Liverpool vs. Fulham: Why there’s no VAR for Carabao Cup semi-final

Liverpool face Fulham in their Carabao Cup semi-final – and there will be no VAR for either leg despite its planned introduction for this round.

Jurgen Klopp‘s men have a place in the last four of the competition after wins against Leicester, Bournemouth and West Ham, with Fulham now the last team blocking another final berth.

The semi-final clash was due to be the first round in the Carabao Cup that would use VAR, however, the EFL has decided that will no longer be the case to keep it fair.

Three Premier League teams – Liverpool, Fulham and Chelsea – all have VAR technology in place at their stadiums, but fellow semi-finalists Middlesbrough do not.

In a bid to keep a level playing field, the EFL have decided that VAR will now only be used in the final instead of allowing three of the four matches across the two legs to use it.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 16, 2022: Referee Anthony Taylor indicates a VAR review during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

An EFL spokesman told The Telegraph: “There will be no VAR used in the semi finals because it was not possible for the technology to be used at Middlesbrough.

“It was decided it was fairer to not use it in any of the four semi final games as a result. The FA took a different approach (in the FA Cup) but we felt this was the way to go. If it couldn’t be used in one of the games it won’t be used in any of the four semi final legs.

“However, VAR will be used for the final regardless of who is playing in it as the technology is already installed at Wembley.”

It is at odds with the FA Cup, which uses VAR in games where the technology is available, even if other fixtures in the same round do not have access.

As for who is officiating Liverpool’s first leg against Fulham on Wednesday, David Coote is the man in the middle – someone Reds will be all too familiar with.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 30, 2023: Referee David Coote shows a yellow card during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Sheffield United FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. Man City won 2-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Coote was the VAR for last month’s top-of-the-table meeting with Arsenal, when Martin Odegaard’s obvious handball failed to be punished.

He will be assisted from the touchline by Timothy Wood and Wade Smith, while Tim Robinson stands in as the fourth official at Anfield.

There is bound to be mixed reactions to VAR being absent across these games, some will embrace it and others may question its absence should referees miss big decisions that cost a team a place in the final.

The Reds’ first leg against Fulham is on Wednesday before the return leg at Craven Cottage on January 24 – the final, meanwhile, is at Wembley on February 25.