Theo Walcott scored a hat trick as Arsenal beat Newcastle in a 10-goal thriller at the Emirates Stadium. Chelsea and Liverpool tasted success in their respective games against Everton and QPR on Sunday. Gareth Bale was involved in another diving storm as he inspired Tottenham to victory over Sunderland, while Manchester City scraped past Norwich at Carrow Road.
Arsenal 7-3 Newcastle
Theo Walcott nailed down his importance to Arsenal with a hat trick in the demolition of Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium. The out of contract striker also had a hand in two more goals as the Gunners rose to fifth in the Premier League table. Walcott swept the hosts into a 20th minute lead before a deflected free kick from Demba Ba drew the Magpies level just before the break. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain restored Arsenal’s lead just after half time with a low strike only for the visitors to level again through Sylvain Marveaux’s close range finish. Lukas Podolski made it 3-2 with a header just after the hour but the lead wouldn’t stick and Ba finished from close range to score his second. Walcott struck again with 17 minutes remaining and the win was secured by a brace from Oliver Giroud as Newcastle capitulated at the back before. There was still time for Walcott to complete his treble at the death with another composed dink over Tim Krul.
Everton 1-2 Chelsea
Frank Lampard served a timely reminder of his value to Chelsea as scored both goals against Everton at Goodison Park to earn Rafael Benitez’s men a fourth straight league win. the out of contract 34-year-old’s is far from certain in west London but he proved on Merseyside there is life in the old dog yet, rescuing the Blues with a vintage goalscoring display. The Toffees have proved formidable on home turf this season and had the lead within two minutes when Steven Pienaar pounced to turn the ball home after Victor Anichebe’s head rebounded off the post. The visitors would have to wait until the 42nd minute for an equaliser, Lampard stabbing in Ramires’ across. And with 18 minutes left the England midfielder scrambled home his second from close range to make it a clean Christmas sweep for Chelsea.
QPR 0-3 Liverpool
A deadly first half double from Luis Suarez paved the way to victory for Liverpool as they saw off QPR at Loftus Road. Despite being without manager Brendan Rodgers, who was suffering from illness, the Reds producd a scintillating first half display to deepen the woes of R’s boss Harry Redknapp. Their plight was highlighted by a leaky defence as Suarez helped himself to a brace inside the first quarter hour. Firstly the Uruguayan slipped past Clint Hill with ease and slotting the ball past Julio Cesar before hammering home is second from six-yards after own cross was deflected back into his path. Daniel Agger completed the scoring in the 28th minute with a low header from Steven Gerrard’s corner. The hosts responded well after the break but could engineer a route back into the game and remain bottom of the table, eight points from safety.
Sunderland 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Two goals in four second half minutes was enough for Tottenham to claim victory over Sunderland and move up to third. John O’Shea’s close range finish five minutes before half time gave the hosts the lead against the run of play, just minites after Emmanuel Adebayor had hit the bar from two yards out. But three minutes after the break Carlos Cuellar headed into his own net from Kyle Walkers corner and Aaron Lennon completed the turnaround, flicking the ball around O’Shea and finishing past Simon Mignolet. The game would end on a sour note as Bale was booked for diving in the penalty are despite there being slight contact from Craig Gardner.
Aston Villa 0-3 Wigan Athletic
Wigan moved themselves out of the relegation zone with a comfortable win over Aston Villa, who’ve now conceded 15 goals in their last three games. It was another difficult afternoon for Paul Lambert’s young side in front of their own supporters and they’ll be desperate for 2012 to close its doors after a horror end to the year. They didn’t exactly show signs of shifting from their current rut, allowing Ivan Ramis to thump in a header after just three minutes. The Latics haven’t been on the best run themselves but made sure of the win seven minutes into the second half when Emmerson Boyce burst through the home defence and finished confidently past Brad Guzan. Arouna Kone applied the gloss just before the hour, racing into a pass from Franco Di Santo and dispatching the ball past a helpless Guzan.
Fulham 1-2 Swansea City
Danny Graham and Jonathan De Guzman scored to earn Swansea their first win in five games and push Fulham close to the drop zone. With 13-goal top scorer Michu missing due to injury the onus was on Graham to provide the goals for Michael Laudrups side in the capital. And he didn’t disappoint, opening the scoring with an easy finish after a mistake from goalkeeper David Stockdale. The visitors had to wait until seven minutes after half time before wrapping up the win as De Guzman pounced on another error from Stockdale to fire home. Bryan Ruiz gave the home fans hope of rescuing a point as he found the net after a goalmouth scramble
Manchester United 2-0 West Brom
Robin Van Persie came off the bench to secure victory over West Brom and ensure Manchester United would start 2013 at the top of the Premier League table. After emerging victorious from a seven goal thriller with Newcastle on Boxing Day the United faithful will have been glad this latest win was more low-key. It took them only nine minutes to open the scoring although they were indebted to Baggies defender Gareth McAuley for turning Ashley Young’s cross into his own net. But it wasn’t until Van Persie struck at the death to make the points safe, curling the ball past Ben Foster with sublime precision.
Norwich City 3-4 Manchester City
Manchester City remain on the coattails of local rivals United at the top of the table after winning a seven goal thriller against Norwich at Carrow Road. Two quality finishes from Edin Dzeko put City 2-0 up inside the first four minutes but Anthony Pilkington’s free kick on the quarter hour halved the deficit. And, despite Samir Nasri receiving his marching orders following a heated altercation with Sebastien Bassong, the visitors restored their two goal advantage when Sergio Aguero deftly clipped the ball over Mark Bunn from Yaya Toures pass. Russell Martin gave the Canaries faithful hope just after the hour, heading home Robert Snodgrass’ corner but that was quickly extinguished when Dzeko’s fierce drive rebounded back off the post and in off Bunn. There was still time for Martin to set up a tense final 15 minutes but City clung on to a crucial win.
Reading 1-0 West Ham
Pavel Pogrebnyak’s first half goal was enough to earn Reading their second win of the season at the expense of West Hama and lift themselves off the bottom of the table. The Russian striker, who has struggled for goals this term, scored what turned out to be the winner just five minutes into the game, taking advantage of a sloppy back pass from James Collins before cooly slotting the ball past Jussi Jasskelainen to leave the Royal’s supporters celebrating a rare victory.
Stoke City 3-3 Southampton
A stunning 90th minute volley from Cameron Jerome rescued a point for Stoke as they came from 3-1 down to deny Southampton all three points. Rickie Lambert opened the scoring after 10 minutes with a cool finish at the far post before Kenwyne Jones drew the Potters level on the quarter hour, back heeling the ball past Kelvin Davis. The Saints restored their lead when Jay Rodriguez profited from a defensive mix-up to score before Andy Wilkinson’s own goal made it 3-1 before half time. Matthew Upson reduced the deficit in the 67th minute with a scrambled goal but Steven N’Zonzi’s red card seemed to end any hope of a comeback for the home support. But with second left to play Jerome pounced to drive home Peter Crouch’s knockdown and beat Davis in spectacular fashion from 25-yards.