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British Media Thinks Diving Is REALLY Wrong, NOW…
…but only because, for once, it was Arsenal benefiting over British opposition rather than United over continental opponents.
Can I have begun by mentioning anything other than what The Fiver called “top drawer filth” or what The Guardian called a “taint” or what The Times called a “cheap trick?” The feigned indignity of the British press, and Celtic supporters, makes headlines, if not much sense. For instance, F365 wrote, “Arsene Wenger has bucked the trend of leading managers by all-but admitting that one of his players has taken a dive…” But that’s not right at all. Arsene said, quite plainly, that just because the player goes down does not mean it is a dive. He may have had no other option to get out of the way of the tackle. The Boss in his post-match press conference also said something which I had already written on Twitter, that because of his previous injury he may have been trying to avoid Boruc. He also said that had the penalty not been given, Eduardo would not have argued with the referee.
All this talk of a ban is just ridiculous… If that’s the case, surely we could retroactively ban Ronaldo for life, or more! Ban his children from ever playing the game, even. I don’t once remember the English media calling for Ronaldo to be banned for diving -repeatedly- in the Champions League against more foreign competition than Celtic. Or when Rooney dove against us a few years ago in a desperate but successful bid to end our unbeaten run or against Villareal in the Champions League or any of a dozen other times. Or when Gerrard dove after actually kicking Brad Friedel? Please. Vital Arsenal gets the award for best headline today, “Mass Hysteria as Eduardo Invents The Dive.” Eduardo is merely being scapegoated by people like Kenny Dalglish who want to think diving is something done by cheating foreigners.
It seems that diving now is even more wrong -or wrong enough now to be punished- since it is Arsenal that have seemingly benefited from it and not the darlings up at Old Trafford or Anfield. And, while the Scottish FA calls for a ban on Eduardo in a bid to deflect attention from the fact that the SPL is, at best, looking more and more like the very bottom of the English Championship, even F365 seem to have come around to reason by this morning, writing, “This is getting a tad ridiculous now. Even Arsene Wenger admitted it wasn’t a penalty but surely we can’t just start spuriously banning people now?” The SFA Chief Executive, Gordon Smith, has called for “retrospective punishment” for Eduardo… Fine, we’ll make him sit on a chair in the corner and think about what he did. Besides, I’m sure UEFA could dig through videos and find some dives to “retrospectively” punish Celtic for. (The correct word is “retroactive,” Mr. Smith.)
I can understand Celtic being upset about the call but some of the tackles that directly followed were just ugly and could have resulted in injuries for either side. Celtic lost this tie when they couldn’t even get close to getting a goal at home and lost 2-nil, not from a dodgy penalty in the second leg when they had already created their own Mt. Everest to climb. The referee didn’t lose this tie for Celtic, they only put two shots on goal in the entire tie.Of course, the English media are rife today with cries of “Cheat!” aimed at Eduardo. But let’s be honest, Eduardo is not a diving kind of player which tends to make me think it is very possible he was trying to get out of the way. In the opening half hour, he put Celtic under so much pressure, and on another night could have easily had a hat-trick, the dam was inevitably going to burst. The really sad part is that this is overshadowing what was another good performance by the midfield three of Song, Denilson, and Diaby, not to mention Eduardo and Eboue, who is proving to be one of the most versatile players in European football having played wide right last night in an attacking role in addition to his repertoire of right back, right midfielder, and even defensive midfielder.
So, are Arsenal fans feeling bad? No way. We’ve been on the end of what seems like a disproportionate number of shady calls, especially in the last few years. As Arsene pointed out, I don’t remember anyone mourning for us in the papers when Hleb was denied an obvious penalty (on replay, even) against Liverpool in the 2008 CL Quarterfinal First Leg or, especially, in the second leg when, following Theo’s amazing run, Babel came down the other end and got a penalty just as dodgy as the one awarded last night. Perhaps if we had been playing Atletico Madrid or Fiorentina, the media would not have even cared so much. But, honestly, Arsenal are, and, last night were, of a different class than Celtic and it would’ve taken a dozen miracles for them to have gotten through to the Group Stage on our backs.
So it’s on to Old Trafford where we will face the reigning champions on Saturday evening. 15 goals in 4 games seems to stand us in good stead but let’s not forget that United have had no CL Playoff and, therefore, have had the entire week off to rest in preparation. Arsene will continue to rotate and, despite saying yesterday that Cesc was “a little short for Saturday,” I expect him to play. Even if he doesn’t, I still see a midfield of Song, Denilson, and Diaby as being far more effective than one with Carrick, Park, Anderson, and Giggs. United scored 5 last week in the second half at a Wigan side that seemingly sent their grandmothers out to play the rest of the match. When United have come up against determined sides, such as Burnley even, they have struggled to break them down. United’s midfield is not the threat it once was and it will be interesting to see how our new formation handles one of the big boys.
In other news, Young Guns reports that a season-long loan deal has been arranged with Queens Park Rangers for Jay Simpson. [digg=http://digg.com/soccer/British_Media_Thinks_Diving_Is_REALLY_Wrong_NOW]