Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger weighed into the debate about simulation in the Premier League by suggesting that English players may have become ‘the masters of diving’ ahead of the north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
Wenger was speaking as the fallout continued from last weekend’s 2-2 draw between Liverpool and Spurs when Tottenham’s Dele Alli was booked for diving and Harry Kane was accused of going down too easily to win a penalty under a challenge from home keeper Loris Karius.
Earlier this week Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino defended his players by saying part of football is about ‘tricking the opponent’ and, while Wenger believes those comments have been blown out of proportion, he said simulation was an increasing problem.
‘We have to get the diving out of the game,’ the Frenchman told a news conference on Thursday. ‘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.’
Alli has been particularly criticised after receiving his third caution for simulation. Wenger did not name the England midfielder but said there is a fine line between what is legal and what is not.
‘I don’t encourage my players to dive. 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,’ Wenger said.
‘Every striker will do that. They extend a little bit the rules. 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.’
Wenger also put North London rivalries aside as he accepted Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane is the most in-form striker in Europe.
Kane, 24, became the second fastest player to ever reach 100 Premier League goals by netting his 31st of the season in just 32 games to salvage a point for Spurs from a thrilling 2-2 draw at Liverpool last weekend.
‘If you look at the numbers, no, because he has high numbers,’ Wenger said when asked if there was a better striker in Europe at the moment than Kane.
The England international spoke this week of how being released from Arsenal’s academy as an eight-year-old left him with a ‘chip on his shoulder’.
Kane has more than taken revenge with a fine record against Arsenal, scoring six goals in seven North London derbies.
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