Premier League
ArsenalArsenal4West BromWest Bromwich Albion1

Arsenal 4-1 West Bromwich Albion

By Mike WhalleyBBC Sport
Theo Walcott
Theo Walcott had scored three Arsenal goals all season before his hat-trick against West Brom
  • Walcott scores third Arsenal hat-trick
  • Forward makes first Gunners start since 14 March
  • Arsenal ensure third place in Premier League
  • West Brom's five-game unbeaten run ends

Theo Walcott scored a first-half hat-trick as FA Cup finalists Arsenal made certain of a Champions League group stage place by demolishing West Brom.

Walcott, making his first club start for more than two months, fired an early shot into the top corner, before poking in a second from close range.

Jack Wilshere thumped in a third from 20 yards, and Walcott tapped in a fourth before half-time.

'Top quality' Arsenal delight Wenger

Gareth McAuley headed a second-half goal for Albion.

Walcott is starting to regain his best form after almost a year out with a knee injury, while Wilshere has only recently returned to action after being plagued by ankle problems.

Both made a point, after scoring, of going over to the bench to celebrate with Arsenal physio Declan Lynch, who has done much to help them get back to fitness - but who is about to leave for a new role at Premiership rugby union side Bath.

Goal machine
Theo Walcott has scored 10 goals in his last nine Premier League starts for Arsenal.

Manager Arsene Wenger will be pleased that both players look ready to play a part in next Saturday's FA Cup final against Aston Villa.

And he will also be happy that his side have found their goalscoring touch after three successive home games without finding the net.

Arsenal needed a point to be certain of securing third place in the Premier League, while ensuring they avoided a Champions League play-off in August, and set about the task of winning the game with vigour.

'Jaded' West Brom disappoint Pulis

Walcott struck early, thumping an unstoppable shot across keeper Boaz Myhill.

The forward then side-stepped Jonas Olsson to prod in a second from eight yards after Wilshere and Mesut Ozil combined to set him up.

His England colleague Wilshere struck a spectacular third with only 17 minutes gone, finding the top corner as Albion struggled to clear a set-piece.

Walcott, though, made sure of headline status by completing his hat-trick, tapping in after Santi Cazorla rolled the ball across the goal.

Fine finishers
Arsenal have not lost on the final day of the Premier League season since 2005, when they were beaten 2-1 at Birmingham.

McAuley's consolation goal, his first in the league since December 2013, was headed in from a corner, with Arsenal keeper David Ospina at fault.

Arsenal eased off with victory secure, yet still could have had further goals, with substitute Aaron Ramsey striking the post before having a chip turned on to the bar by Myhill.

But they showed enough to strengthen their position as favourites to win the FA Cup next Saturday.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "Theo had a great game today. He was on fire and moved well. Jack Wilshere as well. I have not thought about a side for next Saturday. I wanted to pick a team to win this game.

"We had a slow start to the season, but progressively, we got stronger, and from January onwards we got competitive.

"We have qualified directly for next season's Champions League, but we want more. We want to challenge for the Premier League. But first we want to win the FA Cup next weekend."

West Brom head coach Tony Pulis: "We looked like a team who have played against Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea in the last few weeks. We've had a tough run-in.

"I think the performance against Chelsea took a lot out of the players. Maybe I should have rested a couple, because they looked jaded.

"It was a disappointment because we'd done so well. We hadn't reached the standards you need. But we were better in the second half."

Relive Arsenal v West Brom minute by minute

Read reaction to the game here

Theo Walcott
Theo Walcott was called into the starting line-up in place of Olivier Giroud
Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere's goal was his first for Arsenal since September
Jack Wilshere
Wilshere did not play between November and May because of ankle problems
Theo Walcott
Walcott's hat-trick was his first for Arsenal since December 2012

Line-ups

Arsenal

  • 13Ospina
  • 39BellerinBooked at 48mins
  • 4Mertesacker
  • 5Gabriel
  • 3Gibbs
  • 19Cazorla
  • 34CoquelinSubstituted forRamseyat 69'minutes
  • 10WilshereSubstituted forOxlade-Chamberlainat 77'minutes
  • 11Özil
  • 17Sánchez
  • 14WalcottSubstituted forGiroudat 69'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Szczesny
  • 6Koscielny
  • 12Giroud
  • 15Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 16Ramsey
  • 18Monreal
  • 20Flamini

West Brom

  • 13Myhill
  • 25Dawson
  • 23McAuley
  • 3OlssonSubstituted forAnichebeat 51'minutes
  • 6Lescott
  • 24Fletcher
  • 5YacobSubstituted forBairdat 60'minutes
  • 7Morrison
  • 19McManamanSubstituted forGardnerat 54'minutes
  • 18Berahino
  • 11Brunt

Substitutes

  • 4Baird
  • 8Gardner
  • 9Ideye
  • 10Anichebe
  • 16Gamboa
  • 40Palmer
  • 44Roberts
Referee:
Robert Madley
Attendance:
59,971

Match Stats

Home TeamArsenalAway TeamWest Brom
Possession
Home64%
Away36%
Shots
Home24
Away14
Shots on Target
Home13
Away5
Corners
Home7
Away3
Fouls
Home6
Away7

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Arsenal 4, West Bromwich Albion 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Arsenal 4, West Bromwich Albion 1.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Joleon Lescott (West Bromwich Albion) header from the right side of the six yard box misses to the left. Assisted by Craig Gardner with a cross following a corner.

  4. Post update

    Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Héctor Bellerín.

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Darren Fletcher (West Bromwich Albion) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

  6. Post update

    Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by David Ospina.

  7. Post update

    Attempt saved. Craig Gardner (West Bromwich Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Victor Anichebe.

  8. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Aaron Ramsey.

  9. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Joleon Lescott.

  10. Post update

    Attempt saved. Chris Baird (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Craig Gardner.

  11. Post update

    Attempt missed. Craig Gardner (West Bromwich Albion) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right misses to the left. Assisted by James Morrison.

  12. Post update

    Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Craig Gardner (West Bromwich Albion).

  14. Post update

    Attempt blocked. James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Saido Berahino.

  15. Post update

    Attempt missed. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez.

  16. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Craig Gardner.

  17. Post update

    Attempt saved. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Mesut Özil.

  18. Post update

    Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) hits the right post with a left footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Mesut Özil.

  19. Post update

    Offside, Arsenal. Mesut Özil tries a through ball, but Alexis Sánchez is caught offside.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Arsenal. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaces Jack Wilshere.