Eddie Nketiah’s stoppage-time goal withstood VAR review as Arsenal deprived Fulham of a monster result with a 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Josh Maja converted a penalty as VAR took a goal away from Arsenal and upheld a spot-kick awarded to Fulham in a wild London derby.
Fulham moves six points back of 17th-place Burnley and 16th-place Brighton with two more matches played than both and five left on its schedule.
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Arsenal is now in further danger of finishing bottom half despite the point. The Gunners have 46 points, four back of seventh and one ahead of 10th-place Leeds United.
Leeds has played one fewer match while 11th-place Aston Villa has played two fewer and is just two points behind the Gunners.
Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos has a goal ruled out for the slimmest of offside decisions in the first half, while Maja was just onside in the build-up to a Gabriel foul on Mario Lemina in the second frame.
Gunners goalkeeper Mat Ryan got a surprise start over Bernd Leno after surprising midweek comments from the latter, and played a big role in the equalizer. The Australian came forwarded and nodded the corner kick to the back post before it returned for Nketiah’s finish.
Three things we learned from Arsenal – Fulham
1. V-A-R you serious? Look, rules are rules but so we can both understand the correct implementation of the rules while also debating what they need to change about them. Arsenal had a terrific team goal ruled out for offside just before halftime, but the quality of the goal doesn’t matter here as much as the toe offside that pulled it back upon video review. But wait, there’s more! VAR tuned into a penalty shout in Arsenal’s box just after halftime, a call given on the field to Mario Lemina as Gabriel Magalhaes tried to pull out of a challenge. The foul was confirmed but was Gabriel’s knee keeping Josh Maja onside? Yes, but perhaps if the Arsenal defender shaved his knee cap…
Yes, the freeze frames showed offside and onside, but when are we freezing the frame? Does a split-second change it the other way. Is there a computer chip in every player’s boot to meet the one in every ball? The margins must be made wider, at the very least.
2. Arsenal needed to shoot more early, and finish more all day: The Gunners had a very “Man City in October” first half, holding all of the ball and generating chance after chance but failing to find any finish apart from Dani Ceballos’ outstanding and disallowed goal. And here’s the thing: It’s good to work the ball around to try and find the right opening, but at times it felt like there was no danger of Arsenal having a crack at goal. With just three attempts in the first half despite 66 percent of the ball, that belief feels righteous. Then again, the Gunners then took more than 70 percent possession in the second half and lashed more than a dozen shots toward goal, to no avail (besides, of course, the goals that did not count!).
3. Lacazette injury could be massive blow to UEL hopes: Whatever you want to say about Alexandre Lacazette as a top strike option — we rate him much higher than most, including apparently Mikel Arteta — he’s leading the Gunners with 17 goals in all competitions. His pulling up and limping off in the second half with a possible hamstring injury is a big deal for a team that needs to outlast Villarreal and either Manchester United or AS Roma to make the Champions League. And with the dropped points Sunday keeping the Gunners well off seventh on the PL table? Yikes.
Man of the Match: Mario Lemina
It’s either Lemina or Dani Ceballos, who had an intriguing fight for control of the midfield. Ceballos had his goal taken away by VAR, which helped uphold Lemina’s won penalty. Lemina also racked up four tackles, three interceptions, and a blocked shot.
Arsenal – Fulham recap
Arsenal bossed the game and chances over almost the entirety of the first half, the rare outlier coming when Josh Maja’s shot bounded just wide of the post as Gunners goalkeeper Mathew Ryan looked on in helpless fashion.
Otherwise it was one-way traffic, the Gunners holding 66 percent of the ball and twice getting goals chalked off for offside. Still, Scott Parker would’ve been pleased to see Fulham limit the Gunners to three shots.
Ceballos looked like he had his first Premier League goal with a terrific headed finish of some smart Arsenal combination play, but VAR overruled the would-be opener for a razor-thin offside in the build-up (See Thing No. 1, above).
VAR tuned into a penalty shout in Arsenal’s box just after halftime, a call given on the field to Mario Lemina as Gabriel Magalhaes tried to pull out of a challenge. The foul was confirmed but was Gabriel’s knee keeping Josh Maja onside? Yes.