Champions’ League: Arsenal 1 – Liverpool 1

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
April 3rd, 2008 • 8:46 am

It was a pretty good performance, marred by one bad error in defense and by the inability to convert the team’s utter domination into goals, which are, of course, the only significant statistic.

It was also a performance marked by a fair amount of bad luck. The Liverpool goal was in part the result of a pretty lucky bounce for the visitors. It is still hard to fathom the reason why the referee did not give Hleb a penalty for what was an obvious foul on him by Kuyt. And the combination of Bendtner blocking Fábregas’s certain goal and of the linesman’s flag for a non-existent off-side—there was a Liverpool defender on the goal line, for crying out loud—still makes me cringe.

But in this competition, at this stage, you need to force your luck, and the Gunners once again failed to do that. They had little trouble stifling the threat posed by Torres, mostly because Liverpool adopted such a conservative approach. But they still conceded a very stupid goal, and, in spite of their utter dominance in the second half, they still weren’t able to break down the opposition’s defense more than once.

The tie is by no means over. The usual cliché about Liverpool having the advantage is true, but the same could be said of the Gunners four years ago after the first leg at Chelsea, and we all know what happened.

True, Liverpool have more of a reputation for just squeaking through in the European competition, and we could very well end up with a 0-0 draw at Anfield next Tuesday and Arsenal going out because of the away goal rule.

Once again, the Gunners are going to have to do it the hard way, and after three games in six days against Liverpool, it is hard not to worry about the risk of fatigue. Maybe we will have a better sense of what might happen after the Premier League game on Saturday. The Gunners will most definitely have to go for it, because they simply cannot afford to drop any more points, whereas Liverpool’s ambitions are much more limited and they have a five-point cushion ahead of their local rivals for the fourth spot.

In that respect, the new van Persie injury is highly unfortunate and once again highlights the limits of Arsène Wenger’s “nurturing” policy. We can always hope that Walcott will set up and make his mark at this crucial stage of the season, but the truth is that the team simply does not have enough attacking options.

One Response to “Champions’ League: Arsenal 1 – Liverpool 1”

  1. MaCinJay says:

    I fear that Liverpool’s away goal may indeed turn out to be crucial. One of the reasons I was confident we could prevail against Milan was that we didn’t concede a goal to them at the Emirates. Also, we have struggled against other English teams over the last few weeks. (Perhaps we should ask FIFA to relocate us to Serie A!)

    I agree that the team lacks attacking options. We just have too many strikers injured or out of form and we rely too much on Adebayor (who at least broke his own recent goal drought in this game).

    It certainly is going to be a tough week for the team.

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