herald

Monday 16 July 2018

'English are best divers'

Arsenal's Wenger makes claim ahead of derby clash with Spurs following Anfield controversy

Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane drew fierce criticism for going down to win a penalty after a challenge from Liverpool's Lorus Karius last Sunday
Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane drew fierce criticism for going down to win a penalty after a challenge from Liverpool's Lorus Karius last Sunday
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger claims English players are now the "masters" of diving.

Simulation has been in the headlines this week following Dele Alli's booking for diving as Tottenham drew at Liverpool on Sunday.

Wenger made the remarks ahead of tomorrow's north London derby against Spurs and after Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino said diving was a "minimal issue" within the sport.

Arsenal manager Wenger has already escaped the wrath of the English Football Association on the subject this season after claiming Raheem Sterling "dives well" following a 3-1 defeat at Manchester City in November.

Apology

Pochettino said on Tuesday that 'tricking' an opponent was now part of the game but, while he believes he knows what the Argentinian was getting at, Wenger went on to point the finger at home-grown players.

"I am convinced that he wanted to say that tricking your opponent is to say that you have to be clever," he said when asked about Pochettino's comments.

"How far was it an apology for diving? I'm not sure at all. I don't think he would. In my personal case? No. We have to get the diving out of the game.

"I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it but I must say the English players have learned very quickly and they might even be the masters now."

While Alli was cautioned for simulation at Anfield, his team-mate and fellow England international Harry Kane was accused of a similar action by Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk as he won a contentious penalty for Spurs.

Wenger was adamant that he would not actively encourage diving but said most attacking players would look to push the boundaries in order to gain an advantage.

"I don't tell my players to dive," he said.

"I don't encourage them to dive at all. But sometimes you want your players to be intelligent, they have played a little bit with the rules, they make more of it on the penalty case.

"Every striker will do that. They extend a little bit the rules. Where is it and how far can you go? That is down to the referees and I think that sometimes, at normal speed, it is very difficult to determine, I must say."

Arsenal head to Wembley to face Spurs having not beaten their rivals in the Premier League at White Hart Lane since 2014.

Pleased

The Gunners are four points and one place adrift of their neighbours as they sit sixth heading into the north London derby.

But Wenger's men have won their last nine games at the national stadium, including a penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea in this season's Community Shield and the Frenchman is pleased to be back at Wembley. Asked if he preferred the game to be at Wembley rather than White Hart Lane, Wenger replied: "Yes, because we have a positive history there.

"Of course Wembley is a pitch that is quality, a stadium with a big crowd and it is always a special day in your mind so overall, yes. At Wembley you play special games where you are under pressure to perform and we responded well to it every time."

Goalkeeper Petr Cech is a doubt for the game having been forced off in the win over Everton last week but Nacho Monreal should be recovered from illness in time to retain his place in defence.

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