By Chief Sports Writer, Marley Anderson

A Theo Walcott inspired Arsenal extended Newcastle’s miserable year-ending fixture by running out 7-3 winners in a goal fest at the Emirates. Walcott – playing in his favoured and much talked about centre forward role – helped himself to three goals before Olivier Giroud came off the bench and bagged a brace of his own. Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also netted, while two from Demba Ba and a maiden Newcastle strike from Sylvain Marveaux replied for Alan Pardew’s unfortunate side.

The Magpies were coming off the back of an narrow 4-3 loss to Manchester United in midweek and another tit-for-tat thriller erupted at the Emirates, with Arsenal taking the lead four times before the Geordies ran out of firepower and ultimately surrendered to the ever-improving Gunners.

It was almost an exact reverse of the Man United game, as Newcastle pegged Arsenal three times, just as United had in the Boxing Day clash at Old Trafford. However unlike Ferguson’s side, they didnt have the killer instinct to pull away when the score was level and instead allowed Arsenal to run riot late on.

After a tepid first 20 minutes in which neither team registered a shot, Walcott was the man who broke the deadlock. Beating the offside trap with the help of a switched off Davide Santon, Walcott raced away before beating Tim Krul with ease.

The goal woke up a previously poor Newcastle and soon the Geordies were controlling the game. Possession and territorial advantages were being dominated by the visitors and they got their deserved equaliser on the stroke of half-time.

Gabriel Obertan – who replaced the injured Jonas Gutierrez in Newcastle’s starting line-up – won a free kick on the edge of the box as Bacary Sagna lunged in from behind. With usual set-piece experts Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa out injured, Ba assumed responsibility and struck a powerful effort that deflected off the head of Jack Wilshere before beating Sczesny.

Going into the second half, no one could have predicted the amount of goals that were about to flow. Five minutes in, Oxlade-Chamberlain put the hosts back in front after Danny Simpson’s poor throw-in was worked across to him to fire low past Krul.

Newcastle were faced with the challenge of responding for a second time and after acquitting themselves well, Marveaux was on target. Gael Bigirimana – who defied his years all afternoon with an impressive display – spread a pass out to Obertan on the left wing and allowed the former Man United man to run at Sagna. Beating him and going onto his unfavoured left foot, Obertan’s deflected cross found Marveaux unmarked at the far post and the former Rennes man tapped home to make it 2-2.

However, once again Newcastle were unable to hold on to their good work and five minutes later they were behind again. Wilshere’s mazy run towards the byline resulted in the England man standing up a cross towards the far post which Fabricio Coloccini could only head onto his own crossbar. Time seemed to slow down as it dropped off the frame of the goal and there was no Newcastle player there to clear, only Lukas Podolski to tap home.

Behind for a third time and running out of ideas, Newcastle somehow managed to keep on fighting and draw level once again. This time Ba struck again against the side he is heavily rumoured to join in the January transfer window. Marveaux – rapidly becoming one of Newcastle’s best players in recent weeks – beat a couple of Arsenal men before curling a delicious cross with the outside of his foot towards the unmarked Ba, who volleyed underneath the keeper to keep a pulsating fixture level.

Hoping to have learned their lesson by now, Newcastle self-destructed for a fourth time when Walcott grabbed his second. A nice move down the left ended with a ball into the box and Walcott was on hand to find the roof of the net and give Arsenal a 4-3 lead.

Anyone hoping for a repeat of the famous 4-4 draw between the two sides in 2010 were sadly disappointed as Walcott’s latest goal knocked the fight out of Pardew’s side and allowed the Gunners to unleash the full force of their firepower.

Giroud came off the bench with a point to prove after flopping so far since his move from Montpellier and took just minutes to get on the score sheet. This time Walcott provided a stunning assist with an inch-perfect cross and Giroud stooped to head through Krul’s legs and open up the first two-goal lead of the game.

The French international added his second two minutes later when he swivelled in space and fired low past Krul, but it was Walcott who deserved his hat-trick and completed it as the match entered injury time.

It’s hard to decide whether the goal was pure brilliance on Walcott’s part, or hopeless from the Newcastle defence’s point of view. In fairness it was a killer combination of the two, as Walcott danced through three challenges and into the box. Obertan done his best to halt the run by hacking the England winger/striker down and almost certainly giving away a penalty, before Walcott sprung back to his feet with the ball and executed a perfect scooped finish over Krul to make it seven.

The match ball was heading to the Walcott household but Giroud almost completed his hat-trick too, as he connected with a low cross in injury time, only to see his effort crash back off the crossbar. Arsenal had to settle for seven and Newcastle were left wondering what happened as they trudged off the Emirates turf with their Christmas period complete and no points garnered from their last three games.

Despite the defeat, there were many positives for Newcastle who were missing plenty of first-team players and hope will be taken into 2013. Gael Bigirimana and Sylvain Marveuax were exceptional today and the attacking display from the Geordies will give Pardew hope for the next few weeks. The achilles heel (again) was the poor defensive display from the Magpies though and the January transfer window could – and should – see a new defender or two come through the arrivals door at St James’ Park.