Arteta: Cazorla is not a diver

Arsenal's Mikel Arteta celebrates scoring his second goal from the penalty spot with team mate Santi Cazorla (right). Photo: PA

Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta has defended team-mate Santi Cazorla from accusations of diving following the winger's controversial role in yesterday's 2-0 defeat of West Brom.

Cazorla was at the centre of a storm at the Emirates Stadium when he went to ground after a challenge from Steven Reid in the first half, resulting in the award of a penalty by referee Mike Jones.

Arteta smashed home the spot-kick to set Arsenal on their way to a first win in four, but West Brom manager Steve Clarke was far from happy at the award.

Clarke insisted the referee should have spotted there was "zero contact" on Cazorla, but Arteta refused to accept his fellow Spaniard had attempted to con the referee.

"Santi was saying that he felt something. If there is a little (contact), it is (still) contact. The ref makes decisions, some right and some wrong," Arteta told reporters.

"For me, it is not right to dive. Santi is not a player who dives. He has taken a lot this year because of the way he plays and if he has done it (it is) because he felt something and changed direction, but he is not that type of player."

The incident overshadowed what was otherwise a much-improved display from Arsenal, in stark contrast to recent lacklustre form which saw them slump down the Barclays Premier League table.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said: "I am proud of the victory because it is important for our season that when your backs are to the wall, the team responds. Also because our spirit has been questioned because we had a flat performance last week. You can only come back and win on the football pitch.

"Somewhere, with top-level sportsmen, when you have to win, you win. To deal with the nerves and be serious and resolute, that is what we have shown."

There is little respite for Arsenal who head to Bradford for their Capital One Cup quarter-final on Tuesday night.

Wenger revealed he would rotate his squad against the npower League Two side, but with keeping an eye on progress towards Wembley and a shot at ending a seven-season trophy drought.

"Bacary Sagna will be rested on Tuesday, maybe one or two more, but we will go with a strong squad," said Wenger, who yesterday was without England forward Theo Walcott because of a calf problem.

Baggies boss Clarke, meanwhile, accepted it was always going to be a big ask for his team to force their way back into the match following the award of the first-half penalty.

Arteta added a second penalty after the break - awarded for Chris Brunt's foul on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - as the Baggies continued their slump in form after a bright start to the season.

"As we got going into the game, the referee gave a decision which made it even more difficult for us," Clarke said.

"The longer that game has stayed at 0-0, the more we could have become the team which controlled the game."

Despite their poor run, Clarke sees plenty of reasons for the Baggies to stay positive.

"We are fifth, have 26 points and have had a terrific run in the league, which stopped 10 days ago," he said.

"We have now lost three, but I have told the players if they continue what they have done until now, then the next seven or eight games will shape our season and I have no doubt it can be a very good season for West Bromwich Albion."