EPL: The Premier League's Best Divers
Sometimes, standing up is the hardest part
Nothing much has happened after Arsenal's humbling home defeat to Wigan. Reality has crept in yet again, and there are fears surfacing over the outcome of the club's final position after the loss threw open again the race for third place.
The media vultures did their bit to spice things up.
Arsenal's captain, Robin van Persie has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The Mirror published reports of him chilling with El Capitan and Ibrahim Afellay in Barcelona's hotel in London, while other gists surfaced about the skipper setting up a meeting with some Manchester City folks.
There was also the pointless issue of the handshake shenanigans with some twat in Wigan. As Arseblogger rightly pointed out, if a player has been a twat all game long, then the offer of a hand after the final whistle doesn’t make him any less of a twat. Arsene Wenger made a point or two about Wigan's time-wasting tactics, but he still gave the Latics the credit they deserved.
Moving over to today's post, I've decided to take time off the world of Arsenal that has been infested with the regular barrage of abuses to poor ol' Aaron Ramsey and the usual negativity a loss brings.
I've decided to air my views about one of the most consistent trends in the Premier League.
I'm not talking about the late winners that heralded Arsenal as the comeback kings, the FA's inconsistency in its decision making, the atrocious officiating, the fiercely contested battle for the Champions League spots or the dogfight for relegation.
This is about that disgraceful act that can be the difference between a win, a draw and a loss. That act that has the potential to make a team lose a player for a crime he certainly didn't commit.
The art of diving.
Laying emphasis on the epic illustration above, I present to you:
The Legends of the Fall
Lead Actor: Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale the Chimp "swinging"
For what it's worth, the world's best left-footed Chimpanzee, Gareth Bale, is odds on to win two potential gold medals for Team Great Britain in the forthcoming Olympic Games this summer.
Bale will certainly represent the British football team with the likes of the much-maligned Aaron Ramsey and loads of English folks, without Jack Wilshere though. A good performance from the Brits can see them win gold, but Bale will also be an integral part of the Team GB Olympic Diving Squad.
In one of the most enthralling North London derbies ever, the game was marred by Bale's antics that saw his team win a penalty from a blatant dive. Emmanuel Adebayor converted the spot kick to put the Spurs two up, but Arsenal turned on the style to give their faithful fans a game to remember.
Funnily enough, there was no media outrage after Bale's dive. But when Eduardo dived against Celtic in a Champions League playoff game a few seasons ago, a witch hunt followed with people holding forks and torches, requesting for the Crozilian to be banned. They even went as far as creating a catchy headline to match his diving act, Cheat-Ed.
In the wake of that shameful incident that taints the beautiful game, former top referee Graham Poll has told everyone to stop blaming Mr. Dean, but Bale and his diving crew deserve to be punished by the FA:
“If it was a foul, it should have been a red card for the keeper, and perhaps Dean had doubts over the accuracy of his decision and left him on the pitch. Replays showed that Bale had not been fouled, but I would not blame Dean for being fooled; rather, look at the conduct of Bale and plead that the FA introduce retrospective punishment for diving. This would not need a change to laws of the game, nor permission from the IFAB or FIFA, as it is up to each governing body to determine their own disciplinary code.”
Bale responded to Poll's comments declaring that he doesn't dive, but he's into "self-preservation":
“If people want to say I’m diving, they can. But at the end of the day I’m trying to get out of the way and save myself and my career.
For once, I’m going to agree with Bale. Monkeys don’t “dive," they “swing” from tree to tree.
He probably imagined Wojciech Szczesny’s post as the nearest tree, so he “swung” in that direction, winning a fictitious penalty in the process.
Supporting Actor: Ashley Young
In the yesteryear, Arsenal had its own "Ashley" who marauded the left flank, forming a telepathic understanding with the dreamy Robert Pires. After winning seven trophies and notching up 228 appearances for the Gunners, the full-back embarked on a new adventure in the Blue half of South West London.
However, there's another "Ashley" who has become England's own Superman without a cape in the 18-yard box. He was one player I admired from his Watford and Aston Villa days, and I'd envisaged that he wouldn't remain in Villa Park after a while.
My predictions became a reality when Sir Alex Ferguson invested £18m for his services, and he hit the ground running with some good early-season performances for the Red Devils before his form waned. He will certainly be remembered for his role in the 8-2 mauling of Arsenal and the 3-0 win over Tottenham. His finishes in both games were "sweet" to say the least.
However, Ashley Young has added a new dimension to his game, and his recent antics have made him enter some bad books. When Manchester United hosted Queens Park Rangers in Old Trafford, Young strayed offside when he received a through ball and hit the turf as if he was sniped following a duel with Shaun Derry.
Derry wrongfully received his match orders, and Shrek converted the penalty to put the Mancs one up. Young's dive looked worse with each passing replay, but it convinced the QPR hierarchy to state that Young could partner Tom Daley on Team GB's Olympic Diving Squad, alongside Gareth Bale of course.
Young continued his diving run with another shameful "simulation" against Aston Villa.
Arsenal's Arsene Wenger was also irritated with the incident and postulated that divers should receive three-match bans. He also supported Gary Neville's assertion that diving in English football spread from foreign players.
Unlike Bale, Young hasn't come out yet to say that he's preserving his next generation with each dive in the box
Director: Didier Drogba
The Serial Diver
As a pure, thoroughbred African, I'm proud to know that my continent has produced the best set of centre forwards in different generations for world football to witness. Many defenders have had numerous nightmares on and off the pitch courtesy of the performances of the likes of George Weah, Abedi Pele, Roger Milla and Nwankwo Kanu, among others.
Chelsea's former goalie Ed de Goey can attest to the "evil" Kanu can render to any opposition defence. Scoring a hat trick in 15 minutes is certainly not as easy as Abou Diaby picking up an injury.
In recent times, the world has witnessed the latest breed of Africa's finest strikers. While Samuel Eto'o continues to pave the way and earn the greens in Anzhi, strikers like Frederic Kanoute, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Papiss Cisse and the Ba Ba Senegalese Sheep have registered their names in the folklore of their teams.
However, this post is dedicated to divers, and Africa's undisputed diver remains the "Serial Diver" himself, Didier Yves Drogba Tebily.
Drogba's stats are sickening to say the least, and we all know that he has a season or two left in the gas before bidding his farewell to top-flight football. In Guingamp, he scored 24 goals in 50 games, while he smashed in 32 goals in 55 games for Marseille. He rose to prominence in Chelsea, and he has scored 155 goals in 336 games for the London-based outfit.
Despite having goal-scoring statistics that can make you drool, Drogba is a serial diver who has made a tackle look like a shot from close range with a rocket-propelled grenade. Week in and week out, Chelsea fans are always entertained because they know what to expect from Drogba, besides the goals of course.
Liverpool's Luis Suarez also deserves an honorable mention, but I decided to stick with the Lead Actor, the Supporting Actor and the Director.
In the art of diving, the cast is really much.
That's yer lot folks,
The Legends of the Fall.