With Arsenal due to face Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday at the Emirates Stadium for the first time since the Merseyside club knocked the Gunners out of the Champions League last season. Manager Arsene Wenger has accused Dutch International Ryan Babel of diving to earn the penalty that ultimately put the Reds through.
Arsenal were on the verge of making it through to the semi-finals after Emmanuel Adebayor equalised to make it 2-2 at Anfield on the night, which would have been enough to send the North London club into the last four on away goals.
However, Babel went down in the area just seconds later, with a penalty being given, which Liverpool scored and eventually won 4-2 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate. Now ahead of their crunch Premiership clash, Wenger is insisting that the Dutch winger dived and that perhaps it was the catalyst that ended Arsenal’s season.
“Perhaps our season died after we played Liverpool in those three games…yes,” said Wenger.
“At home in the Champions League, we had a penalty that was not given. But at Anfield a penalty was given — and that was the result of a dive.
“I can say that because Kolo did not touch him. Overall, we had bad luck and then more bad luck. But it’s part of the quality of the team to deal with that situation and not to allow that to happen.”
However, Wenger has claimed not to be annoyed by Babel, with the Frenchman even conceding that his own players have dived on occasion, with the Gunners boss, who is in favour of seeing video technology introduced once again raising the issue of video assistance for referees.
“It’s difficult to say you are annoyed about diving, because it can sometimes happen with your own players that they dive,” Wenger added.
“It is down to the players and the referee to get it sorted out, maybe with video assistance.
“They are talking about having a referee behind the goal now and that might help. But I am not convinced. Diving has improved, even though I can show you video replays from some 20 years ago when you had some good divers.
“I don’t feel any pain about it now. In football everyone can become crazy, as it never happens how you want it to.”