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Full-Time Thoughts–Liverpool vs. Arsenal (Second Leg)

It’s all over at Anfield, and as predicted here before the quarterfinal round started, Liverpool has advanced after winning 4-2 tonight. Captain Steven Gerrard stepped up and converted the game-winning penalty just minutes after Arsenal had equalized at 2-2 through Adebayor. That scoreline obviously would’ve sent the Gunners through on the away goals rule, but a justly awarded spot kick quashed any momentum and good feelings that the North London side had earned back.

Ryan Babel coolly finished a breakaway to seal the deal in stoppage time, and full credit has to be given to Liverpool FC for fighting back the way they did.

Arsenal has to be commended as well for overcoming their 2-1 deficit and when the Togolese striker levelled the match, it looked for all the world like his team would progress.

It was not to be for Arsene Wenger’s team though. Liverpool will meet Chelsea, a 3-2 aggregate winner over Turkish club Fenerbahçe, in the semifinals for the third time in four years, but I’ll have more on that as we get closer to the tie. The first leg is scheduled for Tuesday, April 22.

We were treated to a fabulous game today. In truth, I think Liverpool had the better of things all match long and if either of those teams were going to win, it was going to be the Reds. Arsenal didn’t look the same after Mathieu Flamini had to be taken off due to injury right before the first half ended, whereas Liverpool got stronger as time went on.

I’m curious to hear what Monsieur Wenger has to say about the penalty decision so close to full-time. To me, it wasn’t even that close. Babel was hauled down from behind and could’ve fallen several strides before he actually went down, and I respect the fact that he didn’t dive.

Congratulations to Liverpool on the victory and credit to Arsenal for making this such a good game. The Gunners had their chances and didn’t take them. In the end, that will haunt them more than anything.

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  1. Tommy

    April 12, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    that is home and away games. you know that it is really risky game. that penalty situation is actually depends on referees. it also depends on how he saw and what angle and so on. and it is decision. its hard to argue over what is penalty and what is not penalty. i think that was definately penalty. because babel was fighting to get out and score, but he just couldnt stand on his feet. plus babel also made brilliant run.

  2. Laura

    April 10, 2008 at 1:26 am

    I thought this was a message board for discussing Liverpool vs Arsenal, not slating the bloke writing it. Hes entitled to his opinion. Your putting yours on here, why shouldnt he?
    Its bitter Arsenal fans, outclassed by a better team eventually, so finding anything you can to moan about. Its actually pretty pathetic. And before u jump on the Liverpool being poor in the league … Arsenal havent beaten Liverpool once this season. Out of 4 games 3 have been draws and one has been won …. by Liverpool.

  3. I agree with the Wanker

    April 9, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Gaffer………………..your site was quality. your writing is still quality. i must however find the time to compliment the wankerkid above. michael’s writing is for shyte and he is never in any way respectful of anybody else and the opinion they may have developed through years of watching football and understanding the game. His reputation is for shyte and don’t let his mindless writing take you down.

  4. The Gaffer

    April 9, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Mr anonymous,

    We’re all entitled to our own opinions, and Michael (as with the other writers on the site) all bring their own ideas and thoughts.

    Sorry to have ruined your holiday (exactly how we did that, I’m not sure), but the EPL Talk site today is far more popular than it has ever been (in terms of traffic). This past month has been a record breaking month.

    You’re free to visit other sites if you don’t like the content.

    As for the podcasts, I’ve taken a pause from them for now. Thanks for your interest.

    The Gaffer

  5. ossie's dream

    April 9, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Jason: what’s this “we” business? I don’t think Arsenal should have been victors in the end. Football is a cruel, harsh business. Arsenal played wonderful football at times, but Liverpool always produce that European magic. While the Wenger Boys have disappointed in Europe on many occasions and cries of “we were cheated,” or “Anfield bias” and “the referee was Liverpool’s 12th man” only serve to obscure this fact.

    Credit to Wenger for building a superb team without splashing huge amounts of cash, but if Arsenal want trophies (how many trophy-less seasons has it been now?) and European glory, he is going to have to dig deep into the coffers.

  6. Jason

    April 9, 2008 at 8:15 am

    It was overall a breathtaking game. I think most of us agree that Arsenal should of been victors in the end. About the penalty, Liverpool were very fortunate to get the referee’s choice go their way as we all know that in the 1st leg Arsenal should have got the penalty.
    Also, to be honest that penalty choice in the 2nd leg was not one as it was to soft.
    P.S: Michael do you have parents, just wondering.

  7. DAVA ( Homegrown Liverpol Fan )

    April 9, 2008 at 7:01 am

    He he he he he he

  8. BillE Shears

    April 8, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Not to pile on but there is no way that was a penalty. Toure did everything in his power not to foul Babel and any semblance of contact had no effect on Babel’s momentum.

  9. Ferd

    April 8, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Great game and full credit to Liverpool but that penalty tonight was simply a joke. To me the miss in the first leg was much more obvious and to have the balls to make such a game changing decision so late in this game you would think there should be no doubt of an infraction. Oh well I hate seeing a great game end like that but both teams put on a great performance tonight.

  10. I Hate ESPN Soccer Coverage

    April 8, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Arsenal fans might be annoying, kat kid, but the unreal Anfield bias is even more so.

    So in the first leg Arsenal gets Sloth’s best friend, and in the second we get some chump Swede that is enamored with the Kop’s reaction to a flop. Great job, UEFA!

    What a terrible, terrible call.

  11. Alex

    April 8, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    I am an Ukrainian and LOVING IT, Yesssss Liverpool. WOW!!!!!

  12. kat kid

    April 8, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    well played coolio.

    Arsenal fans are really annoying by the way.

  13. rum ram

    April 8, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Arsenal were cheated in the first leg, that is definately clear. As for the second leg only a keen eyed soccer fan would have noticed that Babel only stood on his feet long enough to ensure that he fell in the box, at the end of it it all the favors were on liverpool’s side………nuff said !

  14. Portes

    April 8, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Django lol

  15. SFGooner

    April 8, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Put down the crack pipe. Arsenal have every right to feel hard done. If the “foul” on Babel was a penalty, then the non-call on Dirk K–t by his friend, neighbor, and clog-dancing buddy in the first leg was the biggest non-call ever. Arsenal’s defence was miserable at times, but they put themselves in a position to win, and to have the match decided on that call, and yes, it was decided by that call, was unfair.

  16. Django

    April 8, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Exciting match today, great outcome for me as a Liverpool fan. Full credit to Arsenal, the scoreline was cruel with only three men (including Almunia) behind the ball when Kuyt’s long ball found Babel for the capper. This was a thrilling tie, nervy until the very end. Have to say that Liverpool are fortunate, though, as there didn’t seem to be much between the no-call on Hleb and the penalty today. I was overjoyed as a fan of Liverpool, but as a fan of football in general, it worried me about the inconsistency of the officiating. I am American, though, so completely discount everything I’ve written.

  17. cooliotheYANK

    April 8, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    I’m with JM here on the penalties – either both go or none go. The Hleb no-call SHOULD have been called. The Babel call COULD have been called. The irony being the uncanny similarity of the situations. There’s a gulf of interpretation between the two and yet again the refs get in the way of a fantastic game. Comments by “Alex Hleb” does neither his club nor country any favors. STFU already before you embarrass yourself further. This ridiculous sense entitlement coming from the British Isles must stop. I’ve got a decent record on FIFA08 online and anytime I spank a Brit or Scot I get an earful of “Ignorant American Twat” for no reason. We send our 3rd and 4th tier athletes to compete in this sport and still show well – I think that’s what pisses folks off in the UK the most. Anyhow – when i get an earful from an Englishman now, I say good game and invite them to have fun watching the Euros – when I get an earful from a Scot, I say good luck the next time you qualify for the world cup. Then I laugh as their heads explode.

  18. Tera

    April 8, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    If shirt-tugging’s becoming solid reason for penalties, so would hassling players without any intention of getting the ball!

    But hey, blame luck, don’t blame Babel or Liverpool. There was contact and he had the rights to fall, no matter how light the offence seemed to be.

    Sometimes I’m gobsmacked myself when Crouch doesn’t get any penalties when defenders half his height try to pull him down. There’s absolutely no consistency to the referee’s decisions nowadays. It’s luck alright? Arsenal pulled off a great performance but they were fooled by luck.

  19. Drew

    April 8, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    what else I do not get is why are the tickets priced so high.. where is all the money going.. do not give me that whole new stadium excuse..
    I had to pay 150 quid per game to watch The Arsenal when I was last in London a few months back..
    Time to spend Mr. Wenger..

  20. Sharaz

    April 8, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    JG, Laura is just taking the piss.

    I think senderos cost us the game. He is useless and a shit defender. anyone agree??

  21. JG

    April 8, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    there were arsenal fans an i heard them!! quite a lot actually!!

  22. JG

    April 8, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    arsenal should have beaten an inferior Liverpool side. Even Gerrard admitted in the post match interview that Liverpool were passed off the park.
    That was so lucky to get a penalty..

  23. Laura

    April 8, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Come on Arsenal dont feel bad. Your not the only giants Liverpool have brushed aside on the way to a European final. You join the likes of Chelsea, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Juventus, PSV, AC Milan..the list goes on.
    Lets face it, in Europe, Liverpool are the best English team by an absolute mile.
    It was always going to be Liverpools night,
    By the way … were there any Cockneys in Anfield tonight? I definitely didnt hear any…

  24. Drew

    April 8, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Sharaz.. spot on!!
    when was the last time we went out and got a world class player.. lets face it.. we were practically forced into buying Gallas because of that cunt Cashley//
    absolutely gutted that Theo had to be on the losing side again (Birmingham) after that sublime run

  25. Sharaz

    April 8, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    I told u we was cheated.

    Alex we can keep sayin we will be back next season, thinking like that we wont be winning anything. Arsene needs to pull his finger out his ass and get rid of a few players do not deserve to wear the arsenal shirt

  26. Drew

    April 8, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    watch it again.. babel was pulled back outside the box.. no contact inside the box..

  27. Sharaz

    April 8, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    What Can i say! we got cheated at the emirates and now we got cheated at anfield.
    Arsenal have to start asking wenger some questions. Its been 5 years since Arsenal have won a cup. For a big club like arsenal this is not acceptable. Where was wenger when man utd was signing nani, anderson all these other greats players???

  28. Michael

    April 8, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Drew, I see what you’re saying.

    Let me try to explain. For me, it was justly awarded. I thought the right decision was made.

    However, I can see how Arsenal fans (and others) would disagree. It was a little bit soft, and I’ve seen worse not get called. That doesn’t mean I concur with those not being given though either, and this was one that I felt was a PK.

  29. Michael

    April 8, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    My 5 “quarterfinalists”, I meant to say, I obviously can’t speak for the FA.

    And yes, humor and sarcasm are fine, I can take a joke or clever wit just as well as the next guy. Like I said, your previous comment (#20) was spot-on and well thought out.

  30. Drew

    April 8, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    “but a justly awarded spot kick”
    “a fairly questionable penalty stood in the way”

    confused much..

  31. Michael

    April 8, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    That’s my point, Alex. I agree with nearly everything you’ve just said, and it’s amazing how different you sound when you’re being reasonable instead of personally criticizing out of emotion and/or disgust, whatever.

    I think Arsenal has had a good season; they’ve certainly proved me wrong for picking them to finish 5th, and I think Wenger has done a great job with this team. If you’ll notice, he’s one of 5 “quarterfinalists” for Manager of the Year, and the only one out of the “Big Four”. This team has grown up a lot this season and although they likely will end up trophyless, there’s a bright future ahead.

  32. Alex Hleb

    April 8, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    ok ok michael i see youre point. im done. im done. ill resort to humor and sarcastic remarks next time IF i disagree with your writing. im done with my rudeness.

  33. Alex Hleb

    April 8, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    well we’ll be back next year. so all you gooners, lets all be proud of this team this year. they deserved more than they got. we saw our players grow up this season. we’ve got promising talent like walcott still to grow up as well. fact is that we were predicted to falter and finich 5th and not advance past the first knock-out round. we proved everyone wrong. adebayor, fabregas, flamini, clichy, sagna, walcott, and almunia all emerged to have good seasons. hleb and gallas were better than last year. eduardo showed that he could do the job he was brought on the team for. we had a great start to this season and have only lost 2 games. we’ve been in first for most of this campaign. mathematically in fact, we can still win the premier league, but the most important thing for us as fans to do now, is to stand by our team, not to criticize individual players. wenger has done a great job pushing this team to great expectations. the results should be put aside when looking back on this season. we showed that we can beat anyone. we should be pleased that we are fans of a team that plays such beautiful football at times. lets be proud to be gooners.

  34. Goonergerry

    April 8, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Liverpool won it in the first leg-when they should have lost. This was not about luck-Arsenal have a real weakness as a defensive unit and can not hold on to an advantage when it matters for even 10 minutes. The better footballing side lost. This is a loss for Football- because Liverpool v Chelsea -will be a dire defensive borefest.

  35. Michael

    April 8, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Listen, I understand you’re frustrated, Alex. Your team was 5 minutes away from knocking Liverpool out at their place, and only a fairly questionable penalty stood in the way. I get it.

    To say that I know nothing about this game, however, is completely inaccurate. You may feel that you know more than me and that’s fine, that’s your opinion, and either way, it’s not a contest. It’s a game that you and I are both passionate about. I called it as I saw it, you have a different take on what happened, and that’s perfectly fine.

    When you resort to personal insults though, it just makes you look ignorant and by the quality and content of your comments when you’re not actually upset, I know that that isn’t the case.

    Come on, let’s not get this serious about it. I understand that you’re an Arsenal fan, but what can you do? The game’s over. Don’t attack me personally for writing my opinions, just like I wouldn’t do to you. If you disagree with the content, OK, that’s fair.

  36. Drew

    April 8, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Penalty was just??.. u do give us Americans a bad name… if you want to get technical he was pulled back outside the box.. I am sorry, that was a really soft penalty//
    Arsenal won 3 out of the 4 halves of football and should have gone through..
    Biased article//

  37. reddownunder

    April 8, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    what is the point of talking about ifs and buts deal with it get on with it…east or west liverpool are the best…

  38. Alex Hleb

    April 8, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    anonymous, very good point. a grown 22 year old man would surely be able to stay on his feet from an alleged tug. his goal proved that what he wants to, he can fall, when he wants to he can go on to score.

  39. Michael

    April 8, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    My prediction was 0-0, 2-1, Liverpool goes through. Predicting exact scorelines isn’t easy; soccer is unpredictable as you well know and it’s just a best guess.

    You’re a funny guy though, Alex. I always appreciate your humor and kind words.

  40. Alex Hleb

    April 8, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    ok jm, ill take back the twating of michael. i want to take that back. i would if i could rewrite that comment, so i guess im sorry. for that.

    but my opinion still stands about everything else. im frustrated but i think even if we would have won, my opinion would remain the same.

  41. Anonymous

    April 8, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Re: Babel’s attempt to stay upright before falling.

    You respect that he attempted to stay on his feet before the penalty was given. My view of it was that he attempted to stay on his feet until he was well inside the box, before falling, thus ensuring the penalty…..

  42. Alex Hleb

    April 8, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    mr.obvious talks about what everyone saw. you know nothing anyone else doesnt already know. you would see van gogh’s starry night and just say “after seeing the painting, i can say that he used blue paint with some yellow as well, it appears to be some stars in a night sky. the painter is dutch and he applied his paints on a canvas and now its displayed in a museum.”

    and youre prediction was 0-0, 1-1, 0-0. youre not nostradamus, so dont give yourself credit when you were off by 4 or 5 goals. you also predicted that arsenal wouldnt score at anfield. but i guess to your standards(very low), you are a quality writer (not a journalist, you wish) and very knowledgeable in football.

    how did you get to write for this blog. can anyone write for it then? can i write for it? along with you and johnnycarter, it seems like anyone could write for it.

    hey gaffer, you seem like an overly generous man, can i have a shot at writing for this blog? i think im knowledgeable in the sport. can i? can i? yes? ok youll think about atleast?


  43. Danish Gooner

    April 8, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Remember the fa cup final of 2001 when Henchoz used his arm on the line.Hleb last wednesday and saturday Fab were cheated out of a penalty…..and now this !!!!!!!!!!!!

  44. J

    April 8, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I think wenger has a lot to answer for, no real purchases in the summer or in January (not compared to Man U and Liverpool) and a total reliance on youngsters who aren’t there yet, maybe one day but not now. Too long with nothing to show for all the effort. Who plays three centre backs when one is sub standard and you have a right mid who is in fact a right back………. Think the board need to shake it up a bit and tell Wenger straight, win something or your out. Just because he has an eye for a star doesn’t mean he’s still up for the challenge.

  45. ewan

    April 8, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Luck made a huge difference. Arsenal had none. Walcott’s run was super.

  46. Michael

    April 8, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Alex, yes, Walcott made a terrific solo run, it was almost Owen and Maradona-esque. Arsenal had a 4-on-1, Adebayor scored, 2-2.

    What more do you want?

    They didn’t win the game, and this wasn’t an in-depth, minute-by-minute breakdown of the game.

  47. Danish Gooner

    April 8, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    If that is a penalty !!!!!!!!! There should be 50 penalties every game.

  48. jm

    April 8, 2008 at 4:05 pm


    I understand your frustration with the game today (I too am deeply disappointed!), but I think your use of “American twat” is not only harsh on Michael, but it is offensive to those of us (like myself) who are American and knowledgeable about the game.

  49. Alex Hleb

    April 8, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    thanks for not mentioning walcott’s run.

    you know nothing about quality football.

  50. Alex Hleb

    April 8, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    you know nothing about the game you american twat.

  51. jm

    April 8, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Obviously I am not a neutral here, but this result is very harsh on Arsenal. I’m not sure I can find any relevant difference between the challenge on Hleb in the first leg and the challenge here. If both were given, Arsenal go through; if neither are given, Arsenal go through. It is only with the disparity that Liverpool go through.

    Surely Liverpool deserve commendation for their play today. They were every bit Arsenal’s equal, and they took advantage of every opportunity afforded to them. Their fourth was well nicked against a side desperate for an equalizer, which I offer as genuine praise for that is not a clearly easy thing to do.

    One team had to go through, and I will grant that scoring two away goals to only one is not a terribly definitive way to do so. The penalty decisions, however, are perhaps even crueler.

    And Wenger should have something to say about it! I’ve disagreed very strongly with you before about the weight you place on managers opinions. Nothing a manager says is for us, or for posterity. They are defending their own. When managers and teammates came out in defense of Martin Taylor’s challenge, did they think they spoke the truth? Who knows, but it was a teammate they were protecting. Arsene does the same thing. It’s only myopia if we think either (a) that he his beholden to the truth or (b) that he is always intending to tell it.

  52. Kim

    April 8, 2008 at 3:58 pm


  53. JohnnyCanuck

    April 8, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    um…Liverpool won 4-2

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