FT: Arsenal 7 Newcastle 3

Full Time. That's it. An astonishing game - there was nearly an eighth for Arsenal as Giroud hits the crossbar late on - but it ends 7-3 to the Gunners. Harsh on Newcastle after a wonderful game but Theo Walcott steals the show with his hat-trick.

Goal! Theo Walcott shows great determination to run in from the left-wing and get up from a challenge to lift the ball over Krul. That's his hat-trick!

Santon booked.

Tavernier for Marveaux.

Goal! Mazy run from Walcott and Olivier Giroud blasts home the loose ball.

Coquelin on for Cazorla.

Goal! That's surely it now! Olivier Giroud heads in from close range to convert a delightful right-wing cross from Walcott.

Walcott so close to a hat-trick but sees his effort deflected just wide.

Ramsey on for Podolski.

Ameobi on for Bigirimana.

Shades of Pele as Walcott dummies the ball as Krul advances but he cannot retrieve the ball from a wide position and sees his cross blocked.

Cisse has a half-chance as he races onto a through-ball but the ball ricochets off his hand and the foul is given.

Krul claims the ball from a free-kick and there is a delay as he landed on Perch.

Bigirimana shoots from distance but Szczesny gets down well to save.

Giroud on for Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Goal! Theo Walcott rifles the ball into the roof of the net after a melee in the Newcastle area. Pardew had called for the visitors to keep things tight - they weren't listening and go behind for a fourth time!

Wilshere has the chance to break but runs into trouble.

Goal! Demba Ba with his second goal of an astonishing game! Marveaux did brilliantly with a driving run before playing a delicious far-post cross with the outside of his left foot. Ba was there to sidefoot the volley home.

Spell of possession for Newcastle now. Surely they couldn't find a third equaliser.

Good corner from Wilshere but Koscielny cannot direct the ball goalwards.

Goal! Lukas Podolski heads the ball home from close range after Wilshere's run and inviting cross left Coloccini only able to head off his own crossbar.

Cazorla sees an effort pushed wide by Krul and the resultant corner comes to nothing.

Goal! Sylvain Marveaux with a close-range finish! Obertan beat his man and finds Marveaux at the far post via a deflection off Koscielny at the near post.

The game is opening up a little now as Newcastle go in search of an equaliser.

Tiote loses the ball to Walcott and he is in a good position with support but fires well wide. Wenger frustrated.

Arsenal pressing far better in midfield and suddenly the visitors are seeing passes go astray.

Newcastle making a few sloppy errors now and it looks set to cost them. The home side on the offensive again.

Simpson gave the ball away from the throw-in deep inside his own half and it was all too easy for Arsenal. Santon backed off from Oxlade-Chamberlain and Krul failed to keep out his low effort from distance.

Goal! Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain drills the ball home from outside the box. Krul got a hand to it but couldn't keep the ball out.

Newcastle happy to retain the ball as they feel their way into this second half. Bigirimana crosses from the left now but Szczesny claims.

Arsenal need to improve and they've started off with some positive intent. But Walcott cannot get on the end of Sagna's cross and then Gibbs finds space on the left but fires straight at Krul. Better from the Gunners.

Arsenal kick-off and the second half is underway.

Half Time. But instead the scores are level at the interval. Intriguingly poised going into the second half.

Ba gets another header on goal but again puts the ball over. Newcastle could be going in ahead.

Ba holds the ball up well and is fouled - he then takes a quick free-kick and releases Marveaux who shoots well from distance, forcing Szczesny into a smart save.

Goal! Demba Ba sees his free-kick deflect off Wilshere's head and past Szczesny. Fortunate but Newcastle deserve that on the balance of play.

Sagna with a risky challenge on Obertan in a dangerous area.

The corner proves a dangerous one - for Newcastle. The home side break through Walcott and he engineers a two-on-one scenario but leaves his pass to Cazorla well short. We've seen the best and worst of Walcott in this half.

Lengthy spell of possession from Newcastle as they get both full-backs involved high up the pitch. Eventually Tiote finds space on the edge and fires a rasping shot that Szczesny can only tip over the bar.

Chance! Podolski shows good strength to outmuscle Simpson and thread a pass through to Walcott. The Arsenal forward does well with his first touch but his left-footed shot is scuffed and the advancing Krul is able to claim.

Santon gets forward down the left but the ball is ruled to have gone out of play before he was able to get the cross over.

Obertan asking some good questions of Sagna down the left but the final ball has been lacking.

Koscielny attempts a lofted ball over the top but gets too much on it and the ball runs through to Krul.

Podolski wins applause from the crowd as he wins the ball high up the field against Simpson.

Marveaux's looping cross is easy for Szczesny to deal with.

Simpson wins a corner.

Two corners for Arsenal in quick succession. Krul drops the second one but recovers to claim the ball.

Tiote with a lofted cross into the arms of Szczesny. The keeper tries to break quickly but his throw rebounds off Podolski allowing Coloccini to cross but Cisse just misses the header.

Arsenal continuing with the patient approach - they found joy after enticing Newcastle up the field, after all. Oxlade-Chamberlain with a heavy cross sees an opportunity spurned.

Newcastle will try to regroup now. They will feel hard done by but Santon played Walcott onside and there's no way back against the speedy forward when that happens.

Wonderful bit of skill from Ba as he drags the ball away from two Arsenal defenders but cannot beat Szczesny.

Goal! Theo Walcott with a clinical finish as he races onto Podolski's threaded pass in the left channel.

Wilshere trying to wriggle through in the centre but it's all too crowded for the youngster in there.

Obertan crosses from the right but it's a poor effort.

Newcastle really growing into this game now.

Marveaux's delivery is better this time but Ba heads just over the bar. Decent chance.

Simpson wins a corner for the visitors.

Sagna crosses for Walcott but Newcastle clear.

Newcastle win a free-kick in a good area but Marveaux overhits the cross.

Patient build-up from Arsenal before Podolski attempts the through-ball but it goes astray. Pardew will be encouraged by this start.

Long ball for Walcott but Krul spots the danger and is off his line to clear.

Ba doing a good job for his team with little support. Buys a foul off Koscielny.

Santon miscontrols and nearly allows Walcott through on goal but just gets enough on the ball.

Slow tempo to the game at present and the atmosphere seems subdued.

Arsenal dominating possession with Wilshere to the fore but Newcastle retaining a good defensive shape.

Promising start by the home side as they succeed in penning Newcastle into their own half. Sagna and Oxlade-Chamberlain prominent down the right.

First meaningful attack from Newcastle as Simpson gets away down the right but it comes to nothing.

Wilshere with an early burst forward after Tiote's shot is charged down. He spreads the play to Oxlade-Chamberlain but the winger drags his effort wide of the far post.

Newcastle kick-off and we are underway.

Thanks for your feedback. The players are on the pitch and we will be underway shortly.

Newcastle's injury problems are indicated by the fact that their bench includes youngster Mehdi Abeid.

Theo Walcott continues in attack for Arsenal. He can discuss terms with foreign clubs about a Bosman free transfer in the summer from next week.

James says: "Easy win for Arsenal. Newcastle not in good form. 3-0 win for the Arsenal."

Harry: "I am going 2-1 to Arsenal with the team they have put out! Cisse to score for Newcastle and Cazorla and Wilshere for Arsenal!"

Pete: "I think Newcastle could have done with Ben Arfa and Cabaye fit to contend with the Arsenal midfield - but I can see a hard-fought draw with Collocini and Tiote having strong games to contain the young Arsenal players."

Ant on Twitter: "Going for 3-1 Arsenal. Ba will open the scoring then two goals from Walcott and one from Cazorla will win it for Arsenal."

Chris on Twitter: "Wenger gone for the team I would start, allowing Arsenal great speed, finishing and creativeness all at same time."

The last time Newcastle had fewer points after 19 games in the top-flight was 1988-89 (17). They were relegated at the end of that campaign.

It's not doing Alan Pardew's men much good. Newcastle are 10 points worse off than they were at this point last season.

There could well be a contrast in styles here. Newcastle have played the highest proportion of long passes this season (17%), Arsenal the second lowest (8%).

Mikel Arteta has made an average of 87 passes per game this season, more than any other player.

Aron says: "Hello from a sunny festive holiday in Sharm-el-sheikh. As a Newcastle fan I should really back my team every week. However, seeing some performances this season I can't predict a Toon win today so I'm going for a 3-1 Arsenal win with Obertan scoring for the Magpies..I hope I'm wrong but can't see it happening!!"

Arsenal have only won four of their last 11 Premier League home games (W4 D4 L3). But statistics can be funny things. The Gunners have also won their last three Premier League games, the joint best current run in the division (along with Chelsea) going into the weekend.

Robert on Twitter: "I think Arsenal's winter break will prove too much of an advantage today. 3-1 Arsenal. Hope i am wrong though."

Danni says: "Predict another attacking display by the Toon. Season will be kickstarted this evening - Ba and a Cisse double in a Toon 3-1 victory."

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski, Walcott.

Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Perch, Coloccini, Santon, Bigirimana, Tiote, Cisse, Marveaux, Obertan, Ba.

The teams are in and will be up shortly.

Any predictions for the game? Let me know by email at adam.bate@bskyb.com or on Twitter @GhostGoal.

Our friends at Sky Bet have the odds for this one and they make Arsenal the 1/3 favourites with Newcastle the 15/2 underdogs. The draw is available at 4/1.

Things aren't much better for the Gunners as Arsene Wenger's side look in real danger of relinquishing their top-four spot for the first time this century.

The Magpies find themselves languishing perilously close to the Premier League drop zone after a desperately disappointing season so far.

Welcome to our live and interactive text commentary of Arsenal against Newcastle from Emirates Stadium.

Live updates will appear here from 1730 GMT...

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