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Arsenal 1 - Fulham 1 match report: who cares

Arsenal did enough to win today. They needed a goal at the death to get the draw. Shrug.

Arsenal v Fulham - Premier League Photo by Ian Walton - Pool/Getty Images

It’s really tough to find things to say about Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Fulham because in the end, the match really didn’t matter to the Gunners. Arsenal outplayed the visitors and probably did enough to win the match. They were undone by the slightest margin on VAR disallowing a goal and a series of unfortunate calls leading to a generous penalty given against. In the end, they kept battling and were rewarded with a goal from Eddie Nketiah at the death that all but seals Fulham heading back to the Championship.

I won’t go on for too long about the VAR decision that ruled out what looked to be an opening goal for Arsenal. The technology is fine. The way it is used and the way it interacts with the offside law is a problem that needs to be addressed. In this particular instance, I’d also call attention to the frame selected to make the judgment: I don’t think it was the correct one. I’d bet a significant amount that a few frames forward, the ball was still in contact with Alexandre Lacazette’s head, which would have made a checking-back Bukayo Saka onside. And the goal would have stood.

Fulham offered very little today — .07 open play xG to be precise. They got their goal on a penalty given from the slightest of contact that was one of those penalties that wouldn’t have been given by VAR had the call not been given on the field. In fact, Craig Pawson didn’t give the penalty, his linesman did. Really impressive the that line was able to see contact that fleeting in real time from that far away from it.

The biggest takeaway from today’s match is the hamstring injury that Alexandre Lacazette appeared to pick up in the second half. Hopefully it’s not serious and he’ll be back fit in time for the Europa League clash with Villareal in two weeks. Arsenal can ill-afford to lose another center forward with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out recovering from malaria.

Aside from that, Gabriel Martinelli played very well. Granit Xhaka had another strong game. Bukayo Saka was dangerous as he always is. Shout out to Mat Ryan for winning the header on the corner leading to Eddie Nketiah’s late equalizer. And good on Nketiah for getting his first goal in a while.

It’s going to take a miracle for Arsenal to qualify for the Europa League through the table. All the eggs are in this season’s Europa League campaign basket. Hopefully the Gunners take care of business in a few weeks.