Theo Walcott returned to the Arsenal starting lineup in explosive fashion on Sunday with a hatful of goals as the Gunner’s brushed West Brom aside.
Making a number of changes to the side that drew a blank against Sunderland in midweek, Arsene Wenger handed Theo his first start in an absolute age and the forward looked full of confidence and belief, something he showed when he made a substitute appearance against the Black Cats on Wednesday.
Lashing home a beautiful effort into the far corner after just five minutes, Arsenal wasted no time in putting a disinterested West Brom in their place.
Theo’s second came just nine minutes later and by the time the break arrived, he could quite easily have had five or six and created the same number.
But it was Jack Wilshere who made it three with a quite spectacular half-volley after being set up by Gabriel as West Brom tried to defend a corner.
Arsenal’s fourth came after Wilshere drove at the heart of the Baggies before dinking the ball to Santi Cazorla who sent the ball across the face of goal for Theo to tap into an empty net at the back post.
He had his hattrick, and the scoreline was perhaps kind on the visitors, West Brom happy it was only four.
The second half started in a similar vein, the only difference being the ball wasn’t finding the back of the net despite Arsenal creating chances and cutting West Brom open at will.
It was 56 minutes before the Baggies made David Ospina do any meaningful work, the Colombian using his fingertips to push the ball for a corner. But any good work he did with the save was undone at the resulting set-piece when he flapped trying to punch it clear, allowing Gareth McAuley to head into an empty net.
Wojciech Szczensy will be rightly wondering how many mistakes the new boy gets before he is given his shirt back.
The introduction of Aaron Ramsey in the second half should have seen Arsenal increase their lead, the midfielder hitting the wood work twice within a matter of minutes, before spurning a third chance seconds later.
— Vignesh (@vignesh_AFC) May 24, 2015
Wenger reacts as Ramsey hits the post
In all, the second half was, perhaps unsurprisingly, a rather more subdued affair than the first, West Brom looking for damage control and Arsenal applying the handbrake, safe in the knowledge that the game had been won in the first 45.
It was the perfect game (let’s not talk about Ospina’s late flap) to see off the season and set us up for the cup final. With the added bonus of the Ox returning from injury, getting 15 minutes under his belt, it was a great day.
Next stop – Wembley!