By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger insists that Marouane Chamakh did NOT dive to win a penalty during Arsenal's 2-1 win over Birmingham.
The Moroccan striker went down under the challenge of Scott Dann at Emirates Stadium on Saturday and the visitors' resentment was clear long after Samir Nasri had slammed the spot kick past Ben Foster.
Chamakh was targeted during a spiky end to the first half but Wenger offered a robust defence of his player after the game.
"He did not dive," said the Arsenal manager. "I watched it again and in fairness the tackle touched him on his right foot. He went down and maybe made a bit more of it but it looked to me a penalty and if he doesn't get a penalty I think it is still a goal after.
"What can I do about that [Birmingham's reaction]? The referee has to deal with that. We had to keep our nerve and put the ball in the back of the net and that's what we did.
"He [Marouane] was quite surprised that they responded like that because he thought it was 100 per cent a penalty and I believe as well that he does not always get 100 per cent penalties.
"I watched this one again on television and he was touched. He pushed the ball to the side of the defender. Why does the guy tackle? He tackles him and touches him on his right foot."
Wenger's admission that Chamakh had possibly exaggerated his fall was seized upon by reporters but the Frenchman countered quickly.
"Who is the striker who doesn't show that he has been fouled?" he asked. "Who makes more or less of it is difficult to determine. But I feel we do not always get penalties with players because they show that it was a foul.
"Overall you want the referee to give a penalty when there is one and not when there's not one."
Having upset Birmingham with his part in Arsenal's equaliser, Chamakh rubbed salt in their wounds with a well-taken winner two minutes into the second half. Five goals in nine starts - and even more assists - represents an excellent start for the Moroccan and his manager is clearly impressed.
"He is a striker who plays for the team," said Wenger. "He is mobile, good in the air, he protects the ball well. Sometimes you want him to go behind more, but overall he affects the game."Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source