Stronger penalty needed for diving

Friday, October 19, 2012
4:57 PM

Diving has been a very contentious talking point over the past few months, arising once again on Friday night at the Cardiff City Stadium when Wales played Scotland.

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With 10 minutes of the game remaining and Wales losing 1-0, Gareth Bale picked the ball up just inside the Scottish half and started on a mazy run.

He beat a couple of defenders and was eventually brought down just inside the penalty box.

To be fair, Gareth does have a reputation for going down a little bit too easily, but on this occasion he was clipped by the unfortunate Shaun Maloney.

It might have been the faintest of touches, but when Bale is in full flow the slightest touch is enough to put him off balance and bring him down.

Since the mid-90s, the era in which Jürgen Klinsmann joined Tottenham and the influx of foreign players into the English leagues began, diving has certainly increased in our game. But I do believe it would be somewhat unfair to solely lay the blame at the door of overseas players.

After all, we’ve seen the likes of Steven Gerrard, Ashley Young, Danny Welbeck, and after his own admission last week, Michael Owen, go to ground when they’ve clearly not been touched in order to try to win a free-kick or a penalty.

I’m not too sure that receiving a yellow card is enough of a deterrent to stop players from essentially trying to gain an advantage.

Maybe if they knew that the colour of the card would be red rather than yellow, they would think twice before committing the offence.

I think the Norwich players need to forget about the last seven games. They’re gone and there’s nothing they can do about them now. But what they can do something about is the next 31 games.

I think the club’s season starts tomorrow against Arsenal, and with the players having not played for two weeks, they should treat this as the very first game of a new season.

They should be really fresh going into tomorrow’s match against Arsene Wenger’s men, and it’s a game they should be looking forward to.

Look at both games against the Gunners last season. They were both very well contested, close affairs with Norwich getting an excellent point at the Emirates and narrowly losing at Carrow Road.

The boys really need to go into the game in a positive frame of mind, knowing they are more than capable of competing with the likes of Arsenal.

I know it’s not going to be easy as Arsenal have made a strong start to the season, having lost only one of their opening seven games and maintaining an unbeaten record on the road so far with two wins and two draws.

True, they lost their star player, Robin van Persie, in the summer, but this is something that Wenger has become accustomed to over the last few years. It seems after every season the North Londoners’ best player, for one reason or another, has jumped ship.

However, Wenger has bought some very good players in, including German international Lukas Podolski, who at the age of 27 has more than 100 caps and has scored 44 goals for his country.

A player who has really caught my eye this season is their Spanish attacking midfielder Santi Cazorla.

I think he’s a great player who really makes Arsenal tick with his strong forward running and very clever intricate passing. He’s a double European Championship winner with his country and I’m sure he’ll be looking to add further silverware at Arsenal.

One thing for sure is that if City are to beat Arsenal at Carrow Road for the first time since 1984, they will have to keep a very close eye on these two players. If they can defend well as a team then I’m confident they will take something from the game.

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