Belfast Telegraph

Van Persie fires Gunners hat-trick

Robin van Persie smashed a hat-trick as Arsenal cruised to a 3-0 victory over Barclays Premier League strugglers Wigan, who finished the game with 10 men at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners should have been out of sight by half-time, but had only Robin van Persie's 21st-minute strike to show for their dominance as Latics keeper Ali Al Habsi made a string of fine saves.

The in-form Dutchman fired in a second just before the hour, but then blasted a penalty over the bar after Gary Caldwell had been sent off for pulling back Cesc Fabregas. However, van Persie completed his hat-trick with five minutes left to make it six in the last three games.

Wigan keeper Al Habsi had to be alert early on as he got down quickly to save Samir Nasri's shot on the turn.

Theo Walcott then dashed to the goalline and pulled the ball back for Fabregas, who looked set to open the scoring, only for Gary Caldwell to produce a superb block.

Arsenal eventually took the lead on 21 minutes when Alex Song released Van Persie into the left of the penalty area - and the Dutchman fired in his fourth goal in three games.

Walcott's selflessness cost him - and Arsenal - a goal as he spurned a chance, but when the second Arsenal goal finally came on 58 minutes, it was simple, yet breathtaking.

Fabregas chipped a 30-yard ball over the defence, and Van Persie got ahead of Gary Caldwell to crash a left-foot volley past Al Habsi at the far post.

Arsenal were awarded a penalty on 69 minutes when Gary Caldwell pulled back Fabregas in the six-yard box, and was shown a red card. Van Persie uncharacteristically blasted the spot-kick high over the crossbar.

However, he finally did secure his hat-trick when he smashed home from a tight angle after Walcott had held the ball up in the penalty area.


From Belfast Telegraph