Mason Conjures Highway Robbery at Turf Moor

26 November 2017

There is a pertinent quote from Ian Fleming’s novel of "Goldfinger" which springs to mind: “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence but three times is the devil at work”.

At Turf Moor this afternoon, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was cast as the Bond villain with referee Lee Mason his treacherous henchman.

For the third consecutive meeting between the teams, Arsenal committed grand larceny on the Clarets, making off with all three points in stoppage time thanks to the indulgence of the match officials. 

On this occasion, Mason allowed his imagination to conjure up an infringement in the Burnley penalty area, allowing Alexis Sanchez to score the game’s only goal from the spot with a matter of mere seconds remaining on the clock.

The sequence of defeats at the hands of Arsenal and their manner in which they occurred, strains credulity and leaves the bitterest of tastes in the mouth of all Clarets fans.

But when the righteous indignation subsides, it is worth reflecting on a performance by a Burnley team, which was every bit the equal of their illustrious, cosmopolitan visitors.

When viewed as a measure Burnley’s recent progress this match had, despite the result, much for Clarets fans to be heartened about. 

In the first half in particular Burnley played fluid, incisive football. They are looking composed and confident; settling into their lofty position in the league with ever-greater security of tenure.

Let it not be forgotten that the two clubs began the game neck and neck on points, with fourth place available to the victors.

All the more galling therefore to be denied by an Arsenal team who have replaced the poise and fluidity of those who wore their shirt with distinction in the recent past, with a group of players who are too quick to adopt the demeanour of petulant children. 

Galling too that referee Mason indulged their histrionics; showing Robbie Brady (who had an otherwise effective match for Burnley) a yellow card for an admittedly late tackle, but allowing similar challenges by Iwobi and Mustafi to go unpunished.

Indeed, it remains a mystery how Mustafi emerged from the match without seeing a red – let alone a yellow – card waved in his direction.

Sean Dyche was composed and diplomatic in his post-match interview, a remarkable feat in itself, given the rage that must have been stirring within him. He has to be so, but we fans are under no such obligation; Burnley were robbed by an appalling refereeing decision, pure and simple.

Dyche will ensure that this result does not derail Burnley’s progress. One of his greatest traits during his time as manager is to keep himself and his players on and even keel; to “treat those two imposters just the same”.

Today’s result will test that equilibrium to its fullest extent and test my own conspiracy theory that the EFL bigwigs simply cannot afford and will not tolerate "another Leicester".

This rather angry Burnley centric opinion was written in the heat of the moment by uber Claret, David Thornley. Dave writes regularly on behalf of Clarets Mad. (TEC).