Advantage Liverpool. But Only Just.

3 04 2008

Ok, so obviously Tuesday’s post was, for those who didn’t spot it, my April Fool’s post. I wonder, though, if referee Pieter Vink, the Dutchman officiating last night’s crucial Champions League match between Arsenal and Liverpool, forgot what day it was. Perhaps his turning down of an obvious penalty when in perfect position to spot it was his idea of an April Fool?

At least Rafa Benitez had the dignity to say it was unclear (although he did then try and claim you don’t get penalties like that in England, which is rubbish). Dirk Kuyt, who had the best view of all, claimed after the match that it was absolutely 100% not a penalty.

Whilst I understand that they have to back their team to the hilt, especially during the match, the fact neither can admit the truth afterwards speaks volumes about their character, or lack thereof. It wasn’t even a contentious penalty, every single pundit, commentator and non-Liverpool fan would concede it was a penalty.

Coupled with Bendtner’s inexplicable goal-line clearance from his own teammate it’s clear that Arsenal were certainly “robbed”, although claims that there was a conspiracy because the referee was from a town close to Kuyt’s home town are the stuff of fantasy.

Still, whilst Arsenal should have won by at least two goals last night, and whilst a 3-1 scoreline would certainly have made us favourites, I don’t think it’s done and dusted at 1-1 like many are saying. Some are saying there’s no chance of Arsenal getting a result at Liverpool. After what happened in Milan I would say no away ground should hold fear from Arsenal on a European night. Liverpool are favourites but only just.

They, if anything, face the tougher task. How do they approach the game? Go for the 0-0 draw, and risk sitting back for 90 minutes only to concede a late sucker punch? Or do they go for the goal that could kill off the tie? What if Arsenal are able to grab an early goal, negating Liverpool’s away goal? Arsenal just need to score.

Everyone is saying Arsenal need to win at Anfield, but they don’t. A 1-1 draw would see extra time, although I’d hate to have penalties up there. Certainly 2-2 would put us through, and as Bolton can attest, even a two goal cushion isn’t safe from us. Liverpool aren’t Bolton but who would have given us a hope in that match, down to 10 men and two goals behind? Or in Milan? Arsenal thrive on confounding the critics.

Just as Chelsea would not have expected to lose last night (although I still expect them to go through), Liverpool won’t expect to be knocked out at home. Yet football’s the kind of game where you should expect the unexpected. Would I have preferred to take a 3-1 lead into the second leg? Sure, two goals forces them to attack, we’d grab at least one goal, maybe two, and kill it off. Am I hugely disappointed with 1-1? Only in the context of a match we dominated and deserved to win. Do I have confidence we can turn it around? You bet. We know our team is capable, on its day, of beating anyone.

It’s certainly advantage Liverpool. But only just. Big week ahead.



2 responses

4 04 2008

It’s all still on for my ManU v Liverpool final.

5 04 2008
Mr President

I’m still fully expecting an Arsenal v United final myself.

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