Walcott hatrick as Arsenal crush Blackpool

Theo Walcott was back to his scintillating best with a hatrick as Arsenal thrashed 10-man Blackpool 6-0 to bring the promoted side crashing back to Premier League reality today.

Walcott scored two in the first half before adding a superb third while an Andrei Arshavin penalty and goals by Abou Diaby and Marouane Chamakh piled on the agony for the visitors, who won their opening game 4-0 at Wigan Athletic last week.



Blackpool defender Ian Evatt was sent off after 31 minutes for bringing down Chamakh, leading to Arshavin's penalty.



Gareth Bale hit two goals, the second a brilliant top-corner volley from a tough angle, as Tottenham Hotspur won 2-1 at Stoke City.



The Londoners were helped by a controversial late decision that denied Stoke an equaliser when the referee ruled a Jon Walters header was not over the line before Peter Crouch cleared the ball.



In other games Bolton Wanderers won 3-1 at West Ham United, Birmingham City beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 and promoted West Bromwich Albion edged Sunderland 1-0. Everton were held 1-1 at home by Wolverhampton Wanderers.



Chelsea visit Wigan Athletic - the team they destroyed 8-0 on the final day of last season to secure the title - later on Saturday.



Manchester United visit Fulham on Sunday while Manchester City host Liverpool on Monday night.



FIRST GAME



When Blackpool beat Wigan in their first game in the top flight for almost 40 years last week they were 3-0 up by halftime but at the Emirates they trailed by the same score at the break and were a man down.



Arsenal took the lead after 12 minutes with a nice build up by Tomas Rosicky and Arshavin that presented Walcott with a simple finish.



Blackpool's slim hopes disappeared when centre back Evatt was sent off for hauling down Chamakh on the edge of the box, with the referee adding to his pain by harshly awarding a penalty.



Arshavin converted to make it 2-0 and within minutes it was three as Walcott spun past his marker to bang in his second.



Diaby rattled in the fourth while the fans were still retaking their seats after the break.



Walcott, a surprise omission from England's World Cup squad in South Africa in June, then scored a dazzling goal when he controlled a Diaby pass, ghosted forward and curled in a precise shot before leaving the field to a standing ovation.



New signing Chamakh completed the thrashing with his first goal for the club seven minutes from time.



Blackpool coach Ian Holloway was full of praise for the victors. "They are fantastic players, the way they try and play, pass and move is an education to watch," he told the BBC.



"Some of the football they played was absolutely world class. The pace of them shocked my lads a bit but they have to get used to that. I'm just relieved it was only six."

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