All Things Footie

Helping the beautiful game keep it's looks since 2001

RSS feed

All Things Footie | Thursday, April 3 | Jordan

The myth of the away goal advantage

Wednesday’s 1-1 draw between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates stadium got me thinking about something that’s been bugging me for a while. Away goals.

We all know they’re stupid (and I don’t just mean in situations where home and away games are played in the same stadium) there’s nothing more frustrating than going out of a cup competition because of them, so when they’re to our advantage we can’t help but think that they have some mythical power beyond a simple leveller of stalemates.

Almost every Arsenal fan I spoke to on Wednesday night and Thursday morning was thoroughly depressed about the draw not necessarily because Arsenal should (on the balance of play) have easily beaten Liverpool, but because they had surrendered an Away Goal. To complement the depression in North London, most Liverpool fans I saw were chirpier than usual, and really quite happy with the result, not because they had managed to engineer a draw out of what should have been a 3-1 defeat, but because (you guessed it) they had an Away Goal.

On the surface, the reactions are obvious—it means that stalemate in the second leg is enough for Liverpool to progress—however from Arsenal’s point of view, there’s not really much difference between 0-0 and 1-1. Either way, if they are to progress they’ll need to score at Anfield. Sure, 0-0 would mean they’d have 120 minutes to score rather than 90, but assuming they do score (which given that they’ve only failed to on four occasions this season is a reasonable assumption) the away goal advantage immediately swings in their favour, for Liverpool would need to score twice to win the game. An equaliser would mean Arsenal have until the end of extra time to get another goal, and if they did Liverpool would need a total of three goals to win.

This also leads on to another annoyance of mine: playing at home in the second leg of a two-legged tie is supposed to be an advantage, but it’s ONLY an advantage if you win the first leg, in almost any other situation (barring a high-score draw) there’s a distinct disadvantage dealt by the away goals rule, in that you’ve already scored as many away goals as you can possibly score, so the momentum is with the away team.

I can see the theory and logic behind both the away goals rule and playing the second leg at home as a reward, but like many policies in this great game of ours, it’s not been thought through enough. I won’t even get on to the fact that it means that Liverpool are now tacitly encouraged to play for a 0-0 draw, which will no doubt result in a massive bore-a-thon second leg … I’ll just leave it with this:

Scrapping away goals would be to the benefit of everyone, it’d encourage more open football, it’d give teams playing at home in the second leg a genuine advantage, and it’d make the calculations a hell of a lot easier for poor fans (not to mention mathematically challenged referees) trying to work out whether 2-1 takes their team through or not.

(2) Comment(s) | Permanent link to this article

# Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2:29 AM
How I hate the away-goal rule.Last season in CL, Inter didn't lose to Valencia but they still got knocked out thanks to that unfair rule.
# Posted by Anonymous basem at 3:41 AM
the away goal is not compeletly unfair. It beats penalties and it also ensures teams play a more attacking game away from home. Are penalties more fairer, when teams are drawn?

Add new comment

10 Previous Articles

  1. Punishment should fit the crime
  2. Ouch
  3. Tevez and Mascherano madness
  4. Predictions
  5. Warming up
  6. The World Cup II
  7. The World Cup
  8. Thought for the day
  9. Ready children? Then let's begin
  10. Don't say I never give you anything