We’ve had lots of Arsenal fans on here over the past couple of days telling us that Wayne Rooney dived, just like Eduardo, to earn United their equalising goal and way back in to the game. We have been accused of wearing red-tinted specs (something I happily admit to and challenge any passionate football fan to view a game from any perspective other than biased towards their own team!) and that is why we fail to see what a cheat Rooney really is.

I would argue the only ‘cheat’ from Saturday’s match was Eboue, who intentionally went out to try and con the ref, just days after the media storm around Eduardo’s dive and ban. But apparently, according to Arsenal fans at least, Rooney is exactly the same.

So, what better way to judge the penalty incident than to read the match reports. Given that the press have been having weekly wanks over Arsenal’s performances, surely they would be able to spot a cheating and diving Rooney if they saw one. After all, they all hung him out to dry following our 2-0 win over them in 2004.

Was it a penalty?

Official Arsenal website: YES
Arsenal had looked good value for their lead until the 59th minute when Manuel Almunia clipped Wayne Rooney in the area. Rooney raced across the area and poked the ball away from Almunia. The keeper certainly made contact with the striker as he went through. Rooney picked himself up and stroked the ball home from the spot.

The Times: YES
Wayne Rooney had won and scored the penalty that drew United level after Manuel Almunia had inexplicably raced out and caught the forward’s ankles.

The Guardian: YES
The Spaniard was suckered at the United equaliser, after 58 minutes, when he brought down Wayne Rooney. The attacker was chasing a Giggs through ball and had nudged it towards the flank just before the goalkeeper made contact with him. Rooney swept in the penalty.

The Observer: YES
Arsenal were in front and in control until Manuel Almunia left his line too enthusiastically and bundled Wayne Rooney over while trying to reach the ball. Wenger seems to like players who are “shrewd in the box”. Maybe he needs to have a word with his own goalkeeper.

The Sun: YES
In the 59th minute United somehow were level and there was no question it was a penalty, either. Rooney roared into the box on a diagonal run and was needlessly felled by Manuel Almunia. Just what the Arsenal keeper was doing charging out to that part of his area only he will know. Rooney picked himself up and coolly put it away.

The Independent: YES
Unlike the Eduardo travesty in mid-week, the Rooney penalty which snapped Arsenal’s extremely impressive hold over the reigning champions was inevitable. Manuel Almunia could only have offered himself and his team up more spectacularly if he had brought along his own altar of sacrifice. Wenger said the penalty award was “Old Traffordish”, which made you wonder quite what category in which to place the Eduardo affair.

The Mirror: YES
Arsenal were in complete control but a rush of blood to Manuel Almunia’s head, when he needlessly upended Rooney to concede a penalty, handed United a way back into the game.

The Telegraph: YES
Wenger was waspish in his verdict of the penalty decision that gave United their equaliser. “Oldtraffordish,” was the neologism he coined for it. True, when Manuel Almunia, the Arsenal goalkeeper, came flying out to challenge Wayne Rooney, the England striker started to go down before contact was made. But there was substantial contact, unlike with the Eduardo incident, so it was a penalty. Rooney converted from the spot.

Even The Daily Mail, who totally ripped United and Sir Alex Ferguson to shreds in their report: YES
Abou Diaby might have followed Rooney’s penalty – courtesy of Manuel Almunia’s needless foul on the England striker – with a quite spectacular 64th minute own goal but, had it not been for that momentary loss of concentration, he would have been man of the match.

So, if we say that Rooney didn’t dive and won the penalty fair and square, it is because we are biased. Equally, every single newspaper in the country is also biased towards United – naturally. They all saw that he dived but they all independently choose to write that he didn’t. The only people not biased in this situation are the Arsenal fans who can see the incident completely impartially and they’re not at all bitter. Just like their manager isn’t. I’m glad we’ve sorted out any confusion.




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