Sean Dyche has accused Arsenal players of cheating, diving, and elbowing in a story that dominates the post-game narrative and is beyond laughable given the state of Burnley’s thugs at the Emirates on Saturday.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 22:  Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal clashes with Ashley Barnes of Burnley during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Burnley FC at Emirates Stadium on December 22, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 22: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal clashes with Ashley Barnes of Burnley during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Burnley FC at Emirates Stadium on December 22, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The ‘football’ that Sean Dyche’s team played at the Emirates was a disgrace to the game, Stoke-lite under the Chief Orc Tony Pulis. For him to turn this around and make it about Arsenal diving – and for the papers to let him – is simply laughable.

Sunday Telegraph 23 December 2018

“No one seems to want to do anything about diving apart from me,” Dyche said. “I’m still amazed by it. Kids everywhere are watching, all copying it. No one seems to care about it. I want to see people banned because, if they were, it would evaporate out of the game.

“You wouldn’t ruffle your kids’ hair if they come home after school and cheated in a maths test. They cheat at a game of football and it’s OK. It’s almost like “well done. We got away with that one”.

“I’m talking about blatant diving. Cheating. Where there has been no contact at all and people are falling over. The powers-that-be have to get their heads together.”

What Dyche, the mainstream papers and the BBC’s Match of the Day all left out was that by the end of the 90 minutes, Burnley should have been reduced to 9 men at least.

Star on Sunday 23 December 2018

Ashley Barnes seemed on a one-man crusade to get sent off so he could relax at Christmas. How Kevin Friend avoided obliging will forever remain a mystery. He caught Guendouzi with an elbow to the back of the head twice and then threw a knee into the back of the 19-year-old, all within minutes after he’d already been booked.

Barnes had been booked for this on Sokratis:

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 22:  Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal clashes with Ashley Barnes of Burnley during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Burnley FC at Emirates Stadium on December 22, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 22: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal clashes with Ashley Barnes of Burnley during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Burnley FC at Emirates Stadium on December 22, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The only part of this incident that warranted coverage, apparently, was the ‘elbow’ Dyche accused Sokratis of throwing:

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 22:  Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal clashes with Ashley Barnes of Burnley during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Burnley FC at Emirates Stadium on December 22, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 22: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal clashes with Ashley Barnes of Burnley during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Burnley FC at Emirates Stadium on December 22, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Only one of Barnes’ acts of thuggery made the Mail on Sunday’s ‘ref review’. They never mentioned his elbows that flew all game, or the knees in backs, or the time he seriously considered just kicking an Arsenal player but pulled back at the last minute.

Then there was Chris Wood, subbed off at the same time as Barnes when both should have been sent off. He’d already been booked before he committed a number of further offences including one that prompted Sky Sports to say he’d have been booked had be not been already.

You know, that famous footballing law of the game.

Burnley finished with only five yellows and I’m not sure you would be able to find a non-Burnley person on the planet able to explain that in a way that’s satisfactory.

Most of the papers, especially the right-wing, screamed about Arsenal’s cheating on Sunday morning with most running Dyche’s comments unchallenged by facts or reality:

via Mail on Sunday

I get that people don’t like diving but do you know what I don’t like? Players, teams and managers who think stepping over the line physically is acceptable and not a form of cheating.

Between diving and kicking, only one has the potential to cause lasting damage – nobody ever needed surgery and missed a year of football because he dived.

BOTH ARE FORMS CHEATING.

Unai Emery also spoke about the poor refereeing decisions on the day, but he did it in a more roundabout way than Dyche and so has garnered no headlines this morning.

“Respect is for all,” Emery said as his counterpart was busy calling Arsenal cheats. “We need to respect the referee’s decision. I think VAR is coming here in the future and I think this will help the referees, because the referees can make mistakes, like us.

“I make mistakes every day but I want to learn and I want to also help to do less mistakes with my decisions.

“The referees are the same, but we need to respect them. I think today was very important for us. We struggled with their actions and they struggled with our actions.”

On a side note, Spurs dive on a regular basis. As someone who reads the major papers almost every day, I’ve yet to see anything approaching this sort of coverage about them and their manager has admitted he encourages diving. Unai Emery said he doesn’t like it. “It’s not my spirit,” Unai said. “Diving, I think, is not correct.”

Arsenal currently sit in fourth place in the Premier League Fair Play table for the season.

Burnley are 10th which was higher than I expected to find them based on their Emirates showing. Then again, given they received only a fraction of the cards they deserved, it’s no wonder their Fair Play standing is not an accurate representation of their thuggery.

Enjoy the Championship, Dyche. Say hellow to Pulis when you get there, if he still has a job.