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Page last updated at 22:19 GMT, Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Wednesday football as it happened


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By Chris Bevan

2217: As many injuries (two) as goals tonight then. Lets hope Thursday's Europa League ties (including Liverpool-Sparta Prague, Man City-Aris Salonika and Rangers-Sporting Lisbon) have more of the latter than the former. Chris Whyatt will take you through all the action from those game and I will see you again on Saturday. Bye for now.

FULL-TIME Arsenal 1-0 Stoke
Sam Sheringham reports: "A vital win for the Gunners' title ambitions, but the injuries to Walcott and Fabregas could not have come at a worse time in the season."

FULL-TIME Inter Milan 0-1 Bayern Munich
Kevin Darling reports: "Revenge is a dish best served with a goalkeeping howler and a last-minute winner... and Bayern deserved it. Arjen Robben, in particular, was exceptional."

FULL-TIME Marseille 0-0 Man Utd
Mandeep Sanghera reports: "If defending is your delicacy then you might want to watch the goalless draw between Marseille and Manchester United. Neither side wanted to give anything away and both will go into the second leg hoping to progress."

2210: Right then. Now seems a good time to see what our reporters made of tonight's games...

mattniman14 on Twitter: "Edge of the seat stuff watching Arsenal, very important win but losing Cesc and Theo can be a blow in the next few weeks."

Stoke boss Tony Pulis on his side's narrow defeat by Arsenal: "We are very disappointed not to get something out of the game. It is the first time we have come here and looked like we belong in this company. In the first 10 minutes we looked like rabbits in the headlights but in the second half, with a little bit more fortune, we could have scored one or two goals."

More from Arsene Wenger, this time on Arsenal's win over Stoke: "The game was massive for us and the three points were very important. We got them through focus, discipline and intelligence more than through flair tonight. I must congratulate the players. I couldn't believe we scored with a header against Stoke but tonight we looked more dangerous from corners and set pieces."

Marseille manager Didier Deschamps feels Man Utd are still favourites to reach the Champions League quarter-finals: "It was very important not to concede in the first game, and we did it. It was a tough game but we had a good spell in the second half without finding a goal. At the end it was more difficult because United changed their system to 4-4-2 and we were behind the ball a lot."

2158: An update on Cesc Fabregas too. Wenger says he has a hamstring problem and they will "assess him on Thursday".

2156: Arsene Wenger says Theo Walcott has an ankle sprain and will definitely miss Sunday's Carling Cup final.

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick on his side's 0-0 draw in Marseille: "We didn't play anywhere near our best tonight but we can put it right at Old Trafford. It's a different game at home but we have to play better. Our passing wasn't great."

samermakarem on Twitter: "Stoke put up a great fight but that could be a huge huge huge win for Arsenal. Now to Wembley!"

2149: It was not exactly a thrilling game in Marseille but I'm pretty sure Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson will settle for taking a 0-0 draw back to Old Trafford for the second leg on 15 March. As for Bayern Munich? They will be made up after going to holders Inter and nicking a win at the death. Not sure Inter keeper Julio Cesar will be in too good a mood after his howler that gifted the German side their winner though.

BBC Sport's Alistair Magowan at the Emirates: "Very good win for Arsenal despite injuries to Theo Walcott and Cesc Fabregas. Stoke almost had perfect game plan to pinch a point but Arsenal fans still don't like them. "Disgrace to the Premier League" someone shouts on the way out."

2144: So, a good night for Arsenal in terms of the result - their 1-0 win over Stoke means they are just a point off United at the top of the Premier League table, albeit having played a game more. But the bad news ahead of Sunday's Carling Cup final (not to mention the return against Barcelona on 8 March) is those injuries to Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott. Fabregas, apparently, is nothing serious but that Walcott incident looked a good deal worse. More on both of those when I hear it.

From Joe in Tonbridge, via text: "The reason its a clean sheet for United tonight? Chris Smalling. I'm a fan of Tonbridge Angels, and when Chris was playing against us for our rivals Maidstone, and even then he frustrated us. The man must have a headache after tonight."

United did have to deal with a lot of balls into the box, and Smalling did very well with a few of them, but Marseille were hardly piling on the pressure. I'd say the actual reason it was 0-0 was that both teams were cautious going forward and struggled to string together many passes when they did.

Full time
2137: FULL-TIME Arsenal 1-0 Stoke

2136: FULL-TIME Inter Milan 0-1 Bayern Munich

Bayern goal: An absolute shocker for Inter keeper Julio Cesar, and in the 90th minute too. He spills Arjen Robben's shot from 25 yards and Mario Gomez, following up, has an easy job to smash home the rebound. Revenge is sweet for the German side... and they will have an away goal to take back to Munich.

2134: Deep in stoppage time at the Emirates now, and Arsenal are playing keep-ball to see this one out.

Full time
2133: FULL-TIME Marseille 0-0 Man Utd

2133: GOALFLASH Inter Milan 0-1 Bayern Munich (Gomez)

2131: There will be five minutes of added time at the Emirates but just one more minute at Stade Velodrome... here come United, but Souleymane Diawara is across to clear.

2131: Stoke come forward in the hunt for an equaliser... and they go close when Jermaine Pennant fires a free-kick into the side-netting. United want a foul when Wayne Rooney is dragged back, or at least appeared to be, as he tries to run in on goal. Nothing given.

BBC Sport's Alistair Magowan at the Emirates: "Ricardo Fuller on for Jonathan Walters but has taken up his position on left rather than go up top and has not been effective since coming on. Thought Tony Pulis might have a go for last 10 minutes, good game plan so far. You have to pay respect to Dean Whitehead, he has been immense."

2129: Gabriel Heinze takes a quick throw-in after cheekily grabbing the ball off his old mate Sir Alex Ferguson and Marseille's subsequent attack ends in a corner. Fortunately for United, they clear their lines - not sure Sir Alex would have appreciated having a role in conceding a goal.

2128: It's all a bit nervy at the Emirates, where Arsenal are pressing for a second goal but wary that they only lead 1-0. Their latest attack ends when Andrey Arshavin is caught well offside from a Jack Wilshere flick, but he blazed over anyway.

2125: Thomas Kraft comes to Bayern Munich's rescue at the San Siro, getting a hand to Houssine Kharja's drive and denying the Inter substituite. Still goalless, with less than five minutes to go.

2122: I don't want to tempt fate but United's game reminds me of their last-gasp win over Valencia in the group stages when Javier Hernandez nicked a late goal at the end of a game of few chances. They have just had a sniff here too... Nani started the move, but he could not quite reach Dimitar Berbatov's ball into the box to try and finish it.

2120: Another change for Marseille. Their talisman Mathieu Valbuena is on for Loic Remy. Over at the Emirates, Arsenal make a switch too: Marouane Chamakh replaces Nicklas Bendtner.

2117: Dimitar Berbatov blasts wide for United from about 25 yards. At the San Siro, things have gone a bit quiet after that flurry of chances. Still no Champions League goals tonight then but plenty of time (15 minutes) for that to change...

2116: A couple of changes to tell you about in Marseille. Edouard Cisse is off for Marseille, replaced by Benoit Cheyrou (brother of 'the new Zidane' Bruno). And Paul Scholes is on for Darron Gibson for United. Surely Sir Alex Ferguson won't have to worry about any wayward passing from him?

BBC Sport's Alistair Magowan at the Emirates: "More even half this one, Stoke getting some joy down their left with Jonathan Walters coming infield more to support John Carew. You would expect a Stoke change at some point if they want to go for it."

2112: Ok, more injury news for Arsenal and this one looks a lot more serious than that Cesc Fabregas scare earlier. Theo Walcott has just been stretchered off - he was challenged by Dean Whitehead and, as he was falling, his left ankle caught and twisted in the turf. It looked very painful too.

2110: That green laser is still making an unwelcome appearance or two at Stade Velodrome. United fans will be wishing we had seen more of Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov... their front two are working hard but have had a frustrating night, so far anyway. Berbatov has just had a shot blocked by Souleymane Diawara following Nani's flick.

2108: Arsenal's first attack of what, for them, has been a very disappointing second half. Andrey Arshavin nicks the ball past Ryan Shawcross and cuts it back from the by-line to Theo Walcott but his snap-shot, under pressure from Robert Huth, flies a mile wide.

2107: Marseille come forward with purpose and pepper the United goal with a succession of shots. Edouard Cisse's ambitious effort is deflected into the path of Andre Ayew, and his skidding effort flies between the far post and Brandao. The home side still haven't properly tested Edwin van der Sar, but they seem to be stepping things up a notch.

From Dale, via text: "As a Birmingham fan I would like to wish Cesc a speedy and full recovery and I hope he leads the Wenger boys to victory in the Champions and Premier Leagues. I think it best for all concerned that he takes Sunday off and misses the Carling Cup final as a precaution too. Up the Blues!"

2101: Goals are hard to come by tonight - they shouldn't be. Inter have just missed a golden opportunity to break the deadlock, with Sammy Eto'o seeing his snap-shot saved by Thomas Kraft before Esteban Cambiasso blazing the follow-up with the goal gaping. A big, big waste that.

2100: Stoke, again, come close to an equaliser. You know the routine by now... Rory Delap flings over a long throw and Robert Huth rises highest to send a towering header flying just over the bar.

2059: A bit of an escape for Marseille. Wayne Rooney sends over a cross and Steve Mandanda misses it completely at his back post. Nani is waiting to turn it in but Gabriel Heinze does well to get back and head clear.

Someone has struck the woodwork
2056: Bayern are definitely looking dangerous now. The impressive Arjen Robben exchanges passes with Mario Gomez and drives diagonally into the box before letting fly from a tight angle... and sees the ball thump against the outside of the post.

BBC Sport's Alistair Magowan at the Emirates: "Talk here is that Cesc Fabregas injury was a tight muscle so he came off as a precaution. Unconfirmed though."

I will confirm exactly what the Fabregas injury is (knee/tight muscle etc) as soon as I can. The general prognosis is the same, though... ie, it is not serious and he came off as a precaution.

2054: Brandao fires over a cross from the left that Edwin van der Sar has to come and collect, but Marseille are still yet to test the United keeper in any way, shape or form. We still have stalemate at Stade Velodrome.

2052: That was a Jermaine Pennant cross that Ryan Shawcross got on the end of by the way. Johan Djourou was the Arsenal defender who made the (extremely) crucial block.

2051: Bayern are quickly on the attack too. Still no goals to tell you about in that one, though. Arjen Robben's teasing ball finds Thomas Mueller at the back stick but he gets his header all wrong.

2049: Stoke are first to threaten after the break, and it's a good chance too. Ryan Shawcross has a header deflected just wide when he meets a cross from the right at the near post. Unlucky.

2049: More news on Cesc Fabregas. And it's better for Arsenal fans. The latest is that he was taken off as a precaution, rather than because he could not carry on. Oh, and we have kicked off again at the San Siro.

2046: The second half has started at the Emirates, and in Marseille too.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson: "I think both teams have cancelled each other out. We need to step up our passing a bit - if we can improve that we are in with a chance of winning this."

From Tom at the Emirates via text: "Gunners going 11 points clear of Chelsea with a win here then. Who would've thought it at the start of the season when the Blues were netting sixes and sevens?!"

Steady as you go there Tom, don't count your chickens...

2043: I am told the reason Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas went off (after 14 minutes) was a knee injury. I don't know how serious it is yet, though.

BBC Sport's Alistair Magowan at the Emirates: "Stoke seem happy to retreat to the edge of their box and will be content with the way things have gone in the first half, save for Robert Huth conceding the corner from which Arsenal scored."

2040: A few of you spotted that a green laser pointer was shone at Nani from a section of the Marseille crowd at a United corner just before half-time. Let's hope there is no more of that after the break.

IAmStu2 on Twitter: "Carrick and Gibson have been very disappointing this half for United. Thank goodness for Fletcher in the middle."

Half time
HALF-TIME Arsenal 1-0 Stoke
Sam Sheringham's HT snapshot:
"It's been largely one-way traffic, but Arsenal's attacks have lacked polish since the departure through injury of their influential captain Cesc Fabregas and Jon Carew's fine effort showed Stoke aren't out of this yet."

Half time
HALF-TIME Inter Milan 0-0 Bayern Munich
Kevin Darling's HT snapshot: "Bayern are playing the prettier football but Inter have created the clear-cut chances... this rematch between last year's finalists is intriguingly poised but we could do with a goal to really ignite it."

Half time
HALF-TIME Marseille 0-0 Man Utd
Mandeep Sanghera's HT snapshot:
"It's a tight affair at the Stade Velodrome and any desire either side has of imposing themselves on the game is being denied by two well-drilled sides."

RMtheconspiracy on Twitter: "How long can Carrick remain a United player? The only reason Sir Alex Ferguson signed him was for his passing and he can't even do that!"

2031: It is half-time at Stade Velodrome, the San Siro and the Emirates.

2030: Stoke boss Tony Pulis is not a happy chappy at the Emirates, well he is red in the face with rage actually. Stoke's Jon Walters was rightly booked for a foul on Theo Walcott but Sebastien Squillaci had just escaped a yellow from Peter Walton for a very similar foul on Dean Whitehead.

2029: Gabriel Heinze was master of the sliding tackle during his time in the Premier League and he does another one here... diving in to block John O'Shea's cross. After a tussle in the area while we wait for the resulting corner to be taken, the ball is cleared by Marseille and Michael Carrick makes a hash of another pass as he tries to play it back in. His evening is not getting any better.

2026: Danger for United. Loic Remy curls in a lovely cross from the right and Chris Smalling does very well to get to it first and head it behind. That's a corner for Marseille, and Edwin van der Sar has to get across to his near post quickly because Andre Ayew's curling cross is heading in. United survive.

2025: Samir Nasri scoops a free-kick over the Stoke wall but it drops a couple of yards wide of Asmir Begovic's right-hand post. United? They are bogged down in midfield at the moment.

BBC Sport's Alistair Magowan at the Emirates: "Took about two minutes for Stoke fans to start chanting Ryan Shawcross's name, while Arsenal supporters are booing every time Rory Delap winds-up for a long throw. No love lost here."

2020: Stoke's first effort on goal, and it is a good one. The ball bounces nicely for John Carew on the edge of the box and he slams in a fierce shot that is flying in until Wojciech Szczesny flings himself to his right to push it away one handed. A fine save, that.

2019: More than 35 minutes gone and we are still waiting for our first Champions League goal of the evening. Inter are trying their best, though. Sammy Eto'o spins and fires in a shot from about 12 yards out that Thomas Kraft does well to keep out.

2018: United's first meaningful attack since the opening minutes. Nani whips in an inviting cross from the right but the ball is just too far in front of Dimitar Berbatov. Marseille keeper Steve Mandanda collects it.

2017: Marseille striker Brandao tries an ambitious acrobatic effort from the edge of the area... flicking the ball up, then volleying it goalwards. A good idea in theory, but in practice he makes a right mess of his shot and Edwin van der Sar saves with ease. Just a reminder you can listen to live commentary of that game on BBC Radio 5 live and right here on this page (manually refresh if you cannot already see the link).

2014: Marseille have come back into this in the last few minutes. I don't know what Michael Carrick's passing statistics are tonight but I suspect they won't be pretty - the United midfielder has given the ball away far too often.

Someone has struck the woodwork
2011: Bayern's best effort so far. Arjen Robben crosses from the right and finds Franck Ribery inside the area... but he sees his header hit the bar and fly over.

2010: Arsenal have lost their way a bit since Cesc Fabregas went off. They are still dominating possession but their attacks are breaking down far too easily... although Andrey Arshavin has just had a shot which was easily saved by Asmir Begovic.

2009: A chance for Inter now. Sammy Eto'o finds Esteban Cambiasso with a pull-back, but his shot is charged down. In Marseille, Rod Fanni bends in an inviting cross from the right, but there is no-one in the area to get on the end of it.

2007: It's all gone a bit quiet at the San Siro, although Luiz Gustavo has just had a couple of pops for Bayern from 30 yards out. Julio Cesar pushed the first one around his post and the second one was deflected just over. Twenty minutes gone and still no goals in either of our Champions League games.

In_The_Stands on Twitter: "For the neutral, watching Fab go off is a sight for sore eyes. He needs to be fit for the Barca game."

I don't imagine Arsene Wenger enjoyed it too much either...

2003: Marseille play a bit of keep-ball in their own half but lose it as soon as they pump it forward. United's play has got a wee bit scrappy too, with Wayne Rooney running into a couple of dead-ends, but they are still having the better of things.

2000: I will bring you more news on that Cesc Fabregas injury when I hear it. It wasn't after a tackle, he just pulled up. The Spaniard did walk off, rather than being carried, but still a big worry for Arsenal.

1958: Oh dear. Not such good news for Arsenal fans, this. Cesc Fabregas has picked up an injury and is coming off. He will be replaced by Andrey Arshavin.

1956: United continue to threaten. This time Wayne Rooney has a goalbound shot blocked by Souleymane Diawara. Nani is wreaking havoc down the right flank.

1955: A decent effort by United too. Nani's free-kick is poor but the ball comes back off the wall for Darren Fletcher, who sends in a low shot from the edge of the area that Marseille keeper Steve Mandanda does well to get down to and keep out.

Arsenal goal: We have only been playing a matter of minutes but it's fair to say this one has been coming. Jack Wilshere's corner is prodded back across goal by Nicklas Bendtner and, with the Stoke defence happy to stand and watch, Sebastien Squillaci runs in to head it home from point-blank range.

1952: GOALFLASH Arsenal 1-0 Stoke (Squillaci)

1950: A fast start by Inter as well. Their young centre-back Andrea Ranocchia is making his first Champions League start tonight and he really should have marked it with an early goal there - but the defender turned Wesley Sneijder's free-kick wide from just a few yards out.

1949: United defender Patrice Evra is getting a lot of stick from the Marseille fans - this is his first game on French soil since all the fun and games the France squad had at the World Cup last summer. Still, Sir Alex Ferguson's men have made a bright start: Nani was way off target with his shot from distance but United are attacking with purpose already.

1946: While that was happening, we got started at the San Siro and Stade Velordrome too.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1946: Wow. What a start by Arsenal. Jack Wilshere's mazy run ends with a quick pass to Cesc Fabregas, who slips Theo Walcott clear. He should score, but slams his shot against the post. Walcott has just sliced a volley wide too.

From Shaf in Bedford, via text: "Heinze-sight is a funny old thing hey Gabriel! Sorry couldn't resist."

1944: We are under way at the Emirates.

Marseille coach Didier Deschamps on his side's tie against Manchester United: "I think United are favourites to win the Champions League. We will have a fantastic atmosphere tonight and we need it."

1941: Players emerge from tunnels in London, Marseille and Milan.

BBC Sport's Alistair Magowan at the Emirates: "Strong line-up from Arsenal but Laurent Koscielny's replacement at centre-back, Sebastien Squillaci, will be be happy that Stoke are starting with just John Carew up front. Potters boss Tony Pulis had gone for a five-man midfield with Kenwyne Jones and Ricardo Fuller available from the bench."

Injured Man Utd defender Rio Ferdinand, back in Manchester, on Twitter: "I'm looking for a solid composed team performance with sprinklings of silks in there boys... let's av iiiiiiiiit!!"

You and I might refer to 'silks' as skills by the way...

1934: Looks like there is a tasty atmosphere at Stade Velodrome, just for a change. There is something about those huge open stands anyway, even before you add thousands of fans (currently all waving blue and silver flags). Just over 10 minutes to go until kick-off there, and at the San Siro and the Emirates too.

Tow3rTom on Twitter: "Re those Heinze regrets. Leaving Man Utd has really put his career on a downhill path. He's never been the same player since."

Addzy4 on Twitter: "United to grab a 2-0 win in Marseille and Arsenal to drop points against Stoke."

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on the meaning of his side's clash with Stoke: "This is a very important one for us. The best way to win the Premier League is to win the game. It is only that which is important. If you want to keep in touch with Manchester United, which we want more than anything, this game is vital. We have given so much in the Premier League, we have gone through so many difficult periods and have come back with such resilience."

OptaJoe on Twitter: "6 - Marseille have only scored six goals in their 10 Champions League games vs. English opposition & never more than once in a match. Timid."

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson on his side's task in France tonight: "Marseille isn't the easiest place to get a result. There is an atmosphere, an emotion at the Stade Velodrome that is unique. I've often been to matches here and the fans have a genuine power over their players."

Kevin Darling reports: "Inter Milan's big guns return with Wesley Sneijder and Lucio back after being rested at the weekend, while Esteban Cambiasso and Dejan Stankovic are fit to start. Diego Milito, who scored both goals when these sides met in last year's Champions League final, is missing with a hamstring injury. Bayern Munich name the same team that beat Mainz 3-1 at the weekend, with injury doubts Mario Gomez and keeper Thomas Kraft passed fit."

From anonymous Chelsea fan via text: "Watched Marseille at the Bridge before Christmas, they have got some quality players like Gignac, Valbuena, and Brandao. They gave us a real game away from home too. If they gel (which they didn't at the Bridge) then I'm expecting a Marseille win."

1921: It is almost exactly a year since Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey suffered that horrific broken leg in his side's last meeting with Stoke. Good news then, that the Welsh star scored his first goal since returning from the injury last night. Ramsey, who is on loan at Cardiff (until the end of the week anyway) netted in the Bluebirds win over Leicester.

Sam Sheringham reports: "Arsenal pick arguably their strongest possible side with Sebastien Squillaci and Nicklas Bendtner replacing injured duo Laurent Koscielny and Robin van Persie, while Samir Nasri is preferred to Andrey Arshavin. Stoke make one change to the side which lost 1-0 to Birmingham in their last Premier League outing, with midfielder Glenn Whelan coming in for striker Kenwyne Jones, who has netted once in his last 15 appearances. Matthew Etherington misses out after suffering a back injury in the 3-0 FA Cup victory over Brighton."

Dibbles810 on Twitter: "I would take a score draw (for United tonight) & finish the tie off at Old Trafford."

Mandeep Sanghera reports: "Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson makes eight changes from the 1-0 FA Cup win over Crawley last Saturday. Edwin van der Sar is back in goal, Chris Smalling is in for the injured Rio Ferdinand and partners Nemanja Vidic in central defence. Darron Gibson gets the nod in midfield ahead of Paul Scholes, while Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov both start. Marseille are without striker Andre-Pierre Gignac because of a groin injury suffered last weekend but forwards Loic Remy and Brandao, who were doubts, both play. The French team also have ex-United left-back Gabriel Heinze in their side and winger Mathieu Valbuena is on the bench as he returns after a month out with a knee injury."

Marseille's former Manchester United defender Gabriel Heinze on his acrimonious exit from Old Trafford in 2007 when he tried to force the club to sell him to Liverpool, before eventually joining Real Madrid: "I don't have many regrets from my career as a footballer, but that episode with Sir Alex Ferguson has to be one of them. I'm impulsive and strong-willed and this has got me into trouble at times, which was the case when I left United. I regret it because it meant leaving a great club and their supporters. I was aware of the rivalry with Liverpool, I knew the risk of going from Manchester to Liverpool and what it means. I hope it doesn't tarnish the way their fans see me and they will remember the three years I had in the team."

Inter Milan v Bayern Munich line-ups
Inter Milan: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Ranocchia, Lucio, Chivu, Zanetti, Cambiasso, Motta, Sneijder, Stankovic, Eto'o. Subs: Castellazzi, Kharja, Mariga, Materazzi, Pandev, Coutinho, Nagatomo.
Bayern Munich: Kraft, Lahm, Tymoschuk, Badstuber, Pranjic, Schweinsteiger, Gustavo, Robben, Muller, Ribery, Gomez. Subs: Butt, Breno, Van Buyten, Altintop, Ottl, Klose, Kroos.
Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary)

Marseille v Man Utd line-ups
Marseille: Mandanda, Fanni, M'bia Etoundi, Diawara, Heinze, Cisse, Kabore, Remy, Gonzalez, Andre Ayew, Brandao. Subs: Andrade, Taiwo, Hilton, Cheyrou, Jordan Ayew, Abriel, Valbuena.
Man Utd: Van der Sar, O'Shea, Smalling, Vidic, Evra, Gibson, Carrick, Fletcher, Nani, Berbatov, Rooney. Subs: Kuszczak, Brown, Hernandez, Scholes, Fabio Da Silva, Rafael Da Silva, Obertan.
Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)

1912: BBC Sport blogger Phil Minshull has put together an excellent blog on Marseille if your knowledge of the French side is a bit rusty - essentially, their strength is in their defence. "Taye Taiwo, who I saw being given a torrid time by Cristiano Ronaldo and his Real Madrid colleagues at the Bernabeu last season, has improved immeasurably," says Minshull. "Souleymane Diawara and Gabriel Heinze may not be quite as fast as they were in their prime but their positioning remains superb."

1911: Ah. Forget about FC Porto being the first side into the last 16 of the Europa League. It turns out CSKA Moscow made it through last night. They didn't tell me, though, did they?

danyu118 on Twitter: "Tough game for United. Marseille are certainly no pushovers."

CH4R1I3P on Twitter: "Re 1847. I think Arsene Wenger would settle with winning just one cup, it's been a while since they did win anything..."

Arsenal v Stoke line-ups
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy, Fabregas, Song, Wilshere, Walcott, Bendtner, Nasri. Subs: Almunia, Rosicky, Denilson, Arshavin, Eboue, Gibbs, Chamakh.
Stoke: Begovic, Wilson, Shawcross, Huth, Pugh, Pennant, Whitehead, Delap, Whelan, Walters, Carew. Subs: Sorensen, Higginbotham, Collins, Jones, Fuller, Diao, Wilkinson.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)

Sam Sheringham reports: "With Stoke having lost their last four league away games and the Gunners unbeaten in nine, this one has the look of a home banker. Arsenal, however, have been weakened by injuries to Robin van Persie and Laurent Koscielny, while Stoke should be on a high after cruising into the FA Cup quarter-finals at Brighton's expense. Expect a feisty affair on and off the pitch after Arsene Wenger infuriated his opposite number Tony Pulis by accusing Stoke of playing "rugby" in September. The Frenchman will have his eye on Ryan Shawcross almost exactly one year after the tackle that left Aaron Ramsey with a broken leg."


Kevin Darling reports: "These two great sides have endured a rough time since meeting in last year's final. Inter were humbled by Spurs in the group stages and have been eclipsed by rivals AC Milan in Serie A, while Bayern are lagging 13 points adrift of the Bundesliga summit. The Italians have improved since new boss Leonardo replaced Rafa Benitez in December and the dashing Brazilian promised his side will "play like champions" tonight. They might need to, with the Germans itching to avenge that 2-0 defeat last May."

Mandeep Sanghera reports: "Manchester United may be struggling away from home in the Premier League this season but it's a different story in the Champions League. The Red Devils have won nine of their last 10 on their European travels and conceded just one goal as they topped their group to reach the knockout stages. They face a Marseille side unbeaten at home in 12 matches and the last time these two sides met at the intimidating Stade Velodrome was in October 1999 when William Gallas got the decisive goal for the French side in a 1-0 group stage win."

1900: There is one other game to tell you about, though. FC Porto are into the last 16 of the Europa League despite losing at home to Sevilla 1-0 in the second leg of their tie earlier on today. Luis Fabiano got Sevilla's goal, shortly before they had Fernando Navarro and Ruano Alexis sent off, and the Portuguese side go through on away goals after drawing 2-2 on aggregate. They will play CSKA Moscow next.

1856: Now you know what's happening, here's how you get in touch. Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, ask me a question direct @chrisbevan_bbc or text me via 81111 (UK).

1853: As if that's not enough for us to get our teeth into, there is the small matter of a rematch of last year's Champions League final too. Inter Milan came out on top against Bayern Munich in May 2010, but an awful lot has changed at the San Siro since then, hasn't it?

Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov both start for Manchester United. Paul Scholes is on the bench. More on that very shortly.

1849: Both are in action tonight too, on different fronts. United travel to Marseille hoping to make it four wins out of four for English clubs in the first legs of the Champions League last 16. The Gunners? They host Stoke in the Premier League, looking for a win to narrow United's lead at the top of the table to just one point.

1847: Most clubs would settle for just one trophy this season. Not Manchester United or Arsenal, though. Sir Alex Ferguson has hit the treble trail (again). Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, is on a quadruple quest. Those two are just plain greedy if you ask me...

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Champions League results

23 Feb 2011 23:59 UK

Barclays Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 23 Feb 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 26 32 57
2 Arsenal 27 30 56
3 Man City 27 19 49
4 Tottenham 27 7 47
5 Chelsea 26 24 45
6 Liverpool 27 3 39
7 Sunderland 27 0 37
8 Bolton 27 1 36
9 Newcastle 27 4 35
10 Stoke 27 -3 33
11 Blackburn 27 -8 32
12 Blackpool 27 -9 32
13 Fulham 27 0 31
14 Everton 26 -3 30
15 Birmingham 26 -10 30
16 Aston Villa 27 -15 30
17 West Brom 27 -17 28
18 Wigan 27 -18 27
19 West Ham 27 -18 25
20 Wolves 27 -19 25

see also
Wednesday's football photos
23 Feb 11 |  Football

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