The controversial issue of simulation has once again reared its ugly head during Saturday's Birmingham City vs. Arsenal game. Marouane Chamakh won what is not his first dubious penalty for Arsenal.
Chamakh reached the ball ahead of Scott Dann's foot and fell theatrically to the ground, also ahead of Scott Dann's foot, winning his side the penalty from which they scored their equalising goal. Scott Dann's opinion of the incident was clear, as he branded Chamakh a conman, a title which can be difficult to erase.
Comments online and elsewhere reveal a unsurprising level of righteous indignation from Birmingham fans, and a slightly more surprising defensive outlook from some Arsenal fans. To their credit, several fansites have complained about Chamakh's theatrics, but some have taken a different view. See http://www.onlinegooner.com/editorial/index.php?id=259 for one example).
There is a worryingly cynical trend that diving to win penalties, free kicks and to get players booked is simply part of football.
To be very clear, this is also not an attack at foreign players as this type of discussion is sometimes thought of as, or indeed can become. I am as unhappy at Rooney or Gerrard taking a tumble (as they do) as I am with any other player flying to the floor.
The purpose of this article is to try to figure out the general acceptability of playing for soft decisions, so if you're reading, do add to the poll.
Would you agree with playing for fouls/bookings/penalties if it benefited your team?
As a secondary discussion, it would be interesting to see how Arsenal's image is affected by well documented soft calls, and whether people believe Arsenal are worse than most at trying to con the referee.
Much attention was thrown onto the issue when Eduardo won a penalty against Celtic in European competition, and though the allegations against him were dropped, the penalty was still a bad one since Eduardo was already halfway down by the time the keeper got near.
At the same time, Arsenal do feel that they are bullied by teams who use rough-house tactics to disrupt their style of play. Excessive physicality would of course mean more free kicks and penalties, but it must be remebered that Arsenal are hardly as soft as they can be made out to be.
Diaby has a large physical presence, and Song is a big and imposing player who earns, and deserves, his fair share of bookings. Add to this the prickly nature of one or two of the Arsenal squad like Nasri, and the Arsenal team look rather less like a blameless victim.
Feel free to comment at the bottom on the issue