So I'm almost afraid to post this because I don't want y'all to think I'm crazy but...
I work in recruiting, and in my world there is a lot of talk about inherent bias in hiring. Not the kind of thing where you're consciously making a decision to pass on a candidate because of their name, ethnicity, etc, but where you just get a feeling that person won't be right for the job, and if you dig at it (or someone else digs for you) you find that you don't actually have a good reason for passing them up.
The reason I bring this up is because I believe, rightly or wrongly, that English referees have a strong anti-Arsenal bias. To be clear, I do not think that there is some big conspiracy out there where PL referees are getting together to screw over the team. I don't think they are told anything about how to officiate certain teams at all, really.
But I do think that most of the PL referees unconsciously make decisions against us.
The Saka penalty is the latest thing that's made this bubble up to the surface. How is that not a penalty?! It's not the only time I've felt this way though. It's often around penalty decisions, but there's red cards and yellow cards in play as well. I mean, I can't really watch Bissouma play and hope he comes to Arsenal because I'm convinced he would literally get sent off about 5 times minimum. But he plays for Brighton, and underdog team everyone can get behind, so as long as he's there he'll be fine.
I don't really intend to rehash all of the times a call has gone against Arsenal because that would be silly, but I do think there are reasons to believe there is an anti-Arsenal bias. The team, no matter who is in it or who coaches it, is perceived as soft and trying to play for fouls. The team was one of the first to really embrace the international game and was most successful with a bunch of French players, not English players. They historically play a game based on technical ability, not physicality like the Burnleys and Stokes of the world. And the media seem to really love putting Arsenal down. This affects the club's image.
I also think the demographics of PL referees might have something to do with this. When was the last time you saw anyone other than a white guy call an Arsenal match, let alone any PL fixture? There has only been one BAME referee in the history of the Prem! He hasn't worked any game since 2008. It just seems like the brotherhood of English referees is like a country club that doesn't want anything to change. This is a problem that is way bigger than Arsenal and deserves more attention for sure.
I know I'm speculating a lot here, and maybe I'm just putting all this together to cope with the fact that our team isn't great right now, but it seems like this kind of inherent bias against our team is very possible, and it pisses me off.