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Walcott hits treble as Gunners lift to fifth

Date

Tom Williams, London

Newcastle United defender James Perch (left) tries to get the better of Arsenal striker Theo Walcott.

Newcastle United defender James Perch (left) tries to get the better of Arsenal striker Theo Walcott. Photo: AFP

GOALS rained down on the Premier League on Saturday, with Arsenal beating Newcastle United 7-3 and champion Manchester City edging Norwich City 4-3 to keep pace with leader Manchester United.

City's win prevented United from extending its seven-point lead at the summit, after overcoming West Bromwich Albion 2-0 to take its tally for the season to 50 goals.

United manager Alex Ferguson was the focus of pre-match attention at Old Trafford for an outspoken attack on Newcastle coach Alan Pardew, but his side got down to business quickly and went ahead inside nine minutes.

The scorer wore a blue and white shirt, however, with West Brom defender Gareth McAuley inadvertently shinning the ball into his own goal.

The hosts were not able to breathe easily until substitute Robin van Persie curled a glorious shot into the top-left corner in the last minute.

''We're in a good position,'' Ferguson said. ''We're halfway there. We've a game on Tuesday away from home at Wigan and we've got a few players to freshen it up.''

City lost Samir Nasri to a first-half red card for aiming a head-butt at Norwich's Sebastien Bassong but edged an open-ended encounter thanks in no small part to Edin Dzeko, who scored twice and might have had a hat-trick.

A day bursting with goals - 35 in total - concluded in an extraordinary game at the Emirates Stadium in which Theo Walcott claimed a hat-trick as Arsenal overcame Newcastle 7-3 to climb to fifth.

Tottenham had earlier overturned a half-time deficit to win 2-1 at Sunderland and provisionally move into third place above Chelsea, which visits Everton on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Aston Villa sank 3-0 at home to Wigan Athletic.

Villa would have slipped into the relegation zone had third-bottom Southampton not been denied victory in a 3-3 draw at Stoke City by a sensational 25-metre strike from Cameron Jerome.

Reading won 1-0 at home over West Ham United. But Fulham's dismal form continued, losing 2-1 at home to Swansea City.

AFP

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