Arsenal crush Newcastle in League Cup

London: Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner made goalscoring returns from injury as Arsenal thrashed Newcastle United 4-0 away to reach the last eight of the League Cup.

Also through to the quarter-finals are West Ham United, who came from behind to beat Stoke City 3-1, and Aston Villa, who beat Championship (second division) Burnley 2-1 at Villa Park, both after extra-time.

Despite the lure of a Europa League place for the winners of England`s "third trophy," most clubs continue to treat it as a chance to try out young players and give run-outs to squad members -- as well as those on the comeback trail from injury.

That certainly worked out well for Arsene Wenger, without a trophy for five years.

At the end of a frantic first half, Bendtner, making his first start of the season after recovering from a groin problem, thumped a header goalwards and Ryan Taylor`s attempt to clear it ended with the ball bouncing off his goalkeeper Tim Krul and over the line.

Walcott, in his first start since injuring his ankle playing for England in early September, broke clear to put Arsenal two up eight minutes into the second half.

Bendtner completed his busy night when he collected a pass from substitute Cesc Fabregas to cut in and curl home an excellent third goal four minutes from time, with Walcott adding a breakaway fourth in stoppage-time.

West Ham briefly lifted some of the gloom surrounding the Premier League`s bottom club with their win.

Kenwyne Jones headed Stoke into an early lead, Scott Parker equalised six minutes from time and Mark Noble proved the key man in extra-time as he set up goals for Manuel da Costa and Victor Obinna.

Emile Heskey came off the bench to fire Villa ahead in the 86th minute of their game against Burnley but Clark Carlisle equalised in the last minute.

Winger Stewart Downing blasted Villa back into the lead after six minutes of extra-time but they had to hang on for the last 20 after Marc Albrighton was sent off.

Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic, West Bromwich Albion, Manchester United and Championship Ipswich Town were already through to the last eight and the draw for the quarter-finals will be made on Saturday.

Bureau League