Cesar Azpilicueta was clear on one matter regarding the controversial decision not to award a penalty to Chelsea yesterday at Old Trafford, the final verdict should have been made by the on-pitch referee.
Manchester United captain Harry Maguire prevented Azpilicueta getting his head to a free-kick first during the opening 45 minutes of the 0-0 draw.
Whether his arms around the Chelsea player constituted a foul was the big question but the review process did not lead to a viewing on the pitchside monitor by the referee. Azpilicueta followed Frank Lampard in insisting that it should have been.
‘On the pitch I felt yes because I was in front of him [Maguire] and I felt both his arms around my neck and my shoulders,’ said Azpilicueta as considered whether he had been fouled.
‘The referee can make the decision, the VAR is there and it is very difficult sometimes for the VAR to say yes or no, but I encourage more for the referee to go to the monitor. Martin Atkinson is the main referee so he has to take the main decision and the monitor is there on the side to help him.
‘Sometimes it is 50-50, like I felt it was so why not take 20 seconds to go to review it? For me it is a little improvement to the VAR that could improve it a lot moving forward.
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‘I don’t say every time there is a contact it should be a penalty,’ our captain went on to clarify.
‘Far from that, especially here in England where you believe in the strong physical contact unless you are far from the goal and you don’t have intention to play the ball, but especially in the Premier League, a big league with the great players we have, we have to seek improvement. We can all help together to make a better league.’
Moving on to consider the game overall, Azpilicueta highlighted a lack of good chances created as a downside of the performance in the Old Trafford rain, but there was also satisfaction in keeping consecutive clean sheets against the attacks of Europa League winners Sevilla and now Man United.
‘We were not dangerous in the final third to get more from the game,’ he said, ‘and my feeling on the pitch is that we could have done more to get three points. Edou [Mendy] made two good saves so obviously at the end it is good to get a clean sheet and to recover that defensive solidity which is important. We want more and now we have to find a balance with good defensive performances from the whole team and also have that quality because we have a big threat up front with our players.
‘It was a very even game where for moments we had our space, we controlled it, in the first half especially we controlled it better. In the second half sometimes we rushed it, we didn’t keep the ball enough or we didn’t move the ball good enough to create the space or we went sometimes straight and we lost possession, and that meant we lost a bit of control. Man United are a dangerous team as well but that solidity from the whole team, a great effort from everybody, it is important but obviously we want more.’