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Everton manager Frank Lampard has shut down suggestions that Anthony Gordon is becoming a regular culprit of simulation after being central in two penalty shouts in last weekend’s Merseyside derby defeat. Gordon went down inside the box under challenges from Liverpool players twice at Anfield, but Stuart Attwell booked him for the first and dismissed calls for the second.
After falling over in the box under pressure from Naby Keita early in the first half, Jamie Carragher admitted that he had recently noticed more diving on show from Gordon. “I’ve watched him the last few weeks, and it’s crept into his game,” he said on commentary for Sky Sports.
But, whilst admitting the first incident wasn’t ‘stonewall’, Lampard has defended the 21-year-old winger and debunked claims that he’s becoming a diver. The Toffees boss cited Gordon’s speed and agility as the reason he draws fouls in and around the box.
He said: “I don’t think that’s the case. I think Anthony’s booking was the first of his senior career for simulation. I’m not going to sit here and say that’s a stonewall penalty, but there’s definitely a contact. The second-half one is a penalty, in my opinion. The defender stepped on his foot and gave him a push – not a big one – but one at pace to knock him over, and we didn’t get a penalty for it.
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“None of us in this room run as quickly as Anthony or change direction as quickly as him, and at that speed, lots of wingers will have incidents in and around the box. I think it would be unfair to put that [tag of being a diver] on Anthony. I played in the game for a long time, and if I changed direction — maybe not as quickly as Anthony — and there was contact, I would go down.”
He continued: “That isn’t simulation, that isn’t diving as far as I’m concerned, and that has happened for years and years. The boy is a human, and he knows if you get across somebody, it’s a foul. You want a penalty because you care. He loves playing for the club.”
Everton players have been booked for simulation six times in the Premier League this season, more than any other club. Lampard’s side are engulfed in a nervy relegation battle with Burnley and Leeds United and currently lie inside the bottom three.
On Sunday, Everton host his former club Chelsea at Goodison Park ahead of a desperate scrap for points in what could be their final six games in the top flight for at least another year.
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