After Arsenal’s defeat to Manchester City in the League Cup final, many in the media chose to focus on Nacho Monreal’s first-half dive, even though the Spaniard himself didn’t even claim a penalty.
With 12 minutes gone, Monreal picked up the ball in the City box and tried to turn. He then went down under pressure from Vincent Kompany, but the replays showed there was no contact between the two of them.
The 31-year-old didn’t ask for a penalty, in fact he waved his hand to indicate it wasn’t a foul. Nonetheless, the English media jumped at the chance to criticise the Arsenal man for the simulation.
The Telegraph wrote: “Nacho Monreal should have been booked for a shameless dive before a back problem forced him out of the game.”
Alan Shearer added in The S*n: “Nacho Monreal dived to try and win a penalty and Jack Wilshere dived to try and get Fernandinho sent off — everything about the performance was inept.”
Stuart Brennan of the Manchester Evening News called it a ‘swan dive’ and suggested retrospective action:
— Stuart Brennan (@StuBrennanMEN) February 25, 2018
Of course, Monreal can’t get any retrospective punishment, since Arsenal didn’t gain any advantage from the dive. The referee didn’t award a penalty, so it wasn’t a “successful deception of a match official“.
Fans on social media were just as quick to slate the defender:
Nacho Monreal heat map pic.twitter.com/th7H3HnC7a
— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 25, 2018
Absolute 10/10 dive from Nacho Monreal. Pirouette and graceful landing.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) February 25, 2018
Live scenes of Nacho Monreal pic.twitter.com/ZPriszKelM
— Joe B 🏴 (@JblincoTHFC) February 25, 2018
You can understand why Spurs fans want to shift the narrative to an Arsenal player diving. Their team relies on simulation for penalties whenever they find themselves in trouble.
It’s a bit strange that the rest of the media have chosen to focus so heavily on the incident though. If Monreal threw his arms out to appeal, or rolled around feigning injury, then I’d understand the ‘shameless’ tag.
Given he waved away the penalty himself though, it seems to me he was just anticipating contact, not trying to deceive the referee.