Arsenal grinding out a 3-2 victory over Swansea City at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday was more important for Theo Walcott than completing his hat-trick.
Walcott made the most of two errors in Swansea’s defending in the first half to put Arsenal two goals up, but Gylfi Sigurdsson pulled one back for the visitors before the interval.
After Mesut Ozil marked his 28th birthday by slamming a volley home, Borja Baston’s first Premier League goal was followed by a red card for Gunners midfielder Granit Xhaka.
Arsenal subsequently came under intense pressure in the final 20 minutes, with Sigurdsson and Modou Barrow spurning chances to salvage the visitors a point in Bob Bradley’s first match at the helm.
Walcott struck the post and the crossbar as Arsenal attempted to wrap up the victory by switching to a counter-attacking approach, but the England international insisted hanging on for the win gave him greater satisfaction that a hat-trick would have.
“It was a crazy game. On a personal note, I would have liked to have had the hat-trick but the three points is all that matters. I think I could have scored three or four today but the win is all that matters,” said Walcott.
“That is a tough Swansea side – people definitely underestimate them. They caused us problems out there today.
“It’s always hard after the international break for everyone to get back into rhythm but I would rather have had a scruffy game and win so that’s all that matters.
“The belief has always been there in the dressing room. We have got players who have come in and have settled in well and we need to build on it.
“We are grinding out results when called upon and that was definitely a grind today.”