Exclusive: Michael Thomas discusses the Burnley game and the anti-Arsenal agenda


There has been a lot of discussion about whether their is an anti-Arsenal agenda amongst match officials and PGMOL, but I honestly don’t believe there to be a bias towards Arsenal by any organisation or person in particular.

I do believe, however, that we as humans can be subconsciously influenced by others whether we like it or not. If you’re asked what is the nature of Arsenal football club then you would associate it in more recent times as pretty on the eye, but soft centred and can maybe be bullied. A few complaints here and there and then the people in charge, whether they are going in thinking it or not, can be influenced. It happens in many different cases not just in football.

Against Burnley, Arsenal were not awarded a penalty when Erik Pieters clearly handballed in the area. In the first half of the season, Refs awarded penalties for ANY hand contact in the box, intentional or not, so it looks like there has been a hidden rule change from officials. Making a rule change midway through the season is absolutely crazy. Teams have benefited and not benefited from the rules thus far & it is mad to believe that you make it all this way, and then to change it suddenly.

The second incident, when Pieters again deflected a sure goal with his arm/shoulder and the ref immediately gave a red card and a penalty, was correctly overturned, but what is interesting is the manner in which the ref dealt with the second incident. He quickly pointed to the spot and gave a red card. This for me is his conscience kicking in and realisation that he had made a mistake by not giving or even reviewing the first handball, because i believe had he of looked himself then a penalty would have been awarded. The latter decision was a lot harder to see where the ball had hit Pieters, so for him to make that decision so quickly indicates how the ref was thinking in that moment.

Arsene Wenger obviously had problems with officials, but in my playing days I don’t think the refs were biased towards the team. But I do think that each team is known for certain things, and we were a team that definitely stuck up for each other on the pitch and the refs knew they had to control that in some cases.

Having said that there is no obvious Anti-Arsenal bias, I don’t believe VAR affects all teams equally. The only way for this to be a more equal test would be to use the same official with the same mind set. What you see as a foul or clear and obvious mistake may differ to my view and that is the issue.


To be honest we wouldn’t even have been talking about VAR if it hadn’t been for the error by Xhaka to gift Burnley a goal. I’ve seen so many views surrounding the error leading to the equaliser. We should have put that game to bed without the penalty but did not take our chances. The error is going to happen. Arteta asks his team to play in a certain way and that is not going to change. Where I saw obvious areas were:
1 – Leno gives it to Xhaka and I’m not sure what shout he has given Xhaka, but for whatever reason Xhaka doesn’t bounce the pass off first time.
2 – Xhaka takes a look to his left, decides he can’t make the pass, but then takes a touch and decides to do the same pass but now the opposing player has seen where to cut off the space.
3 – Xhaka doesn’t like playing the ball with his right.

This is not the first mistake that has led to a goal from Xhaka, and I think that is down to his own mindset. Players need confidence. He needs to play with a free mind and clear instructions. He looks like a player that sometimes lacks the ability to remain focused for the duration of a game and this can prove very costly.

But I don’t blame Arteta’s insistence on playing out from the back. I think we could always acquire better players as Pep and Klopp have proven with their respective clubs, but when you’re trying to implement a new system there are always going to be a few bumps along the way.

It is not just the Arsenal defence either, the strikers are also goal shy lately. I go back to the confidence mentality. Goals breed confidence for strikers and if you’re not scoring then you lose that killer instinct. I do think that as a good striker however the goals will always come back if you are not scared to keep putting yourself in those goalscoring situations.

Aubameyang was given a nice new bumper contract but I don’t think money has anything to to with his current form. He has suffered from outside issues like many of us and it can be difficult. What we do know is that he is committed and works hard for the team always.

Arsenal only just scraped past my old club Benfica in the last round, but I am of course very hopeful that the Europa League run is a positive one. The result last year against Olympiakos should spur the Gunners on to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but at the same time it is a different game and both teams are at different stages in their process a year on. Hopefully Arsenal will keep our dream of a trophy alive for a few games more.

And then we can concentrate on the great Northern London Derby against Tottenham. I am always going to say an Arsenal Win! Our form normally picks up towards the end of the season, and as long as we take our chances, we will win that game.


Michael Thomas

Tags Burnley Michael Thomas VAR


  1. Mickey Thomas – 26th May 1989, Anfield.

    What a night.

    Etched into Arsenal Football Club’s folklore.

    1. Bull & Tiger (Gooner pub) Borehamwood. Mickey Thomas scores the winning goal, pub ceiling dripping beer, total mayhem ensues.

  2. Arsenal can never beat tottenham come sunday,mark my word,unless our manager suddenly start reasoning with his head

    1. Unbelievable!!🙄 We are meant to be fans, believe is what make us fans. Guess you’ve lost yours in the team.
      In as much as I don’t really like Arteta, I still stand with the team no matter what.
      Tottenham is beatable, they are not invincible.

      1. Problem is Qutie when you believe in the team no matter what they say it’s a self fooling fantasy.

        1. HH, Not so actually. We all believe in the team, as fans. Some however believe in unrealistic expectations FOR the team. There is a huge difference between those two sentences and they are NOT THE SAME THING , as your above post implies.

  3. Pieters’ obvious handball incident wasn’t properly assessed by the officials, after Luiz was unfairly punished with a red card. Coincidence I think not

    There should be a thorough investigation on the officials’ competency and integrity, otherwise the FA should make the officials’ conversation transparent like rugby. If they’re not willing to open up, EPL could slowly lose its credibility and become scandalous like Lega Calcio Serie A

  4. Let’s move on please. Let’s focus on our team, they are wasteful against Burnley, even if the penalty is awarded, we could later end up drawing the game. If Saka had scored his 2chances in the 1st half and Auba scored his 2 missed chances too, even Pepe glorious chance,…… We might not be talking about the officials.

  5. Interestingly, Friend the man in charges of VAR that day, wasn’t seen the very next day refereeing another PL match – so no consequences for him, or any other of the PGMOL band of brothers who make these awful calls then.

  6. 🙋‍♂️ Michael.Wonderful,wonderful memories of you,Rocky & Paul in our midfield.What a combo.However I will repeat that this mantra of just Arsenal that there’s no anti Arsenal bias is rubbish.Just chkout “ 101 goals” website ( not an Arsenal site)yesterday who have a video compilation of at least 5/ 7 major Var/ referee decisions that have gone against us since Christmas.You’ll be 😮 Then tell me all is equal.

  7. “ we might not be talking about the ( officials- PGMOL cartel) but we are & it will continue to be the case.Till they’re removed,reformed or disbanded.Not one southern ref.Hmmmm

  8. Anyone who doesn’t realize some premier league refs are crooked likely also believe in fairies. martin atkinson, john moss and mike dean are all bent, as was Man United’s ref, howard webb. For something more than a “oh the refs couldn’t be” analysis, check the link below:


    1. If I were a ref you listed above and you had said that lie about me on this platform I would sue both you and JA for libel and undoubtedly win damages.

      Your comment is a disgrace and you should apologise, as should AdminPAT FOR ALLOWING IT TO APPEAR.

      1. Why is it a lie? Because you don’t believe it .
        There is no difference form you calling an ex Arsenal player a fraud to him calling a referee a cheat .
        It’s quite obvious that some of these
        Refs cheat ,you just have to take your blinkers off
        When you see Mike Dean celebrate a spuds goal anything in that crowd is possible.

        1. You are totally entitled to your opinion
          But I have some questions for you.

          When Pieter’s handled the ball inside the penalty box what stop the referee from getting a second opinion when the means is at his disposal? At least to be sure

          Were the VAR officials sleeping when this incident happened?

          Why are they (VAR officials) quick to call the center referee to order during the second incident?

          The team is having a problem yes we all know that. But it doesn’t mean when we see double standard by the
          referees then we should look the other way.
          When a mistake is repeated over and over again then it’s not a mistake anymore it’s called an agenda
          Any true arsenal fan shying away from saying this is not a fan.
          Trying to give explanation to something so obvious is annoying.
          Please let’s call a spade a spade!

    2. So Untold Arsenal is your proof of referee corruption? Untold effing Arsenal the conspiracy theorists bible?

  9. Do you believe there is no corruption in football despite multi-millions and billions of pounds at stake. Like there is no corruption in boxing!!!!! Some referees are corrupt. It is blatantly obvious. NOBODY calls them out. Corrupt cronyism. It ain’t an amateur game!

    1. I wouldn’t believe there is at least bias if Man utd wasn’t gifted a few titles because of officials incompetence. I will believe there is no corruption if results go our way as much as it goes against us. We are too much on the receiving end of it to be a coincidence.

    2. But we’re still waiting for one to be caught. Why do you think that could be? In nearly 160 years there has never been a referee convicted of corruption. Nobody in authority will call them out without the hard evidence that only you and one or two others here have access to, and being ‘blatantly obvious’ is not going to work in a court of law, so let’s see what you have.
      I’m not a denier, I just want to see the proof.

  10. MT is a very sensible articulate Guy.I look forward to his articles which can only enhance the reputation of this site.

  11. I’m surprised that the moderater has allowed some comments that actually name certain referees as corrupt. This could leave Just Arsenal open to accusations of libel by either the named individuals to the organisation that employed them.

  12. I’m not saying referees are corrupt but sports as a business is as corrupt as they come.

    Doping, favoritism, anything can be bought.

  13. I don’t like Jose one bit but what he said makes sense even before the match we have started moaning about the way fixture is played. When we played them earlier in season the situation was reversed so I hope we win but if we don’t I hope not to see moaning from out fans where they start throwing conspiracy theories one after another. There is no secret organisation who is out there with an aim to destroy Arsenal 😂. People supporting current management need to stop making excuses for every bad performance by blaming any one as long as it’s not the manager. Also people who don’t like Arteta should not put all the blame on Arteta as single point of failure.

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