Premier League - Another Bale booking takes shine off Spurs win

Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale is regarded as one of the most exciting players in the world but rightly or wrongly he now has a darker reputation as one of the game's biggest divers after another booking on Saturday.

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Premier League - Another Bale booking takes shine off Spurs win
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Gareth Bale, Sunderland v Tottenham

In-form Spurs won 2-1 at Sunderland to move third in the Premier League after hammering Aston Villa 4-0 away on Wednesday when the speedy yet skilful Bale netted a majestic hat-trick.

The talk after Saturday's deserved victory though was all about diving after he received a third booking in a month for going to ground too easily.

It was his fifth domestic yellow card of the season, prompting a ban against Reading on New Year's Day.

"It's the same thing every time. I've been booked for no reason again," Bale protested to Sky Sports.

According to statisticians Opta, Bale has been given five cautions for simulation in the Premier League since the start of 2011-12, while no other player has more than two in that period.

He was booked in Tottenham's 3-0 win at Fulham on Dec. 1 when he tumbled after slight contact by Steve Sidwell having also seen yellow for a dive at home to Liverpool the previous week.

Saturday's booking followed Bale falling in the area after a touch from Craig Gardner, who had his arm across the Welshman and may have clipped his knee.

Bale immediately turned to the referee as he lay on the floor but Martin Atkinson had no qualms about reaching for his pocket to the winger's dismay.

He feels he is being victimised by officials who do not take into account the speed he runs and denies he is being too theatrical when falling.

"There's nothing I can do. The referees just have to look a bit closer I think," he said.

"If I am getting contact, it's a free kick or a penalty. If people are kicking me I'm not going to stop going over because it is a foul."

Bale's point was backed up by team mate Jermain Defoe avoiding a booking despite an apparently obvious dive.

Spurs are emerging as a real force this term thanks to their power and pace on the flanks and dynamism in midfield.

They dominated for almost all of the encounter at the Stadium of Light, where a Carlos Cuellar own goal and a simple finish from the superb Aaron Lennon cancelled out John O'Shea's opener.

The signs are they will hang on to prize asset Bale in the January transfer window but his reputation as a diver means they could end up missing him for big matches and his value could drop if suitors feel he is tainted.

"It is a big mistake from the ref. I understand reputations are created on the outside, in the media. But it is a bit unfair. It looks like persecution," Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas said of the Bale booking despite being thrilled with the performance.

"We were very strong mentally second half and got what we deserved. An excellent performance."

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