Arsene Wenger Claims English Footballers Are the 'Masters' of Diving

Arsene Wenger has stoked the fires ahead of the North London derby on Saturday (February 10), suggesting English players have become the "masters" of diving.

Tottenham's Harry Kane and Dele Alli were both accused of simulation during a 2-2 draw with Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, with the latter booked by the referee.

Speaking after the game, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said it was a "minimal issue" and that "football is about tricking your opponent." Wenger believes his counterpart used the wrong terminology.

"I am convinced that [Pochettino] wanted to say that tricking your opponent is to say that you have to be clever," said Wenger, as quoted by The Daily Telegraph. "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. We have to get the diving out of the game. I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it but I must say the English players have learned very quickly and they might even be the masters now."

Wenger didn't specifically mention Alli or Kane, but the implications about the England internationals will have been intentional on the eve of the second North London derby of the season.

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Wales, January 30. Wenger has stoked the fire ahead of the North London derby. Stu Forster/Getty

The French manager, who is in his 22nd year at Arsenal, has faced criticism during his tenure for players going down too easily.

"I don't encourage them to dive at all," he argued. "Sometimes you want your players to be intelligent, they have played a little bit with the rules and they make more of it on the penalty case. Every striker will do that. They extend a little bit the rules. Where is it and how far can you go? That is down to the referees and I think that sometimes, at normal speed, it is very difficult to determine.

"I think they had a good rule in England when I arrived here in England. When the striker pushes the ball away from the goal, they didn't give penalties because the only resource the striker has after is to look for a penalty. In many cases, it's like that now, the guy goes and if the goalkeeper has their hands off, the striker leaves a leg as long as he can to make sure that the goalkeeper touches him. But that's not really a penalty."

Arsenal travel to Wembley Stadium on Saturday, in the lunchtime kick-off, four points behind fifth-place Tottenham. Both teams are in a race for the top four in order to qualify for the Champions League next season.