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Wenger calls for three-match bans for diving

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has thrown his weight behind claims that foreign players are to blame for the increase in diving in English football.

Former England defender Gary Neville said recently that such gamesmanship had completely changed the domestic game since he made his way around the local leagues in Manchester and that he was "given an education" when he started to face European opposition.

Ashley Young's controversial penalty against Aston Villa yesterday heightened the debate even further and Wenger said a committee should be set up to hand out three-match bans to put off players from diving.

This is not the first time Young has come under the microscope -- his tumble against Queens Park Rangers in the previous home game resulted in Shaun Derry being sent off. Andy Carroll, Gareth Bale and Didier Drogba have also been accused of play-acting this season.

When asked if Neville was right to suggest that diving had spread from foreign players, Wenger, whose side host Wigan tonight in the Premier League, said: "Yes. But I must say the English players learn quickly.

"A dive in the box? I think sometimes you can only spot it after the game. If an obvious dive is punished by a three-match ban, the players would not do it anymore. We should have a superior committee of ethics who could punish a player like that."

One foreign player who has been in the Premier League for several years is Yossi Benayoun whose presence in the team has coincided with Arsenal's improving fortunes.

Benayoun joined on loan from Chelsea last August but only in the last two months have the Gunners seen the best of his obvious gifts of acute football intelligence and a charming first touch.

The Israeli, drifting into midfield from the left side of the front three, was also instrumental in the recent stirring home victories over Tottenham and Manchester City.

Arsenal go into tonight's clash with Wigan having won nine of their last 10 league games, and their recent run of seven straight league wins was their first such stretch since October 2007.

Suddenly, the worries about the ignominy of slipping into the Europa League look merely like an upsetting dream that they have long awoken from.

Arsenal v Wigan Athletic,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 8.0

Irish Independent