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    Theo Walcott stars as Arsenal rout Newcastle 7-3

    Walcott scored a hat trick as Arsenal hit six second-half goals on Saturday to thrash Newcastle.

    London: Theo Walcott hit a hat-trick as Arsenal scored six second-half goals on Saturday to thrash Newcastle 7-3 and record their fourth straight win in the Premier League. Walcott played in his preferred central striking role and showed why Arsenal is eager to retain him when his contract expires in the offseason, completing the scoring in the 90th minute with an impudent chip after a dribbling run that eluded several defenders.

    "My desire is to extend his contract," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "I think he belongs here. Hopefully we can do it. I think he loves the club and the club loves him and the reciprocity in love is the most difficult to find."

    Substitute Olivier Giroud scored a double, while Lukasz Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also found the net for Arsenal at Emirates Stadium. Demba Ba was on target twice for Newcastle, with Sylvain Marveaux also scoring.

    It equalled the second highest-scoring game in Premier League history, behind Portsmouth's 7-4 victory over Reading in 2007. Arsenal are in fifth place but have a game in hand. Newcastle are 15th, three points above the relegation zone.

    Thierry Henry was in the stands and he was on his feet after 20 minutes when Walcott made a break from the halfway line that was reminiscent of Arsenal's record scorer and capped his run with an adroit low finish inside the side netting. Newcastle pulled level through Ba but Oxlade-Chamberlain scored, only for Ba to grab his second to make it 2-2. Marveaux equalised Podolski's header, but Walcott put the Gunners 4-3 up before setting up Giroud twice and finishing the scoring with his chip.

    "Today just typifies what I think he can do through the middle," Wenger said of Walcott. "The first goal was a Thierry Henry-type goal and he showed great determination with the third. He has become a good finisher. He has learned a lot because he is an intelligent player and because he is intelligent he will continue to improve."

    Walcott has scored four goals and won one decisive penalty in the three games he has started up front, and he now has 14 for the season. Newcastle finished the year by scoring three times at both Old Trafford and Emirates Stadium but losing both games.

    "I thought when we got back to 3-3, we should have shut up shop," Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said.

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