Gunners squash the Tangerines – Arsenal 6-0 Blackpool
Arsenal comprehensively beat newly-promoted Blackpool by 6 goals to nil. A Theo Walcott hattrick producing the highlight of the match.
Ian Holloway’s side had Ian Evatt sent off early on for a challenge on Marouane Chamakh and from then on the game was only going to get worse for the Seasiders.
England star Walcott was electric on the wing and put away some fine finishes while Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie came on midway through the second half, much to the delight of the watching Arsenal faithful.
Sagna – Song – Vermaelen – Clichy
Wilshere – Diaby – Rosicky
Walcott – Chamakh – Arshavin
21-year-old Walcott was a controversial omission from Fabio Capello’s ill-fated World Cup squad, only to be welcomed back into the England fold following the dismal display in South Africa.
It may just have proved to be a decision which brings the best out of Walcott this season as the former Southampton trainee tore them apart from kick-off, sweeping Arsenal into an 11th-minute lead.
Andrey Arshavin made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after defender Ian Evatt had been sent off for a foul on Marouane Chamakh, which looked just outside the box.
Walcott added a third before the break, with Abou Diaby slotting home number four at the start of the second half and the England man – whose only international goals came with a famous hat-trick in Croatia during September 2008 – then securing the match ball with another well-taken finish.
Arshavin fed Chamakh down the left, and the free transfer signing from Bordeaux quickly laid the ball off to Tomas Rosicky, who in turn rolled a pass onto the advancing Russian.
With the Blackpool defence stretched, Arshavin put Walcott clear into the right side of the penalty area, and he dispatched a first-time strike into the bottom corner in the 12th minute.
It was a vintage Arsenal goal but the hosts were almost caught cold immediately afterwards.
Stephen Crainey sent over a lovely cross from the left, which dropped to Gary Taylor-Fletcher at the far post but his downward header was just wide.
Arsenal were awarded a penalty in the 32nd minute when Evatt slid in from behind on Chamakh, in a challenge which looked just outside the box.
Referee Mike Jones pointed to the spot and despite the Blackpool protests, went straight to his pocket for the red card. Arshavin stepped up to drive the ball into the bottom right corner.
It was now a case of damage limitation for Blackpool, who brought on new signing Dekel Keinan, the Israel defender, for striker Ludovic Sylvestre.
A brilliant block from Gilks prevented Chamakh from making it 3-0, before, in the 38th minute, Walcott turned Keinan on the penalty spot and drilled the ball into the far corner.
Busy Blackpool goalkeeper Gilks saved Chamakh’s near-post effort from Gael Clichy’s left-wing cross. However, he was picking the ball out of the net again four minutes after the restart when Diaby swept in Bacary Sagna’s centre.
Walcott completed his hat-trick in the 58th minute when he curled the ball inside the far post after being fed by Diaby.
Arshavin squared for Chamakh in the six-yard box, but the ball took a bounce just ahead of reaching the Moroccan striker, who shinned it over.
As the hour mark passed, Arsenal introduced Fabregas and Van Persie, replacing Diaby and Arshavin, to a standing ovation before Walcott was also given a well-deserved rest.
Chamakh got a home Premier League debut goal when he headed in Van Persie’s corner seven minutes from time.
Man of the Match – Theo Walcott – Set the game alight. Like Ian Holloway said after the game, he was “unplayable” today. Can he keep it up for the rest of the season? Let’s hope so.