Fulham – Liverpool: VAR will be in focus after Liverpool came back to draw Fulham 1-1 at Craven Cottage on Sunday.
The Reds were nowhere near their best and used a fittingly-tepid Mohamed Salah penalty to keep pace with leaders Spurs, their Wednesday opponent at Anfield.
Fulham’s eight points are two clear of 18th-place Burnley, who hosts Arsenal at 2:15 pm ET. Bobby Decordova-Reid scored a terrific goal to give the Cottagers a first-half lead.
Three things we learned from Fulham – Liverpool
1. Watch the weary: This is a repeat of our “first thing” from Tottenham’s draw at Crystal Palace with slightly-changed numbers. Liverpool looked like a club playing its 14th match in 56 days while the hosts had played eight in the last 57. It’s something to monitor from all PL teams in Europe as the UCL and UEL congestion turns to Festive Fixture congestion.
2. The fine margins of VAR: Fulham thought it had a penalty — and so did many of us — when Ivan Cavaleiro was chopped down by Fabinho near the end line. Replays appeared to show the Brazilian clipping the Fulham man’s plant leg and it seemed an assured penalty when Andre Marriner was called over to the pitchside monitor. But upon further review it was not a clear and obvious error as Fabinho judged the angle almost impossibly well (See screen grab here) and if he didn’t there’s too much grey area to deem the mistake ‘clear and obvious.’
PL on not giving Fulham pen in 1st half: "VAR advised the referee to review the incident at the Referee Review Area for a potential penalty. He stayed with the on-field decision of corner as he felt that Fabinho got the ball, and there was no evidence of a clear & obvious error"
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) December 13, 2020
On the flip side, Aboubakar Kamara’s leap in the wall, arms-raised but across his chest when a free kick struck him on the left arm. VAR didn’t need much time to confirm the foul and Salah’s poor penalty somehow defied Areola.
3. Americans Abroad: Fulham left back Antonee Robinson impressed against his former Merseyside rivals, the Everton academy man going 90 minutes and winning 8-of-12 duels. Robinson recorded four clearances, four tackles, two interceptions, and a blocked shot and seemed locked into the left wingback/fullback spot under Scott Parker. Fellow USMNT back Tim Ream was an unused sub in the draw.
Man of the Match: Fabinho
Fulham fans and Liverpool-detractors won’t love the call given the controversial non-penalty, but he was very good at the back and cut out a late Ademola Lookman dribble to boot. Areola deserves a shout, too, but his inability to stop Salah’s penalty puts him a peg down with Reid.
Fulham – Liverpool recap
Fulham started really well, charging down both sides and an Ivan Cavaleiro shot from the right was saved for a corner by Alisson Becker.
Cavaleiro then won a VAR-awarded penalty for a Fabinho foul near the end line, or did they? Somehow, Andre Marriner was not swayed by footage showing Fabinho taking out the Fulham man’s plant foot.
Alisson made another save but conceded a corner, and Reid smashed a beauty home after Liverpool partially-cleared the danger.
Liverpool asserted itself in the final 10 minutes of the half, Salah missing the near post with a turn-and-rip off a Trent Alexander-Arnold entry.
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The Cottagers were bright out of the break and Cavaleiro had another chance to score before Liverpool broke the other way and Mohamed Salah won a corner with a hard shot toward Alphonse Areola.
The French goalkeeper had a number of big saves including a 61st-minute denial of Jordan Henderson from in-tight.
The Reds got their chance from the spot off a handball from the leaping Fulham wall, and Salah’s poor effort still beat Areola.
The Fulham keeper made a fine save on Curtis Jones after the Liverpool youngster dribbled 60 yards or more with about 10 minutes to play.
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