West Bromwich Albion players today refused to condemn Santi Cazorla as a cheat despite the Arsenal midfielder’s dive in the Baggies’ 2-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium.
Cazorla hit the floor to win the Gunners a first-half penalty from which Mikel Arteta opened the scoring.
But Albion today hit out at referee Mike Jones and refused to criticise Arsenal’s Spanish playmaker, who went down despite Steven Reid making no contact with his foot.
Asked whether Cazorla had cheated, Albion midfielder James Morrison said: “No. I wouldn’t brand a player that. He is a top player, as he displayed.
“You just hope the referee is better in that situation. The referee has got to see that.”
And Morrison said football officials should consider the use of video technology to avoid similar incidents after Arsenal were given a second spot-kick despite an apparent foul on Goran Popov in the build-up.
“A lot of people have called for videos and it would have taken 10 seconds to have a look and they would have seen it wasn’t a penalty,” he said.
Striker Shane Long said: “It seems that the players and everyone on the pitch could see it apart from the referee. I feel like we were hard done by.
“The first one was a really silly dive and you could tell from Cazorla’s reaction he was a guilty man.
“The second one was a foul on Goran. I don’t know if Chris Brunt made contact after that but it shouldn’t have got that far.”
Defender Jonas Olsson said: “It was the wrong decision but referees have a difficult job. Sometimes it goes against you, sometimes it goes with you. If it’s a dive the focus should be on person diving as well. It’s the wrong decision – we could all see that. It’s hard to define cheating.”