Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Arsenal 2-4 Liverpool


Wow wow wow wow wow. What is there to say really? Arsenal's season is as good as over, while Liverpool has, for the second year in a row, squeezed through yet another round of the CL to keep their season alive.

Yesterday I wrote that Arsenal wouldn't go through because of their scoring problems. And, indeed, Adebayor missed a wide open chance in the second half, just him and the goalie. That chance would no doubt have changed the game completely if he had converted it.

But in the end Arsenal were able to score. Diaby had a great goal that had some beautiful one-touch passes and some horrible goalkeeper positioning to thank in the first half. And, of course, Theo Walcott created a goal that hearkened Thierry Henry's very best, and even (dare I compare it to an American sport??) Memphis's Derrick Rose.

And just as they did last Wednesday at Emirates Stadium, Liverpool bounced back and took control of the game after Arsenal scored--eventually tying it through a Hyppia goal that reminded me of Onyewu vs. Mexico, taking the lead through a clinical Torres goal, and then winning through a really bad horrible disgusting penalty call.

You know, this game will go down as one of the greatest Champions League ties ever. It had all the makings of a classic--two old time rivals, three GREAT goals--but the fact that it hinged on a terrible referee decision will scar it forever.

I don't care what anyone says. There is simply no argument that can justify Babel's PK being called and Hleb's last week being waived off. There is no argument, that is, except for bad officiating, which is exactly what we saw. And though I'm tempted to follow my farther's eternal advice, "It's never the ref's fault," because Adebayor should have scored his wide open chance, I can't leave it at that.

I wrote yesterday about the homefield advantage, the 12th man, that Anfield provides. But I didn't know that it had as much affect as Old Trafford on the outcome of games. Besides the ref's blatant PK atrocity, there was also the conspicuous absence of the correct amount of extra time. If I told you that there were three goals and four substitutions in regular time, would you have expected THREE minutes of extra time?

Look, I don't want to be a big cry baby about the game. The fact is that Liverpool is through, and because Gerrard made the PK, because they defended well after finally taking the lead for good, because they didn't concede another goal last week, for all these reasons and more, Liverpool deserve the win. I will, of course, be rooting for them down the stretch.

All I ask is that as much as today's game will be remembered as classic, it should also be remembered as a disaster.