Longtime Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg joined the NBCSN crew before Sunday’s action to discuss a topic that’s been growing in relevance the past few weeks: Mohamed Salah and diving.
The Egyptian superstar has won several controversial penalties in the past few match days, and referees appear to be closely monitoring Salah.
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The Liverpool man was not awarded a penalty for a clear dive in Saturday’s 7-goal thriller with Crystal Palace, a match in which he was up for Man of the Match consideration for sensational play apart from any perceived simulation.
Clattenburg argues that Salah was fortunate not to receive a yellow in that situation, and notes a pattern in the player’s behavior: He goes down if the foul or perceived foul is in a non-scoring situation, but stays up if it’s outside the box or there’s a chance he could get a goal.
Liverpool fans will almost surely disagree given the evidence, but the argument is otherwise quite strong. There’s a difference between diving and simulation/exaggeration, and there’s little doubt the latter has become a part of Salah’s game (perhaps due to the increasing amount of defensive attention and fouling headed his way).
Arsene Wenger knows how to play the media game.
The Arsenal manager doesn’t mind a spat — verbal or physical — with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, and he also knows his team is not among those most often booked for diving in the Premier League.
We’re not saying Wenger is disingenuous, but when Mourinho cried that his club is being targeting for diving, the Gunners boss sure was ready to pile on.
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The 65-year-old Frenchman thinks an independent panel of experienced soccer minds should be able to retroactively punish divers.
From the BBC:
“I am against diving, but the only way players will stop doing it is if they can get punished,” Wenger said.
Wenger believes naming the guilty players alone “doesn’t work” and there is a need to hand out bans following the examination of video evidence.
“We should punish after the game,” added the Frenchman.
“The problem will be to decide when it was obvious diving or not. That is a big issue and sometimes it is not obvious.”
Chelsea has been booked four times this season, double the league’s second-highest offenders, and they lead the league in total offenses for the previous three years. Is that targeting, or just vision?
In any event, we doubt any soccer fans are going to mind if such a panel is created by the Premier League. Could it happen?
Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid aren’t known for seeing eye-to-eye, but they can agree on one thing following the former’s 1-1 draw with Barcelona on Tuesday in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League tie.
Neymar’s really ticking them off.
This has little to do with the Barcelona player’s goal, rather his theatrics. Less than a fortnight after drawing a penalty in a thrilling El Clasico, Neymar has drawn the ire of intense Atletico boss Diego Simeone.
Simeone combined shots at two Barca players during his post-match press conference. From Goal.com on Neymar:
“Diving is his characteristic, like Alexis Sanchez did when I coached him at River Plate,” he told Sky Sport. “This part of his game lets him down.”
Here are the comments from Real’s Ramos after his red card against Barca:
“In my sending off Neymar was offside beforehand and I didn’t touch him. He was looking for contact. If they wanted to balance the league table, they’ve done it.”
The diving criticism is nothing new for Neymar, even Pele has reached out to the youngster in the past. But at least we can agree that the Brazilian Barca striker is bringing the rival sides of Madrid together in a common goal: detestation of his tactics.
Some will brand it a bit of self-fulfilling prophesy, but another drawn penalty kick from Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben has Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger seeing red.
Wenger was critical of the “diving” Robben for the second straight match after the Dutch attacker fell to the turf after Laurent Koscielny appeared to step on his back foot inside the box.
And it was Wenger who used his prematch commentary to criticize UEFA’s choice to use a referee from Norway as well as a perceived past bias against his club from officials in Europe.
While he didn’t double down on criticizing the official, he chose to rip into Robben.
“Robben is very good at getting the maximum of nothing. He is a great player and a very good diver.
“He is a fantastic player, I would not deny that, he’s one of the best players in the world.
“But he gets in front of a player and then he slows down and goes down. He gets the free-kicks.”
The second leg finished 1-1 (3-1 on aggregate), and Wenger was critical of Robben while Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola was hailing his side’s heroics in possession.
For his part, Robben pulled no punches.
“If you lose, don’t start complaining about silly things,” he said. “It was two penalties. I don’t want to defend myself. From a big manager, you expect a little bit more if you lose.”
In the interest of humor, a Getty photographer caption (intentionally or not) of the above photo captioned the image “Arjen Robben of Bayern Muenchen in action.” In action. Classic.
Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis has his Eagles out of the drop zone, and now he’d like to see them out of the flop zone.
Pulis said he apologized to referee Mike Dean after Jerome Thomas and forward Marouane Chamakh dove during the club’s 1-1 road draw at Swansea City.
“They’ll pay money for that. They will both be fined. It’s a disease. It’s one we’re almost rid of but if people do it, they’ve got to be reminded it’s not right.”
“It’s something I’m very strong on. I’ve been in to see Mike and (Thomas) waited for him to apologize at full-time.”
Thomas was booked for his dive, and Pulis said Chamakh dove earlier in the match without discipline. Palace earned their equalizer controversially after Glenn Murray was fouled by Chico Flores on the edge of the box, so it’s not as if Dean needed guidance to award a kick.
One thing’s for sure: under that baseball cap is a man worth admiring.