Arsenal latest victims of the 'Away Goal Cruel'

After seeing an efficient Arsenal side beat the seemingly infallible Bayern at Allianz Arena only for them to fall from The Champions League via the 'away goal rule', something seemed unfair about it all.

It wasn’t the deliberate time wasting tactics employed by Bayern as, after all, this has become a staple and inevitable defensive tactic of the modern game. I can accept this. 

Nor was it the severe lack of injury time allotted to the end of each half. Though time was clearly stopped for Giroud’s first half hand-flick, Martinez’ second half acting class, and the goal mouth scramble, a paltry four minutes was added all-in-all. Injury time is as unpredictable as global oil prices, so I can sort of accept this as well.

My feeling of injustice came from the fact that Arsenal, in losing 3-1 at home and winning 2-0 away, were the only team involved to have scored in both games. Not as important a fact I think, but they also kept an away clean sheet.

Bayern, to their credit, scored three (albeit two incredibly fortunate) goals at The Emirates but maybe more extraordinarily failed to register at home.

Surely in a game where both teams have scored the same over two legs and where both have registered away goals, the result should not fall down to the amount of away goals scored, but whether one team have found the net in both games? Or even whether one team have managed to perfectly defend their goal within a partisan Colosseum?

After all, football is a game founded on frequency of goals scored, right? Not the location of the goals.

Earlier this season, Chelsea were dealt a cruelly similar fate with their Champions League exit. After six games, Chelsea sat with 10 points, 16 goals scored and a goal difference of six.

Shakhtar Donetsk similarly had 10 points but with an inferior goal tally of eight and even an inferior goal difference of four so, from a reasonable perspective, seemed destined for the Europa League.

However, as Shakhtar had scored two goals at Stamford Bridge, and Chelsea had only scored once at Donbass Arena, Shakhtar grabbed second spot on head-to-head away goals! Insane, no?

If the Premier League happened to finish with both Manchester sides drawn on points again, United with a superior goal difference but City had scored two at Old Trafford and therefore won the league, would that be fair?

Of course not. That’s why City - by scoring more goals in their games and being the more entertaining team - were rightfully crowned champions last May.

Progression in the Champions League is so emotionally important to fans and financially important to clubs, to accept that the location in which a goal is scored is more important than actual frequency that they’re scored doesn’t seem unreasonable to me – it seems crazy!

The ruling implies that it is tougher to score an away goal in Europe. But in this day and age when travel on the continent is so quick and easy, is an away European tie still as tough as it once was?

Would you like to see a change in the importance of an away goal? Is there another, fairer way to settle things that hasn’t been yet thought of? Or am I, as some may suggest, merely a slightly bitter Gooner?

Written by Daniel Vincent and edited by Ashley Ellen.

image: © dh87

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