I think this tie is wide open.
Yes, Liverpool have the slender advantage of an away goal but to play for nil-nil in the return leg would be pure folly. 1-1 is far from decisive.
We should have won it though, shouldn’t we? We had the majority of the play in the second half, but just couldn’t make it count and were thwarted both by the ref and by the unfortunate Bendtner. Regarding the former, I could see Hleb was certain it was a pen but I couldn’t be 100% myself – I have not seen it again yet but by all accounts it was so obviously a penalty that you have to wonder what the ref was up to. If so, and given he was five yards away, what more did he need? An enormous neon light with the word ‘penalty’ on it combined with a chorus of women doing the can-can across the twelve-yard line?
As for the Bendtner incident – well, it was just one of those things. I suspect he would rather have been anywhere else than in the flightpath of Fabregas’s shot but that’s the way it works sometimes.
I think we played pretty well at times, especially in the second half, without reaching the heights of our incisive best. Once Walcott came on, first on the left then on the right, we looked a lot more dangerous (how many more chances will Eboue get? Seriously, he was awful) and Hleb looks far more potent when playing in the middle, but whatever permutations Wenger chooses we need to step up a gear again for the second leg.
We might need to do so without van Persie too, who did not reappear after the break. “I don’t think it’s a recurrence but it was where he was injured before on his thigh”, Wenger said, trying to put a positive spin on an ominous-sounding injury.
So all to play for. 33.3% of the triple-header is over and we move onto Saturday when – you guessed it – anything could happen.