Arsenal attackers prove they can cope without Sanchez

LONDON (Reuters) - In the absence of top goalscorer Alexis Sanchez, fit-again Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott proved there is more to Arsenal than just the Chilean in a 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday.

Chilean forward Sanchez has struck 18 goals in all competitions since his arrival from Barcelona in the close season and has provided the most assists for the north London club this campaign too.

He has played all-but 20 minutes of the previous 16 league games and the 26-year-old's scintillating form had left many wondering whether the side could cope without him.

A hamstring injury meant Sanchez was rested for Villa's visit and his team mates took the chance to prove that Arsenal can offer more threat than just the bustling South American.

Germany international Ozil, who has recently returned from a knee ligament injury he suffered in October, created the first for Olivier Giroud and scored the second to cap an imperious man-of-the-match performance.

Not to be outdone, England forward Walcott celebrated his return to the side after long-term injury with a sublime finish for the third goal.

A penalty from Santi Cazorla and a late chip from defender Hector Bellerin completed the rout at the Emirates Stadium, showing that Arsenal have attacking intent all over the pitch.

"Mesut has worked tremendously hard to recover from injury, like myself," Walcott told Sky Sports. "They always say it's not going to happen overnight but it has for him - two goals in two games.

"I haven't played that much with him since he joined the club, his touch, and his general play is fantastic. I'm very grateful to be able to play with him and hopefully we can both stay fit now and charge on from here.

"It is always nice to get goals, especially at the Emirates. The finish was great and it's such a relief to get that goal out of the way but it is all about the three points."

Victory meant Arsenal moved up to fifth place in the table, two points above local rivals Tottenham Hotspur and a point adrift of Manchester United.

It is not yet clear how long Sanchez will be on the sidelines but with a plethora of options in his squad, Wenger may now feel he need not rush the Chilean back.

(This version of the story was refiled to fix typo in quote)

(Reporting by Sam Holden, editing by Mark Meadows)

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