Wenger defends Van Persie’s comments on diving debate

ARSENE WENGER reckons Robin van Persie is right to highlight when he has been unfairly challenged by defenders – but accepts it is increasingly hard to win penalties in Europe.

With striker Nicklas Bendtner set to sit out tonight’s clash with Greek side Olympiacos at Emirates Stadium after suffering minor bruises in a car accident, Dutchman Van Persie will again be leading the Arsenal attack.

Van Persie’s well-executed finish against Fulham proved enough to take all three points on Saturday but the Dutch international, 26, had also made the pre-match headlines when admitting he has exaggerated when he has been pushed by a defender.

By so doing, Van Persie weighed into the diving debate after team-mate Eduardo was banned by UEFA, a decision which was subsequently overturned, following an incident against Celtic in the Champions League qualifier.

Wenger, though, feels Van Persie has a point. “Sometimes when a striker is fouled, he wants to make sure the referee sees that, which is what basically Robin was talking about,” said the Arsenal manager. “He wanted to show there is a difference between what people call diving and being fouled.

“In fact, the television showed a great example of it at Manchester United when a penalty was not given when (Patrice) Evra fouled Van Persie 100%.

“He had to go down, but when you go down, you make sure the referee notices you have been fouled.”

Wenger added: “There is a trend all over Europe to give less fouls and less penalties than before – at Italy there was a stage when they gave a penalty every time somebody collapsed.” Bendtner, meanwhile, is expected to return to the squad at the weekend after he crashed his Aston Martin into a tree.

The 21-year-old Danish striker was driving along the A1 towards South Mimms when his car left the road and collided with the hard shoulder fence and a tree.

It is understood that no other vehicle was involved in the incident on Sunday.

The East of England Ambulance Service said he had had a “very lucky escape”, suffering a pain in his shoulder and grazes on one of his knees. It is thought two members of training staff from the football club collected the player from the scene and took him to the ground, where he was checked over by a club medic.

Wenger said: “Nicklas did not practise because he had a car accident yesterday. Fortunately there was no real long-term damage, but he was bruised and we thought it better he did not train. He should be back for Sunday’s game (against Blackburn).”

Winger Theo Walcott may also be in line to feature at the weekend, having not played at all this season because of a back problem.

Wenger said: “He is short of competitive action at the moment, he needs a game and we will organise a game for him.”

Midfielder Denilson is, however, set for an extended spell on the sidelines because of a fracture to his back.


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