Arsenal v Fulham: Premier League – live! | Football
87 min This has been a pretty wretched performance from Arsenal. They’ve been slightly better since going behind, but Areola has only had a couple of saves to make all games.
85 min Saka’s pass is miscontrolled by Nketiah on the edge of the area. That was half a chance, though he had very little margin for error with the touch.
84 min Fulham have brought on Joe Bryan for Cavaleiro, which means a switch to a back five.
83 min Areola takes the opportunity to waste a bit of time after being fouled.
82 min A wicked cross from Saka on the right is put behind by the stretching Andersen. That was brilliant defending because there were two Arsenal players behind him. Saka takes the corner and Areola punches clear.
79 min Saka floats a nice long pass towards Nketiah, who controls it on the run but lofts over the bar under pressure from Andersen. A half chance at best.
78 min Martinelli accidentally kicks Lemina up the trousers. I’m surprised he wasn’t booked for that.
77 min “I was touched by Gary Naylor’s O-level story,” says Ian Copestake, “and have duly reported him to the authorities.”
75 min I didn’t give Areola enough credit for that save. Replays suggest he knew plenty about it – he instinctively flicked his left leg towards the ball to block it.
74 min “Yes, football is a cesspit,” says Phil Crockford. “But surely one thing that helps with the TMO being accepted is that we hear, in real time, the referee and the TMO discuss the incident, so we know exactly what is happening and why – that surely would help VAR.”
I’m not sure it would. I fear the minutiae of the discussion would be twisted to facilitate even more whinging and moaning.
73 min Arsenal have played with much greater urgency since going behind. Teams do that so often, as if it hadn’t occurred them to attack with intensity when it’s 0-0.
71 min: How did Arsenal not score there?! Martinelli went round Areola on the right of the area. The angle was too tight to shoot so he turned and lofted a cross towards Pepe at the far post. He was barely two yards out when he headed towards goal, but Areola had scampered back across his line and made a vital save with his left leg. I’m not sure how much he knew about it, not that he’ll care.
69 min Oh dear, I think Lacazette has done his hamstring. He pulled up and signalled to the bench immediately. That’s a big blow – not so much today, but with the Europa League semi-final imminent.
68 min A double change for Arsenal: Nicolas Pepe and Thomas Partey replace Bellerin and Elneny.
67 min Martinelli’s cross is headed just wide by Bellerin at the far post. It wasn’t the most convincing header, in truth – he looked like a schoolkid heading the ball for the first time. I suspect Areola had it covered anyway.
67 min If Fulham win here, they’ll be four points behind Burnley and Brighton, albeit having played two games more. One of Burnley’s games in hand is at Old Trafford this afternoon.
66 min “It’s interesting that the use of the TMO in rugby union has not caused as much controversy as VAR even though decisions can take even longer,” says Richard Hirst. “Maybe it’s because everybody sees the replays on the big screen, and the final decision is the referee’s, not the men in suits.”
Surely the main reason is that there is much greater respect for authority, among players and supporters, and much less entitlement. Let’s be honest, football is a cesspit.
65 min Lacazette’s free-kick hits the wall.
64 min Lacazette is fouled on the edge of the D, and he wants to take the free-kick himself. It was actually Decordova-Reid who was booked a few minutes ago, not Anguissa.
For a second I thought he’d JaapStammed it, but it rippled the roof of the net and Fulham are half an hour away from their first ever victory away to Arsenal. Ever. Ever.
GOAL! Arsenal 0-1 Fulham (Maja 59)
Josh Maja crashes the penalty high into the net!
PENALTY GIVEN! Yer man was onside, just, and the original decision will stand. What a chance this is for Fulham.
Ademola Lookman will take it.
Lemina anticipated the contact from Gabriel and started to jump. I think it was a foul; it certainly wasn’t a clear and obvious error. But there might also have been an offside in the build up. Oh what fun we have.
PENALTY TO FULHAM! Gabriel makes a moronic challenge on Lemina, and Fulham have a penalty. It’s being checked by VAR.
55 min Saka hits the outside of the near post with (I think) a mishit cross. Areola had it covered, so it wasn’t quite as exciting as it sounded.
53 min “Just to keep rubbing my point in,” says Mark Uribe, “the answer to Colum Farrelly is to make the offside rule that the attacker’s whole torso must be in front of the defender’s.”
Even if they score with the foot?
52 min Decordova-Reid slips and collides with Xhaka, leaving both men on the floor in pain. It looked like a clash of knees. Xhaka is really struggling.
50 min “How do they decide the exact micro-second that the ball was played?” says Andrew. “We always get shown the offside toenail, but the boot making the pass must be in contact with the ball for a certain amount of time. We never see that.”
It’s almost as if they rushed the whole thing through for the last World Cup without trialling it properly!
49 min Andersen clatters Xhaka and is booked.
47 min “Dump VAR and have two assistants at each end,” says Mick Shawyer. “Both agree and it’s easy. One flag up and one down they have a discussion. Referee has the final word.”
We’re stuck with VAR. If nothing else, it has changed the culture around accepting incorrect decisions too much for it to ever be put back in its box, so we need to find a way to make it be slightly less soul-destroying. I still think that, on offside, there should be a grey area, the equivalent of umpire’s call in cricket.
46 min A half chance from Lacazette, who drags a low shot wide from the edge of the D.
“Is there any way,” says Ian Copestake, “we can link VAR to both Brexit and racism?”
And the OCG. It’s all connected.
“When I did my O Levels (bear with me) there were nine of them, most comprising two separate exams,” says Gary Naylor. “By the last couple, I was concentrating for ten minutes and staring out of the window for ten minutes – repeated for two hours. The brain had been pummelled enough and needed a break – I could do the stuff, but I also couldn’t do the stuff, not then anyway. That’s how too many teams are playing now.”
At least they’ll get a nice long break this su-oh.
“Spurs supporter here just adding to the VAR-is-daft contingent,” says Colum Farrelly. “A few millimetres out of line in a dynamic sport means nothing at all and cannot be a clear and obvious error. That was a decent goal.”
Saka gained no advantage at all having his big toe in front of the defender’s. I don’t know what the answer is, because it’s too late to put VAR back in its box, but it certainly isn’t this soul-crushing shambles.
Half time chitchat
“After these farcical decisions, I’m voting early with my feet and going out to walk the dog,” says Justin Kavanagh. “It’ll be more entertaining than watching these quantity surveyors in refs’ outfits playing with their computers. Enjoy the game.”
“Strange Arsenal line up today I thought,” says David Wagland. “Not a fan of Elneny and Ceballos as a midfield pairing. Soares or Bellerin should fill in a left back so Xhaka can play midfield if you want to rest Partey. Why is Ryan in goal if Leno is on the bench? Consistency has been a massive problem for us this season (a win today matches our longest winning streak this season of three) and I would like to have momentum coming into the Europa semi.”
Half time: Arsenal 0-0 Fulham
Let us never speak of that first half again.
45+1 min Arsenal have another goal disallowed, though this one was more straightforward. Smith Rowe, in an offside position, missed a good chance just before Xhaka’s low cross hit Andersen and went into the net.
44 min The game has been so crap that it’s easy to lose sight of how important this is for Fulham. The second half is their world entire; if they can pinch a win, with home games against Burnley and Newcastle to come, they will have renewed hope.
42 min “Look, Rob,” says Ian Copestake, “how many times have I got to tell you: Arsenal are a sophisticated team and the lack of energy and intent you perceive is ironic.”
‘Like ray-ay-ain on your wedding day’ ironic?
NO GOAL! Arsenal 0-0 Fulham
Saka was offside by a whisker. Scott Parker hearts VAR again.
Saka found Bellerin, whose deep cross was headed emphatically past Areola by Dani Ceballos. They’re checking the offside – it’s a matter of millimetres.