Earlier today saw Arsenal secure an emphatic win against newly promoted side Blackpool.
The starting lineup--which included young upstart Jack Wilshere and new boy Maroune Chamakh--was a little unusual. Vermalaen partnered at the back with Alex Song in replacement of Laurent Koscielny, who is injured, and the renewed Tomas Rosicky worked alongside both Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby in midfield. More familiar to fans was Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy at left and right back, as well as Theo Walcott and Andrey Arshavin on right and left wing respectively.
With that all sorted, the game started normally enough but soon turned to the worse for the Blackpool side as early as the 12th minute.
The much maligned Arshavin shook off his lazy spell, collecting a clever ball from the magnificent Rosicky, soon afterwards threading an inch perfect pass to the lurking Walcott, who expertly fired low into the corner. One to Arsenal and well deserved at that.
After their shocking start, Blackpool can say they recovered well, passing the ball and contending with a reenergized Arsenal until half past the hour. The depressing affairs for the Tangerines became more pronounced when the tide of the game once again turned against them.
Maroune Chamakh, clean through on goal, was fouled in the box by Blackpool defender Ian Evatt. The referee was in no mood for protest: a straight red for Evatt and a penalty for Arsenal. The architect himself Arshavin stepped up, blasting the ball into the corner. Two and nil to Arsenal.
However, the game wasn't over yet. In the 38th minute, Theo struck again. A quick turn after a Wilshere pass in the box saw Walcott angle a striker's ball low into the net. A touch, a spin and a goal. Walcott was having a stormer.
Not to be left out, Diaby showed his worth just after 45 with a volley from a pacey Sagna cross. Credit goes to Sagna specifically for his great work down the right side. It was not an easy chance for Diaby but he buried it nicely with speed into the far corner.
The score line began to look more like cricket as Walcott whipped in from the right and steered another ball into the far side of Matthew Gilk's net . This was the first hat trick of Walcott's career with Arsenal and it was well-deserved too. A wonderful showing from the boy-turned-man, and maybe vindication for Wenger's decision that Theo develop his wing play.
In the 66th minute, Walcott was withdrawn in favor of the Mexican sensation Carlos Vela. He showcased his talent only a few minutes later, juggling the ball over a couple frozen Blackpool defenders but later running into a veritable wall of bodies. Good skill from him.
Chamakh joined in on the goalscoring fun late in the game as his giant's leap resulted in yet another goal from a Robin Van Persie corner in the 82nd minute. This goal opened his account and this game busted the title race wide open for this years' Arsenal team.
The good cameos from Van Persie and Cesc Fabregas will be talked about, but the real magic in this match came from two unexpected sources: Rosicky and Walcott. Blackpool will have learned something from this match, particularly with regards on how to play against a big team like Arsenal. The defense committed suicide by giving Walcott too much space and with Rosicky controlling the show in midfield, the final result was always going to be a rout. The lesson Arsenal can take from this match is that the team needs more of its players to contribute on a regular basis, and overall Arsenal need to learn to rely less on key players like Van Persie and Fabregas.