Fulham boss Scott Parker insists there is “absolutely no chance” his side have given up on Premier League survival as he hit out at the decision to allow a last-gasp Arsenal goal to stand in their draw at the Emirates Stadium.
Eddie Nketiah came off the bench to score a last-minute equaliser against Fulham – whose hopes of avoiding the drop suffered another blow as a result.
Parker’s side lost to a last-minute goal to Wolves last time out but appeared on course for a first-ever away win over Arsenal following Josh Maja’s second-half penalty.
Instead, it was further heartbreak as Nketiah scrambled the ball in from point-blank range to earn the misfiring Gunners a 1-1 draw.
Asked if another gut-wrenching late goal meant their chances of survival had come to an end, Parker’s response was emphatic: “No chance, absolutely no chance.
“This team has shown throughout this season that we can win games, we can come to big football clubs against very big teams and get results and performances.
“Six points is the difference tonight. Of course there is belief, if something can change that quick, then why would there not be?
“Of course we are disappointed, I’m gutted. The last two weeks have been a real kick in terms of that but as always you get up tomorrow morning, gloves back on, keep fighting and go again.”
For saying this game really failed to ever ignite, there would be VAR controversy throughout as Dani Ceballos saw a header ruled out after Bukayo Saka had been centimetres offside in the build-up.
Then Fulham would get their penalty as referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot on the advice of his assistant, with VAR checking Gabriel Magalhaes’ foul on Mario Lemina and then a potential offside against Ola Aina in the move leading to the spot-kick.
With both decisions standing, it was left to Maja to hammer the ball home from 12 yards and give Fulham renewed optimism of avoiding the drop.
Nketiah’s eventual leveller would stand after an offside check against Rob Holding in the build-up, with Parker exasperated by the decision not to rule out the goal.
“What I am confused with is that the player (Holding) is two yards away from my keeper (Alphonse Areola) and three yards from the goal line,” he added.
“The ramifications of his position affects my keeper. We have got the best keeper in the division bar none in terms of controlling his box.
“He doesn’t know that Holding is in an offside position so he has to react to that, if he isn’t there I suspect my keeper comes and collects and the ball never reaches the back post.
“I know now what will be said, it will be that he didn’t attempt to play the ball. It is an irrelevance whether he attempted to play the ball.
“Maybe by the letter of the law, maybe by a statement that comes out, it is the correct decision but I have played football for a long time and I don’t think it is.”
Arsenal may have earned a share of the spoils late on but they are without back-to-back league wins since January.
“That’s the reason we are where we are in the league,” Mikel Arteta said of his side’s inconsistency.
“Because when you face the games like today and you produce what you produce, you have to win it.
“That’s what the top teams are doing consistently in the league, and when you don’t do it then obviously the consequences are that you are where you are.
“Arsenal deserved three points, without a doubt.
“You have to respect every opinion but you ask me my opinion and I tell you that we totally deserved to win the match, and you have to look back at the chances we created, two goals disallowed, and we conceded with one shot on target.”