Robin Van Persie’s clinical hat-trick capped a splendid Arsenal performance as they thrashed 10-man Blackburn Rovers at The Emirates Stadium.
The Premier League’s top scorer had already endured a season to remember, having scored 35 league goals in 2011, and his campaign was to get even better against a woeful Rovers.
The Dutchman opened the scoring after just 80 seconds, tapping home from Theo Walcott’s cross.
Morton Gamst Pedersen’s free-kick drew the visitors level on the half-hour as Wojciech Szczesny could only palm the Norweigjan’s set-piece into the roof of the net.
However Steve Kean’s men were level for just seven minutes, as Walcott again turned provider, for Van Persie to sweep home his second.
The skipper assisted in Arsenal making it three just two minutes later when his through ball found Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who rounded a helpless Paul Robinson and slotted home for his first goal in the Premier League.
Gael Givet’s dismissal before the break for a two-footed lunge on Van Persie contributed to Rovers’ plight in the second period, with Mikel Arteta firing in six minutes after the interval.
The Gunners pilled on the pain, as Oxlade-Chamberlain notched his second, against after Walcott had unselfishly found him in the penalty area.
Francis Coquelin, who had by now relinquished his defensive position, crossed for Van Persie’s to complete his hat-trick, and hit his 22nd league goal of the season.
There was still time for the hosts to but the icing on the cake when Van Persie exchanged passes with substitute Thierry Henry, and the returning Frenchman made no mistake to net the second goal of his temporary loan spell.
Arsene Wenger’s side’s first win in five propels them back into contention for a Champions League spot, while Blackburn’s winter revival appears to have haulted.