Diver tag unfair on Robben says coach

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The Independent Football

Holland coach Bert van Marwijk insists Arjen Robben is a changed man.

The former Chelsea star developed a reputation for going to ground too easily at Stamford Bridge that has never gone away.

Even at the World Cup, once he recovered from the hamstring injury which threatened his participation in the tournament, Robben has been criticised for hitting the deck too quickly.

But, ahead of tonight's semi-final encounter with Uruguay, Van Marwijk insists the 26-year-old does not deserve the criticism.

"He doesn't do it deliberately," he said. "Arjen is incredibly fast and creative. He faces up to opponents and you do fall, or get pushed.

"Maybe he has done things in the past that he shouldn't but he has learned and doesn't do it any more."

Like a number of the Dutch squad, Robben is well known to English audiences.

In total, Holland have nine current and former Premier League stars in their squad, including Manchester City's Nigel de Jong, who is suspended and misses his country's attempt to reach their first World Cup final since 1978.

Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt and Arsenal's Robin van Persie are also pivotal to Holland's chance of victory.

"I read somewhere that when Rafael Benitez picked a team at Liverpool, he wrote Kuyt's name down first. That says everything," said Van Marwijk.

"Every player has a period where things don't work out and Liverpool had a very tough year, but Kuyt is extremely important for us. The way he plays shows his passion and enthusiasm. And it is catching."

Van Persie was out of action for five months after suffering a major ankle injury on international duty last November.

It has taken the Arsenal star a bit of time to find his form and he has scored just one goal so far, but Van Marwijk believes the 26-year-old remains a major influence.

"Robin is extremely talented," he said. "He is one of the best football players on this planet.

"He was injured for a very long time and you do need a certain rhythm. Sometimes it comes just like that. Sometimes it takes a bit longer.

"But he was better in the last match than the one before. Players with so much talent can suddenly decide a game. I always believe in him and I still do."