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Premier League is developing a play-acting problem

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Football News

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had a point when bemoaning the play-acting of Liverpool’s Luis Suarez when winning the penalty at Anfield last week.


Whether it was a penalty or not is debatable, but the contact that was there, if any, was certainly not enough for the Reds striker to act in the way he did.


Wenger conceded it was the reality in football that players will try to win penalties by inviting contact, but he objected to the kind of histrionics after the challenges.


It may be the right moment to mention throwing stones and glass houses, as the Gunners tactician has managed one or two players who have been keen to go down under not so much pressure.


However, it was not the first time Suarez has been guilty of over-egging his reactions to tackles – the red card shown to Everton’s Jack Rodwell after a challenge that was most definitely not dangerous and certainly was not as bad as Suarez made it appear to be.


It is not the Uruguayan’s fault that the referee showed a red card to Rodwell, but his conduct following the challenge makes him complicit to the sending off in some way.


There is no debate about whether diving is wrong but there is an argument for placing histrionics after a challenge in the same bracket.


It would be unfair to make it sound as if Suarez is the only player who does this, because he most certainly is not, but the spotlight has fallen upon him momentarily.


Wenger’s comments on the Suarez penalty also included his thoughts on Gervinho’s sending off in the first game of this season’s Premier League competition at Newcastle.


The Ivory Coast winger went down under a challenge from Cheick Tiote and was hauled to his feet by Joey Barton, who went to ground and made the most of a slap to the face from the new Gunners signing.


Barton later admitted he had feigned injury after being hit, although there was hardly any need to inform people that he was not hurt as badly as he made out.


Gervinho only has himself to blame for the red card and he was unwise to raise his hands to an opponent’s face, which will more often than not see you dismissed.


It must be said that the Arsenal player’s penalty claim was dubious itself, but the fact that Barton was able to drag him off of the ground in an aggressive manner, then go to ground in such an exaggerated way and not be punished for his part in the incident.


It seems to be unfair that a player can essentially simulate the severity of a challenge or contact and not fear any retrospective punishment – especially when it could have made a significant contribution to another player getting sent off.


Suarez is a fantastic player and it is a shame that the most discussed areas of his game at the moment have nothing to do with how talented a forward he is.


While the FA have not voiced any current intention to address an issue that becomes ever more prevalent in the Premier League, you feel player such as the Liverpool forward will begin to suffer from gaining a reputation for making more of challenges – the boy who cried wolf, if you will.


Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani at Manchester United had to learn a similar lesson in the early stages of their respective Old Trafford careers.


There is an argument that ‘winning’ fouls is something that is more common in the leagues these players have come from, but England can no longer claim to have a league that is the bastion of honesty.


What else, other than retrospective disciplinary action, can be done to stop players feigning injury to gain any number of advantages?


One way may be to sit the player in question down and make them watch it back again. Hopefully having to see their actions once more will cause them to writhe with embarrassment and change their ways.


Maybe not, but there needs to be some kind of initiative into dissuading some players from doing it – other wise we could end up seeing THIS every week.

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Joey Barton
Premier League
Luis Suarez

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