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England unconcerned by VAR teething troubles – Alexander-Arnold

By June 21, 2018No Comments

Trent Alexander-Arnold suggested England are relaxed about the application of VAR at the World Cup, despite seeing two strong penalty shouts ignored in their opening match.

Having conceded a marginal spot-kick which allowed Tunisia to draw level in Volgograd on Monday, England captain Harry Kane was twice manhandled at corners without any action taken.

FIFA is sure to review those incidents when it assesses its officials at the end of the group stage and England have made clear their view that the rules were applied inconsistently during the match, but there is no sense of their disappointment growing into anything more drastic.

Kane’s injury-time winner in the 2-1 victory perhaps helped take the sting out of the situation and wing-back Alexander-Arnold offered a magnanimous take on the system.

“I think there’s more chance of getting the correct decisions in games. With VAR you’ve got the best chance of doing that,” he said.

“We’ve seen officials still haven’t got every decision that we’ve seen right but they are trying their best. Obviously you want those decisions to go your way, but we’ve spoken about refereeing decisions not going our way and it’s part of the game.

“We just have to get on with the game and try to ignore the fact we didn’t get the two claims we went for. The result and the manner we won it showed the lads can put it past them and focus on getting the win and that’s what we’ve done.”

England unconcerned by VAR teething troubles – Alexander-Arnold PLZ Soccer
Harry Kane was England’s hero in Volgograd (Adam Davy/PA)

Gareth Southgate’s side face Panama on Sunday, a match they are expected to win without undue drama. But all eyes will be on the finishing prowess of Kane’s team-mates, after a handful of fine chances came and went last time out.

Kane has scored 10 goals in 10 matches under Southgate but could use some additional support in the final third. Alexander-Arnold did not paper over the issue, admitting there would be no room for profligacy should England progress to the knockout stage of the competition.

“With the high level of opposition you come up against you’re going to get punished,” he said.

“You’ve got to be ruthless in front of goal and when you get the chance to score you’ve got to score in these kind of competitions.

“If that’s the only game where we miss several chances that’d be a positive for us. Going forward I think we’ll learn from not taking our chances in the first half and push forward in the next one.”

Alexander-Arnold, who was an unused substitute in the Group G opener, also offered a word of consolation for Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah.

The Premier League player of the year suffered a dislocated shoulder in the Champions League final, an injury which ruled him out of Egypt’s first game and then severely compromised his effectiveness in the 3-1 defeat by Russia.

England unconcerned by VAR teething troubles – Alexander-Arnold PLZ Soccer
Mohamed Salah has had a frustrating time in Russia (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“It’s not good to see one of your team-mates not being able to take part in the first game of the World Cup for his nation in such a long time,” he said.

“He played a vital part in getting them there. I haven’t spoken to him, he’s in his team camp and it’s important for him to be with his national team at the minute and focus on getting his win in a World Cup when he plays again in the third game.

“I’m sure he’ll bounce back and next season he’ll come back fresh and better and stronger.”

England unconcerned by VAR teething troubles – Alexander-Arnold PLZ Soccer
Gareth Southgate joked with the squad about giving himself an injury headache (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Southgate suffered a similar injury to Salah on Wednesday, though his came from an ill-fated jog in Repino rather than a tussle with Sergio Ramos.

“I suppose I can speak to Mo about how the manager can recover,” said Alexander-Arnold with a smile.

“He broke the news to us yesterday. He joked about it, put it in the funniest way possible and said he hopes no-one else has an afternoon like he did. He tried to put a smile on everyone’s face.”