Theo Walcott gave Arsene Wenger yet another reminder of his goalscoring talents with a stunning hat-trick as Arsenal sank Newcastle 7-3 in a 10-goal thriller at the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger had talked up Walcott as the next Thierry Henry on the eve of the game, and the England forward â€” still to pen a new deal with the club â€” did little to disprove that idea, scoring three excellent goals and setting up two more to give Arsenal the win that ensured they ended 2012 in fifth place.
Arsenalâ€™s record scorer Henry was in the stands watching his beloved former club and he was on his feet after 20 minutes thanks to Walcottâ€™s opener.
Newcastle pulled level through Demba Ba, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored, only for Ba to grab his second to make it 2-2.
Arsenal looked set for a disappointing draw after Sylvain Marveaux equalised Lukasz Podolskiâ€™s header, but Walcott turned on the class to put the Gunners 4-3 up.
The former Southampton man set up Olivier Giroud twice and added his much-deserved third strike in injury time with a deft chip over Tim Krul.
Earlier, 10-man Manchester City came out on top in a seven-goal thriller at Norwich to avoid falling further behind in the title race.
The defending champions looked to be cruising to a routine win after Edin Dzeko bagged a brace inside the opening four minutes, but Anthony Pilkington pulled one back before Samir Nasri was dismissed following a confrontation with Sebastien Bassong.
The visitors made light of the disadvantage to go 3-1 up thanks to a Sergio Aguero goal, but Norwich fought back as Russell Martin found the net.
But a Mark Bunn own goal, after a Dzeko shot had come back off the post, sealed a 4-3 win, despite Martinâ€™s second for the Canaries.
Manchester United retained their seven-point lead over their city rivals thanks to a comfortable 2-0 win over West Brom at Old Trafford.
Gareth McAuley diverted an Ashley Young cross into his own net for the opener, with Robin van Persie sealing the win late on.