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Frank Lampard defends Everton youngster against diving claims

Anthony Gordon was booked for simulation in last weekend’s Merseyside derby.

Referee Stuart Attwell shows a yellow card to Everton's Anthony Gordon during the Premier League match at Anfield.
Referee Stuart Attwell shows a yellow card to Everton's Anthony Gordon during the Premier League match at Anfield.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

EVERTON MANAGER Frank Lampard has strongly defended young forward Anthony Gordon against suggestions he is a diver.

The 21-year-old was booked for simulation in the first half of last weekend’s Merseyside derby defeat at Anfield after referee Stuart Attwell ruled he had tried to make the most of Naby Keita’s challenge inside the penalty area.

Gordon was also denied a spot-kick after the break following a tangle with Joel Matip, an incident which caused the Football Association to write to Lampard asking him to explain his comments about the officials’ view of it.

Half of the 12 Premier League bookings for simulation this season have been for Everton players, with three alone against Liverpool, but Lampard rejected claims Gordon is going down too easily.

“I don’t think that’s the case, I think Anthony’s booking was the first of his senior career for simulation,” he said.

“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.

“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.”

On the criticism which came Gordon’s way, inevitably most of it on social media, and the effect it may have on him, Lampard added: “He doesn’t feel it. He’s a dedicated boy, he just wants to play well for this club.

“I think it would be unfair to put that (diving tag) 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.

“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.”

On Sunday Lampard comes up against Chelsea, the club he represented for 13 years as a player and sacked him as head coach in January last year.

He has only faced the Blues once previously as a manager – for Championship side Derby in a 3-2 Carabao Cup defeat in October 2018.

“Chelsea will always be a big part of my life, I was there 13 years as a player and 18 months as manager, but it (the Chelsea association) doesn’t feel an important part of this weekend,” he added.

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“My only thought is Everton and preparing the team to try to win the game.”

By the time his side kick-off on Sunday they could be even further adrift in 18th than the two points they currently are as fellow strugglers Burnley and Leeds both play before them.

With just six games to avoid a first relegation in 71 years there is little margin for error, especially in their three home games with such abysmal away form having brought just one victory back in August.

“I have been very used to handling pressure. As a player, I would have been upset to have a season with no pressure – it means you’re not fighting for something,” said Lampard.

“Our task is very clear, we have six games and have to get as many points as we can.

“It is in our hands and we have to handle that pressure.”

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