Match Report: Perfect student Theo Walcott of Arsenal scores full marks with a stunning hat-trick in Newcastle hammering

Arsenal 7 Newcastle United 3: The Arsenal striker, currently being coached by Gunners legend Thierry Henry, scores hat-trick in a 10-goal thriller against weary Newcastle

Emirates Stadium

Given that these two teams have been involved in matches this season that have finished 7-5, 5-2 and 4-3, another feast of goals and dreadful defending was perhaps only to be expected, if not on this epic scale.

Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick and created two goals for late substitute Olivier Giroud as Arsenal recorded their fourth successive League win to calm any talk of a crisis at the club. That said, there were aspects of their display, especially at the back, that will haunt Arsène Wenger, their manager. Newcastle equalised three times, two of the goals scored by Demba Ba, before running out of steam as Arsenal scored three times in the last six minutes.

Walcott, though, made the headlines and made his case for continuing to play in the central position he prefers, and for which he is being coached by the former Arsenal forward Thierry Henry. Although his performance was the usual mixture of rich promise and frustration, his claim on the man-of-the-match award was unanswerable. "I've learned from the best," he said. "I enjoy playing in whatever position but I've asked the manager to play me the centre. It's another option and I hope I've opened some eyes."

Wenger hailed Walcott, whose contract expires in summer. "It typifies what I think he can do," he said. "He can play in the centre, and he can only get stronger in that role.

"He has learned a lot because he is an intelligent player. The intensity of my desire [to extend his contract] is the same as before the game. He belongs here. I think he loves the club and the club loves him."

You suspected that Newcastle might be stung into a good performance by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's dismissal of them on Friday as "a wee club in the North-east," but their injury-hit squad could not last the pace. While they were losing 4-3 to United at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, Arsenal were resting after their match fell victim to the Tube strike, and it showed.

"At 3-3 we should have shut up shop, but we couldn't," Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager, said. "The difference in energy levels was evident by the end, and the fourth goal knocked the wind out of our sails."

Arsenal went ahead when Lukas Podolski played the ball down the left for Walcott, who had timed his run perfectly to beat the offside trap and ran on before cutting in and producing a clinical finish, Henry, watching from the stand, joined in the applause for his willing pupil. "That was a Thierry Henry-type goal," Wenger said.

The other side of Walcott came to the fore in a scuffed shot straight to Tim Krul and a misplaced pass when Santi Cazorla was well-placed to double the lead, and instead of being two up, Arsenal were pegged back when Ba's free-kick on the edge of Arsenal's penalty was deflected past the wrong-footed Wojciech Szczesny off the back of Jack Wilshere's head, the midfield man having turned meekly away from the ball.

Arsenal, though, retook the lead five minutes after the restart as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain interrupted the Walcott show, shooting low past Krul from 20 yards. But limp defending cost Arsenal again after 59 minutes as Gabriel Obertan beat Bacary Sagna with embarrassing ease on the left and his low pass rolled across the goal to Silvain Marveaux, who had sauntered into the penalty area and tapped in from a yard out.

Wilshere then chipped in a left-foot cross that Fabricio Coloccini could only head against his own crossbar, Podolski nodding in the rebound from point-blank range. But that Arsenal defence gave the lead away yet again after 69 minutes, Marveaux crossing with the outside of his left foot for Ba to escape the ball-watching Kieran Gibbs and stab home, a goal that may increase the number of suitors keen to activate the buy-out clause in his contract.

But back came Arsenal. Four minutes later Podolski found Gibbs, and his cut-back reached Walcott, who turned through almost 360 degrees and fired into the roof of the net to put his side ahead for good. Five minutes from time, Walcott turned provider, crossing for substitute Giroud to head home then passing for the Frenchman to fire in with his right foot.

Walcott added the final flourish, dancing past four demoralised defenders and dinking the ball past Krul to complete his hat-trick and a remarkable evening.

Arsenal (4-3-3): Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla (Coquelin, 86), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Giroud, 74); Podolski (Ramsey, 82), Walcott.

Newcastle (4-4-2): Krul; Simpson (Ferguson, 82), Coloccini, Perch, Santon; Obertan, Bigirimana (Shola Ameobi, 82), Tiote, Marveaux (Tavernier, 88); Ba, Cissé.

Referee: Chris Foy.

Man of the match: Walcott (Arsenal).

Match rating: 8/10

Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
Sport
Hamilton runs down the back straight in the rain
F1
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing