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Lucky Liverpool?

Well, so the critics would try and have us believe. Refereeing mistakes in big matches mostly in favour of Liverpool led opposition fans to claim that Liverpool's treble win was entirely down to luck. But what about the games that the neutrals paid no attention to? Did things always go Liverpool's way, or were there also wrong decisions that went against Liverpool? LFC-1 has colected together some of the season's most controversial decisions to see if Liverpool really did have it all their own way.

Arsenal v Liverpool

In surely one of the worst refereeing displays since the Premier League began, Graeme Poll was the man responsible for more than the average amount of errors. The first was to award Arsenal a corner kick from which they scored the first goal, despite Sander Westerweld not getting a touch on a shot by an Arsenal player. The game then turned into a farce as first Gary McAllister was given his marching orders as was Patrick Vieira in the second half, both very debatable, and finally Dietmar Hamann was sent off for seemingly nothing at all. Arsenal went on to get a last minute second goal and Hamann's sending off was reduced to a booking after an appeal.

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Liverpool v West Ham

In the middle of a great run of form, Robbie Fowler netted a couple of goals in this game, and put the ball in the net for a third time late on in the game. However, the goal was disallowed due to the linesman claimed that Smicer had run the ball out of play before he crossed it in to Fowler. TV pictures showed otherwise and Fowler had to settle for just the 2 goals.

Sunderland v Liverpool

Another dodgy penalty decision, this time with Liverpool the attacking team, saw Gary McAllister fouled outside the area by Varga. The challenge took place around 3 or 4 yards outside the area and only the speed that McAllister was travelling at took him into the area after he was tripped. Varga was the last man and escaped a sending off, leaving Jari Litmanen to keep his cool and grab the equaliser.
But even with 10 minutes to go there was enough time for the referee and linesman to even things out. Owen played the ball to Fowler in the area and Fowler netted what looked to be the winner for Liverpool. But it was wrongly disallowed for offside and the sides were kept at 1-1.

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Liverpool v Man City

A highly debatable penalty put Liverpool ahead in a game they went onto win comfortably in the end. Vladimir Smicer went down after appearing to be caught by Nicky Weaver, but on replays it looked as though no contact was made on the Czech international. But Graeme Poll had a great view as he himself fell over in the area and awarded a penalty which Jari Litmanen again converted. City boss Joe Royle later claimed he would not blame the defeat on the penalty decision, and then proceeded to do just that anyway!

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Liverpool v Roma

One of the strangest displays of refereeing ever witnessed saw Jose Maria Garcia Aranda award a penalty to Roma with the Italians looking to gain an equaliser in the tie. But as the Italian fans and players celebrated, the Spanish referee changed his mind to instead award a corner kick. The indident leading up to the controversy involved a cross being struck into the back of Babbel's elbow. An appeal from Roma was rejected by UEFA and the 1-0 result stood, giving Liverpool a 2-1 advantage over the 2 legs.

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Birmingham v Liverpool

The biggest talking point following this game was regarding a challenge on Andrew Johnsen by Stephane Henchoz. The Swiss defender appeared to miss the ball and bring down the Birmingham player in the area in extra time. No penalty was given and Birmingham went on to lose the final on penalties, with TV pictures clearly proving that a penalty should in fact have been awarded to Birmingham.
However, another decision in the game recieved less attention. Early in the first half, Steve Gerrard raced into the Birmingham half and looked set to be in a clear goalscoring position. But in going past the last man, Gerrard was caught by Martin O'Connor. Amazingly a free kick was not awarded and instead, a free kick was given to Birmingham for offside. But again, TV evidence showed that Gerrard was a couple of yards onside when the ball was played to him by Smicer. O'Connor was lucky to be on the pitch and was also the player who was brought down in the last minute to give Birmingham a penalty from which they scored their equaliser to take the game into extra time.

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Liverpool v Man United

No content with giving Liverpool a free kick by handballing with both hands at Old Trafford, Gary Neville was at it again at Anfield, raising an arm to block a pass into a crowded penalty area. For the third time so far of the matches on this page, it was Graeme Poll who was in charge, and was responsible for not awarding the penalty, claiming he hadnt seen it. With the game already at 2-0 to the Reds, who's complaining?

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Liverpool v Leeds United

In what could have proved the most costly of all, Steve Gerrard was given his marching orders by Alan Wiley in a vital match for both sides. Gerrard made slight contact with David Batty and was shown a second yellow card despite Batty pleading with Wiley not to produce a card for the challenge. After a totally dominant first half display by Leeds, Liverpool were just starting to get back in the game, with Gerrard at the heart of everything and also the man who had given Liverpool a consolation goal. Shortly after the sending off, Danny Mills made a very similar challenge on Gary McAllister and despite also having a yellow card to his name, Mills stayed on the pitch as only a free kick was given.

Arsenal v Liverpool (FA Cup Final)

Midway through the first half, Thierry Henry rounded Westerweld and looked set to give Arsenal the lead when his shot was cleared off the line by the hand of Henchoz. While it was difficult to say whether the handball was instinctive or whether it was the result of Henchoz slipping on the line, it was certain that his hand had prevented a goal for Arsenal and would have definatley dismissed if the linesman had had a clear view of the incident.

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Charlton v Liverpool

In the final game of the season, Liverpool somehow survived a brilliant first half by Charlton, who had a mountain of chances to take the lead but due to a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping, the score stayed at 0-0. But the main talking point was yet another handball in the area that the officials failed to see, this time involving Jamie Carragher. A dangerous ball was played into the area and dropped just in front of Carragher before bouncing up and hitting the arm of the Liverpool defender. Nothing was given and Liverpool went on to turn the game around in the second half by thumping 4 goals past Ilic in a stylish display that saw the Merseysiders safely into the Champions League.

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