Daily Archives: February 9, 2018

Arsene Wenger: English players are now the ‘masters’ of diving

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said that English players has now mastered simulation ahead of a North London derby game between the Gunners and Tottenham Hotspurs.

Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli was booked for simulation in Sunday’s draw at Liverpool, with his teammate Harry Kane also accused of diving by Reds defender Virgil van Dijk in winning a penalty.

“I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it,” Wenger said. “But I must say the English players have learned very quickly and they might even be the masters now.”

Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino had also claimed after the game against Liverpool that overanalysing every controversy could “kill the game”; however, it was a stance which Wenger takes contrary to as the Frenchman believes that the issue is one that needs attention.

“You want your players to be intelligent. Sometimes they have played a little bit with the rules, they make more of it on the penalty case. Every striker will do that. 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.”

“As much as I can be harsh with the referees, on that front I am quite tolerant because when you watch a game live it is very difficult at 100% pace to distinguish whether it is a dive or not.”

“Most of the time, when a player is going to the goalkeeper, they push the ball away from goal. They had a good rule in England when I arrived here. 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 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.”

“We have to get diving out of the game,” he added. “I don’t tell my players to dive. I don’t encourage them to dive at all.”

Arsenal plays Tottenham on Saturday at Wembley.

Prediction:

Tottenham 0 – 2 Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez accepts prison sentence but will avoid jail time

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Alexis Sanchez’s agent has confirmed that his client has accepted a prison sentence for tax fraud in Spain.

Reports on Wednesday revealed that the Manchester United forward had agreed a deal with the state attorney to accept charges against him for defrauding the Spanish treasury of €1m while he was at FC Barcelona in 2012-13.

Official accounts stated that the Chilean International had used a company based in Malta to receive image rights paid by the Catalan club

Sanchez has accepted the charges while also agreeing to a 16-month prison sentence. He will repay the amount in full, plus interest, but with the prison sentence being less than two years he will not serve any time in jail.

However, Sanchez’s agent Fernando Felicevich described the agreement as “entirely unjust” and accused the Spanish authorities for effectively forcing him and other players into signing the deal.

“Once again, there has been a leak from the Spanish tax office, [this time] outlining an agreement between our client Alexis Sánchez and public prosecutors,” Felicevich said in a statement.

The agent accused the state of changing its interpretation of the law and pursuing professional footballers, particularly foreigners, exercising pressure through “obscene” leaks to the media and the threat of long legal processes and prison sentences.

“Despite having demonstrated that Alexis has committed no crime, we have been obliged, following the recommendations of our [legal] advisers, to accept the unjustified pact offered in order to palliate the emotional, personal and economic cost of long, tedious, trials where the media are used to publicly expose and judge private matters.”

La Liga: Ernesto Valverde admits Gerard Pique injury concern

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Ernesto Valverde admits that he had taken Gerard Pique off during Barcelona’s 2-0 win at Valencia due to an injury concern as the defender “felt a strain coming on.”

Pique had been an injury doubt going into Thursday’s game and lasted 83 minutes before Yerry Mina replacing him for his Barca debut although the Catalans reached yet another Copa del Rey Final.

“Pique? He felt a strain coming on and we decided that the best thing was to take him off,” Valverde said after the game in which January signing Philippe Coutinho scored the only goal in the game against Valencia to help the Catalan team progress to the final stage of the domestic Cup. The club have won the competition three times in a row since losing to Real Madrid in the 2014 final.

“Barca are used to reaching Finals and playing in them, me not so much,” Valverde added. “I’m very happy, given it’ll be the fifth consecutive Final for these players, something that’s very difficult to repeat and repeat.”

“We thought it’d be very difficult and it was, but we’re going home with tickets to the Final in our pockets. We thought they’d give us the ball and they did. They wanted to win the ball back from us and hit us on the break”

“We were able to find players in space and take advantage. We tried it with Messi, Iniesta, etc… We had to try and it went well. We won so we’d reach the Final. We found it difficult against Celta and Espanyol and now we have against Valencia. We had a busy January.

Barca, who also look to be runaway winners of La Liga this season, will play Sevilla in the final after the sixth placed team in La Liga reached their second Copa del Rey final in three seasons with a 3-1 aggregate win over La Liga rivals Leganes.

They will host their next opponents, Girona in the Spanish top-flight on Sunday, while Barca face mid-table club Getafe CF.