Without VAR, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Chelsea all struggle; Arsenal is undefeated.
The 2022-23 Premier League season has only 67 games left, but we're already seeing the impact of VAR decisions. Arsenal fans will once again bemoan the video referee, while some of the league's other big clubs will be relieved.
Last season, our VAR Effect Table revealed that if not for VAR, the Gunners would have qualified for the Champions League ahead of archrivals Tottenham Hotspur. Arsenal has only lost one game this season, but VAR played a significant role in that; without it, they would have a perfect record.
It's a different story for Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United, who have fallen down the table as a result of VAR decisions going against them.
We're reviewing all VAR decisions across the Premier League, as we did last year, to see how they may have affected game outcomes.
It's not just about how many times a team receives a favorable VAR call or how many goals are affected. What matters is when these VAR decisions occur, how they may have changed the course of the game, and, most importantly, whether that impact ultimately changed the final score.
ESPN presents the VAR Effect Table. We took all 94 VAR decisions in the Premier League so far this season and calculated how they might have changed match outcomes. We'll keep an eye on VAR throughout the season to see who the true winners and losers are.
How to Create the VAR Effect Table
We only consider the first VAR overturn in each game because the calculation assumes that any subsequent VAR incident would not have occurred because the game's entire direction has been altered. (Imagine a Marvel timeline or the plot of any time travel film.)
The VAR decision is then reversed to the original on-field call, so if a goal is disallowed for offside, it is still scored.
If a penalty is cancelled, it is considered awarded and scored unless the team in question has a penalty-conversion record of less than 50% for the season. This season, Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur, and West Ham United have all failed to score from the penalty spot. If the percentage falls below 50%, a penalty may be assessed.
The goal is disallowed if a team was awarded a penalty or an incorrect offside through VAR.
We then consider a number of factors before arriving at a prediction:
Team form: The results of the previous six matches indicate how a team has been playing in general.
Time of incident: For example, if an incident occurs late in the game, the scoreline is less likely to change again after this point.
xG at the time of the incident: This allows us to determine which team has been creating the most opportunities and is in the lead.
Team strength: In addition to form, a team's overall strength is important. This considers league position as well as a team's goal-scoring and defensive records throughout the season.
The impact of an incident: For example, reversing a red-card decision may change the outcome of a match.
These results were then used to modify the table and determine the impact of VAR on teams' positions this season.
The table shows each team's position after the revised results, with arrows indicating whether their league position improved or deteriorated without VAR. It's worth noting that due to postponements, not all teams have played the same number of games.
Without VAR, the big winners
Without VAR, Arsenal's lead at the top of the Premier League grows from one to two points. Mikel Arteta's side were defeated 3-1 at Manchester United in early September, but a Gabriel Martinelli goal was disallowed for a foul in the buildup by Martin Odegaard in the 12th minute, when the score was 0-0. The Gunners' superior form leading up to the game was a key factor in the VAR Effect Table concluding that they would have won the game if they had scored first. It's a three-point swing for Arsenal, restoring their perfect record.
Tottenham Hotspur have also suffered as a result of VAR, and are now two points ahead of Manchester City (points unchanged) to take second place. Spurs' penalty in a 1-1 draw at West Ham was overturned after Aaron Cresswell was penalized for handball; the draw at the London Stadium becomes an away win.
Leeds United and Everton are the biggest climbers, moving up five places to seventh and eighth place, respectively. Leeds only pick up one point, as their loss at Brentford is reclassified as a draw. Everton win the Merseyside derby 2-1 after VAR rules out a Conor Coady goal for offside, giving them an extra two points.
AFC Bournemouth are up two points and four places after a VAR penalty awarded to Newcastle resulted in a 1-1 draw; the game is a 1-0 win for the Cherries. Wolverhampton Wanderers move up four places to 13th, three points clear of the relegation zone, after their home draw with Newcastle is converted into a win; Raul Jimenez had a late goal ruled out for a foul in the buildup, making the score 2-0.
West Ham United is the final team to gain points. Most notably, a late Maxwel Cornet equalizer at Chelsea was ruled out by VAR for a foul by Jarrod Bowen, a decision that was later admitted to be a mistake and sparked widespread outrage. Across all decisions, the Hammers have a net gain of one point.
Only Brighton & Hove Albion, Leicester City, and Newcastle United have maintained their points and league position.
Newcastle fans may be surprised, but while the home draw against Crystal Palace becomes a win after Tyrick Mitchell's own goal was incorrectly ruled out by VAR, the Magpies have also benefited from more VAR calls than any other team, with the penalty won against Bournemouth and the disallowed Wolves goal giving them extra points.
Fulham move up to fifth place, but remain on the same points total.
Other teams, despite losing fewer points, fall further down the table, with Chelsea and Brentford both dropping two points and falling five places to 12th and 14th, respectively. Chelsea lose two points as their home win over West Ham is ruled a draw, while Brentford's home win over Leeds is ruled 2-2 without the use of VAR.
Nottingham Forest also lose two points without VAR, as their 1-0 home win over West Ham is relegated to a draw after a goal was disallowed for a foul by Michail Antonio.
Southampton and Aston Villa both drop one place, to 15th and 16th, respectively, despite having the same number of points.