Arsène Wenger sticks by his comments that Raheem Sterling dived against Arsenal, but says his strikers would’ve done the same thing.
In Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City on November 5, Sterling went to ground under challenge from Nacho Monreal, and City scored the resulting penalty to go 2-0 up.
Wenger said after the game that Raheem “dives well”, which provoked some backlash from pundits who said there was contact and it therefore wasn’t a dive.
Now, the Arsenal boss has clarified his comments to beIn Sports: “I didn’t say that in a negative way, I said he used the fact he was in front of our defender [Monreal] to dive and he dived. In a few years he’ll say that as well. In the heat of the moment he’ll deny it,” reports the Manchester Evening News.
“He used well his position to get in front. A penalty is a deliberate foul in the box, it’s not a provoked foul in the box. That’s where the difference is and in big games like that you have to look at the defender and what he’s doing, not what the striker is doing.
“The striker will always go down. If it was one of my strikers he would certainly have gone down as well. It was not to blame Raheem Sterling, he used his advantage to fool the referee. That’s what he did. I don’t blame Sterling, I just said it was a dive.”
You can understand what Wenger is trying to say here. There’s a difference between a dive where a player completely invents contact, and one where he clearly attempts to draw it.
For me, Jamie Vardy has been the master of the latter over the last few years, spreading his legs out as far as they’ll go to try and find someone to trip over, and the referees generally fall for it.
Clearly Wenger believes Sterling is guilty of the same thing. He didn’t simulate contact, he just got himself in front and forced it. The reason the Arsenal boss sees that as a dive is because the contact is initiated by the attacker, not by a defender committing a deliberate foul.
But you’d expect nothing less from a forward in the Premier League nowadays. It’s just up to the referees to spot it and refrain from awarding a penalty.