Arsene Wenger has sympathy for referees trying to spot simulation, as the Arsenal manager feels English players have become “masters” of diving.
The issue has been a hot topic after Tottenham’s Dele Alli appeared to dive in the penalty area in a dramatic 2-2 draw with Liverpool on Sunday. He was duly handed a third yellow card for simulation in his Premier League career, taking him level with Wilfried Zaha.
Alli and Bournemouth’s Adam Smith are the only two England-born players who rank in the top six for most bookings for diving, although Raheem Sterling and Zaha – products of English academies after being born in Jamaica and Ivory Coast respectively – are also among the frequent culprits.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino appeared to defend Alli’s actions after the match, claiming that football is all about trying to “trick your opponent”, though Wenger does not necessarily think his counterpart was outing himself as a diving apologist, as some have suggested.
“I am convinced he wanted to say that tricking your opponent is to be clever,” Wenger told reporters at his pre-match news conference. “Was it an apology for diving? I’m not sure.
Every week, it seems, more and more players are getting interested in this adventure; and this time it is Raheem Sterling, after the Man City forward was labelled a cheat for his antics against Leicester.
With the match tied at 1-1, Sterling went down in the Leicester box.
With his arms stretched out, and a pained look on his face, it was clear that Sterling was searching for a penalty.
The ref, however, waved ‘play on’. But should Sterling have gone in the book for diving?
The ref had a perfect view of the incident. So why didn’t he punish Sterling?