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Arsenal 7 Newcastle Utd 3

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Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick and set up two more as the Gunners went goal crazy to clinch their fourth straight Premier League victory.

Walcott opened the scoring before Arsenal let their visitors back into the game three times – only for the Gunners contract rebel to complete his treble in an astonishing 10-goal thriller.

That brought belated Christmas cheer for the Emirates crowd – denied any Boxing Day football by the Tube strike – as they watched their side move back up to fifth place in the table.

Arsenal started well, with Jack Wilshere slipping a pass through for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the opening minute, but the winger dragged his shot wide.

But Lukas Podolski’s quick thinking unlocked the Toon defence in the 19th minute as he put Walcott clear from a free-kick on the left and the England international scampered away to steer his finish past Tim Krul and just inside the far post.

Walcott had two opportunities to increase the Gunners’ lead before half-time, collecting another Podolski pass and skipping past James Perch, but he ran out of space as Krul advanced to block.

Wojciech Szczesny pushed a 25-yarder from Cheick Tiote behind and, when Newcastle squandered the corner, Walcott sped away upfield – only to try and find Santi Cazorla instead of taking the ball on himself.

And the visitors levelled two minutes from the break after Mikel Arteta brought down Gabriel Obertan on the edge of the box and Demba Ba’s free-kick struck Wilshere on the back of the head, wrong-footing the helpless Szczesny.

The damage could have been worse for Arsenal, who allowed Sylvain Marveaux to slice through their defence straight away, but Szczesny came to the rescue.

The Gunners regained the advantage six minutes after the interval as Podolski intercepted a Newcastle throw-in and Cazorla fed Oxlade-Chamberlain, who drilled a low finish out of the keeper’s reach.

United restored parity just before the hour mark as Obertan bamboozled Bacary Sagna and sent a low ball across the six-yard box, with Laurent Koscielny’s boot facilitating an easy tap-in for the unmarked Marveaux.

Podolski finally got his name on the scoresheet five minutes later, playing a one-two with Wilshere, who crossed, with Fabricio Coloccini turning the ball against his own crossbar before it fell for the German to make it 3-2.

Again, Arsenal could not hang onto their lead for long as Marveaux bent a perfect cross towards the far post and Ba stole in behind Kieran Gibbs to volley in his second of the game.

But the Gunners’ response came four minutes later, when Podolski played the ball wide to Gibbs and he cut the ball back into the centre, where Walcott spun and fired into the roof of the net.

Walcott nearly completed his treble with a shot that struck Perch and flew just wide of the post – and it looked as though he would have to be content with supplying assists for substitute Olivier Giroud to score twice in the space of five minutes.

But Newcastle’s porous defence gave Walcott the chance to make it 7-3, clipping the ball deftly over Krul two minutes from time – and, to round off a bizarre game, only the crossbar denied Giroud a hat-trick of his own in added time.

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

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Arsenal

Nickname: The Gunners.

Ground: Emirates Stadium (capacity 60,361).

Founded: 1886.

Honours: First Division (until 1992) and Premier League: 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1938, 1948, 1953, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2004.

FA Cup: 1930, 1936, 1950, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005.

League Cup: 1987, 1993.

Fairs Cup: 1970.

Cup Winners’ Cup: 1994.

Leading goalscorer: Thierry Henry, 228.

Leading appearances: David O’Leary, 722.