Late VAR drama as Villa share the points with West Ham

Following Tottenham Hotspurs surprise 3-0 defeat at Fulham yesterday, the batten was handed back to Aston Villa in the race for the Premier League top four.

The London Stadium hasn’t been a lucky stadium for Villa, however. They have failed to win in four attempts (before today) drawing and losing two each.

Both sides would have been on a high going into the game following their success in Europe on Thursday night but the line-up highlighted just how stretched Unai Emery’s squad was becoming.

VAR played a big part in the game with both sides having big claims go against them.

Report: West Ham United 1-1 Aston Villa

Ollie Watkins overcame injury from Thursday night as expected but with captain John McGinn suspended Emery handed starts to Jhon Durán and Morgan Rogers was given his first Premier League start.

It was Villa who started the brighter of the two sides, dominating early possession but without causing any real threat to the Hammers’ goal.

The first VAR incident came with twenty minutes on the clock when Leon Bailey’s cross appeared to hit the arm of Emerson which was sticking out. VAR looked at it and failed to overturn the decision.

The home side began to take control of the game and jump on Villa’s sloppiness and they were rewarded by taking the lead just before the half-hour mark.

Vladimir Coufal was able to find Michail Antonio with a cross in the centre of the goal to head home. Villa would have been disappointed in the goal after a mix-up from a free kick resulted in the goal.

It was clear Villa looked disjointed and Emery decided to make changes at half-time as Clement Lenglet and Duran made way for Matty Cash and Moussa Diaby.

The changes failed to make the impact the manager hoped as West Ham had the ball in the back of the net minutes after half-time. The ball appeared to hit Antonio’s arm leaving the VAR officials no choice but to rule the goal out.

Villa started to grow into the game as the home side began to tire and sit deeper and deeper.

The breakthrough for the visitors eventually came after Emery made further changes. Diaby was able to pick out Nicolò Zaniolo who arrived late in the box to make it 1-1. It was the Italian’s second goal of a struggling campaign for the player on loan from Galatasaray.

David Moyes introduced Aaron Cresswell and James Ward-Prowse following the goal and it was the latter who was involved in the late drama.

West Ham were awarded a controversial free-kick and Ward-Prowse swung the ball in for
Tomáš Souček to make it 2-1. Replays later showed that the ball touched the Czech international on his shoulder and the goal was once again ruled out.

It took the officials five minutes to overturn the decision with angles on the TV seemingly being bizarre. Once the decision had been made, a new angle replay was shown which cleared showed the ball touch the midfielder’s arm.

You can understand the frustration from the home side as VAR doesn’t help itself but I think the 1-1 draw was probably the correct result on the balance of things.

What the managers said

Emery: “We had to change our plan at half-time to get more control than in the first half. We got a few chances and deserved to score, maybe even more.

“We were expecting the decision from VAR for the two goals. It was a completely fair decision. We have to accept the draw.

“In the first half we were trying to recover our positioning and trying to get comfortable – as we did in the second half. When we were connecting with our players we were getting in their box better and being more imposing.

“This draw is completely fair.”

Moyes: “I was pleased with how we performed, I thought the players did a really good job. Villa were the better team for the majority of the second half but we hung in there and got a couple of opportunities to win the game.

“We were disappointed to concede but the players have done a good job.”

“I thought we played incredibly well today, especially in the first half. We made it difficult for Villa, who improved in the second half. Great credit to the player – we had our big win in midweek, and we’ve got a point here. But it should have been three points.”

Whats next

Aston Villa will welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to Villa Park after the International break on Saturday 30th March at 5.30 pm.

West Ham will travel to Newcastle earlier on the same day with a 12.30 pm kick-off.

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