Report as West Ham miss chance to move into top four; Tomas Soucek controversially sent off for inadvertent elbow on Aleksandar Mitrovic; Fulham’s winless Premier League run stretches to 12 games
West Ham missed the chance to move into the top four with a 0-0 draw at Fulham which was marred by Tomas Soucek’s contentious late red card.
A sixth Premier League win in seven would have lifted David Moyes’ in-form side above Liverpool into the Champions League places, but the Hammers were uncharacteristically passive, registering just a single shot on target at Craven Cottage.
Things took a turn for the worse deep into stoppage-time when influential midfielder Soucek was sent off by referee Mike Dean after a lengthy VAR review for an unintentional elbow on Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Fulham’s commitment towards securing what would have been only their third Premier League win of the season could not be faulted, but it was familiar tale for Scott Parker’s goal-shy side as their winless run stretched to 12 games.
Fulham stay 18th in the table, eight points from safety, after their ninth draw of the season, while West Ham stay fifth, a point outside the top four.
Fulham: Areola (6), Tete (6), Andersen (6), Tosin (6), Robinson (6), Reed (6), Lemina (6), Loftus-Cheek (7), Decordova-Reid (6), Lookman (7), Cavaleiro (6).
Subs: Mitrovic (6), Maja (6), Anguissa (6).
West Ham: Fabianski (6), Coufal (6), Dawson (6), Ogbonna (6), Cresswell (6), Soucek (5), Rice (6), Bowen (5), Lingard (5), Benrahma (5), Antonio (5).
Subs: Yarmolenko (5), Noble (5), Fredericks (5).
Man of the match: Ademola Lookman.
How Fulham held flat West Ham
Fulham started brightly, with Ademola Lookman keen to prove a point after his infamous failed Panenka penalty in the reverse fixture at the London Stadium.
But the first clear opening fell for West Ham, with the returning Jarrod Bowen coming within inches of getting on the end of a teasing Aaron Cresswell cross.
The better chances continued to come West Ham’s way, with Declan Rice drawing Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola into a save at his near post, before Jesse Lingard’s floated cross picked out the prolific Soucek, but he headed a gilt-edged opening over while under pressure from Mario Lemina.
- Mario Lemina, Ivan Cavaleiro and Bobby Decordova-Reid returned as Fulham made three changes from the defeat to Leicester. New signing Josh Maja started on the bench.
- Jarrod Bowen replaced Ryan Fredericks in West Ham’s only change from the victory at Aston Villa.
It took Fulham 42 minutes to register their first attempt on target, with Ivan Cavaleiro’s near-post header straight at Lukasz Fabianski.
At the start of the second half, Fulham captain Joachim Andersen found Bobby Decordova-Reid but his volley went over the bar, before Ruben Loftus-Cheek chipped a glorious opening into the side-netting moments later.
The crossbar prevented Vladimir Coufal heading West Ham in front of 63 minutes after he climbed high to meet Declan Rice’s cross and saw a thunderous effort cannon back off the woodwork.
Parker introduced Mitrovic soon after and the Serbian nearly produced an instant impact with a low drive which flashes agonisingly wide of the far corner.
West Ham were reduced to 10 men in the dying stages when Soucek fell foul of a VAR intervention, leaving the Hammers without the Czech midfielder for the next three games of their European push.
Mike Dean decision ‘genuinely worrying’
Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp:
“Mike Dean has had so many years officiating, and he thinks he’s meant to do that?
“This is why people get so frustrated when people watch football now, when they see things like that. It goes away from what we love about the game.
“The fact that Mike Dean went over there and though it was a red card is a genuinely worry for me.”
What the managers said…
West Ham manager David Moyes: “It’s an accidental clash. I’m more embarrassed for whoever was on VAR and made that decision and thinks that is in any way deliberate. I think he makes contact, but if VAR don’t see that it’s an accidental thing then it’s difficult, isn’t it? I don’t know what to say.
“Sometimes these decisions can affect you badly. We hope that it doesn’t, but I’m amazed that they’re even considering letting that go to VAR and not seeing it as accidental. It’s an incredible decision.
“You very rarely win any appeals these days. There will always be a reason why they think it should be, so I think we find all of these decisions very difficult at the moment.
“[The game] was poor from our point of view but great that we didn’t play well and didn’t concede any goals so we’ll take that as a positive. It was poor by our recent standards, we kept a clean sheet tonight, but we’ve played better, that’s for sure.”
Fulham manager Scott Parker: “The way the game is going now, it’s become very sterile. It certainly wouldn’t have been a sending off five years ago, but in the modern game it is. This is the game everyone wants; they want things slowed down on TV. It’s only a matter of time before players won’t be wearing shin pads, that’s the way it’s going.
“We were superb from start to finish but were probably a bit short when it came to putting the ball in the back of the net. I don’t think you can dominate as game as much as we did today and not win, but we drew.
“I’m very proud of my team and I don’t think you’d come away after 90 minutes thinking we were fighting for our lives and were downbeat, it was the total opposite.”
Opta stats – London not calling for Fulham
- Fulham have failed to win any of their last four league games against West Ham (D1 L3), failing to score in three of those matches.
- Fulham are winless in their last 20 Premier League London derbies (D3 L17), with only Crystal Palace having a longer such run in English top-flight history (31 between August 1969 and March 1973). However, this was the first time the Cottagers have kept a clean sheet in a Premier League London derby since March 2013 (1-0 vs Spurs), having conceded in each of their previous 28 such matches.
- No side has played out more goalless draws in the Premier League this season than Fulham (4 – level with Man Utd).
- West Ham have won as many points this season in 23 games as they did in the entirety of 2019-20 (39).
- Only Burnley (12) have failed to score in more Premier League games than Fulham (11) this season.
- There were just three shots on target in this game (2 for Fulham & 1 for West Ham) – the joint lowest tally in a Premier League game this season (level with three other games).
- Fulham (D8 L4) have gone 12 league games without a victory for the first time since April-September 2014 (a run of 12), while it’s their longest such run solely in the top-flight since November 2007-January 2008 (a run of 12).
Fulham travel to Everton in the Premier League next Sunday at 7pm. West Ham travel to Man Utd in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday at 7.30pm, before hosting Sheffield United in the Premier League on Monday at 6pm.