Arsenal have had more players booked for diving this season despite not actually being a side that dives that often.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 29:  Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal is challenged by Sol Bamba of Cardiff City during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Cardiff City at Emirates Stadium on January 29, 2019 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 29: Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal is challenged by Sol Bamba of Cardiff City during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Cardiff City at Emirates Stadium on January 29, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Alexandre Lacazette was booked by Mike Dean for diving against Cardiff on Tuesday night even though it seemed like the forward was taken out. He shouldn’t be surprised. Fouls on Lacazette are frequently waved away, as we saw yet again with his two clear penalty claims that were turned down.

That card meant that Arsenal have now picked up four yellows for simulation – more than any other side.

It is a curious stat, for sure, especially when you consider how often the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Heung-Min Son, Jamie Vardy, and Mo Salah all hit the deck. The difference there, however, is that their dives get bought by the officials while Arsenal players are being booked for actually being fouled.

dele alli dive 1
Dele Alli’s swan song

Arsenal sit in seventh place in the Fair Play table which is headed by Manchester United who have had four players sent off so far this season but the same number of yellows as the Gunners (51).

Liverpool, City and Chelsea make up the three ‘fairest’ sides in the top flight which is just astonishing. If you reduce that to just league games, Spurs join them as the fourth ‘cleanest’ team in the league which we all know is just a lie because they’re a team of thugs and cheats.

Three of Arsenal’s four cards came against Huddersfield when they set an unwanted record for picking up the most cards for simulation in a single game.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08: Matteo Guendouzi of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Huddersfield Town at Emirates Stadium on December 8, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 08: Matteo Guendouzi of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Huddersfield Town at Emirates Stadium on December 8, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Arsenal had three players booked for diving against the Terriers at the Emirates as David Wagner’s men set about kicking the crap out of Arsenal for 90 minutes.

Of course, the dives and not the kicking are what made the headlines.

181210 daily star dive dive dive
Ever see a page like this for Spurs or Liverpool? (Daily Star 10 December 2018)

Throughout the years Arsenal have had the odd player who dives but it has never been a tactic like you see employed by Spurs players on a weekly basis. Yet, somehow, Arsenal have managed to end up holding the record for the most number of players booked for simulation in a single game in English football.

Of the bookings picked up against Huddersfield, an argument could be made that all three would have received penalties had they been kitted out in Lillywhite shirts instead of red and white. Week after week we see Kane, Alli and Son swan around the box picking up penalties not cards.

Yes, I know, this seems like moaning only because it is Arsenal on the receiving end but you can check my track record on this. That’s the one good thing about running an Arsenal site for 10 years, my opinions are all out on the ether. As frustrating as diving is, it’s not the biggest problem in the game. Cheating, as unpleasant as it is, does no real lasting harm. Dangerous and out-of-control tackles, on the other hand, put the careers of players at risk.

At the tail end of 2018, we had a former Stoke player come out and admit that it’s no wonder Aaron Ramsey’s leg was snapped in two like a twig because Tony Pulis fired them up so much.

“I heard the crack of Ramsey’s leg from the bench,” Dave Kitson recalled in his S*n column. “I heard the screaming. And the build-up to the game contributed to this moment.

“Stoke manager Tony Pulis absolutely despised Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, hated the way he played.

“All week I had never seen a manager so desperate to win a game of football, it was bordering on out of control.

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - APRIL 22: Ryan Shawcross of Stoke City looks on after the Premier League match between Stoke City and Burnley at Bet365 Stadium on April 22, 2018 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by
STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND – APRIL 22: Ryan Shawcross of Stoke City looks on after the Premier League match between Stoke City and Burnley at Bet365 Stadium on April 22, 2018 in Stoke on Trent, England.

“I remember Pulis pacing up and down shouting random things — this bundle of nervous energy blurting random swear words, trying to burn off his own nervous energy.

“And, of course, the upshot of all of that energy was that we went over the top and it cost Ramsey a year of his career.”

It actually cost Ramsey a lot more than a year of his career but the point here is these comments elicited no outrage, no uproar, no calls for Pulis to be called before the authorities.

But diving, that’s the real scourge of the game, eh?

Especially when Arsenal do it…

…If you’re interested

  • Harry Kane has four yellows in the league this season
  • Heung-Min Son has one
  • Dele Alli has two
  • Mo Salah has none
  • Alexandre Lacazette has two.
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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.