Walcott gives Blackpool six of the best
Arsenal 6 Blackpool 0: Forward scores first Arsenal hat-trick in 'masterclass' as 10-man Tangerines are brought crashing down to earth
Sunday 22 August 2010
To say that Arsenal are not Wigan would qualify for an A* in what Basil Fawlty used to call the bleedin' obvious.
Blackpool, stunning four-goal winners at the DW Stadium last week, discovered yesterday just how vast the gap is between the two ends of the Premier League. Three goals and one man down by half-time – Ian Evatt was sent off in the 32nd minute – their players must have spent much of the second half looking beseechingly at the new clock adorning the official Clock End they were supposed to be attacking. It refused to tick any faster and three more goals had gone in before the referee Mike Jones ended the contest on humanitarian grounds.
The indomitable visiting supporters meanwhile sang "this is the best trip I've ever been on", even as, at 5-0 down, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie stood on the touchline awaiting an entrance as substitutes. Much more of this and the enjoyment may wear a little thin. Consolation will come if they can keep sufficient self-belief to play their football and win some more points off Wigan and the League's other Ws: the West Hams, Wolves and West Bromwichs.
Like the match itself, there were unfair contests all over the pitch, above all between Theo Walcott and the labouring left-back Stephen Crainey. Having scored the first hat-trick of his Arsenal career, Walcott must have been disappointed to be substituted after 66 minutes; not to mention learning that Fabio Capello had been elsewhere. "I like the fact that he mixed the final ball and finishing, which is always a sign a player is more mature," Arsenal's manager Arsène Wenger said. "He benefited from a summer break and he's a person who always sees the glass is half full not half empty."
Blackpool's Ian Holloway could have been excused for staring at the bottom of his glass, but he is sensible enough to realise there will be days like these this season, and he had raised the possibility himself before the game. "If they get a couple early on I dread to think what might happen," he had said. They did so, and the penalty for the second of them brought with it a red card for Evatt, so losing by six was in the circumstances just about to be expected. Teams as established as Everton and Middlesbrough have both lost at Arsenal by more in the last seven years.
"Everything about this place is class and that was a masterclass," Holloway said of the experience. "It was an absolute education. Theo Walcott was unplayable and I hope he continues that because he's English." His one complaint, above some naive defending, was about the triple jeopardy of a penalty, sending-off and suspension. "I thought it was harsh to say the least," he said. "But onwards and upwards. I'm relieved it wasn't 10 or 12."
To say the game turned on the sending off would be inaccurate, for the pattern had been set long before that: Blackpool pushed forward boldly but tended to be caught out by swift inter-passing and Walcott's sure finishing. Critically, they missed one excellent chance, when Crainey's cross was headed weakly wide by Gary Taylor-Fletcher, scorer of the historic first goal at Wigan.
Arsenal were already ahead at that point. In the 13th minute, Andrey Arshavin played a sweet one-two with the excellent Tomas Rosicky and set up Walcott for the first of three fine finishes. Arshavin scored from the penalty after Evatt brought down Marouane Chamakh with a challenge that began outside the area but finished inside, for all the defender's protests. Chamakh's failure to capitalise on his team's dominance was the one blot on the Emirates landscape as Walcott, twice, and Abou Diaby added further goals in the space of 20 minutes either side of the interval. Then, finally, Chamakh had his first Arsenal goal, albeit with a header from Van Persie's corner that the goalkeeper should have saved.
Holloway, having lost a chairman last week, says he wants more players. Wenger does too and is optimistic of securing one this week, though he would not confirm that it will be Fulham's goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
Referee: Michael Jones
Man of the match: Walcott
Match rating: 7/10
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent
"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier
Latest in Sport
Mario Balotelli comment: Time running out for 'lost boy' to shine at Liverpool, or anywhere
Cristiano Ronaldo applauded by Liverpool fans after master-class for Real Madrid, despite Manchester United ties
Angel Di Maria injury latest: Argentina international set to play in Manchester United vs Chelsea match
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo
Erik Lamela rabona steals the show in five-star Spurs Europa League romp
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are