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Theo Walcott hat-trick against Newcastle delights Arsenal fans

Sunday, 30 December 2012 - 11:47am IST | Place: London | Agency: The Sunday Telegraph
Arsenal fans will have been delighted by Walcott's performance and will surely hope he can finally come to an agreement on a new deal to end protracted talks over his future.

Arsene Wenger cannot pass a microphone without being asked if he needs a new centre-forward. After this pell-mell display he has his answer. On a cavalier evening Arsenal scored seven times, Theo Walcott producing a brilliant hat-trick, substitute Oliver Giroud netting twice, with Demba Ba, a touted replacement for both, answering on two occasions for Newcastle.

Arsenal fans will have been delighted by Walcott's performance and will surely hope he can finally come to an agreement on a new deal to end protracted talks over his future. The visitors may have been derided as "a wee club from the north-east" by Sir Alex Fergsuon, but they do know how to entertain. At Old Trafford they led three times before finally losing. Here Newcastle came from behind three times, before succumbing in a second half that saw eight goals as both defences suffered breakdowns.

With a week's rest after their Boxing Day fixture against West Ham fell victim to a tube strike, Arsenal should have been the sharper side but they were far from box-fresh in their first post-Christmas outing and Ba should have put the visitors ahead. He rose unmarked to head over from a Sylvain Marveaux corner when he should have at least drawn a save from Wojciech Szczesny.

It was a costly miss, as Theo Walcott countered to put Arsenal ahead. Newcastle were undone by a single pass, Lukas Podolski's ball into the inside-left channel freeing Walcott.

The finish was reminiscent of his predecessor in the No?14 shirt, Thierry Henry, who watched from the stands as Walcott cut in on goal and rolled the ball across Krul into the corner. Clearly those striking tips that the master marksman Henry shared with his apprentice Walcott at London Colney during the week paid off.

With five minutes remaining in the half Ba produced the equaliser, albeit with considerable help from Jack Wilshere. After Gabriel Obertan was fouled by Bacary Sagna 20 yards from the Arsenal goal, Ba struck the free kick which took a huge deflection off the back of Wilshere's head as he turned away from the ball. Szczesny was wrong-footed by the touch and was a spectator as the ball rolled in.

Whatever was said in the dressing rooms at half-time, neither defence was listening. Within five minutes of the re-start Arsenal were back ahead, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finishing powerfully after being fed by Santi Cazorla, quiet by his standards hitherto.

Back came Newcastle again, Marveaux left with the freedom of Holloway by Kieran Gibbs to tap in from two yards after an Obertan step-over had taken him past Sagna to the byline.

Arsenal were ahead again within five minutes, Podolski nodding home from a yard out after Wilshere's cross had been headed against his own bar by Fabricio Coloccini. Ba's second equaliser again owed a little to Gibbs, who was watching the ball rather than his man as the striker ran onto Marveaux's cross to slide home.

Walcott put his side ahead for the fourth time four minutes later, finishing smartly from 12 yards. He created Arsenal's fifth, crossing for substitute Giroud to head in. Giroud's second, and Arsenal's sixth, as he shot from a narrow angle, before Walcott completed his hat-trick with a mazy run and a contemptuous chip over Krul.

Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere; Oxlade-Chamberlain (Giroud 74), Cazorla, Podolski (Ramsey); Walcott.

Newcastle: Krul; Simpson, Perch, Coloccini, Santon; Tiote (Ameobi), Cisse, Bigirmana, Marveaux, Obertan; Ba.

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