Petr Cech column: Counting the cup finals and my verdict on VAR

Following Wednesday night’s semi-final success at Spurs, Petr Cech uses his column this week to reflect on that achievement while also looking at the impact of VAR on the result and revealing whether he is in favour of the technology…


Chelsea are in another cup final which is great because the journey to the final started months ago and we had difficult games against Premier League opposition. We came through two penalty shoot-out rounds and then played two London rivals, and we all know how intense games against Spurs are and how important they are for the fans and in the history of the club. So to have a semi-final where we dominated and won both games is a great achievement.

We have a long history of games at the current Wembley Stadium with the number of appearances there almost 30 for the men’s first team. Everybody is looking forward to extending that total and when I came to England, the first trophy I won as a Chelsea player was the League Cup. Although in the ranking of cups in England and football in general, you would put the League Cup behind the European cups, the Premier League and the FA Cup, it is a trophy that gives a good feeling if you win it.

It gives great satisfaction and a sense of achievement to a team during the season which is a confidence boost. It's always something to remember for the players and for the fans so hopefully we can go and have a successful final.


Competing for it all

In the years since I first joined Chelsea the club has only not reached a cup final in four of those seasons. As well as the mentality at the club being that you always try to win, we always try to treat every competition with the utmost respect which is why I think we are successful in that way.

Sometimes people think okay, this is a much more important competition or this game is more important than that one. You can't really choose the games you want to win more than others because in sport and especially in football, you have the moment where it just bites you on the backside.

You go okay, don't really worry about this one, let's win the other one because it’s more important and then you have one game where you hit the post seven times, the goalkeeper wins man of the match and you're knocked out and end up empty handed. At Chelsea we want to compete in everything.

Winning the semi-final came in a good week for us. We had an amazing atmosphere playing Chesterfield in the FA Cup, where the clubs connected in a really positive way. We organised for the Chesterfield academy to have a training session on the morning of the game with our Academy boys and it made it special for everyone. The way the whole stadium celebrated the Chesterfield goal is unusual but a special moment.

Following that match, the win against Spurs in their stadium will give the team a good sense of satisfaction as well as confidence for the upcoming weeks, which are packed with important games.

Now we have a huge game at City, a top-of-the-league clash and if we want to close the gap then obviously we need to go there and win, and with the recent history with the Champions League final giving this game another meaning, we are looking forward to it.


Voting for VAR

VAR was one of the big stories from Wednesday night’s game where it was used on two penalty decisions and one offside call, and the outcome was the right one. That shows it is a good tool because as the game gets faster it is more and more complicated for the on-field referees to be always correct.

VAR still divides people’s opinion but in my opinion, some people forget that even VAR is a human judgement. It is not a computer you set up and then you input 1+1 and the computer gives you 2.

It does not work like that because there are lots of 50-50 situations and it's about perception and a subjective view, deciding if it is a fall or not a fall; if a touch is big enough or not.

This is what creates the debate and if you put 10 people in a room, you might have five saying it's a foul and five saying it's not, and the referee on the pitch could be from one of those groups and the VAR guy from the other. So we have to accept that sometimes we disagree.

They still get more decisions right than wrong and as a player, I'd rather lose a game knowing that someone in front of the monitor making the decisions had some time to think about it, even if you end up on the wrong side of it.

With the initial decision to award a penalty for the tackle made by Kepa last night, what we need to take into consideration is the angle from which the referee sees the incident on the pitch. From where I was sitting I just couldn't believe the whistle went.

It was such a clear situation I was surprised but this is exactly the moment when you realise how hard it is for the referee to get everything right, because things are happening so quickly, he maybe had a player in front of him or had an angle where he couldn't properly see.

And this is why VAR is important because without that, Tottenham would have had two penalties incorrectly and then the story of game could have been completely different.

Sometimes I don't think the VAR needs to take so much time on decisions. We imagined that it would be smoother and faster, working more efficiently, but because recently they came under huge pressure then I think they really want to make sure they get it right.

You see more and more referees on the field going to the monitor which is right because it's their decision and they should have the chance to decide to change it, and on some occasions the VAR can say don't worry about that, this is so clear so you'll save time.

VAR is relatively new in football and it's still evolving, with people still finding the most efficient ways how to work with it. It's still improving and as we get more used to it, like in other sports, people will be using the tool with no hesitation and the debate about it will probably be less and less frequent.

There will still be human error of judgement or subjective feeling whether foul, no foul or whatever, but I believe it will be beneficial in the long term and I was always in favour of having it. We need to get on with it and give people the time to find the best use of it.

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