Arsene Wenger insists he does not encourage his players to dive and thinks that penalties should not be awarded to players who are felled as they take the ball away from goal.
Earlier in the week, Sp*rs boss Mauricio Pochettino noted that “football is about trying to trick your opponent,” even though he admitted that midfielder Dele Alli was rightly booked for diving during his side’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool at Anfield.
The comments have sparked yet another debate on a subject that Wenger has touched on many times during his tenure in England and he joked that perhaps native players have taken the act to a new level.
“I’m convinced that he wanted to say tricking your opponent is to be clever,” said Wenger of Pochettino’s comments.
“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. Overall, I just say we have to get the diving out of the game.
“I remember there were tremendous cases here when the foreign players did it but I must say the English players have learnt very quickly and they may be the masters now.”
Quizzed on whether he instructs his players to go down in the box where possible, he added: “I don’t tell my players to dive. Not to dive, yes. I don’t encourage them to dive at all.
“If you look at the situation, sometimes you do not want to provoke a dive and sometimes you want your players to be intelligent where they play a little bit with the rules, they make more of it on a penalty case. Every striker will do that, they extend a little bit the rules. How far can you go? That’s down to the referees.
“Sometimes at normal speed, it’s very difficult to determine. On that front, as much as I can be harsh on the referees, I’m quite tolerant. When you watch a game live it’s very difficult at 100 per cent pace to distinguish between a dive or not.
“Most of the time when a player goes into a goalkeeper they push the ball away from goal. I think they had a good rule in England when I arrived here – when a striker pushed the ball away from goal, they didn’t give penalties. The only resource the striker has after [doing that] is to look for a penalty.
“In many cases, it’s like that now, the keeper has his hands off but the striker leaves his leg hanging as long as he can. But it’s not really a penalty.”