Arsene Wenger has praised West Ham winger Matt Jarvis for not going to ground to win a penalty during Arsenal’s 3-1 win at the Emirates on Tuesday -- but Sam Allardyce insisted his player had been too honest.
Jarvis, who scored the opening goal of the game, was challenged in the penalty area by Bacary Sagna after 16 minutes but, while there was contact, the West Ham attacker remained on his feet.
“I am grateful for that,” Wenger said, on Jarvis’ decision not to go down. “I don’t think it was a penalty, but he touched him yes. Can you be too honest? I leave you that judgment. You want people to be honest if you thought it was a penalty. Maybe if he made a theatrical dive he would have got it.”
However, Hammers manager Allardyce was not convinced and admitted that, given the opportunity, players should go to ground and “make the referees mind up for him.”
“The fact is that when you stay on your feet referees don’t give penalties,” Allardyce said. “The ref finds it very difficult to give. For honesty there is no reward. So what do I do?
“A foul is a foul, it doesn’t matter whether you go down or stay on your feet. You get slaughtered for diving, but when someone is honest and you don’t get what you should get.
“Every team, when you stay on your feet particularly in the penalty area, it’s a critical decision so you have to make the referee’s mind up.
“If there is contact, you should go down and make the referee’s mind up for him. There is no reward for being honest. But that is not the reason we haven’t won.
“You can’t ask players who are honest to be any different. It’s against their nature. So you hope the referee gives you the decision you deserve.”
Speaking as a pundit for Sky Sports, Gary Neville was equally as bemused at Jarvis’ honesty, saying: “He should have gone down. Well done, your team haven’t won a game.
“You can either be an angel and do what Matt Jarvis did and get a pat on the back off his nan when he goes home tonight, or he can win his team a penalty.
“The referee won’t give it if you don’t go down. Sam [Allardyce] said it, if you don’t go down you don’t get a penalty. It’s a foul.
“I suppose in some ways people can say ‘It’s disappointing to hear you say that Gary’ -- well then be disappointed, because ultimately that’s the game.”
After his side’s win, which earned Arsenal a much-needed three points in their battle for fourth place with Everton, Wenger revealed he had gambled on his team selection. However, the Frenchman is adamant the club still have a chance to qualify for the Champions League.
“It was a gamble,” Wenger said. “I said before the game that it was one of the oldest teams I have ever played at Arsenal since I’ve been here.
“I trusted the experience of the players because it was an unusual around-30 team and that experience helps when you are a little bit backs against the wall.
“We have one advantage -- the picture is very clear in front of us. We have to win. We want to do it of course. It doesn’t depend solely on us, but it’s a good chance that if we win all our games it’s possible.”