Theo Walcott struck a hat-trick and Danny Welbeck marked his first start since May 2016 with two goals and an outstanding individual performance as Arsenal thrashed Southampton to reach the FA Cup fifth round.

In a tie played out between two much-changed line-ups, Arsenal ruthlessly outclassed Southampton as Claude Puel’s side came crashing down to earth after reaching the EFL Cup final with victory at Liverpool on Wednesday.

Welback, back in the starting line-up after that lengthy absence following knee surgery, put Arsenal in control with two cool finishes inside the first 22 minutes then set up Arsenal’s third for Walcott before half-time.

The Gunners, with manager Arsene Wenger watching from the stands as he starts a four-match touchline ban, heaped further misery on Southampton after the break, sending on Alexis Sanchez as substitute to create two comfortable finishes for Saints product Walcott.

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