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Arsenal v Liverpool - 07/08 Champions League Quarterfinal

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The following article refers to an older game – for the upcoming Arsenal-Liverpool game, click here.

The climax to this game was dramatic, equal parts glorious and sickening, and ultimately, a split between euphoria and despondent tears.

Well, that’s what you get for following both sides of the game.

Liverpool go through the Champions League semi-finals AGAIN, setting up a semi-final clash with Chelsea (AGAIN), while Arsenal will now have to contend with the improvements they’ve made this season as opposed to any realistic chance of silverware.

The way this game went, it didn’t deserve to be decided by a refereeing error. The ref had caught Kuyt’s dive in the first half and should have seen this time around that Babel hadn’t been pulled back or pushed down to the ground, he stumbled while jostling for control and position.

Coming as it did just seconds after Arsenal’s 2nd goal, the penalty overshadowed the most brilliant piece of skill from Theo Walcott as the Arsenal striker slalomed his way straight through Liverpool’s half before cutting it across for Adebayor to finish off. Shambolic defending by Liverpool there, starting way up near Arsenal’s box with Gerrard taking a wild swing in the air and missing the ball completely.

Watching Liverpool’s build up to their 4th goal, I wonder why Fabregas didn’t bring Babel down and take the red card. It would have been the hotheaded thing to do, but losing 2-3 is better than losing 2-4, and at that time it wasn’t as if Arsenal had any real chance of getting back into the game (Rafa knew as much when the penalty went in – Arsenal were broken then and there), so he wouldn’t have missed the semi-finals.

Oh well. Credit where credit is due – Liverpool really turned it on after conceding the first goal and kept the pressure going right till the end except for a few blips (a great chance that fell to Adebayor and then that Walcott slalom), controlled the game more or less. On the balance of the two legs, if you consider the refereeing decisions, Arsenal may claim that they deserved to go through but in the end it’s Liverpool going to their umpteenth Champions League final.

A rematch with Chelsea awaits, and Liverpool fans will have one eye at Moscow. Arsenal on the other hand must pick themselves up for Sunday’s game with Manchester United – and plan again for next season.

Catch the 2nd leg video highlights here.

2nd Leg Preview

Twice Rafa has taken Liverpool to the Emirates and twice he’s come out more satisfied, with his team getting the better result in both cases. Away draws are nothing to write about but against Arsenal and at this stage of the season, if Liverpool fans were offered this last week they’d have taken it.

Expect Wenger to throw everything his team has – minus the dead tea lady – at Liverpool and while the stakes and hype point to a fantastic exhibition of football one can’t help but wonder if Liverpool can dominate Arsenal again but with greater control than they did at the Emirates?

Fabregas has talked about getting away from the pressure of the home fans, and it boils down to what was said the other day – that when the going gets tough the fans need to get behind their team. There will be enough time for pointing fingers at the end of the season. So far, Arsenal have improved from the last two seasons and that in itself is worth celebrating.

If it were a league game, I’d give Arsenal a shot. As it stands, big cup ties are Rafa’s thing, and barring a miracle, Liverpool will win the tie, if not the 2nd leg itself.

First Leg: Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool – Gunners facing end to a promising season

Before this game Wenger had talked about the most challenging moment of his career – a statement that was meant to motivate his players more than make any sense (it doesn’t – the most challenging moment was the 05/06 season finale – a mad dash to 4th spot and the Champions League final which Arsenal lost) – but the press picked up the soundbite and shaped their own story around it.

There’s no question about it though – Arsenal were the better side and if they had made more of their possession / chances and if that penalty had been given, they would won easily. As things stand, the Gunners have lost the opening gambit in this 3-part battle. Wenger’s aim was to win without conceding – Arsenal did neither. Liverpool’s aim was to avoid defeat and score if possible. They did both. The return leg will contain goals, no doubt, but who would you back to score 2 goals at Anfield on 8th April – Liverpool or Arsenal?

The game also has an impact on the weekend Premier League tie – Liverpool have tested Arsenal at their best and have came away with a draw, and even though they were under the cosh for most of the game the result will give them a much-needed confidence boost to go on and get a result in the next game. Liverpool don’t need to win the game, a draw will suit them as well. Arsenal on the other hand need to win to stay in the title race (in case United lose away to Boro) and slipping further behind United and Chelsea, coupled with losing the quarter-final at Anfield next Tuesday, will definitely end Arsenal’s season.

Still, overall the season has been a massive improvement and the club is going in the right direction (I’m talking about Arsenal but the same applies to Liverpool). It’s not over yet…

Video highlights here.

Also See:

Manchester United v Roma – 07/08 Champions League quarterfinal
Chelsea v Fenerbahce – 07/08 Champions League quarterfinal
Barcelona v Schalke – 07/08 Champions League quarterfinal

Comments (74)

  1. Liverpool will go through because Benitez will use Crouch to aerially bombard the Arsenal defence in the return leg at Anfield. As seen against Chelsea, the Gunners find it difficult when faced with this approach. This tactic I feel will almost certainly see Liverpool through. If Lpool come away with a score draw from the Emirates then I’ll be even more confident that they will see it through at Anfield.

    It will obviously be a tight affair but Liverpool’s experience in this competition outweigh’s Arsenal’s and that will be decisive.

    As i’m a Liverpool fan my bias above should hardly be surprising. Arsenal fans, take it with a ‘pinch of salt’. Just my opinion after all.

  2. Crouch is an useless striker. Rafa will use Torres most likely and be praying that he will last the whole 90 minutes. I don’t know how you think Liverpool will progress because the second leg is in Anfield.

    “It will obviously be a tight affair but Liverpool’s experience in this competition outweigh’s Arsenal’s and that will be decisive.” blah blah blah…

    … and where were AC Milan’s response? They were left sucking their thumbs after the final whistle even though the neutrals also thought that Milan were thru right after the 0-0 draw at the Emirates.

  3. Cannot see arsenal losing this one. with all due respect to liverpool, i believe arsenal will walk it. For me, how experienced l’pool are in the champions league doesn’t matter, simply because the two teams are so familiar with each other.obviously the two players to watch are gerrard and torres, but if flamini can play at the same level at which he played against milan and toure plays to his best liverpool won’t score. even if there is a draw at the emirates arsenal can go to anfield and control the game like they did with milan, and also what they did at anfield earlier in the season.

  4. Arsenal had so much of the ball at Anfield and still couldnt break us down. This new system allows Liverpool to play the ball around and pass through teams I think the key players will be the midfielders the battle of Flamini and Fabragaes against Alonso and Mascha.

  5. Well I don’t know what “New System” that you are talking about but the game at Anfield, Liverpool’s only chance and goal came thru that freekick and yes it’s true Arsenal deserved 3 points but they didn’t it because they couldn’t score. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying Liverpool just don’t have it in them to be the better team against Arsenal.

    By the way that was a good joke when you said Flamini & Fabregas vs Alonso & Javier… Now come on seriously… COME ON!!!

    Regarding your clubs boardroom problems, sorry to say we only have billionaires wanting to buy us, not millionaires whose liabilities are more than their assets…

    ps: Someone should tell Rafa not to spend 60M-70M quid on average players, like that israeli from West Ham whose name escapes right now, and then there is the Ukarainian/Russian blond ponytail, ryan babel (who would have excelled if he had joined Arsenal) & lest we forget the Spainaird who got injured by himself during Liverpool’s match against Arsenal, & failed to even get a shot on target against the other Top 2, because when you do, 4th spot is all that you should be aiming for, for the next 100 years.

  6. Um, Andriy Voronin was free…and Liverpool’s first game against Chelsea opened with a goal from that Spaniard you’re talking about. Check your facts, twit. And yes, Alonso and Fabregas have equal standing in the Spanish side, while Mascherano usually starts for Argentina and Flamini…oh wait, has ONE cap for France. So yeah, it balances out.

    As a Pool fan though, I feel very uneasy about this tie, simply because in Arsenal you have a team that like to score, like to get forward. Relying on our Anfield advantage alone would be a mistake. It has served us well in the past yes, but that was against Chelsea. Arsenal are a different side, therefore Benitez’s tactics must be different. I like the Crouch idea, it could be both unexpected and uncomfortable for the athletic, quick defense of Arsenal to contain his frame.

  7. It will be a hard game for both are sides, playing 3 games in one week.

    These games will be won by who is mentally stronger, if one of us loses the winner will have confidence and the loser will be broke down and it will be hard to get there confidence back.

    We lost against man u but a week after we got confidence back and outplayed Everton.

    Last few weeks arsenal have been playing poor, and they played better but not the best against Bolton.

    The 1st match will be vital and the second will be the outcome.

    also that Slovakian footballer skrtel is a good player, in the everton game he played class football.

    he has pace and like hypia he is clever

  8. You can’t compare Alonso with Fabregas. The only thing Alonso pretty much does is score fluke goals from midfield once every blue moon’s against first division clubs.

    No one really gives a fuck about international caps nowadays except for the English press (they are already on top of Capello now that the honeymoon period is over). Flamini is: a better player, has more stamina & doesn’t get red carded.

  9. Raed – half the time you get so worked up you get your facts wrong :)

    should be a good game.

  10. what is good in this game is the good spirit with which the players played the game which is what football should be all about. arsene naggs too much when results dont go his way. fair play to both teams but i think senderos is a terrible defender. the equalizer has sendero’s name written all over it because of defensive blunders. what was almunia thinkin coming out, when gerrard have been stretched almost towards the touch-line, arsenal defence is shambles if you ask me.
    all we do here is just speculate the better team on the day will progress, arsenal have to score they can’t play 4 a draw cos as it currently stands liverpool are through, unless of course the antfield game ends in a score draw of 2 or more goals

  11. We really did deserve to win today. I wish we hadn’t conceded coz it allowed Liverpool to just sit back and defend. Poor Bendtner too, blocking the goal like that. Anfield is going to be a good game, not impossible to defeat Liverpool.

    I wonder why Senderos gets so much stick every time. We concede a goal, oh its Senderos’ fault, come on, please stop criticizing him at every opportunity.

  12. hira if we watch the match u will figure-out that apart from toure’s lack of competence in dealing with gerard that led to his squaring the ball into the path of the on rushing arsenal players, with kyut sandwiched in between them, if senderos had reacted quickly or had cleared the ball it will have been a different story all together. but he hesitated and that few seconds of indecision gave the sandwiched kyut the time to nick in the goal. a very scrappy goal to give away if u ask me, it was not so much a clearly executed goal by liverpool.
    and if u add some other split second indecision during the course of the match by him u will see the point i am trying to make. he did the same thing against aston villa when he scored an own-goal in the league. at this level arsenal can’t afford this kind of blunders, cos they can cause you not only a match but trophies. collectively the arsenal defence is shambles especially in recent time, toure is a shadow of his former self, and yes if u ask me they missed sagna today and sendero’s is the weakest link. but of course i agree with you arsenal should have won and were a little bit unlucky especially with the penalty decision and the goal bound ball that hit bendtner’s leg to stay out having dominated play. this game is still open but arsenal cannot afford to give away goals like that, if they continue they will be witnessing the beginning of the end of another trophy-less season, in a season that will go down as promising so much but delivering nothing.

  13. Yes, I agree about our defence not being too good at the moment. Sagna’s injury is costing us a bit. I blame Toure for not controlling Gerrard well, he should have cleared the ball, though his playing badly may have been due to him playing on the right. He really can’t play over there. I thought Senderos was pretty good during Toure’s absence and even during this match he wasn’t that bad except for the goal. Perhaps he needs to mature a bit. But I personally think, he is good enough for us. And that people should look at his positive points more.
    The only person I am pretty unhappy with is Eboue.

  14. no worries mate whoever says we can’t score at Anfield is an idiot.

  15. Arsenal will come out winners at Anfield, though it will be very close. they will win by two goals to one. But Wenger should get rid of guys like Bendtner and bring more productive players in the squad.

  16. Arsenal have a hell of a lot to do if they are to get through, but they have the players to do it. The return match could be the game of the season.

  17. I think Benitez will need to play a 4-4-2 formation against Arsenal on Saturday.

    Y would i say this? This is because if he continues his 4-2-3-1 formation, it might give Arsene Wenger chance to exploit any weakness in the 4-2-3-1 formation and it may just harm Liverpool for the last match of the Arsenal vs Liverpool Trilogy.

    Playing 4-4-2 might just be enough to confuse Arsene Wenger to not know which formation Benitez might just play for the last match. Besides, having keeping to the 4-2-3-1 formation for so long, the players should have gel up and used to that style of play already.

    Hopefully i make sense…smile =)

    Hope to see this squad for the 4-4-2 formation: Reina, Finnan, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio, Pennant, Gerrard, Lucas, Babel, Crouch, Torres

  18. ade had an average game but he still managed to give away the ball on innumerable occasions.what i still cant figure out is why eboue continues to get the nod over walcott.. walcott is a more active player on pitch and he doesnt dive at the slightest contact(or maybe no contact)like the sissy…eboue has had much too many chances and it is high time walcott started…come on arsenal..

  19. raed there is no need calling any one an idiot, arsenal will always score goals because they are attack minded, but as the saying goes the best form of attack is defence and vice versa. what is the use scoring and u then almost immediately concede or give away cheap goals. they must concentrate 100% throughout the match and i am sorry to say at the moment they are not doing that, bringing to question the so called mental toughness wenger says they have. that is what has brought them down from the top of the table having been there all season because of their recent bad spell of results and may cost them the epl and the cl if it goes on, u got it?

  20. I agree Arsenal could score at anfield but I cant see Arsenal keeping a clean sheet at the same time. Torres is a completely different threat at home (for what reason i dont know!!) and im sure everyone already knows about the threat of stevie.
    I think Masch and Alonso can boss Flamini and Fab. If Ronaldo has an equal i think at the moment its mascha!! the boy is terrific! too bad those Fa scum banned him for 2 more EPL games :(

  21. liv fan, i still cannot figure out how u managed to slot mascha against ronaldo…mascha is one of my fav players in liv…but comparing two players who play such different roles on pitch …be it the way they play or the positions they occupy….u most certainly were born an idiot…pity u:):):)….pls dont blurt out such absolute crap….go arsenal..

  22. Arsenal always score…at anfield in the second leg liverpool wont have a chance, they will try and defend and arsenal will find a way through, or even if liverpool go for the win then arsenal counterattack will work. Either way arsenal should win at anfield

  23. liverpool_Fan. A few questions:

    1. Did you miss the second period when the ball never crossed into the Arsenal half?

    2. Torres was rendered useless from the start?

    3. How liverpool seems to ride their luck on europe?

    4. The fact that Masch & Alonso didn’t get no where near the ball during the 90 mins?

    5. How Liverpool was lucky to get a draw at Anfield in the League?

    And I am not going to comment on “If Ronaldo has an equal i think at the moment its mascha” because then people will say I bully retards.

  24. sorry to all Liverpool fans coz tonight, you will be booted out by Arsenal. the Anfield atmosphere aint nothing to the gooners. Torres will be tamed. if i stand to be corrected, Arsenal has scored in every league game this season, so be assured that goals will come from them.

  25. good luck Arsenal. I was writing Arsenal as winners of it this year but now since we’ve got them idk.

  26. 2-1 to Liverpool.

  27. Nah. 1-2 to us. Hoping for the best at least.

  28. gerrard on the left, crouch n torres on the front… nice…gud luck everyone. not gonna watch match- will catch highlights when waking……. You’ll never walk alone( even in defeat, but lets try to be positive)

  29. what the hell…

    2 defensive errors, a great goal by torres, an even better goal by walcott, wrong penalty call, and that pretty much ended the game. would have liked to see fabregas take down babel in a rugby tackle and take the red card instead of letting him through but he’s been absolutely knackered this season and you can’t fault arsenal today, they gave it all and lost out when the ref botched the penalty call. every right to feel cheated, although looking at the broader picture they should have wrapped it up at the Emirates.

  30. FOUR F**KING TWO YEAH LIVERPOOL….
    IN YOUR FACES GOONERS!!!!

  31. Anser, you won it all on your diving skills. No need to be proud of that.

  32. Even if Babel dived, and im not saying he did was the goal by hyypia was diving? Torres’ goal was diving. How about the last one by Babel. Were we even watching the same game???

  33. Abdul – the penalty changed the game, so I wouldn’t consider Babel’s goal (which came on the counter after Arsenal had pushed all their men up front for an equaliser) as being relevant if the penalty call is dead wrong.

  34. You see Abdul, we were 2-2, almost winning, and then Babel dived. I can equally say you didn’t watch our goals either. Alright, our defence was shaky, but we didn’t deserve to go out like this, the ref decided this game, to be honest. Liverpool’s luck is incomprehensible sometimes.

  35. RAEL Blah blah blah Come on Liverpool

  36. I’m not saying that the penalty was awarded fairly or not, what I am saying is that with the way Liverpool played in the second half, besides that marvelous bit of skill shown by Walcott that Liverpool were playing better than Arsenal and looked the more Likely side to win. Personally i thought it was over when Adebayor scored, but thats the thing in football, things are never predictable. I can see Wenger complaining about that penalty for awhile though. Whatever though, what is done is done. Moscow here we come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. I’ll be the first to admit that Liverpool seem to be on Lady lucks good side most of the time. And i did notice 2 very nice goals from Arsenal, but you guys seemed to get down after Hyppia’s header, and then after Torres goal, Liverpool were all of a sudden a whole different team. Anyways it was a good game and we can just leave it at that.

  38. it was the stupid ref decision which changed the whole game in the closing minutes.I cant believe that ref would give out pen in such big games and at such peak minutes of the game…it was just rubbish..ref ruined it

  39. Liverpool beat Arsenal fair and square. Some people (Ahmed?) make excuses every time Liverpool win. (Inter Milan got bad decisions against Liverpool in both legs and had two men sent off; Arsenal got bad decisions in both legs and should have had a penalty at Highbur and Liverpool were lucky to get a penalty tonight blah, blah, blah…….)

    Liverpool are not in the Champions League semi-final (again) by fluke; they are there because they deserve to be there. Benitez has shown (going back to his Valencia days) that over two legs he can make his teams the match for anyone.

    You’ve got to say that over two legs the man is pretty special. Liverpool go 20 years without getting a sniff of the later stages of the Champions League, then Benitez comes along they win it, get to another final and have made the semi-finals again (for the third time in 4 years).

    Unfortunately for Benitez finals are played over one leg – not two. So, if Liverpool get that far I’d like to think that United will too. On a one-off game, I’d take United 8 times out of 10 to put Liverpool away.

  40. THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE 2 TEAMS IS THE PENALTY DECISION ONE WAS GIVEN AND THE OTHER WAS NOT. UNFORTUNATELY THE ONE GIVEN WAS DUBIOUS AND THE ONE THAT WAS NOT GIVEN WAS GENUINE. THAT CHANGED THE GAME, CONGRATS TO LIVERPOOL AND HARDLUCK TO ARSENAL, BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME.

  41. HIRA U WERE DEFENDING SENDEROS THE OTHER DAY EXACTLY WHAT I SAID ABOUT HIM IN PARTICULAR AND THE ARSENAL DEFENCE IN GENERAL IS WHAT HAPPENED AGAIN 2 DAY. LIVERPOOL’S 1ST 2 GOALS HAVE SENDEROS WRITTEN ALL OVER IT, OF COURSE THE 3RD GOAL WAS A DUBIOUS PENALTY CALL NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS. REFER TO MY EARLIER COMMENT (NO.12 ABOVE).
    ATIMES U WONDER WHETHER WENGER DO LOOK AT THE TAPES OF THESE MISTAKES AND TRY TO CAUTION THE PLAYERS ABOUT IT OR HE JUST KEEP SAYING ARROGANTLY THAT ARSENAL CAN WIN THE EPL AND THE CL.I MAINTAIN THAT SENDEROS IS A TERRIBLE DEFENDER HE IS THE NEW VERSION OF CYGAN, WENGER SHOULD SELL HIM. AS ALWAYS HE IS THE WEAKEST LINK IN THE ARSENAL DEFENCE AS TERRIBLE AS THAT DEFENCE LOOKS LIKE AT THE MOMENT.

  42. It seems that some of the people here dont really know what a dive looks like.
    When a player dives it means that the diving player has not (or not sufficiently) been touched to cause a fall of that player.

    Now having said that and watching Ryan Babel supposed
    “diving”.
    I must say how on earth is it a dive when two players knock you out balance and the third player decides to piggy bank ride you?

  43. just watched this video now, the replay makes it pretty clear it’s a dive
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-W-3KQ_K_Y

  44. Well my opinion was that it obviously WAS a penalty. SO THERE!!! What that footage DIDN’T show was two defenders both pulling him back and jostling him off balance. No doubt in my mind. YES the arse should feel hard done by as their penalty claim last week was also a penalty. But thats the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. Apart from the first 30 minutes, Liverpool controlled this game and were looking the most likely side to score (yes i DID watch this game) But what a great game and advertisement for spanish and french football. ;-)

  45. Yes, I know Rock, Senderos gave Torres too much room, he shouldn’t have. But most of all, we are missing Sagna I think. And also there was bit of a drop in the game when Flamini left off. Gilberto, to be honest, didn’t play that bad, but he doesn’t have that Flamini’s exuberance anymore. Flamini fits in well with Fabregas and Hleb. I still don’t think Senderos should be dropped coz of this, don’t you remember how solid Senderos was when Toure was not here? Other defenders are equally to blame. Toure isn’t playing at the level he is capable of playing. These lapses of concentration have cost us so much.

    But I still maintain that this particular game was won by the ref (despite our countless problems), refs I should say coz Hleb’s penalty wasn’t given. God, I am still seething. So badly.

  46. Good shout Zico!! Our midfield seemed to give the ball away a lot but when you have the best striker in the world on your team your midfield doesnt have to have a great night.
    Babel was knocked off balance no question!

    Being honest i couldnt care if Babel was looked at and did 3 front flips to the ground. It was given and we’re are in the semis thats all i care about.

  47. Liverpool are always lucky with the refs in the CL. first, it was the ball that was disputed to have crossed the line against Chelsea in 2005,then the penalty in the final against Milan, this year’s tie with Inter, Red card to Inter in both ties and the penalty decisions against Arsenal.Luck is their player number 12.

  48. on another note, Wenger should learn from this that Senderos is not good enough, Eboue is not good enough as a right winger, Diaby is best utilised as a central midfielder, Walcot should be utilised more and a quality striker should be bpught to complement the ever injured RVP and Adebayor(he is very good but not in the level of Drogba, Eto, e.t.c).

  49. Frankie – I’m offended that you think I’d hate Liverpool more than I hate Arsenal. My dislike in this case is equal.

    Liverpool beat Arsenal fair and square. Some people (Ahmed?) make excuses every time Liverpool win. (Inter Milan got bad decisions against Liverpool in both legs and had two men sent off; Arsenal got bad decisions in both legs and should have had a penalty at Highbur and Liverpool were lucky to get a penalty tonight blah, blah, blah…….)

    Are you saying that if Materazzi had not been sent off for two wrong yellows (two Torres dives) in the first leg, Inter would have sat back and conceded two goals in the last 10 minutes (remember WHEN the goals were scored?)? I didn’t watch the second leg, so can’t say anything about that, all I talked about then was the first leg.

    Since I didn’t watch the Emirates leg, I don’t want to comment on that. I did watch the whole Anfield game though, and at 2-2 right after Walcott’s goal it could have gone in any direction. The penalty changed it.

    Regardless of whether Liverpool deserved to win because of better performances or not, those decisions gave Liverpool an undeserved advantage. United themselves have gotten these advantages now and then, it’s not just Liverpool.

    Liverpool are not in the Champions League semi-final (again) by fluke; they are there because they deserve to be there.

    Actually, I agree with this bit. It’s one thing to get lucky, it’s quite another thing to put yourself in positions where you are able to capitalise on such opportunities. The fault lies with inconsistent refereeing, not with Liverpool.

    They deserve to be there because they made the most of their chances (we wouldn’t be talking now if Adebayor had controlled his first touch and rounded Reina instead of trying a cheeky flick at 1-1). When it counts, Liverpool more often than not are able to succeed in Europe and that’s a fact. If the refs can’t get it right, that’s an opportunity that Arsenal failed to exploit and Liverpool succeeded in exploiting.

    Benitez has shown (going back to his Valencia days) that over two legs he can make his teams the match for anyone.

    You’ve got to say that over two legs the man is pretty special. Liverpool go 20 years without getting a sniff of the later stages of the Champions League, then Benitez comes along they win it, get to another final and have made the semi-finals again (for the third time in 4 years).

    Yup, agreed. He’s instilled in his players a tactical acumen and a propensity to make most of the chances coming their way. They deal with pressure a lot better, although against sides playing in a certain way they can’t seem to find their rhythm (United).

    Unfortunately for Benitez finals are played over one leg – not two. So, if Liverpool get that far I’d like to think that United will too. On a one-off game, I’d take United 8 times out of 10 to put Liverpool away.

    Who’s biased now? :)

  50. Thoughts from a neutral:

    It was just about a penalty. I’ve seen refs give them and I’ve seen refs not give them. That said, I think it was harsh on Arsenal and a draw would have been a fair result.

    Senderos was poor, Crouch was very effective at unsettling the defence and there were two wonderful goal from Torres and Walcott’s run that led to Adebayor’s tap in.

    And yes, had I been in Fabregas’s position for the fourth goal, I’d have chopped Babel down and taken the red card. But then I’ve never been a particularly cultured defender and have picked up a few red cards for that in my time in Sunday league clogging…

  51. “You’ve got to say that over two legs the man is pretty special. Liverpool go 20 years without getting a sniff of the later stages of the Champions League, then Benitez comes along they win it, get to another final and have made the semi-finals again (for the third time in 4 years).”

    The only reason Liverpool can now make the latter stages of the CL is that 3rd and 4th placed teams can now enter! It was only the winners, and later the runners up, who could enter in the 90s.

    I think it’s about time the entries were more restricted to something like:

    i) you need to finish in the top 4, AND
    ii) you have to have been champions in the last 3 years OR you need to finish the league within 3 points of the leaders in the current year

    Point 2 means that you need to be “champion quality”.

  52. Gary – those two goals were quite something, eh? Fantastic stuff by Torres and despite the horror defending, even better by Walcott.

  53. Both were goals worthy of winning any match. It’s a long time that I’ve been so entertained by a Champions League game. Given Exeter’s loss at Salisbury last night, I’m quite glad I decided to forego a trip down to Wiltshire on the basis of too much work and difficulty getting a train home – and it’s not often you’ll get me saying that.

    Liverpool v Chelsea could be quite tasty. Or it could be a complete borefest. Can I put in a 1-1 prediction already?

  54. Ahmed:

    It won’t come to a United-Liverpool final, not because United won’t get there but because Chelsea might just “do” Liverpool this time around. Second leg at Stamford Bridge could give them the edge.

    I’ve also got a certain feeling about poor old Avram Grant, derided, disliked and disrespected (and that’s just by his own fans!). He might well do what the fabled Mourinho couldn’t; get past Liverpool and take Chelsea to a Champions League final. Now you warped-minded Chelsea fans, “put that one in your pipe and smoke it”.

    Ian:

    Sounds like sour grapes to me. Deal with things as they are, not as you would like them to be. The competition is the competition.

    Liverpool have beaten what’s been put in front of them. You speak of “champion quality” what does that mean? Don’t forget Liverpool put out the double champions of Italy – Inter Milan, beating them home and away. Last season on their way to the final, they put out Barcelona, then the champions of Spain and reigning Champions League cup winners. No, for the moment at least, give credit where credit is due.

  55. Frankie:
    “It won’t come to a United-Liverpool final, not because United won’t get there but because Chelsea might just “do” Liverpool this time around. Second leg at Stamford Bridge could give them the edge.”

    Sorry but no. Sure, Chelsea have that advantage but they also have the mental block of just never seeming to get past Liverpool, and Benitez is clearly a more competent coach than Grant. It would take a seriously clever manager to take Benitez on in two legs, and Grant’s not it.

    Ian:

    Your idea is foolish and would make Champions League qualification all but impossible for teams that have yet to qualify for it.

  56. Ahmed & misc idiots who agree with him -

    Not talking about your analysis of the game mate. I have a bone to pick with you about this comment you made

    ‘I wonder why Fabregas didn’t bring Babel down and take the red card. It would have been the hotheaded thing to do, but losing 2-3 is better than losing 2-4, and at that time it wasn’t as if Arsenal had any real chance of getting back into the game’

    WTF???

    Are you seriously suggesting that a football player DELIBERATELY bring down another player to prevent him scoring a goal that makes no difference in a game already lost? Are you seriously telling me that a player risk his own physical health & that of another’s to only be sent off in a match who’s result that will not change? EVEN IF it would have made a difference i am totally against it.

    What if Fabregas got injured for the rest of the season? What if Babel got injured for the rest of the season? What about career ending injuries for both of them? Scousers would have been screaming bloody murder at Fabregas & you’d have Benitez calling for HIM being banned for life!

    Phrases like ‘rugby tackle’ have no fucking place in a football game. Its dangerous to support such ideas & only ends up in cases like Haaland & Eduardo.

    Ahmed, are you THAT much of a fanatical fan of Roy Keane & the so-called ‘physical’ game of the Premier League?

    It is exactly moronic & downright stupid philosophies like this that i hate with a vengeance. ESPECIALLY after what happened to Eduardo, how the fuck can anyone say anything like this?

  57. Spiral:

    I agree almost completely. Rugby tackles are something I never want to see on the pitch other than for comedy purposes. That would have been seriously out of line by Fabregas.

    That said, I see Ahmed’s point that Fabregas should have taken Babel down, especially if he could do so without conceding a penalty, leaving the scoreline at 3-2 and Arsenal still with a chance. That’s what almost any United player would do, and although it is foul play it is justifiable as you are taking the punishment openly. It’s not nice but the best players rarely are.

  58. This is not a question of being ‘nice’.

    This is a question of being RESPONSIBLE. Making a tackle like what is being suggested is totally out of line. If he had gotten away with it without any injury to either player nobody would say anything. But if something bad happened then what? 50-50 chance of it going either way.

    And then you get this added, old cynical statement from anti-Arsenal fans who go, ‘oh that’s just like Arsenal, they always play dirty, always get the most red-cards….’ blah blah blah ad nauseam with the same old bullshit.

    I thought football was better than that. I DO think football is better than that. If everyone in the world disagrees with me i’m gonna fucking give up watching this game & go back to cricket. At least there is some semblance of decency left in THAT game.

    And in case anyone misunderstands me…Arsenal lost the game, fine. It’s a shitty result & i don’t like it but that’s football. You bitch & moan about it for a short while & move on. It is crappy comments like the narrative i see in THIS article that i really hate. More than losing. More than the other things i don’t like about this game (& that’s a SHORT list).

  59. Decency in cricket! Are you joking? What with ball tampering, sledging, dangerous high balls and racist umpires I think you’re better off sticking with football!

    I wasn’t endorsing a possibly dangerous tackle, just contemplating on the fact that Fabregas could have pulled Babel down, conceding a red card and a free kick and left arsenal with a chance of snatching that last goal. No-one would have needed to get hurt, and as an Arsenal fan (Are you? It sounds like it so I’m assuming) I doubt you’d have been complaining in the morning.

  60. Michael –

    I said ‘semblance’ of decency & it was meant as an example comparing it to football & to show how serious i am about this issue.

    Also, did you not read what i just said before? You cannot predict any outcome in a tackle with malicious intent with the end result getting a red-card. Who knew Taylor’s tackle would do so much damage to Eduardo when he initially did it? What was YOUR first reaction to that huh? So how the hell can you see so far into the future with THIS one, eh?

    And did you not read the part about me also not liking the idea of the INEVITABLE criticism of ‘cynical’ Arsenal? What the fuck difference does it make if we lost 3-2 or 4-2? Losing is losing. And how are you so sure we would have come back with a 3rd goal after such a foul & the possible reduction to 10-men on the pitch? Again referring to your crystal ball?

    I’m done talking about this now. I’ve said what i needed to say…

  61. Ok, but I was just trying to say that Fabregas could easily have brought Babel down without sliding in recklessly. A simple hard tug would have done it pretty much risk-free.

  62. Funny there is no talk about hlebs handball in the build up to the first goal going on eh? :)

  63. Frankie, yes it is sour grapes! It just pains me to see Liverpool stutter along all season only then to dig deep when the big games come along. They scrape through the group stages (like in 2005), play against 10-man Inter – twice!!, somehow not get a penalty against them last week and then get a late penalty this week which might not have been given on another day. I have yet to hear a Liverpool fan say “perhaps we were a bit lucky”. Benitez’s rotation policy seems actively to be at the detriment of the league performance and to the benefit of CL games.

    Allowing so many teams from each country has turned the CL into a European FA Cup. Liverpool won in 2005, Arsenal runners up in 2006, Milan beat Liverpool last year. In all 4 examples the teams were nowhere near the best in their respective countries. We all want to win the CL but saying it makes you the European Champions is like Portsmouth saying they are the best team in England.

    Michael, my point is to give entry to the CL only to the champions and those close behind, not 10 or 20 points behind! That way, everyone competing in the CL is probably competing in their own league as well. Some teams are content with 4th just so it gets them entry!!

  64. 1)two wrong penalty decisions. with all due respect to some great players, how many times will l’pool get lucky in the champions league? goals that don’t go over the line, dodgy penalty decisions and worst of all, playing against senderos and eboue.

    2) How did they get away without a yellow card in the match, Mascherano continuously fouled and torres continuously dived, adding to babel. Ps. gerrard also dives

    3)I know this is seeming like a sour grapes comment but it is so frustrating to see a team who unlike barca man utd or arsenal,don’t go out to win every match. i would prefer barca or utd to win the trophy, simply because they play attractive football. COME ON THIERRY!

  65. Come on michael, babel is more physical than fabregas…
    well , i absolutely agree with spiral who thinks ahmed is a stupid … ars.h..e 2 suggest fooling a player with intention.

    but of course, i have seen shade of such behaviour in manu (n other teams i admit) . remember scholes getting a red card , stoping lfc momentum a few years back…yalk about fairness..

    about the result: fantastic goals, suspense 2 the end, lady luck on our side- but chelsea-lfc?: what a bore…

  66. n wenger is being stubborn not using walcott more often… i mean he’s the best in his position…

  67. if cesc had brought down babel the same idiots will label him unprofessional and would not allow us rest with articles that may read “butcher cesc” or “cesc hackman” and will call arsenal a dirty team that pretends to play beautiful football, i agree with spiral it would have been a stupid thing to do, and those who are suggesting that are sick.

  68. What the hell? Cesc could have just hugged Babel, that would have been enough. He doesn’t have to scythe his legs out. I would expect my player to do the same in that situation, just as I would expect Macherano or whoever it was to take out Walcott at the halfway line. I would also expect a defender on the line to handle a ball if it was guaranteed to go in and it was late in the match and so forth. Anyone who knows football knows this is the case. You play to win, even more so in a knock out competition with 10 minutes left.

    Your logic also makes no sense whatsoever. A red card ‘tackle’ because of being the last man has nothing to do with a red card tackle like Martin Taylor’s. And yes, nasty things happen in sports, but how would tugging Babel to ground in that situation be any more likely to injure him than doing the same thing in open play? Perhaps you believe tackling should be done away with because someone could get hurt?

    IMO Cesc would have loved to be able to take him out, but Babel was just to fast. Right before he shoots you can see Cesc grab a bit old junk of his shirt and try to pull him back, but his hand slips off. There would be nothing unprofessional if he’d succeeded, quite the opposite. Assuming pool don’t score from the free kick (if done outside the area) Arsenal can continue to hoof the ball up the pitch a further 2/3 times. And maybe win a champs league quarter final.

  69. It was refreshing to see Arsenal concede some late goals.. They’re not normally used to being on the recieving end! Just ask Fulham (Opening Day), Aston Villa (93rd min equaliser), Boro (Late Toure header) and of course Man United (LATE LATE Gallas header!) How does it feel Gooners?

  70. Babel and not Walcott made the biggest impact. He was decisive in getting the penalty and scoring the goal that effectively made it game over. However while Torres’s goal was the best of the tie, Walcott’s Maradona-esque run was the moment of pure genius, skill and beauty. Let’s see more of this rising start please. I’m sure Arsenal fans will no doubt agree.

  71. yup, tough night but we will bounce back on sunday the team showed just what they can do first half, the negativity has got to stop and we’ve got to go all out on sunday the title is not over.

  72. Yes, I agree. We will bounce back. We played very well at times, and Theo made a blinding run. That is something to be proud of. He should get a start against United and I hope to God we beat them.

  73. Liverpool
    Chelsea
    Barca
    United

    Its all big boys now and guess who the team with the lowest recent European rating is – Man United. Thats how big this final four is (although i’d prefer Madrid or Inter over Barca as Barca are the worst team left)