October 8, 2012
So the story of the weekend appears to be Luis Suarez’s dive against Stoke with the objectionable Tony Pulis demanding that the FA take action against the objectionable little Uruguayan.
I haven’t seen the incident. But that’s mainly because my time has been pretty scarce what with all of the other diving incidents I’ve had to watch this weekend. But none of them seem to have made the back pages. So I’m left with the question: when is a dive not a dive?
Well, I haven’t quite finished preparing my graphs and pie charts but it seems to me like there’s a fairly simple trend emerging. Essentially the severity of a dive = distance between diver’s foot and tackler’s foot multiplied by distance between incident and diver’s place of birth.
Let’s look at a couple of examples. So for Suarez distance between diver and opponents is by all accounts about one and a half feet. Not too bad. But the distance between the incident (Liverpool) and the diver’s place of birth (Salto, Uruguay) is about 6,900 miles. Multiply the two together and you have a very serious 10, 350 on the cheaty divey scale. Certainly enough to warrant a week’s worth of backpage splashes.
Okay, let’s look at another one. How about Gervinho on Mark Noble from Saturday’s game at West Ham? At first glance you might think this was a terrible dive. There was no contact at all between the two players and Noble went down in about four separate stages. So why no furore? Well let’s look at the numbers. Distance from opponent is about one foot. Not a good start from young Noble. It looks like he could be in some trouble. But hang on. What about distance from place of birth? Well a quick Google reveals that he was born in…Canning Town, East London so that figure is essentially zero. Zero times one is of course zero so the rules state that wasn’t a dive at all. It was a terrible foul by Gervinho and he deserved to pick up that booking. Had he scored later on and run over towards the crowd no doubt he would have been sent off. Rightly so.
What about Gareth Bale against Aston Villa yesterday? He was about two feet away from Brad Guzan when he flopped to the ground like a monkey having a tantrum so that could be a pretty serious one you might think. But wait a sec. London’s only 250 miles from Cardiff so that gives him a cheaty divey score of 500. Enough to register as a dive at least but it’s a different kind of dive. It’s one of those that if you’re presenting Match of the Day for example you just snigger about and shrug your shoulders and make some sort of comment about how every good professional will look to find an advantage for their team. It’s just part of the game.
Hope the scale clears up any confusion you might have. I know this can be a tricky part of the game to navigate and I only hope that this helps. Feel free to try it for yourself and keep me updated with your results.
With another international break now upon us it’s time to say goodbye to some of our heroes and sit tight and pray for their safe return. Paramount in our thoughts will be one Santiago Cazorla who Arsene Wenger has been happily banging on about to anyone that will listen:
He is right-footed but, when you watch him play, you don’t know that. We had Glenn Hoddle and he was like that – left, right, you could not say which was strongest and Cazorla, on that front, is similar. I don’t remember anyone else I have worked with who was as much as that two-footed. Cazorla makes everybody [he plays with] a better player.
I think that’s the first time we’ve had official confirmation that he is in fact right footed. Which makes that finish on Saturday all the more extraordinary. I talked a bit yesterday about defenders not knowing if he’s going to shoot or thread a pass through for one of the strikers and the ambidexterity is yet more reason for them to panic. Do they show him onto his right or his left? Either way they know he can embarrass them.
It all makes him so well suited to that central role that it’s a wonder he came to the club with a reputation as a winger. Even from wide areas he’d scored more goals last season than anyone else in Europe from outside the box. Playing centrally I’d only expect that to improve as he’ll get many more chances. Hopefully the goal at the weekend can open the floodgates for him.
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