Sunday 29 December 2013
Theo Walcott scored his second hat-trick of the season as Arsenal routed Newcastle United 7-3 in a pulsating encounter at Emirates Stadium.
It was the Gunners' fourth consecutive Barclays Premier League victory and took Walcott's goals total for the season to 14, with eight of those coming in the Barclays Premier League and his other treble arriving in the Capital One Cup.
The result was Newcastle's fourth defeat in five Premier League matches and left them in 15th place, without an away win all season.
Walcott put Arsenal ahead in the 20th minute with a curling shot from Lukas Podolski's pass but Demba Ba levelled just before half-time when his free-kick deflected in off Jack Wilshere. It was 1-1 at the interval but the floodgates opened in a remarkable second period.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain restored the Gunners' lead five minutes after the break following good work by Santi Cazorla. Again the Magpies equalised, this time through a Sylvain Marveaux tap-in after a centre from Gabriel Obertan.
In an end-to-end contest, Podolski made it 3-2 by heading home Wilshere's cross, only for Ba to finish off a glorious cross by Marveaux to level again in the 69th minute.
Arsenal moved up a gear as Kieran Gibbs ran on to a Podolski pass and pulled the ball back for Walcott to drive his second into the roof of the net. Substitute Olivier Giroud came on and within 10 minutes had headed in a Walcott cross to make it 5-3.
The same combination struck again in the 87th minute with a Walcott run being finished off by Giroud before Walcott scored the goal of the match when he cut into the area on the left and weaved through the defence before lifting the ball over Tim Krul.
"The result was not an accurate indication of the match but we cannot ask much more than three goals and the performance Theo gave today," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew added: "When we got back to 3-3 we should have shut up shop and for 70 minutes it was pretty tight. But we did not have the energy to cope with them in the last 20 minutes and some of the goals we gave away were not good enough for us."
Arsenal went on to finish fourth and claim the final UEFA Champions League place by beating Newcastle 1-0 away on the final day of the season, while Pardew's side avoided being dragged into a relegation battle as they came 16th, finishing five points clear of the bottom three.