Burnley manager Sean Dyche criticised the officials after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s double ensured Arsenal maintained pressure on the top four and left the Clarets in the Premier League bottom three at Christmas.
Ashley Barnes responded for the visitors in a fiery contest that featured seven yellow cards, but Alex Iwobi’s late goal sealed victory for the Gunners.
Dyche, whose side have now gone 61 Premier League games without a penalty, reeled off a list of decisions he felt went against his side.
“So many went against us. Ashley Barnes got an elbow in the face from an unnatural movement yet he comes out with a booking. Two dives again, but nobody got booked,” he said.
“The biggest one for me, I think it’s 60 games now without a penalty, there was a two-handed push on Kevin Long but the penalty wasn’t given because he goes down naturally.
“Apart from that I was quite happy with the referee’s performance.”
Mesut Ozil – making a first start in six league matches – produced a sublime defence-splitting pass to Sead Kolasinac for Arsenal’s opener, with the defender picking out Aubameyang for his 11th league goal of the season.
Remarkably, after 18 top-flight games, Arsenal led at the interval for the first time this season. It took them less than three second-half minutes to double the advantage, Aubameyang’s powerful finish completing a quick counter-attack.
Burnley struck to their task, though, and Barnes brought them back into the contest on 63 minutes with a low finish after the home side failed to clear.
The home fans grew increasingly nervous as Burnley pushed for an equaliser but Iwobi scored from close range in stoppage time to ensure the Gunners moved level with fourth-placed Chelsea, who lost at home to Leicester.
Returning Ozil inspires Arsenal
After their impressive 22-game unbeaten run was ended by a revitalised Southampton last weekend, Arsenal exited the Carabao Cup to north London rivals Tottenham in midweek and needed to produce a response at Emirates Stadium – if only to keep in touch with the top four.
Unai Emery’s side started accordingly. The Arsenal manager said this week that Ozil does have a future at the club, and the opening goal was all about the midfielder’s genius.
The German demonstrated his value with a ball from the edge of the area that curled behind the Burnley defence, finding Kolasinac at the back post. His first-time flick found Aubameyang, who placed his shot into the bottom corner.
Arsenal’s success so far this campaign has relied on strong second-half showings, and the tireless Kolasinac led an explosive counter-attack on 47 minutes which resulted in Aubameyang firing his second into the roof of Joe Hart’s goal.
And Ozil was at the heart of Arsenal’s third, drifting into the penalty area and committing a couple of defenders before his scuffed shot found its way to Iwobi. Replays suggested the substitute was marginally offside but the officials allowed the goal to stand.
It provided welcome relief for the Gunners after Burnley had threatened to snatch a point.
“It was a big performance and afterwards I spoke with him and said ‘congratulations for your work’,” Emery said of Ozil. “He showed his quality and we needed him to work to help us today and he did.”
The Gunners have been forced to field a makeshift defence in recent games – leading Emery to admit he may use the January transfer window to strengthen his options – and there were often hints of that fragility before Barnes eventually took advantage of some half-hearted attempts to clear.
The hosts continued to struggle after the Clarets turned the contest into a bruising battle.
“It was a tough match. I think we won not because we played well but because every player had a very big commitment,” added Emery.
“I think we can controlled the match like we wanted. We had to make an alteration to our gameplan but it gave us the victory.” BBC Sport