Walcott stars as Arsenal rout Newcastle
Theo Walcott gave Arsene Wenger yet another reminder of his goal-scoring talents as he bagged a stunning hat-trick to sink Newcastle 7-3 in a 10-goal thriller at the Emirates Stadium.
Walcott scored the opener with a fine curled finish following a break from the halfway line. Newcastle pulled level through Demba Ba, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored, only for Sylvain Marveaux to make it 2-2.
Arsenal looked set for a disappointing draw after Ba equalised Lukasz Podolski's header, but Walcott turned on the class to put the Gunners 4-3 up. The former Southampton man set up Olivier Giroud twice and added his much-deserved third strike in injury time with a deft chip over Tim Krul.
The quiet atmosphere inside the Emirates Stadium lifted after 19 minutes when Podolski slotted Walcott in behind the Magpies defence and the England man raced through before caressing the ball past Krul in to the far corner.
Two minutes from the break, Bacary Sagna fouled Gabriel Obertan 25 yards out and Ba's resulting set-piece flew off Jack Wilshere's head in to the Arsenal goal.
Kieran Gibbs drew a save from Krul at his near post shortly before Oxlade-Chamberlain beat the Dutchman to make it 2-1 but Newcastle equalised as Obertan turned Sagna inside out before his cross was deflected off Laurent Koscielny and in to the path of the un-marked Marveaux who tapped in to an empty net from barely two yards.
Arsenal were back ahead within five minutes, however. Wilshere charged at the Newcastle defence and chipped a wonderful ball to the back post. Fabricio Coloccini could only head his clearance against the bar and the ball fell to Podolski who nodded home the easiest finish of his career to make it 3-2.
The 60,000 fans inside the Emirates Stadium barely had time to draw breath before Newcastle equalised again. Marveaux bought time with his trickery before swinging a ball to the back post where Ba bustled Gibbs out of the way to turn the ball past Wojciech Szczesny.
Walcott fired in to the roof of Krul's goal for 4-3 and Giroud then killed off the game with five minutes left, latching on to Walcott's cross to head between Krul's legs.
The Frenchman then rubbed salt in to Newcastle's wounds by slotting past Krul to make it 6-3 and Walcott got the hat-trick he deserved in injury time, picking himself off the turf after being flattened by Cheick Tiote before chipping the ball over Krul with a brilliant finish.