A hat-trick from Theo Walcott and goals from Arshavin, Diaby and Chamakh handed Arsenal a comprehensive win over Blackpool in the campaign’s first home game on Saturday.
Walcott put Arsenal in front after 12 minutes, finishing off a fine one-touch move by Rosicky and Arshavin. The visitors were still lingering but Chamakh created a spot kick opportunity for Arsenal after the half-hour mark and Arshavin dispatched the penalty.
And it was 3-0 before half-time as Walcott sharply turned away from defenders and struck past Blackpool’s goalkeeper. Minutes into the second-half, Sagna raced onto the right and teed up Diaby who delightfully volleyed the ball home.
Walcott then completed a hat-trick, weaving his way through the box and placing the ball home with his left foot. Marouane Chamakh then made sure he got on the score sheet with a trademark header off Van Persie’s corner-kick later on.
Business had been done in style.
Almost 3,000 Blackpool fans – packed into the newly renamed Clock End – had made the long journey south, perhaps more in hope than genuine expectation of another shock result.
However, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger had warned against underestimating the threat of the Barclays Premier League new boys, and Ian Holloway’s men certainly started with no fear.
Blackpool broke quickly and David Vaughan tried his luck from 20 yards but shot straight at Manuel Almunia.
However, Arsenal were soon in front.
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 on to 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.
Walcott scampered away again down the right, before cleverly delaying his centre into the path of Arshavin, who crashed a half-volley goalwards, but Seasiders goalkeeper Matthew Gilks made a fine reaction save. Chamakh almost rolled an 18-yard shot into the far corner after some more good work from Walcott on the edge of the area.
Arsenal were awarded a penalty in the 32nd minute when Evatt slid in from behind on Chamakh.
Referee Mike Jones pointed to the spot and 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 Barclays Premier League debut goal when he headed in Van Persie’s corner seven minutes from time.
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