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Page last updated at 18:12 GMT, Sunday, 31 October 2010

Premier League as it happened


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By Sam Lyon

1810: And on that musing... I think I'll leave you to your Sunday evenings. Don't forget to catch Match of the Day 2 tonight from 2200 on BBC One, while Chris Whyatt is your man tomorrow evening for Blackpool v West Brom. The odd dud aside, here's hoping it lives up to a generally fascinating weekend's football yes? See ya.

jacksear95 on Twitter: "Just has to be the case that we have Chelsea next week, because we'll lose that and everyone will have hissy fits again."

1805: Now, I said yesterday that this might be a key weekend in the course of the campaign, so what do we think? Was this the weekend that exposed the weaknesses behind Manchester City's title challenge? The weekend that underlined Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United's title potential? The weekend that finally earned Chris Hughton a new long-term Newcastle contract? Or was this the weekend that will be looked back on as the time Liverpool finally turned a corner and started to push right back up the table?

David Ornstein reports:
"Could that be the result that turns Liverpool's season around? All hail King Maxi."

strictlyMUFC on Twitter: "I live on the outskirts of Blackpool and I think I just heard a collective sigh of relief all the way from Merseyside!"

Anon via text: "Oh look, Liverpool just three points behind Spurs now."

Torresque on 606: "Playing rubbish but still winning...what's that a sign of again?"

1754: What a three points that might be for Liverpool. They earn back-to-back wins for the first time under Roy Hodgson and push up to mid-table security as a result. It might have been scrappy - and Bolton will feel they deserved a point out of the game - but credit the Reds for pushing right until the death. Is this a corner turned?

Full time
1752: FULL-TIME Bolton 0-1 Liverpool

1751: Bolton pile forward, but Liverpool holding firm. This looks done and dusted.

1749: Nervy moments for Liverpool as Rodrigo Moreno goes within inches of prodding in an equaliser - but he fails to make contact and Pepe Reina collects. Bolton throwing everything forward now.

LivingForFootball on 606: "That's how you Maxi-mize your chances. Sorry - not much material to work with here."

1747: We'll have four minutes of injury time.

1746: Bolton respond by throwing on Robbie Blake, Liverpool by replacing Raul Meireles with Christian Poulsen. A little more than a minute of normal time remaining - can Bolton come back and snatch a draw?

Liverpool goal: The visitors have pinched it. Fernando Torres' dreamy flick behind his legs releases Maxi Rodriguez in the box and the Argentine toe-pokes under Jussi Jaaskelainen to send the Liverpool fans - and Roy Hodgson - into raptures.

1744: GOALFLASH Bolton 0-1 Liverpool (Rodriguez)

1743: Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is rubbing his face so ferociously in frustration he's almost hitting bone. His mood is not helped when a poor Fernando Torres lay-off ends what looked a promising break with Steven Gerrard pushing up from midfield.

RexRivers on Twitter: "My nan, who's 80 years old, is saying to me "I should get on the pitch and show them how it's done' says it all!"

1738: Here comes Ivan Klasnic, on for Bolton striker Johan Elmander.

1736: Gosh, Raul Meireles really doesn't look comfortable on the right does he? The less said about his attempted through ball just then, the better I think.

darkanddom on 606: "Bolton will live to regret missing those clear chances...two clear headers missed."

1732: My word, how has that not gone in? Matt Taylor's delivery is a peach but somehow the ball evades Kevin Davies and Stuart Holden in front of goal and it drifts inches past the far post. Any sort of decent touch would've sent that in, surely.

Yellow card
1732: Martin Skrtel goes into the book for a clumsy foul on Kevin Davies out by the right touchline.

1731: Bolton boss Owen Coyle makes his first change, Chung-yong Lee replaced by Rodrigo Moreno.

1730: He's an improved player is Johan Elmander, and he's just gone close with a low 20-yard shot that skips off the surface and wide. A corner is given - and Zat Knight heads over from Matt Taylor's delivery. Might have done a bit better there the centre-half.

1727: Much better from Liverpool as they sweep forward, Maxi Rodriguez almost capping a fine counter-attack with an overhead kick from Fernando Torres's knock-down but the ball flying just over the bar.

1725: The Bolton fans doing their bit to rally their team now - and all eyes are suddenly on referee Martin Atkinson as Kevin Davies is shoved over in the box by Sotiris Kyrgiakos from a free-kick - but nothing is given. Replays suggest the Greek defender might have been a touch lucky to get away with that - it looked a deliberate push.

1722: Close. Sotiris Kyrgiakos rises to meet Steven Gerrard's corner but his header zips just over the Bolton bar.

1720: Liverpool already looking a touch sharper in attack with David Ngog on - but Fernando Torres has yet to find his shooting boots as a tame effort from 20 yards is easily collected by Jussi Jaaskelainen.

1718: And that is a wager I would have won - hurrah - as here comes French striker David Ngog in place of the limping Joe Cole. I imagine Liverpool will revert to a more conventional 4-4-2 now.

1717: Looks like Joe Cole's afternoon might be done as he pulls up clutching his hamstring. David Ngog the likeliest to get the nod as his replacement I'd wager.

1715: Liverpool just starting to press higher up the field now and they almost get a slice of luck when Steven Gerrard's cross is deflected high and towards the Bolton goal - home keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen eventually claiming just underneath his bar.

1712: The ball strikes the linesman and he drops his flag. Yep, that counts as a second-half highlight so far.

1709: Still that star element missing in both opposition boxes at the moment, with both teams occasionally making good progress until the final third. I wonder which manager will blink first when it comes to substitutions.

Yellow card
1705: Bolton the team making the early running in this half, but a booking for Matt Taylor after a cynical tug on the shirt of Steven Gerrard is the first real event of note.

1702: Bolton kick off the second half.

Penno on 606: "Spearing for Gerrard?"

1700: So message to Bolton and Liverpool - please emulate the Newcastle-Sunderland game, not the Villa-Birmingham match. Kind regards, BBC Sport.

Saj Chowdhury reports:
"Newcastle exceptional. Carroll, Ameobi and Nolan are the new Shearer, Ferdinand and Beardsley. Note this date: 16/01/11 - the return fixture. Sunderland are already preparing."

Phil McNulty reports:
"Aston Villa had the better of affairs as the second half progressed with Ciaran Clark and Ashley Young desperately close, but Birmingham looked more than happy with their point and in Roger Johnson had an outstanding defensive performer."

1653: Now then, let's remind ourselves of events earlier today yes?

Bob in B'ham via text: "Surely the script is written for Tamir Cohen, son of former Liverpool player Avi Cohen, to come off the bench and score the winner for Bolton."

Half time
1649: HALF-TIME Bolton 0-0 Liverpool
David Ornstein's HT snap-shot:
"No shortage of entertainment and precious little to choose between the two."

1647: And there's the half-time whistle.

1645: Matt Taylor whips a free-kick at goal from wide on the right, but Pepe Reina is well behind it.

mdriver11 on Twitter: "Gerrard of old and that shot is breaking the goal in half."

1642: Deary me, a nice Liverpool move ends with Maxi Rodriguez laying it on for the onrushing Steven Gerrard, but the Reds skipper slams his effort from the edge of the area well wide. That might be one reason why Liverpool are one of only two Premier League clubs yet to have a half-time lead this season - the other being Stoke City. Thanks Infostrada.

1639: It's close - but Johan Elmander is indeed just offside as the ball is played to him in the box. Had the Liverpool defence been half a yard deeper the Swede would have been in.

1637: Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba tries his luck with an ambitious effort from range - but it's well over. Much more even this game now.

1634: ...spooned miles over. Did someone say Jabulani?

1633: Free-kick to Liverpool, 30 yards out, Steven Gerrard over it...

gunnerthru on 606: "Lively and intensive game by both teams. Both missed the cutting edge in the box. Entertaining football."

1629: What is up with Joe Cole do we think? He's not clicked into gear since his move to Anfield at all - and he's just spooned a rather poor effort over the bar from the edge of the area here. I thought he was going to be a barn-storming signing for Liverpool, I really did.

1625: A half-hearted penalty appeal as Chung-yong Lee goes down under Jamie Carragher's challenge in the box, but referee Martin Atkinson is having none of it. Not too many complaints from the Bolton players.

1623: Boom - great effort. Stuart Holden, on the run, connects beautifully on the volley with Kevin Davies's flick-on and it's dipping into the corner until Pepe Reina beats it away sprawling to his right.

Yellow card
1621: Paul Konchesky is the first man into the referee's notebook after clipping the heels of Chung-yong Lee down the right.

1618: Decent position for a Bolton free-kick, 30 yards out centre of goal - Matt Taylor sticks it in the wall.

1615: End to end stuff as Pepe Reina is forced to come out and punch a fine Matt Taylor cross away, sparking a Liverpool counter that falters when Maxi Rodriguez's attempt to set Fernando Torres through on goal proves just too strong. Liverpool still bossing this one, with the Reds enjoying more than 60% of the possession according to the statisticians.

1611: Cracking ball into the box from the left by Paul Konchesky, but Liverpool just don't have the numbers up in support and Zat Knight is able to head clear. Encouraging opening this for the visitors, though.

Robbie Savage on Twitter: "Torres!! Wow, now I would have scored that."

1608: More than holding their own, in fact - and if only Fernando Torres were in any semblance of form. Steven Gerrard's lovely lay-off sets the Spaniard through on goal but he tries to turn inside the defender in the box and ends up poking his effort away rather towards goal. Let-off for Bolton.

1607: This Bolton team really zipping the ball about the surface, Owen Coyle really gets his teams playing doesn't he? Liverpool holding their own for now, though.

1604: You have to get those on target. Joe Cole breaks and forces a corner, which Steven Gerrard puts right on Fernando Torres's head - but the Spaniard can only direct his effort over the bar.

1603: Bolton full of purpose in these early stages as Owen Coyle's men get in and about the Liverpool side, looking to expose any frailty of confidence among the visitors, and it's making for a lively opening. Nice.

1600: Liverpool kick us off.

1559: The players are out and about, the Reebok atmosphere is building nicely, let's get cooking.

1554: Bolton boss Owen Coyle: "As a team we've been working hard and need to do that again today. They have undoubted quality so we need to work hard again and bring our best game. Johan Elmander is getting the goals his hard work and play deserve. We're asking him to repeat it every week."

1552: Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson: "We were pleased with last week but we're still in a bad position in the league and we badly need to do well today. There have been an awful lot of draws in the division this season and that's why it's so tight. Some wins would take us right up there. Let's hope our attack is better than their defence today."

1550: Right, time to turn our attentions to all things Bolton-Liverpool. A big game for both sides and no mistake huh?

RKW - White Eagle on 606: "Bolton-Liverpool is always a scrappy affair, especially at the Reebok. Expect a closely fought out 1-1 draw this afternoon."

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere on Twitter: "Newcastle look good! Should be a good game next week! Can't believe they're talking about sacking Hughton! Makes me laugh!"

1545: Newcastle manager Chris Hughton on a week of speculation surrounding his future: "It means a lot [to hear the crowd singing my name] but the most important thing has always been seeing this group of players do well. This group want to do it for themselves and for this football club. They are a spirited group and have worked very hard on that. It's been a very, very good day, a tough week but a good day. It's the club's decision on the timing of contract talks but on a day like today all of those things go out of the window. I'm going to enjoy it with the players and fans."

collie21 on Twitter: "Yeah LeJake1 - and if you lose 6-0 you drop a place to second last. What a crisis!"

1538: Ergh, that all got a bit ugly there didn't it, sorry. Coding error now corrected, so if you wouldn't mind refreshing - thanks. Do that and you'll all get the added bonus of Radio Five Live appearing on the right-hand side - you can't argue with that.

LeJake1 on Twitter: "A 6-0 for Liverpool and we go up to 9th! What crisis?"

Rob, Derry via text: "I hope Liverpool play like the home team, we whipped Blackburn in everything but score line when we finally tried attacking football last week."

mannysanny on Twitter: "The Liverpool attack is excellent, not too sure about the defence however: What is Hodgson thinking with Konchesky?"

David Ornstein reports:
"Liverpool name an unchanged side from that which started against Blackburn last time out, so Fernando Torres leads the line with Steven Gerrard, Maxi Rodriguez and Joe Cole just behind. There's just the one change for Bolton following their draw at Wigan last week as Matthew Taylor replaces Martin Petrov on the left of midfield."

1532: Now then, Bolton-Liverpool - follow that.

1531: Another nugget from Infostrada Sports you say? Go on then... Newcastle's 5-1 win is their best against Sunderland in nearly 54 years, since a 6-2 win on December 22, 1956.

BBC Five Live's Nigel Adderley on Twitter: "That Nolan hat-trick was greeted with silence in the Bolton press room."

Full time
1525: FULL-TIME Newcastle 5-1 Sunderland

1524: It's a minor blot on their copybook, but I don't suppose many Toon fans will worry. We're deep into injury time now.

Sunderland goal: Some measure of consolation for Sunderland as Darren Bent pokes home from close range after John Mensah knocks down a corner. Not too many away fans left at St James' Park to enjoy that, though, unfortunately.

1522: GOALFLASH Newcastle 5-1 Sunderland (Bent)

1520: A rare sniff at goal for Sunderland, but after working a bit of space Asamoah Gyan's shot is straight at Newcastle keeper Tim Krul.

Hayate05 on Twitter: "RE Jacko (below) guess you have to start stripping now..."

1518: Standing ovation for Shola Ameobi as he makes way for Nile Ranger.

Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Knight, Cahill, Robinson, Lee, Holden, Muamba, Taylor, Elmander, Kevin Davies. Subs: Bogdan, Mark Davies, Klasnic, Ricketts, Moreno, Blake, Cohen.
Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Konchesky, Lucas, Meireles, Maxi, Gerrard, Cole, Torres. Subs: Hansen, Jovanovic, Ngog, Spearing, Poulsen, Shelvey, Kelly.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)

Yellow card
1515: John Mensah goes into the book now after a spat with Kevin Nolan.

1513: ...but Kieran Richardson gets his head on Joey Barton's curling effort to deflect it behind.

1513: Back at St James' Park, Newcastle have a free-kick right on the edge of the area..

David Ornstein reports:
"Victory over Blackburn finally gave Liverpool something to smile about, yet a glance at the table continues to make for miserable viewing. The Reds have won each of their last seven meetings with Bolton but Owen Coyle's men have lost just once in the league this term and are unbeaten at home. All eight of Liverpool's league goals since the opening weekend have been scored or created by Messrs Gerrard or Torres. If the pair do not fire today, their team's season could take another turn for the worse."

1511: Sunderland fans, change of subject? How about a bit of Bolton-Liverpool?

Newcastle goal: Sunderland in total disarray and to Kevin Nolan the spoils. The midfielder is on hand to plant a header home from close range after Shola Ameobi's flick from a Joey Barton corner. It's turning into a rout.

1507: GOALFLASH Newcastle 5-0 Sunderland (Nolan, hat-trick)

Yellow card
1504: 'Look at me! Look at me!' Phil Dowd is at it again, booking Michael Turner for wiping out Andy Carroll running at goal. It was definitely a booking, but I can't help but feel Dowd made a rod for his own back with those early yellow cards. Eight yellows and a red - and it's not been a dirty game.

Newcastle goal: Pick that out. Andy Carroll rattles the bar with a thumping header from Danny Simpson's cross, but it falls to Shola Ameobi who powers the rebound high into the net with a flying effort. Super finish.

1502: GOALFLASH Newcastle 4-0 Sunderland (Ameobi)

Yellow card
1459: Referee Phil Dowd is obviously feeling a bit left out having not been the centre of attention for a few minutes, so he produces another yellow card - this time for Lee Cattermole after his foul on Cheik Tiote.

lucasbenni on 606: "This game more than makes up for that dreadful lunchtime one."

1457: Woah, spark of life for Sunderland as Phil Bardsley drives at goal from a corner - Tim Krul getting down well to tip around the post.

1456: Newcastle fans are lapping this up, ole-ing almost every Newcastle touch, but Jonas Gutierrez doesn't get anywhere near enough on a long-range effort and Simon Mignolet is able to easily save.

Yellow card
1455: Frustration creeping into Sunderland's game now, and Phil Bardsley goes into the book for an unnecessary swipe at Fabricio Coloccini.

1453: As you might expect it's one-way traffic at St James' Park, and only a desperate lunge from a Sunderland defender blocks a goalbound effort from hat-trick wannabe Kevin Nolan.

FoxesofNuneaton on 606: "I though the referee was just gonna book Bramble, but the red was a bit harsh. It was outside the box, I would have just given a yellow."

1448: Infostrada Sports tell us, by the way, that was the first red card in a Premier League match between these sides.

1447: This could be a long afternoon for Sunderland - and damage limitation is surely the name of their game now. On comes Kieran Richardson for Danny Welbeck.

Red card
Sunderland red card: From bad to worse for the visitors as Andy Carroll is felled by Titus Bramble as the Newcastle man dashes through on goal - Phil Dowd decides it was a goalscoring opportunity and Bramble gets his marching orders.


1443: Everything he's touched has turned to gold in this match so far... until now. Kevin Nolan gets some space between the Sunderland defence and midfield and has a pop at goal - only for it to fly high, wide and not very handsome.

1439: I tell you what, that's half a chance. A Sunderland corner inches past the first man and falls to Darren Bent, but the frontman fails to anticipate it and the ball ricochets off his shins and wide.

1437: We're back up and running at St James' Park.

Robbie Savage on Twitter: "You don't want to be embarrassed in a derby. Losing is horrible - but losing heavily is don't-go-out-for-a-week-keep-the-curtains-closed!!"

1435: Oh to have been a fly on the Sunderland dressing room wall hey? I imagine Steve Bruce will have torn a few strips of paint off to say the least. So what have the visitors got by way of a response?

Harj_Badwal on Twitter: "Sunderland to score 4 second half? Bent hatrick and Gyan ? maybe...were due a 4-3 premiership match, had a few last season."

Jacko, Ascot via text: "If super Kev gets a hat-trick, I will run the long journey home from St James to Ascot... naked. I have a tenner on it...COME ON KEV!!!"

Russell Moore on 606: "Sam, when does the DVD of this game come out? I will write you a blank check, put any amount you want on it because this is priceless. Anyone questioning Chris Hughton now? Eat your words Mr Media."

1428: And as you all catch your breath during the half-time break, allow me to bring you some good news for European golf fans - Lee Westwood is only the new number one player in the world isn't he? He becomes Europe's first number one golfer since compatriot Nick Faldo achieved the feat in 1994. Which is nice.

Half time
1425: HALF-TIME Newcastle 3-0 Sunderland
Saj Chowdhury's HT snap-shot:
"Aren't these derbies supposed to be tight affairs? Newcastle have rocked Sunderland to the very core, with Carroll and Ameobi brilliant."

Mr Chelsea on 606: "No wonder Newcastle cruised to the Championship title last year. Their team has pace, power, energy and lethal finishing."

1420: The half-time whistle goes. I wonder if Kevin Nolan had any designs on that penalty by the way?

Newcastle goal: What a killer blow that is just before half time. Jonas Gutierrez is felled by Nedum Onuoha dashing into the box - it's a clear penalty - and Shola Ameobi dispatches the spot-kick into the corner brilliantly.

1419: GOALFLASH Newcastle 3-0 Sunderland (Ameobi pen)


1418: Andy Carroll is a proper beast isn't he? In a good way, obviously. He is giving the Sunderland backline a complete working over so far with his strength and movement, and Steve Bruce may have some thinking to do at half time.

Yellow card
1415: And there's another booking - Danny Simpson getting a yellow card for his challenge on Danny Welbeck. Looked like he got the ball to me, but Phil Dowd clearly unhappy with the defender's intent.

Yellow card
1414: He's a bit card-happy today is referee Phil Dowd, and Nedum Onuoha is the latest to have his name taken for a foul on Jonas Gutierrez.

1411: Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has seen enough and makes the early change, Ahmed El Mohamady replaced by Asamoah Gyan - looks like the Black Cats are going to go 4-4-2.

1407: TV replays show, by the way, that Shola Ameobi was in an offside position when that ball was played to Kevin Nolan - and he might have even blocked off a defender at the same time. A touch of fortune for the hosts, maybe, but hard to argue with the scoreline on the balance of play so far.

Anon via text: "Andy Carroll is causing all sorts of problems for Sunderland... and Joey Barton is pulling all the strings in midfield."

Newcastle goal: It won't make a 'Greatest Goals' DVD - but Kevin Nolan could not care less. Jonas Gutierrez's shot is blocked before Andy Carroll attempts a scissors kick that Newcastle are fortunate to see bounce into the ground and over the Sunderland defence, where Nolan is able to chest down and slide home. Toon fans go ballistic.

1404: GOALFLASH Newcastle 2-0 Sunderland (Nolan)

Yellow card
1402: That goal had been coming to be fair, and Newcastle really playing with their tails up now. Sunderland midfielder Steed Malbranque exacts some measure of revenge with a foul on Joey Barton and is yellow carded for his troubles.

joe_white_22 on 606: "Good finish by Nolan. He should be considered for England based on his form. Got to be better than Barry hasn't he?"

Newcastle goal: Breakthrough! It's a lovely, cheeky finish too - Kevin Nolan, with his back to goal, hooking Shola Ameobi's knockdown over his shoulder and into the roof of the net from a corner. Take that 0-0 fans.

1357: GOALFLASH Newcastle 1-0 Sunderland (Nolan)

1356: Another fine save from Simon Mignolet, the Sunderland keeper pushing Joey Barton's low drive just past the post.

bow4fowler on 606: "What are the odds on three 0-0's then?!"
Don't. Just, please, don't.

1355: Cracking save. Andy Carroll gets free at the back post from a corner but his header is brilliantly tipped away by Simon Mignolet, Shola Ameobi sweeping the rebound wide from close range. The closest we've come to an opener.

Full time
1354: FULL-TIME Aston Villa 0-0 Birmingham

1350: Now it's Birmingham's turn to go close to a winner, Nikola Zigic just failing to get enough on his header from Sebastian Larsson's free-kick to turn it in - the ball zipping just by the post.

1349: Half a penalty appeal for Newcastle as Andy Carroll claims to have been bundled over in the box by Titus Bramble - Phil Dowd is unconvinced, though, and nothing is given.

1349: We'll have five minutes of added time at Villa Park.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1348: So, so close to a winner at Villa Park. Ashley Young drives at goal, beating Liam Ridgewell all ends up, and he then lashes at goal - only for his rising drive to crash back off the angle of post and bar. A rare moment of quality, that.

Yellow card
1345: Andy Carroll is booked for a challenge on Danny Welbeck. Phil Dowd looking to stamp his authority on proceedings early on.

1343: Chances just starting to come for Villa now, and Ciaran Clark is unfortunate to direct his header from John Carew's knock-back inches wide with the keeper beaten. The Villa defender is even more unfortunately to get clattered into by the onrushing City keeper Ben Foster - and the youngster will have to receive a bit of treatment.

1342: Fabulous break from Andy Carroll as the Newcastle striker rampages forward, but just as he looks to pull the trigger on the edge of the area, Phil Bardsley gets across to tackle.

1341: It's all quite open at St James' - nice.

1339: Villa carve out the best chance of the match so far as 20-year-old substitute Barry Bannan breaks from midfield and sees a curling left-footed effort clawed to safety by Ben Foster.

Yellow card
1337: First booking of the day at St James', Cheik Tiote shown the yellow card for a rather nasty challenge on Sunderland midfielder Steed Malbranque.

Yellow card
1336: More handbags back at Villa Park - and it's involving Nigel Reo-Coker again, the Villa captain clashing with Craig Gardner and Barry Ferguson this time. The Villa midfielder goes into the book for his troubles.

1334: A bright start from Newcastle is almost undone in one fell swoop as Sunderland break with Danny Welbeck - Darren Bent, completely unmarked in the centre of goal, is screaming for the lay-off but Welbeck goes it alone and Danny Simpson is able to get across to block. From the corner, Titus Bramble heads wide. Brisk start.

1331: Newcastle kick us off at a wonderfully raucous St James' Park.

Mirror journalist Simon Bird on Twitter: "Banner: "Hughton is a Geordie" - message loud and clear from Gallowgate."

1330: It's all right, Newcastle-Sunderland will liven things up. Guaranteed.

1329: Corner to Aston Villa - a chance to get something on target perhaps? No, James Collins rises well to meet Ashley Young's delivery but he can only head it over.

1328: I wonder when the DVD release of this match will come out.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Villa Park: "Lots of action in the technical area as Gerard Houllier and Alex McLeish gather their forces while Roger Johnson is treated for an injury. The game still needs a spark from somewhere. So tight."

1323: Looks like the City defender is going to give it two more minutes to see if he can run it off - he's made of stern stuff, Roger Johnson.

1322: Actually, this doesn't look good for Roger Johnson - the Birmingham defender is down again clutching that right ankle, and it looks like he might have to come off. Replays show he was caught by Nigel Reo-Coker but I'm not sure there was any malice in it on the part of the Villa captain.

1319: It's starting to open up a bit at Villa Park now - finally - and a good Birmingham move ends with another long-ranger from Craig Gardner being blocked. Moments later, Nigel Reo-Coker goes in heavily on Roger Johnson - a man who only very recently chatted to our very own Mandeep Sanghera, if you're interested.

1317: Our first substitution of the day sees Barry Bannan on to replace Steve Sidwell.

1315: Villa begin to up the intensity and Nigel Reo-Coker sees a low 20-yard drive well saved by Ben Foster before Stephen Warnock's left-wing cross is headed wide by Emile Heskey

England spinner Graeme Swann on Twitter: "I feel disgracefully tired but am determined to stay up for the Toon game."

Saj Chowdhury reports:
"Newcastle defender Steven Taylor is named as a substitute having been out of action with a shoulder injury since January. Andy Carroll partners Shola Ameobi in attack. Sunderland have named an unchanged XI although Kieran Richardson replaces Cristian Riveros on the bench."

1311: First shot of note in this second half at Villa Park, Craig Gardner's low effort easily held by Brad Friedel diving to his left.

Krul, Jose Enrique, Coloccini, Williamson, Simpson, Tiote, Barton, Nolan, Gutierrez, Ameobi, Carroll. Subs: Soderberg, Routledge, Lovenkrands, Perch, Steven Taylor, Smith, Ranger.
Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Bramble, Turner, Henderson, Onuoha, Cattermole, Malbranque, Elmohamady, Welbeck, Bent. Subs: Gordon, Richardson, Mensah, Zenden, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Gyan.
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

1307: With the ball flying out of play a Villa fan rises like a salmon to head it back on to the field of play - collapsing over the advertising hoarding as a result. Hilarity ensues, until the stewards react by escorting him out of the ground. Harsh. Especially as that's just about the best thing that's happened in this match so far.

1304: Birmingham City, attacking the Holte End, get us restarted.

1302: Room for improvement in this second half, then, yes? Here come the players - no changes on either side from what I can see.

Saj Chowdhury reports:
"'My derby's better than your derby,' they all cry. They're all big, but this is huge. There's only a point separating the pair in the table and both have made steady starts to the season. However, and this is a significant 'however', Sunderland have won just three of their last 16 league encounters against Newcastle. The Magpies to edge it."

1258: So the first of our derby double bill has yet to really spark into life really has it? Maybe Newcastle-Sunderland will make up for it...

Half time
1255: HALF-TIME Aston Villa 0-0 Birmingham
Phil McNulty's HT snap-shot:
"Birmingham will be the happier side with that first 45 minutes. Too much long ball from Villa."

OptaJoe on Twitter: "Aston Villa did not record a single shot in that first half. Spooked."

1248: The half-time whistle goes.

Yellow card
1247: Not good. Stephen Warnock goes in recklessly on Alex Hleb and catches the midfielder's standing foot, leaving the referee little option but to produce the game's third booking.

1245: Birmingham have certainly grown into this game and it is the visitors ending the half the stronger. Villa defending stoutly with half-time approaching, though.

Yellow card
1241: Oof - James Collins takes an elbow in the mush from Nikola Zigic, and referee Howard Webb produces his second yellow card of the afternoon. Birmingham striker Zigic protests his innocence, but I'm not sure he can have many complaints.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Villa Park: "Howard Webb looks right at Nigel Reo-Coker handing in the Villa area. And ignores it. Birmingham understandably angry."

1238: Big shouts for a penalty as the ball bounces up from a Birmingham corner and strikes Nigel Reo Coker's on the arm, but referee Howard Webb is unmoved. Would've been a touch harsh, but I've seen them given.

MUFC_4_E3VER on 606: "Ill give £1000000000 pounds to Sam Lyon if all 3 games today are as exciting as any of the Saturday games."
Deal! And now I have witnesses - it's like an unbreakable contract.

1234: It's not been a classic opening half-hour to be fair, but Birmingham are starting to press their claims quite nicely. Alex Hleb, Craig Gardner and Keith Fahey are supporting the front men well from deep - and Barry Ferguson is the latest to try his luck at the Villa goal, this time, though, his effort flying harmlessly wide.

1232: Half a chance for Birmingham as Keith Fahey presses well under the high ball in the Villa box before spinning and cracking a shot at goal - Villa keeper Brad Friedel gets well behind it, however.

1230: That could've gone anywhere. Ben Foster takes far too long over a clearance from a back-pass and Nigel Reo Coker is quick to close him down, the keeper's kick smashing back off the midfielder's legs and drifting narrowly past the post. Escape for the City keeper.

1229: Birmingham build nicely with some patient play and Stephen Carr is convinced he has earned a corner, but the officials disagree and a goal-kick is given.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Villa Park: "Scrappy. Chances at a premium. Not much creativity. Bit of niggle. Typical derby."

1224: Villa earn a free-kick in a good position by the right touchline - but Stewart Downing's delivery is overhit and it flies straight into Ben Foster's hands. A waste.

1220: By the way, I've only just realised I've been sending you to yesterday's 606 thread - oops. A quick refresh of this page and you'll have the link to the right one. Cheers.

1219: Ooh, not sure about that. Villa look to break and Ashley Young almost has a clear run down the right-hand side until Howard Webb gives a foul against him for a collision with Sebastian Larsson. Had that not been given, the winger would've been free.

1216: It's all very even at Villa Park now, with both teams looking to keep the tempo high and the pressure on. As might be expected, though, chances at a premium so far.

Yellow card
1212: Right, who had 12 minutes in the sweepstake? It's an early bow for the handbag graphic - Villa captain Nigel Reo Coker reacting to Craig Gardner's clumsy challenge and prompting a spot of push and shove. The Birmingham midfielder goes into the book for his troubles and the melee is separated almost as quickly as it gathered.

1209: Should he do better there? Ashley Young's through-ball looks to have picked out Emile Heskey dashing into the area, but the big striker fails to make contact with his attempted flick and Birmingham keeper Ben Foster gratefully collects.

1206: And now Birmingham have a corner, Liam Ridgewell getting a flick on it and Keith Fahey inches away from getting on the end of it at the back post. Lively.

1205: That might settle City down a bit, though, as they launch their first attack on goal and get their first shot on target, Craig Gardner smashing into James Collins's chest with a 12-yard snap-shot.

1203: Three minutes in and Birmingham have barely touched the ball. Villa, set up in a fluid 4-5-1 formation, are zipping the ball about nicely and the visitors are looking just a touch nervy.

1200: Aston Villa get us up and running. Villa Park is jumping.

1158: Here come the players at Villa Park, then. Excited?

rioferdy5 on Twitter: "Twitfam I am not "the next player asking for a bumper new contract" contrary 2 reports 2day. Can the journo tell us where he heard that one?"

1157: Just enough time for a word from Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand...

1155: Right then, it's early pies all round with Aston Villa-Birmingham getting us off to a bright and breezy start at Villa Park. We're moments away from kick-off and the stadium is already bouncing. This could get tasty.

Robbie, Sedgefield via text: "I think I speak for all Newcastle, Sunderland, Birmingham and Villa fans when I say I love and hate these games like no other, but I wouldn't change it for the world."

Phil McNulty reports:
"Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier has drafted in central defender Ciaran Clark alongside Richard Dunne and James Collins, while Luke Young has recovered from a hamstring injury. Birmingham City are able to select Alexander Hleb after he recovered from a knee injury picked up against Blackpool. Former Villa midfielder Craig Gardner is back for his first league game since completing a three-match ban."

AndySzpuk on Twitter: "The Birmingham derby should be a feisty affair all right - but after the World Cup Final, it should be a picnic for Howard Webb."

1145: And to help you on your path to soothsayer-dom (made-up word alert), here's what Infostrada Sports' Euro Club Index has to say about it today's likely outcome...
Aston Villa (62% win chance) Birmingham (13%
Newcastle (52%) Sunderland (20%)
Bolton (28%) Liverpool (41%)
So get your money on those bad boys. No I don't know how it works.

1141: One thing's for sure - I don't think it's in the realms of possibility that today will be dull. Right? And I know what you're thinking, derbies are never easy games to call. Well you clearly reckon without the mystic capabilities of Lawro. And as if that's not enough, we've only gone and got Take That singer Robbie Williams to lend us his thoughts too haven't we? Man, we spoil you. Course, you lot may disagree with both - so why not have a go yourself?

1137: So yesterday turned into a barn-stormer didn't it? Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all furthered their title claims, Manchester City's took a hit, Everton and Fulham got good wins - and Mark Clattenburg worked his way off every Spurs fans' Christmas card list. I wonder what Sunday has in store for us?

ToonMozdog on 606: "Beating Sunderland on our return to the Tyne-Wear derby would be brilliant so this is where we find our home form...I hope."

kingdeano on 606: "A lot of pressure on Roy Hodgson today. He needs to get a couple of wins in a row under his belt or this could be his last match."

Aston Villa:
Friedel, Luke Young, Dunne, Collins, Clark, Downing, Reo-Coker, Sidwell, Warnock, Ashley Young, Heskey. Subs: Guzan, Ireland, Carew, Delfouneso, Cuellar, Bannan, Lichaj.
Birmingham: Foster, Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell, Larsson, Gardner, Ferguson, Fahey, Hleb, Zigic. Subs: Taylor, Bowyer, Phillips, Jerome, Michel, Parnaby, Beausejour.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

kajstring24 on Twitter: "Looking forward to the fixtures today. I love football Sunday!"

Bolton striker Kevin Davies on Twitter: "Morning everyone, Super Sunday is here, some great games on today!"

Phil McNulty reports:
"New Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier is well-schooled in what is required in a local derby after his years on Merseyside with Liverpool - and he will get a good measure of how his side are progressing under his leadership in the clash with Birmingham City at Villa Park. Birmingham City and boss Alex McLeish still harbour a real grievance about how they lost this fixture last season through James Milner's hotly-contested late penalty - although they will need no extra motivation in what is always a fiercely-fought clash."

1121: So you know the drill by now people, Tweet me @sampatricklyon, get chatting over on 606, or text me via 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide). This your time to shine.

GGGGOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLL on 606: "My money is on three (scoring) draws today."

1118: Anyway, had I done that - which I didn't - all it would've done is give me an extra hour's build-up of anticipation ahead of what promises to be a cracking trio of Premier League matches today. A couple of derbies followed by a tantalising clash at the Reebok...
Aston Villa v Birmingham (1200)
Newcastle v Sunderland (1330)
Bolton v Liverpool (1600)

Basically, it's a day of passion, pride and points - so what on earth are you waiting for? Get involved people.

1116: For the record, I didn't - obviously. And nor was I at work an hour early. Oh no.

1115: OK, hands up, who forgot the clocks went back last night?

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Premier League results

31 Oct 2010 23:59 UK

Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 31 Oct 2010 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Chelsea 10 24 25
2 Arsenal 10 12 20
3 Man Utd 10 10 20
4 Man City 10 3 17
5 Tottenham 10 1 15
6 West Brom 9 -2 15
7 Newcastle 10 5 14
8 Everton 10 2 13
9 Fulham 10 1 12
10 Bolton 10 -1 12
11 Sunderland 10 -3 12
12 Liverpool 10 -4 12
13 Aston Villa 10 -4 12
14 Birmingham 10 -2 11
15 Stoke 10 -4 10
16 Blackpool 9 -7 10
17 Wigan 10 -11 10
18 Blackburn 10 -3 9
19 Wolves 10 -6 9
20 West Ham 10 -11 6

see also
Sunday's football photos
31 Oct 10 |  Football

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