Arsenal 7 Newcastle United 3

Last night I watched a match in which it seems the defence for both sides seemed to not show up! What a crazy match it was!

Theo Walcott scored three goals and set up two more as Arsenal overcame Newcastle in a 10-goal thriller and climbed to fifth in the Premier League. Walcott, out of contract in the summer, swept Arsenal in front but Demba Ba equalised with a deflected free-kick. After Sylvain Marveaux tapped in to cancel out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s low shot, Lukas Podolski nodded home. Ba levelled again, only for Walcott to score twice more, either side of a brace from substitute Olivier Giroud. Giroud hit the bar as Arsenal pushed for an eighth, but the result was secure and Arsenal extended their winning run to four games.

Emirates Stadium was engulfed by chants of “sign him up” as the full-time whistle approached, a reference to Walcott’s contract dispute. He has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season and four in three games since being deployed as the central striker. His first effort, in particular, carried shades of Thierry Henry – Arsenal’s record goalscorer who was watching from the stands and is training with the club during the Major League Soccer off-season. It is hard to imagine Arsenal letting the 23-year-old leave if he continues to produce performances of this level. Walcott left Newcastle stunned but while they are still without an away league win this term, they should take heart from impressive displays at Manchester United and Arsenal over the festive period. They had four days less than Arsenal to prepare - the Gunners’ Boxing Day visit of West Ham was postponed - yet enjoyed plenty of early possession and Ba headed just over from Marveaux’s corner.

Newcastle were punished for a high defensive line when Walcott latched on to Podolski’s through ball and curled past Tim Krul – but Alan Pardew’s men responded well and were rewarded. Bacary Sagna conceded a needless free-kick outside the box and Ba’s set piece took a heavy deflection off Jack Wilshere to elude Szczesny. After half-time Podolski nodded Danny Simpson’s throw to Santi Cazorla and he set up Oxlade-Chamberlain to drill past Krul, only for Gabriel Obertan to beat Sagna and cross for Marveaux to tap in. The momentum was shifting like a pendulum and no sooner had Podolski headed Arsenal back in front after Wilshere’s run and cross than Newcastle struck again for 3-3. A weaving run from the outstanding Marveaux ended with a cross to the back post that let Ba ghost past Kieran Gibbs and convert.

The introduction of Giroud gave Arsenal a new dimension and the Frenchman headed in a Walcott cross before drilling past Krul. With Newcastle tiring, Walcott shimmied his way past several defenders to chip Krul from a tight angle and seal his hat-trick.

With this win Arsenal have 33 points from 19 games played and sit at the 5th position in the league.

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