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Arsene Wenger claims English players are the "masters" of diving as Arsenal prepare for Tottenham clash

Mirror logo Mirror 8/2/2018 John Cross

Arsene Wenger has claimed English players have become the “masters” of diving ahead of the North London derby.

Wenger believes English players now have a worse reputation for cheating than foreign stars and his comments are likely to put referee Anthony Taylor on red alert before Saturday’s Premier League showdown at Wembley.

England stars Harry Kane and Dele Alli were both caught up in separate cheat storms after Tottenham’s draw at Liverpool last Sunday.

Gunners boss Wenger said: “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.”

Harry Kane hits back at Virgil van Dijk for calling him a cheat after winning penalty

a group of people watching a football ball: Credits: Liverpool FC via Getty Images © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Liverpool FC via Getty Images

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REUTERS

Wenger’s remarks come after Spurs counterpart Mauricio Pochettino claimed that “football trickery” was part of a player’s armoury. Kane was accused of diving by Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk while Alli was booked for simulation at Anfield.

But Wenger - who in the past has seen Arsenal players Eduardo and Robert Pires accused of diving - stood up for Pochettino’s view and also said that he had sympathy with referees when players dive.

He said: “I am convinced that he (Pochettino) wanted to say that tricking your opponent is to say that you have to be clever. 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 don’t encourage them to dive at all. But if you look at the situation, I think when sometimes you do not want to provoke a dive as well. 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.

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Arsenal FC

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REX/Shutterstock

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“Every striker will do that. They extend the rules a little bit. 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. In many cases, it’s like that now, the guy goes and if the goalkeeper has their hands off, the striker leaves a leg as long as he can to make sure that the goalkeeper touches him. But that’s not really a penalty.

“As much as I can be harsh with the referees, on that front I am quite tolerant with the referees because when you watch a game live it is very difficult at 100 per cent pace to distinguish whether it is a dive or not.”

Wenger also claimed Arsenal are now happier to play at Wembley than White Hart Lane after a remarkable recent run which has seen them win the FA Cup three times in the last four years as well as semi finals and Community Shields.

“Yes, because we have a positive history there and 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," he said.

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Catherine Ivill

“They were always very important games for us, vital games, so that is why the focus was there. Is that specially linked with the players? No, it is just linked with the fact that at Wembley you play special games where you are under pressure to perform and we responded well to it every time.”

Wenger has a fitness doubt over first choice keeper Petr Cech but says David Ospina is ready to deputise and that Danny Welbeck and Nacho Monreal should be fit.

“Basically, we should have a similar squad to what we had last week against Everton. Maybe Danny Welbeck will be back," he said. "We had a few problems with Petr Cech, who we are not sure about at the moment because he’s not trained. I don’t know if he will be available.

“Nacho Monreal looks alright again. It should be a similar squad. I have no problem with [selecting Ospina]. David Ospina or Petr Cech: I will make that decision tomorrow.”

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