Why there will be no VAR in Liverpool's Carabao Cup semi-final against Fulham

The first cup final of the domestic season is on the line as Liverpool take on Fulham in the Carabao Cup semis.

The Reds are the record holders when it comes to appearances in the League Cup's last four, with 18 previous showings at this stage across the competition's history.

Even such experienced campaigners can expect a few nerves when faced with a final in sight, but one factor that won't be adding to the drama when Liverpool take on Fulham in the first leg at Anfield on Wednesday evening is VAR.

VAR was set to be introduced to the competition at this stage, but will now not be used in either of the Carabao Cup semi-finals, as a result of Championship side Middlesbrough's involvement.

The EFL – who run the competition – have made the decision not to use the technology in either of the two-legged semi-finals (Liverpool vs Fulham and Middlesbrough vs Chelsea) because Boro currently do not have a VAR setup at the Riverside Stadium.

The technology will, however, be used in the final at Wembley.

'Fairer' approach

A spokesperson for the EFL 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."

VAR remains a controversial element of top level football, with Liverpool at the centre of several contentious decisions already this season.

Infamously, the Reds were given an apology from the PGMOL after a VAR room mix-up led to Luis Diaz's legitimate goal in the defeat to Tottenham back in September being ruled out. That game also featured a highly debatable, VAR-assisted red card for Curtis Jones.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 30, 2023: A goal scored by Liverpool's Luis Díaz, given on the pitch as offside, is mistakenly confiemd by VAR who believe the onfield decision was a goal, during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Interestingly, the referee for Liverpool's semi-final first leg at Anfield will be David Coote, who was the VAR for the Reds' 1-1 draw with Arsenal last month – when Martin Odegaard’s handball in the penalty area went unpunished.

Should they get past Fulham to the final, Liverpool could face a replay of the 2022 showdown with Chelsea, which the Reds won on penalties, with Caoimhin Kelleher scoring the decisive spot kick.

While that match-up remains the most likely outcome after the semis, it is actually Middlesbrough who have an advantage over Chelsea after winning the first leg 1-0 at the Riverside Stadium on Tuesday night.

Liverpool take on Fulham at Anfield at 20:00 GMT on Wednesday, with the second leg to be played on Wednesday, 24 January at Craven Cottage.

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