Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wages war on diving players

By Jack Pitt-Brooke

Arsene Wenger has called for the introduction of retrospective punishment for divers. The Arsenal manager would like to see a panel of former players which would ban "obvious" cases of diving.

Diving is firmly back on the agenda after Jose Mourinho's insistence on Sunday evening that there was a "campaign" against Chelsea, which led to his players being unfairly labelled as divers, thereby depriving his team of penalties.

While Wenger would not comment on specific cases, he does want harsher punishments for clear offenders. "I am against diving, we should punish it after the game," Wenger said. "The problem will be to decide when it was obvious diving or not. That's a big issue and sometimes it's not obvious.

"The panel should punish only obvious cases, but not mixed ones. And the most suited to this are people who have experience in the game. Naming alone doesn't work. You have to suspend the player.

"The only way the players will stop doing it is if they feel they can get punished. Whether it is Arsenal, Man United, Liverpool or Chelsea, it is the same for everybody."

Wenger also decried Inter Milan's loan bid for unsettled striker Lukas Podolski as a "joke". Arsenal would rather a permanent deal for the Germany striker who has yet to start a Premier League match this season and has just 18 months left on his contract.

"That is a joke," Wenger said, when asked about Inter's approach for Podolski so far. "Inter Milan are not serious. They talk, there are only talks.

"He is a player of Arsenal Football Club and I want him to stay."

Wenger is in no mood to loan out the 29-year-old, whose transfer value would be even lower in the summer. If Podolski is to leave Arsenal, they want a firm cash offer now. So while Yaya Sanogo may go out on loan, that is not an option for Podolski.

"I don't doubt (the possibility of loan departures) in some positions where players need experience," Wenger said. "But that's not the case for Podolski."

Arsenal face Southampton away tomorrow and Wenger admitted yesterday that striker Danny Welbeck "could be short" after a thigh injury against West Ham.

Wenger also confirmed that Aaron Ramsey, who sustained a hamstring injury in early December, would not be ready yet.

"There is no setback but it is a bit slower than expected," Wenger added. "Because he had a setback last year, we have to be very cautious."

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