Tom Cairney

Premier League relegation focuses on Newcastle, Fulham, final day match

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The Premier League relegation race seems down to two teams for one place, as moribund Newcastle and newly-slumping Fulham head down the stretch two points apart.

The Magpies have a match-in-hand and arguably better talent, but Fulham’s shown far more mettle since a terrible start to the season and two scrappers are headed for a final day meeting at Craven Cottage.

[ MORE: The latest transfer rumors ]

The key word there is scrapper, as Fulham certainly fits the bill but Newcastle has shown little fight on the pitch in recent weeks and reports out of England say manager Steve Bruce is not going anywhere despite a clear lack of courage from his men.

The fact that Southampton, Burnley, and Brighton are hardly being considered as threatened anymore despite being no more than seven points clear of the bottom three shows just how poor the Magpies and Cottagers have been with less than two months left in the Premier League season.

If you want to indulge the idea of a third team entering the mix, wait until after Burnley meets Southampton and Newcastle on April 4 and 11. Clarets losses there would leave them within two points of the bottom three at a minimum, one if Fulham tops Villa and Wolves.

The road ahead

Here are the 16 matches left involving Fulham and/or Newcastle, and there are two common opponents in addition to the final day’s meeting between the relegation rivals in London.

Newcastle visits Burnley on April 11 while the Clarets head to Fulham on May 8, while Fulham goes to Arsenal on April 17 and the Magpies host the Gunners on May 1.

The order of these matches also matters. Tottenham’s shocking Europa League exit means Jose Mourinho has no congestion worries on April 4 at Newcastle, while Arsenal’s Europa League quarterfinal second leg at Slavia Prague comes three days before Fulham’s visit to the Emirates.

Should Arsenal advance to the UEL semis, it would play its first leg with Dinamo Zagreb or Villarreal three days before a trip to Newcastle.

Newcastle’s April 24 trip to Liverpool could be days before Jurgen Klopp leads his Reds versus Porto or Chelsea in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals should Liverpool manage their quarterfinal with Real Madrid.

Fulham has not beaten anyone left on its fixture list, but is a much different team than the first half of the season. Newcastle has beaten West Ham and Burnley while drawing Liverpool and Spurs but they’ve devolved from that standard.

April 3: Aston Villa v Fulham (First meeting: Villa 3-0)
April 4: Newcastle v Tottenham (First meeting: 1-1)
April 9: Fulham v Wolves (First meeting: Wolves 1-0)
April 11: Burnley v Newcastle (First meeting: NUFC 3-1)
April 17: Newcastle v West Ham (First meeting: NUFC 2-0)
April 18: Arsenal v Fulham (First meeting: Arsenal 3-0)
April 24: Liverpool v Newcastle (First meeting: 0-0)
May 1: Newcastle v Arsenal (First meeting: Arsenal 3-0)
May 1: Chelsea v Fulham (First meeting: Chelsea 1-0)
May 8: Fulham v Burnley (First meeting: 1-1)
May 8: Leicester v Newcastle (First meeting: LCFC 2-1)
May 12: Southampton v Fulham (First meeting: 0-0)
May 12: Newcastle v Man City (First meeting: MCFC 2-0)
May 15: Man Utd v Fulham (First meeting: United 2-1)
May 15: Newcastle v Sheffield Utd (First meeting: Blades 1-0)
May 23: Fulham v Newcastle (First meeting: 1-1)

What about the match-up?

Form

Newcastle has two wins since mid-December, a nine-match league winless run broken up for three matches before their current six-match winless run began with a 2-0 loss at Chelsea on Feb. 15.

Fulham’s now lost three of four March matches after going on a 15-match run that saw two wins, three losses, and an eye-popping 10 draws.

Digging deeper into those numbers shows some back luck, like the 2-1 loss to Leeds on Friday, but also that xG says the Cottagers would’ve been deserved losers in five draws and winners in another five. Right now, they’d take the extra five points.

Furthermore, the expected goals table shows that Fulham has been exceptionally unlucky in converting well-produced chances into goals but very fortunate in terms of opponents turning good opportunities into goals. Newcastle’s goals total is basically the same as xG while their conceded goals is almost four more than expected.

Expected goals: Fulham, 34.16-27.34
Goals: Newcastle, 28-23
Expected goals conceded: Newcastle, 43.38-44.51
Goals conceded: Fulham, 38-48
Expected points: Fulham, 35.75-29.64
Points: Newcastle, 28-26

Injuries

Well, there are some big conditionals here.

Newcastle will have Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin back from injury before the end of the season and Miguel Almiron has also returned to the fold. Fabian Schar has also been a significant absence and will be back.

Wilson and Saint-Maximin missed a stretch of games that could’ve been wins with them in the lineup, while Almiron was not enough to swing the balance against a better manager and system in Brighton.

Fulham’s only notable injury of any length has been Tom Cairney, with all due respect to backup keeper Marek Rodak.

First meeting

The first meeting was shocking stuff from Newcastle, who only managed a goal in a 1-1 against the 10-man Cottagers at St. James’ Park despite holding the man advantage for a half-hour.

All that said, Fulham needed an own goal to get their point and were out-produced in expected goals by a team that’s not great in producing expected goals.

Head-to-head personnel breakdown

Goalkeepers: Even, perhaps slight edge to Fulham’s Alphonse Areola
Center backs: Even
Fullbacks: Fulham
Defensive midfield: Fulham. Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa the best of all midfielders
Attacking midfield: Newcastle. Shelvey, Almiron, Saint-Maximin a handful
Forwards: Even

Phases of the game

Newcastle is equal opportunity bad, minus -18 in open play goal differential and also minus in goals off corners and set pieces.

They’ve been best in a 4-4-2 and have been out-scored in every 15-minute span of 90 minutes, including a ridiculous minus-7 mark coming out of halftime (46th-60th).

Fulham’s been nearly as bad in open play, though xG says the Cottagers have been unlucky in scoring in open play but fortunate in what they’ve conceded. Scott Parker’s men have also allowed all six of their penalties while scoring just two of five.

The Cottagers are also dreadful after halftime, minus-9 with 12 goals allowed after the break, though their numbers are a little more unfortunate than the Magpies’ figure.

Verdict

Follow the matchday grid above and you’ll see that both teams seem likely to be in the drop zone over the final two months. Fulham’s target will be to stand above Newcastle heading into the final day while the Magpies will likely set their goals to be within three points of the Cottagers before meeting Sheffield United and Fulham over the final two match days.

We think Fulham just knicks it, perhaps even on goal differential, as Parker’s plan is clearer and the Cottagers holding far more belief in it than Bruce’s Magpies are with his ideas.

Fulham – Liverpool: Analysis, reaction, videos

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Fulham – Liverpool was an intense, tight clash as the visitors were happy to leave west London with a point.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]   

The hosts played superbly and the reigning Premier League champions had an off day, as Bobby Decordova-Reid put Fulham 1-0 up early in the first half and the hosts dominated, but Liverpool found an equalizer as Mohamed Salah’s penalty kick made it 1-1.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Fulham – Liverpool as our own Joe Prince-Wright was on site at Craven Cottage.

STREAM LIVE FULHAM –  LIVERPOOL


FULL TIME THOUGHTS, ANALYSIS ON FULHAM – LIVERPOOL

A couple of penalty decisions which went Liverpool’s way, and some good stops from Alphonse Areola led to Fulham grabbing a point against the reigning Premier League champions. A great atmosphere at Craven Cottage down by the banks of the River Thames, as 2,000 fans returned and helped their team over the line.

Here is our reaction and analysis, as Liverpool dropped two points but will be feeling grateful to have avoided defeat.

84th minute

‘Come on Fulham, come on Fulham!’ is the chant from the home fans. They are trying to drag their side over the line.

GOALLL! Liverpool equalize. 1-1. Game on!

Harsh on Fulham, but that had been coming. A penalty kick by Mohamed Salah after a handball.

75th minute

Fulham look fairly comfortable. Can they hold on to a famous win!?

60th minute

It is all Liverpool now. Mane almost gets in down the left but Andersen clears then Areola makes a fine stop from Henderson, who is forward from center back and should score.

50th minute

The rain is lashing down here at Craven Cottage. My mind wanders to thinking about the walk back to my car in this, as I’ve forgotten my umbrella. I live in England. I should know better than this…

47th minute

Oh, no. Andy Robertson tries to clear and it almost rebounds off a Fulham player and into his own net but Alisson blocks. Liverpool looking ropey at the start of the second half a Joel Matip has gone off with a back injury. Minamino is on and Liverpool have Henderson at center back.

Premier League statement on VAR decision…

Fulham penalty appeal – 16’

“In the 16th minute of Fulham vs. Liverpool, Fabinho challenged Ivan Cavaleiro for the ball in the Fulham penalty area. The on-field decision was to award a corner. The 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 and obvious error.”

HALF TIME THOUGHTS

Fulham deservedly lead and Liverpool are lucky to only be 1-0 down. Superb atmosphere in the cosy surroundings of Craven Cottage. Listen to the roar of the home fans in the video below! Soak that in.

44th minute

After Sadio Mane nodded wide, Mo Salah turns and fires just wide. Liverpool improving.

40th minute

It sounds like a fog horn has gone off by the two benches. Oh wait. It is Scott Parker and his team barking out orders. Fulham dropping a little deeper.

34th minute

This is the worst opening 34 minutes I’ve seen from Liverpool in a long, long time. Maybe ever, under Jurgen Klopp? Fulham almost score a second but a header is somehow saved, as Alisson denies the rampant Cottagers. The offside flag was up.

GOALLLL! Fulham lead against Liverpool, 1-0

What a strike from Bobby DeCordova-Reid. Fulham deservedly lead against Liverpool and that was a brilliant hit. Craven Cottage is absolutely rocking! Jurgen Klopp is screaming on the sidelines. Liverpool are totally off the pace here. “Who are ya, who are ya!?” chants from the home fans. They’re the reigning Premier League champions, but they don’t look like it.

25th minute

CLOSE AGAIN! Fulham are on fire here. Ola Aina plays a lovely diagonal to Ademola Lookman who cuts inside with RObinson steaming down the left, and his low cu

VAR CHECK!

Lengthy check as Fabinho caught Cavaleiro in the box when clearing, but referee Andre Marriner is urged to go to the review area. He looks at the screen as the Fulham fans whip up a frenzy of noise in anticipation, but the original decision stands. No penalty kick. Correct decision.

14th minute

So close for Fulham! USMNT left back Antonee Robinson does really well to keep the ball in and finds Lookman who finds Cavaleiro who is clean through…. but his shot is straight at Alisson who got his angles spot on.

4th minute

The hosts have started well here. Ivan Cavaleiro has a shot pushed over by Alisson after beating the offside trap. Great intensity from the hosts as they respond to the chants of ‘Fulham, Fulham!’ from the home fans.

Kick off!

A wonderfully observed minute’s applause before the game for Papa Bouba Diop, as the former Fulham and Senegal midfielder passed away last week. Touching tribute for the man affectionately known as ‘The Wardrobe’ here at Craven Cottage.


Pre-game shenanigans

Welcome to Craven Cottage. My word, it is good to see fans back here in his famous stadium. A great atmosphere among the 2,000 fans here.

 

Team news (INJURY REPORT)

Fulham: OUT: Kenny Tete (calf), Terrence Kongolo (foot)

Liverpool: OUT: Diogo Jota (knock), Konstantinos Tsimikas (knee), Virgil van Dijk (knee), Thiago Alcantara (knee), Joe Gomez (knee), James Milner (thigh), Xherdan Shaqiri (undisclosed)


What they’re saying ahead of Fulham – Liverpool

Fulham’s Tom Cairney thinks the club can stay up: “Two years ago, because of the way we got promoted, because of the style of football we played and when we went half the (Championship) season unbeaten, I feel like we started that season a little bit naive. This time, it feels like we’re in every game. … I understand people saying, ‘Oh, it’s going to be the same again. We’ve lost, conceded goals’. But within these four walls, and within our dressing room, it doesn’t feel like that. I’m confident we’ve got more than enough to stay up.”

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp on VAR decision versus Midtjylland: “I haven’t seen it back but it took too long and it was really cold. It’s really hard. I used to be one of the people who said VAR is a good idea but I’m not sure I’d say that again.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

No surprise to see that Liverpool are heavy favorites to win at -334, while Fulham would net +750 for three points at home. A draw pays +450.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Fulham – Liverpool prediction

The Reds barely used Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Andy Robertson, and Jordan Henderson at midweek and totally rested Georginio Wijnaldum and Joel Matip. While Fulham is improving, the Reds didn’t even leave Merseyside this week. London won’t kill them. Fulham 1-3 Liverpool.


How to watch Fulham – Liverpool stream and start time

Kickoff: 11:30am ET Sunday
TV Channel: NBCSN
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

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Premier League Club Power Rankings, Vol. II

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As we embark upon a second Premier League Club Power Rankings of the 2020-21 season, let us also note the power of a single player to drive the fortunes of a club.

This can be challenging at some big clubs but there is rarely a big debate about the identity of the top performer at a club. Liverpool knows that nine times out of 10 it’s Virgil van Dijk. For Man City, it’s Kevin De Bruyne.

[ MORE: Club power rankings archive ]

Yet in a shorter sample size — say, 7-8 matches — players can take the wheel from the biggest names on the club. While no one at City or Liverpool wants to lose KDB or VVD, a rich vein of form can put a Raheem Sterling or Sadio Mane front and center.

So in this PLCPR, we’ll acknowledge the best performer of the first two months of the season. As always, we’re happy to debate our choices.


Premier League Club Power Rankings: 2020-21 Methodology

As a reminder, ProSoccerTalk is using a different method to ranking teams this season, at least until everyone’s played each other once.

Here are our considerations:

  • Form — Winning and losing in three recent matches plus notable injuries
  • Sense and strength matter — If the champs lost two-straight hard luck matches and a relegation candidate got 2 weird VAR breaks to win, we note the big picture over the little.
  • The table — Of course it matters.
  • Head-to-head — The results better be notable if a head-to-head loser goes above a team that beat it recently.
  • Numbers > Luck— Did a wicked deflection or bad bounce make a dominant side fall to a poor one? Let’s look at xG, shots, chances, possession, and other indicators.

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Vol. II

20. Sheffield United

Last ranking: 17

Why? It’s difficult to find anything redeeming about the Blades season, which has admittedly featured a tough early schedule. Two of their four goals came from the spot. Last in possession, second-last in shots per game, fourth-worst in completing passes, and second-worst in shots allowed per game.

Top performer: Sander Berge has been their best hope to do much of anything, though Chris Basham has also been decent at the back.

19. Burnley

Last ranking: 19

Why? Have scored one goal in its last six games and are on a 390-minute scoreless run. The Clarets have produced less than 1 expected goal per game in five of their eight matches.

Top performer: James Tarkowski.

18. West Bromwich Albion

Last ranking: 18

Why? Still winless. Faced Burnley, Brighton, and Fulham in three-straight outings and came away with one goal and two points. Good news: After Man United on Nov. 21, will meet Sheffield United, Palace, and Newcastle in consecutive matches.

Top performer: Matheus Pereira. The only player averaging better than one shot, key pass, and completed dribble per game on a team that scored half of its season goals in one match. Keep an eye on Conor Gallagher. The 20-year-old midfielder is averaging five tackles a game through four appearances and his .8 key passes trails only Matheus Pereira.

17. Fulham

Last ranking: 20

Why? The Cottagers are showing gumption and deserved a point or more against West Ham, but four points from 24 won’t allow for moral victories and Everton, Leicester City, Man City, and Liverpool are next.

Top performer: Tom Cairney (Alphonse Areola) — Leads the Premier League in accurate opposition half passes (312) by 16 over Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

16. Newcastle United

Last ranking: 16

Why? For every impressive point or three, and there’s a nice win over Everton this month, there’s a big question or four. The biggest being whether Steve Bruce can orchestrate a midfielder without Jonjo Shelvey. Credit to the defenders, though, and special recognition to Federico Fernandez and the Newcastle treatment team, as the Argentine’s 14 blocked shots are five more than anyone in the league.

Top performer: Allan Saint-Maximin — There’s no question the Frenchman is Newcastle’s game-by-game hope of goals.

15. Leeds United

Last ranking: 5

Why? Marcelo Bielsa’s men allowed seven goals in their first two games then limited Blades, Man City, Wolves, and Villa to a total of two… only to lose back-to-back 4-1 matches to Leicester and Palace.

Top performer: Luke Ayling.

14. Brighton and Hove Albion

Last ranking: 13

Why? Insanely unlucky, still, the Seagulls are ninth in expected goals for, fifth in expected goals conceded, and somehow 1W-3D-4L on the season.

Top performer: Leandro Trossard — As the Seagulls continue to be the most snakebit team in the league, Trossard leads the team in plenty of categories in addition to leading the league in hitting the frame of the goal (four).

13. Manchester United

Last ranking: 12

Why? Maybe the 3-1 win over Everton was the start of United’s attack and defending finding form at the same time. Harry Maguire’s been much better and the Red Devils have three good chances to collect points before its next Manchester Derby.

Top performer: Bruno Fernandes.

12. West Ham United

Last ranking: 7

Why? The 1-0 win over Fulham wasn’t the emphatic release we wanted to see following draws against Spurs and Man City and a close loss to Liverpool. Still, much improved.

Top performer: Pick a center midfielder, as Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice have both been outstanding. We’ll take Soucek, just to be a little different.

11. Crystal Palace

Last ranking: 11

Why? Wilfried Zaha has five goals this season and he’s been joined by six other Eagles on the score sheet. Palace is still overperforming but wins are wins and Roy Hodgson’s men have four.

Top performer: Zaha.

10. Arsenal

Last ranking: 9

Why? Maybe it’s time to try Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at center forward and give Nicolas Pepe a chance to shine, because the Gunners have lost three of four while scoring one total goal (in the 1-0 win at Manchester United).

Top performer: Dani Ceballos. This will soon be Thomas Partey, but Ceballos has controlled games and his performance against West Ham United was elite.

9. Aston Villa

Last ranking: 2

Why? The 3-0 defeat of Arsenal was a solid response to consecutive losses to Southampton and Leeds. Watch out for a forthcoming schedule that could see Villa take a point or more until their last fixture of 2020 versus Chelsea.

Top performer: Jack Grealish

8. Manchester City

Last ranking: 10

Why? Ruben Dias, Rodri, and Aymeric Laporte have combined to give City a real foundation underneath their dangerous attack. Plus Kevin De Bruyne is the best player in the league.

Top performer: KDB.

7. Everton

Last ranking: 1

Why? You mean why not a farther slide, and why ahead of a Manchester United side that beat it 3-1? Depth is a big problem for the Toffees but its three-match slide happened in its first three matches without suspended Richarlison. With Fulham, Leeds, and Burnley next, we’ll see if Carlo Ancelotti steadies the ship before a next huge test against Chelsea on Dec. 12.

Top performer: James Rodriguez, when healthy, has been one of the three or four most dynamic players in this young Premier League season.

6. Wolves

Last ranking: 14

Why? A loss to Leicester City was a setback, as was drawing Newcastle, but Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have been the better team more often than not.

Top performer: Ruben Neves — Take out goalkeepers and there are only two players in the PL’s top 10 in accurate long balls: Neves and teammate Conor Coady. Neves is one of only two in the league’s Top 20 above 70 percent in completion percentage on long balls (James Rodriguez). Given the volume, that’s nuts.

5. Southampton

Last ranking: 15

Why? Ralph Hasenhuttl has proven that patience was in Saints’ fans best interests, and Southampton was so much better organized than Newcastle in a comprehensive win without Danny Ings.

Top performer: James Ward-Prowse. He can do absolutely anything on the pitch.

4. Chelsea

Last ranking: 6

Why? Buried Burnley and Sheffield United and might’ve taken Man United, too, if a certain penalty was called against Harry Maguire on Cesar Azpilicueta. Timo Werner is a true star.

Top performer: N’Golo Kante – A PL-high 24 interceptions shows that the former Ballon d’Or candidate remains one of the best in the game.

3. Leicester City

Last ranking: 8

Why? The Europa League hasn’t slowed Brendan Rodgers’ men, who’ve beaten Arsenal, Leeds, and Wolves to the tune of a combined 6-1 score line.

Top performer: Youri Tielemans. The 23-year-old has helped Leicester run the show despite injuries to Wilfred Ndidi, Caglar Soyuncu, and — for a time — Jamie Vardy.

2. Liverpool

Last ranking: 4

Why? Because losses of Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, and now Trent Alexander-Arnold have not stopped Jurgen Klopp’s men from staying within a point of the top.

Top performer: Mohamed Salah – level with De Bruyne for most key passes in league, his shoot-first reputation sometimes precedes him but the Egyptian remains Liverpool’s best feature.

1. Tottenham Hotspur

Last ranking: 3

Why? Have not lost since the opener against Everton despite the challenging Thursday-weekend doubleheaders of the Europa League.

Top performer: Harry Kane. Leads the PL in assists, shots, shots on target, and big chances created. Scores a bunch, too.

Notable stat leaders from the early Premier League season

NBC Sports Premier League schedule
Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images
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It’s early, yes, but there have been enough matches played that many of the Premier League’s usual statistical standouts have passed the small sample size point to lead the top-flight in traditional categories.

Yet, of course, in a season with Leicester City atop the table and Southampton not too far off the pace, there are some surprises, too.

[ MORE: Sergio Ramos to MLS? ]

As the PL takes a two-week breather for international matches, let’s check out the current league leaders in a number of categories (via SofaScore, WhoScored, and premierleague.com).


Premier League individual leaders, 2020-21

Goals: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Heung-min Son (Spurs), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) — 8

Shots: Harry Kane (Spurs) — 29

Shots on target: Kane and Salah — 15

Big chances created: Kane — 8

Assists: Kane — 8

Key passes: Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) and Salah — 21

Successful dribbles: Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa (Fulham) — 28

Total passes: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Spurs) — 659

Accurate final third passes: Tom Cairney (Fulham) — 161

Passing % (min. 200 completed): Mohamed Elneny, (Arsenal) — 94.02%

Accurate long pass % (non-keepers): Conor Coady (Wolves) — 57

Accurate crosses: Aaron Cresswell (West Ham) — 20

Tackles: Allan (Everton) — 32

Clearances: Federico Fernandez (Newcastle) — 44

Blocked shots: Fernandez — 14

Interceptions: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea) — 24

Clean sheets: Emiliano Martinez (Villa), Rui Patricio (Wolves), Alex McCarthy (Saints) — 4

Saves: Karl Darlow (Newcastle) — 39

Tottenham - Newcastle
Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane has a shot saved by Newcastle’s Karl Darlow (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Premier League team leaders, 2020-21

Shots per game: Liverpool — 16.6

Goals per game: Aston Villa — 2.57

Goals from open play: Tottenham — 14

Possession: Man City — 59%

Passing: Man City — 87.6%

Most shots conceded per game: Newcastle — 16.5

Fewest shots conceded per game: Brighton — 7.1

Tackles per game: Leeds — 21

Interceptions per game: Wolves — 12.4

Parker questions West Ham winner, laments brutal Fulham penalty miss

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Let’s break down a crazy and — it turns out — controversial ending to West Ham United’s 1-0 defeat of Fulham on Saturday.

Nil-nil under stoppage time, the match saw a wild final four minutes which included a West Ham goal that Fulham felt should’ve been pulled back for offside in the build-up and a VAR-awarded penalty that the Cottagers missed in eye-popping fashion.

[ RECAP: West Ham 1-0 Fulham ]

We’ll start with the West Ham goal. A mishit headed clearance from Fulham fell to Said Benrahma, who set up Tomas Soucek for a well-struck goal, but Cottagers boss Scott Parker wants to know why Sebastien Haller was not found offside.

West Ham - Fulham
@NBCSportsSoccer

Haller never played the ball but the ball was certainly played into the offside forward, forcing Fulham’s attempted clearance that fell to Benrahma (freeze frame of an already-offside Haller a split-second before the service, right. Full video atop the post).

“Their goal, the player is an offside position,” Parker said after the game. “I don’t know the rule but you work on offsides, my player has headed the ball out because Seb Haller is there. I don’t know the offside rule. My center half can’t leave it, he’s had to deal with it.”

That’s entirely fair, but the goal counted and Fulham will feel it karmic retribution that VAR spotted a kick on Tom Cairney in the West Ham box moments later.

Ademola Lookman stepped up to the task, but never looked up to spy Lukasz Fabianski guessing correctly to foil his soft chip.

Lookman covered his face with his jersey and crumbled to turf, a valuable Fulham point gone

“It’s tough to take,” Cairney said. “It’s just football in the Premier League. It’s a bit crazy sometime. We managed to get the penalty and these things happen in football. … [Lookman is] devastated, a little bit apologetic. He’s a young man. He’s had a good start to his Fulham career. He is a big player for us. We’ll get around him and pick him up. He knows he could have got us a point.”

Parker didn’t try to make excuses for his winger.

“The boy has made a mistake, that’s clear,” Parker said. “You can miss a penalty, but you can’t miss a penalty like that. He knows that. When you’re young you have to learn quick. … He’s disappoined and rightly so. Everyone can miss penalties of course but in a certain way. This is football, growing as an individual and we’ll learn from this.”

Fulham has Everton, Leicester City, Man City, and Liverpool next. A point Saturday would’ve helped on several fronts.