal disallowed in their 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace. Coming from a deep Kieran Trippier free-kick into the box, Newcastle had the ball in the back of the net via the head of Crystal Palace defender Tyrick Mitchell. However, VAR decided to rule it out for a foul on Vicente Guaita by Joe Willock. But replays showed that Willock had been pushed into Guaita by Mitchell himself, which should have allowed the goal to stand.
Score at the time: Newcastle 0-0 Crystal Palace
Final score: Newcastle 0-0 Crystal Palace
Man Utd vs Arsenal
In the early stages of this clash at Old Trafford, Gabriel Martinelli thought he had given Arsenal the lead after a cool finish having been played through by Bukayo Saka. The goal was awarded but, immediately, Bruno Fernandes was appealing for a foul earlier in the build up by Martin Odegaard on Christian Eriksen. After a VAR review, the foul was given and the goal disallowed, but the general consensus was that the “error” by the on-pitch referee Paul Tierney was not clear and obvious enough to be overturned. This was another included in the incorrect overturns.
Score at the time: Man Utd 0-0 Arsenal
Final score: Man Utd 3-1 Arsenal
Fulham vs Aston Villa
On the hour mark of Fulham’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa, with the Cottagers leading by just one goal, their visitors were reduced to 10 men after Douglas Luiz was sent off for headbutting Aleksandar Mitrovic in the middle of the pitch. It wasn’t seen by the referee at the time, but was caught by the VAR, who recommended the red card. However, it was rescinded after an appeal and later included in the incorrect overturns, potentially because it was a two-sided clash with the headbutt more down to the height difference between Mitrovic and Luiz.
Score at the time: Fulham 1-0 Aston Villa
Final score: Fulham 3-0 Aston Villa
Nottingham Forest vs Brentford
Nottingham Forest had to fight for their 2-2 draw with Brentford just before the World Cup, equalising in second-half injury time, but it could have been a completely different result had the Bees not been awarded a penalty just before half time. Yoane Wissa was the man said to be fouled by Dean Henderson by VAR after Andre Marriner had given a goal kick. However, the penalty was extremely soft and eventually deemed that contact was initiated by Wissa, which would’ve ruled out its awarding – again, not enough to be a clear and obvious error.
Score at the time: Nottingham Forest 1-0 Brentford
Final score: Nottingham Forest 2-2 Brentford
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Aston Villa vs Man Utd
Now this is a very interesting one, as it wasn’t really a VAR error, but a referee one that PGMOL eventually apologised for. Lucas Digne put Aston Villa 2-0 up against Man Utd at Villa Park with a lovely free-kick, but there were some complaints from Eriksen on the distance of the wall from the free-kick, believing it to be more than 10 yards. Anthony Taylor ignored Eriksen’s protests and because Taylor was miked up, Man Utd were able to hear the interaction. Taylor eventually got a talking to and an admission of the error came a month later, but the damage was done.
Score at the time: Aston Villa 1-0 Man Utd
Final score: Aston Villa 3-1 Man Utd
Brentford vs Bournemouth
Another penalty awarded in favour of Brentford, Bournemouth had to wait four months for this apology, with Howard Webb eventually admitting the error as part of Sky Sports’ coverage of conversations between referees and VAR in selected games. In this instance, Toney was brought down by Marcos Senesi inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot. This decision was confirmed by VAR, but Webb revealed it should have been cancelled and a free-kick awarded to Bournemouth as Toney had fouled Senesi first.
Score at the time: Brentford 0-0 Bournemouth
Final score: Brentford 2-0 Bournemouth
Arsenal vs Brentford
Brentford were on the positive side of another VAR call in February against Arsenal as Toney equalised in the 74th minute, a goal that would eventually wrap up the point. The goal was given but naturally there was a VAR check for offside against Ethan Pinnock, and there was no clear evidence that he was given the angles, so it couldn’t be ruled out on that. However, there was another offside after that which wasn’t checked, on Christian Norsgaard who sent the ball back across goal to Toney. When Pinnock got his touch on the ball, Norsgaard was quite clearly offside, but it was completely ignored and the goal stood.
Score at the time: Arsenal 1-0 Brentford
Final score: Arsenal 1-1 Brentford
Crystal Palace vs Brighton
In the first half of this game, a rivalry remember, Pervis Estupinan thought he had opened the scoring on the half-hour mark having been played through by Pascal Gross. After VAR review it was disallowed for offside, but the offside line was actually drawn to the wrong defender, stopping at James Tomkins rather than Marc Guehi. Had it stopped at Guehi, Estupinan would have been onside and the goal given.
Score at the time: Crystal Palace 0-0 Brighton
Final score: Crystal Palace 1-1 Brighton
Newcastle vs Wolves
Wolves have had it tough with VAR across all competitions this season, receiving apologies for decisions in the league and both cups. In the Premier League the apology came after Wolves were denied a penalty when Nick Pope fouled Raul Jimenez in the box, after referee Andy Madley had waved play on. Deemed not a clear and obvious error at the time, at later inspection it was decided that a penalty should have been awarded.
Score at the time: Newcastle 0-0 Wolves
Final score: Newcastle 2-1 Wolves
Tottenham vs Brighton
The most recent apology, Brighton were not awarded a penalty in their eventual defeat to Tottenham which could have turned the tide of the game. In the 70th minute, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg stood on Kaoru Mitoma’s foot inside the box but referee Stuart Atwell waved appeals away and his decision was backed up by VAR. However, Webb reportedly apologised to Brighton for the decision, admitting it should have been a penalty. Level at 1-1 at the time of the incident, Brighton could have had the opportunity to take the lead, and maybe even held on for all three points.
Score at the time: Tottenham 1-1 Brighton
Final score: Tottenham 2-1 Brighton
How the Premier League table could have looked
Just using goals that were incorrectly allowed or disallowed, not taking into account penalties that were and weren’t awarded.
Some of the changes would have seen Arsenal finish just three points below Man City, West Ham move up to 13th ahead of Wolves and Newcastle even more comfortably ensconced in the top four, six points ahead of fifth-placed Liverpool.
Final Premier League 2022/23 table