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Page last updated at 10:23 GMT, Saturday, 18 October 2008 11:23 UK

Premier League as it happened


Arsenal 3-1 Everton MATCH REPORT
Aston Villa 0-0 Portsmouth MATCH REPORT
Bolton 0-0 Blackburn MATCH REPORT
Fulham 0-0 Sunderland MATCH REPORT
Liverpool 3-2 Wigan MATCH REPORT
Man Utd 4-0 West Brom MATCH REPORT
Middlesbrough 0-5 Chelsea MATCH REPORT


To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111. (Not all contributions can be used)

By Paul Fletcher

1941: A quick word on the Match of the Day running order. It starts at 2230 BST and is as follows (though it is subject to change):

Liverpool v Wigan
Middlesbrough v Chelsea
Arsenal v Everton
Man Utd v West Brom
Fulham v Sunderland
Aston Villa v Portsmouth
Bolton v Blackburn

1936: I'm off. Thanks very much for all your contributions on 606 and via text on 81111. I'm mega, super sorry about all the 606 server problems. Not my fault but, man, do I feel bad. Why don't we all come back on Sunday and see if normal business has been resumed.

The highest rated player after 90 minutes on Saturday is Manchester United's very much in-form Wayne Rooney. He has crashed through the seven barrier and some, registering 8.67 at full-time. Don't forget that you can still very much rate the players from all Saturday's fixtures.
Pick a match - rate the players

1926: And of course - I meant to write "consolation" and not "equaliser" back at 1919 BST. A momentary descent into madness, no doubt inspired by the inevitable torpor of the last 20 or so minutes at Old Trafford. To borrow from Michael Winner, calm down dear.

1923: Full-time Man Utd 4-0 West Brom
The home team move into the top four for the first time this season. They went up a few gears after the break and fully deserved their victory.

West Brom defended manfully for the first 45 minutes but were swiftly blown away after the break. However, the outcome of their season will not be determined by what happens when they visit the top teams and plenty of others have suffered a similar fate.

1920: GOAL Man Utd 4-0 West Brom
Dimitar Berbatov plays in Wayne Rooney down the right. The England forward drills a low pass across the face of goal that Nani converts.

1919: West Brom come close to a consolation that their endeavour and perseverance probably warrants. Ishmael Miller shoots under pressure from Ryan Giggs and Edwin van der Sar makes a decent save.

1917: "The saying is "in the mix" - not mixer. Why do all you online guys get it wrong? In the mix. IN THE MIX!"
Anonymous via text on 81111

I sense your anger but I have to be honest, I much prefer mixer to mix. Much better.

1916: "The big four will be back to normal on Sunday when Hull win their game in hand."
Cush, Bristol, via text on 8111

1913: Ryan Giggs floats in a free-kick and John O'Shea is inches away from a decisive touch with his outstretched boot. About 10 minutes left.

1911: Gary Neville comes close to a very rare goal but his effort is bundled away.

1907: Measured approach, swift interchange of passing, fluid movement, neat skills - exhibition stuff now from United. The sense of mounting anxiety ended in the instant Rooney put United ahead. West Brom's hopes disappeared like sand running through your fingers.

1905: I think it is now very much fair to say that the top four in the Premier League at the end of this game will be the "big four". Normal business has been all too predictably resumed.

1901: GOAL Man Utd 3-0 West Brom
Awful, awful defending. Nani, on as a substitute, delivers a low cross that Jonas Olsson fails to clear. The ball runs all the way through a busy West Brom box before Dimitar Berbatov casually taps the ball home from six yards.

1900: GOAL Man Utd 2-0 West Brom
Wayne Rooney plays in Cristiano Ronaldo, who leaves Ryan Donk trailing in his wake and slots the ball past Scott Carson.

1858: There are approximately 25 minutes left for the Baggies to conjure an equaliser. It doesn't look likely but as long as they keep it to one goal then they remain in the mixer.

1855: Yep, Gary Neville comes on, Rafael makes way.

1853: The shop steward has stripped down. I think we'll be seeing Gary Neville enter the field of play any moment now.

1852: Scott Carson makes a good save low down from Wayne Rooney.

1850: West Brom are trying to push forward more - what choice do they have? I cannot help but think that this might well lead to more trouble at their end of the pitch.

1846: GOAL Man Utd 1-0 West Brom
West Brom succumb to the inevitable. Dimitar Berbatov plays in Wayne Rooney, who skips past Ryan Donk and shoots low into the bottom corner.

1844: United, as has been the case all game, are enjoying the vast majority of possession but there is real intent about their play now. Dimitar Berbatov's strike is too close to Scott Carson, who saves.

1843: Tony Mowbray, who has been in charge for two years, makes a change, Roman Bednar replaced by Ishmael Miller.

1842: A crisp strike from Wayne Rooney 20 yards from goal leads to an excellent diving save from Scott Carson.

1840: A rare sighter for West Brom but Chris Brunt obviously needs a couple to find his range as he misses by some distance.

1838: Cristiano Ronaldo is fouled close to the Baggies area and wants a free-kick but Mark Halsey is not interested. Frustrating for the home team.

1836: "Has it escaped your attention that Gianni Zuiverloon, the West Brom right-back, has had Cristiano Ronaldo in his pocket throughout?? Credit where it is due please."
Jason, in Dagenham, via text on 81111

Yes Jason, it has escaped my attention.

1835: United run out for the second half with a spring in their step. West Brom follow and play resumes.

1833: Man Utd have scored in their last 30 Premier League games. Fact. West Brom haven't won at Old Trafford for almost 30 years.

1832: "Truth be told, based on how we are playing so far Chelski will win the Premier League. I guess we can settle for retaining the Champions League."
A Man Utd fan in the pub via text on 81111

Are you sure you are a Man Utd fan?

1828: I wonder if United's lack of cutting edge during the opening half has resulted in a Fergie hairdryer scenario. Or maybe he saved it for the ref.

1826: "O'Shea and Fletcher both on. Just need Brown to complete the Holy Trinity and West Brom will surely win!"
JC, Berks, via text on 81111

1821: "It's like West Brom need a Visa to get into the United half. TERRIBLE."
guidos_4_reds on 606
Join the debate on 606

1817: Half-time Man Utd 0-0 West Brom
The home team dominated large chunks of the half and Wayne Rooney did have the ball in the net - only for Mark Halsey to rule out his effort. But the Baggies, organised and determined, get to the break all square.

1816: A wonderful teasing cross comes in from the left by Cristiano Ronaldo but - not for the first time in the half - nobody makes contact.

1813: Dimitar Berbatov shoots goalwards but his effort is bravely blocked and Scott Carson collects. The Baggies could well do with getting through to the break on equal terms.

1810: Rio Ferdinand wants a penalty for a handball against Paul Robinson - it would be harsh and a corner is the right decision. Nemanja Vidic subsequently heads goalwards but is foiled by Ryan Donk clearing off the line.

1807: Rafael shoots at goal from 20 yards but his effort barely has enough power to reach goal.

Patrice Evra, surely injured, is replaced by John O'Shea.

1805: The ball comes into the West Brom box and eludes a whole host of players from each side before it is put out for yet another corner (that once again comes to nothing).

1803: "Fletch - what kind of a mood is Berba in today?"
nowthennathan on 606
Join the debate on 606

To be honest I haven't really noticed him.

1800: Robert Koren has a go from 20 yards. That is about the best you can say as the Baggies man misses by quite some distance.

1757: Man Utd win a free-kick - well Ronaldo does - about 25 yards from goal. The Portuguese ace strikes the ball - straight into the wall.

1755: Wayne Rooney loses his marker and heads goalwards but Scott Carson makes a good save.

1753: Wayne Rooney collects a pass from Cristiano Ronaldo, jinks inside and slots the ball home. However, referee Mark Halsey has already blown his whistle for a shove on a Baggies player earlier in the move. Correct decision? Debatable.

1750: The atmosphere at Old Trafford sounds far from electric. Ryan Giggs sends a free-kick into the West Brom box but it is far too deep and drifts out out of play.

1746: Man Utd win another corner - and another. That is four so far. The Baggies have managed to snuff them out without too many alarms so far.

1745: (See 1737) "Regarding the atheist philosopher; as any Ipswich fan can tell you Norwich is a godless place."
Anonymous via text on 81111

1741: Just to note - I spelt Ben Churchill's name ever so slightly incorrectly. That is not his fault.

Man Utd dominating possession at Old Trafford but not much in the the way of clear openings to tell you about.

1737: The two players booked for Norwich today have surnames of Bertrand and Russell. Philosophise on that one.

1735: Cristiano Ronaldo shoots at goal but his efforts lacks power and Scott Carson easily saves.

1731: The final Premier League game of the day starts at Old Trafford.

1730: (See 1721) "Ben you are wrong. Liverpool's guide to winning games is 1) play to the end 2) keep believing 3) pure class and true grit and that's from a Man Utd fan."
Anonymous via text on 81111

The top rated player at full-time from the five games that started at 1500 BST was Sunderland's Kieran Richardson with 8.25. I think that Wigan's Amr Zaki (8.14) and Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt (8.10) might feel hard done to if they knew they had fallen short. But you can still change all this. Get involved.
Player Rater

1721: "Liverpool's guide to winning fixtures.
1) Concede 1-2 goals.
2) Wait for ref to wrongly give a player a red card.
3) Score 2-3 goals.
4) Liverpool fans gloat about their fantastic win."
Ben Churchill on 606
Join the debate on 606

1718: "As much as it sickens me to say this, Liverpool look like their actually going to challenge for the title this year. They have picked up wins when they haven't been playing well and could have lost. It is those points that wins Premier League titles."
Berba_United on 606
Join the debate on 606

1716: "If Man Utd win, the top of the table will show "the big 4", but in the reverse order to the finish line."
Shambles, Manchester, via text on 81111

1713: Any predictions for the Man Utd v West Brom game?

1707: "Getting worried about the way Liverpool keep on picking up points in games that seemed beyond them. Well done to them, but I still don't think they've got what it takes to win the Premier League. Reckon they'll be third this season, as Arsenal have been so hit and miss thus far."
Medieval-Evil on 606
Join the debate on 606

1702: "It may not be pretty sometimes, but comebacks and scrappy victories are what win league titles. Well done Liverpool!"
Kris, Skem, via text on 81111

I'm not saying you are wrong but Chelsea may well disagree with you.

1658: Full-time Liverpool 3-2 Wigan
Another dramatic comeback from Liverpool. They just won't lie down. Poor old Amr Zaki, he did not deserve to be on the losing side.

1657: Full-time Arsenal 3-1 Everton
It looked dodgy for a while but Arsenal proved their worth in the end. Everton's disappointing season continues.

1656: By the way, an assistant referee at Villa was hit by some form of missile. I'm sure we'll have more on that later.

1656: TEAMS
Man Utd: Van der Sar, Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Fletcher, Giggs, Park, Berbatov, Rooney.
Subs: Kuszczak, Neville, Brown, Nani, O'Shea, Evans, Gibson.

West Brom: Carson, Zuiverloon, Donk, Olsson, Robinson, Morrison, Koren, Borja Valero, Greening, Brunt, Bednar.
Subs: Kiely, Hoefkens, Cech, Barnett, Miller, MacDonald, Moore.

1654: Full-time Aston Villa 0-0 Portsmouth

1653: Full-time Bolton 0-0 Blackburn

1652: Full-time Fulham 0-0 Sunderland
Plenty of chances, the woodwork took a beating but no goals.

1652: GOAL Arsenal 3-1 Everton
Theo Walcott seals victory for Arsenal with a shot from a tight angle that goes through Tim Howard's legs.

Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson hands Brazilian teenager Rafael his first Premier League start ahead of both Gary Neville and Wes Brown, who are on the bench. Park Ji-sung also makes Ferguson's starting line-up, with neither Carlos Tevez nor Anderson considered after not returning from World Cup duty in South America until yesterday afternoon.

West Brom, looking for their first win at Old Trafford since 1978, are skippered by former United man Jonathan Greening, part of a five-man midfield.

1649: Can I just refer you all to the comment at 1220.

1646: GOAL Liverpool 3-2 Wigan
Jermaine Pennant whips in a cross from the right. It is slightly behind Dirk Kuyt but the Dutch forward executes some form of spectacular volleyed finish on the turn, even if there is a slight hint of a mis-kick about it.

1645: Yossi Benayoun jinks his way through the Latics defence and finally gets a shot off but it is blocked. All Liverpool now.

1643: (See 1636) "That's the third Liverpool game in a row that an opposing player has been sent off for a challenge on Xabi Alonso! Happened at Everton & Man City too!"
Anonymous via text on 81111

1641: GOAL Liverpool 2-2 Wigan
Steven Gerrard sends plenty of Wigan defenders the wrong way with a cute dummy and Albert Riera strikes the ball low, hard and true from 18 yards.

1638: RED CARD
Sean Davis sees red for Pompey after picking up his second yellow card. The second booking, following a challenge on Stiliyan Petrov, looks a touch harsh.

1636: RED CARD
Wigan'sAntonio Valencia receives his second yellow for an atrocious challenge on Xabi Alonso. He was booked minutes earlier for charging out of the wall.

1635: Djibril Cisse smashes the ball against the crossbar for Sunderland.

1634: Back to Anfield. All sorts of shenanigans as Liverpool line-up their free-kick. The wall refuses to retreat the full 10 yards and referee Alan Wiley singles out Antonio Valencia for a booking. When the kick is finally taken, Steven Gerrard fires wide.

1634: Bolton cut through the Blackburn defence with a fine passing move but Matt Taylor is unlucky to clip the post when aiming to curl his shot in.

1632: GOAL Arsenal 2-1 Everton
Emmanuel Adebayor slides the ball to Cesc Fabregas, whose shot is parried by Tim Howard. The ball breaks to Robin van Persie, who makes no mistake from close range with a header.

1631: Big moment at Anfield. A free-kick for Liverpool. Steven Gerrard poised.

1630: No sign of a goal at Villa Park. Bolton are on top at the Reebok but Blackburn are weathering the storm of set pieces.

1627: I just want to say sorry once again to everyone suffering 606 server trouble. Melon twisting is the phrase I'd use.

1626: Three of the games now taking place are goalless. Not good enough.

1623: "Anything you can do..." at the Reebok as Bolton's Andy O'Brien goes one better than Blackburn's Jason Roberts. The defender completely misses the ball with an attempted two-yard header from a corner.

1621: A decent old-fashioned handbags style scuffle breaks out at Arsenal. You know the type, plenty of pushing and shoving. It follows a challenge by Tony Hibbert on Denilson. Gael Clichy squares up to Hibbert. Both are booked for their troubles. Pointless.

1618: Dirk Kuyt almost equalises for Liverpool from six yards but Chris Kirkland makes a cracking save with his feet.

Craig Gordon parries a strike from Fulham midfielder Jimmy Bullard.

1617: Rob van Persie should put Arsenal in front but blazes over shooting on the turn from 12 yards. Poor.

1616: "Will Wigan be able to keep Zaki much beyond Christmas? He'll be a welcome Christmas present for a few Premier League teams. I bet his agent is licking his lips."
Dom EFC via text on 81111

1615: Daniel Agger heads Xabi Alonso's free-kick back across goal, but Lee Cattermole is on hand to clear the ball off the line for Wigan.

1613: Kieran Richardson brilliantly scores with a free-kick. Oh no he doesn't, the goal is for some reason disallowed by ref Keith Stroud.

1611: Dean Whitehead shoots for Sunderland, his low effort inches wide. Kieran Richardson then lobs the ball towards an empty goal - almost empty that is. Aaron Hughes heads the ball clear with the keeper beaten.

1610: GOAL Arsenal 1-1 Everton
A corner breaks to Samir Nasri, who drills the ball home from 20 yards.

1608: Everton almost score again but Manuel Almunia saves at the feet of Yakubu.

1607: Kolo Toure off with a shoulder injury for Arsenal so Theo Walcott is on and in defence Alexandre Song partners Mikael Silvestre in the centre with Emmanuel Eboue at right-back and Gael Clichy at left-back. Play has resumed everywhere.

1606: Play has resumed at Villa, Bolton and Fulham.

1605: "I've got a pug dog, massive eyes, he can look up, little belter he is."
Preston pug via text on 8111

1603: On the 606 server front - I have no more firm news. It is being worked on.

1601: "Is Amr Zaki Merlin in disguise? Because that was magical. Seriously, how are Wigan going to keep him at the end of the season?"
Redthemadsheep via text on 81111

Good point. Zaki is on a season-long loan from Zamalek.

1600: Will we see a second-half comeback from Liverpool? Or Arsenal?

1552: What an end to the half. Drama.

"Just to clear this up it is pigs that cannot look up."
Anonymous via text on 81111

And to clear something else up - I had no idea it was a line from Shaun of the Dead.

1549: Half-time
In all the games that started at 1500 BST.

1549: GOAL Liverpool 1-2 Wigan
What a spectacular over-head volley on the angle, some distance from goal by Wigan's Amr Zaki. No wonder he wheels away in celebration, infused by joy and an overwhelming sense of happiness.

1547: Albert Riera has a good headed chance for Liverpool but cannot keep his effort on target.

1546: Blackburn's Jason Roberts somehow misses the target from less than six yards when he glances a free header wide from a Brett Emerton cross.

1545: Dirk Kuyt unleashes a venomous strike for Liverpool but a fingertip save from Chris Kirkland sees the ball deflected on to the crossbar.

1545: Sunderland forward Kieron Richardson's deliciously curled free-kick hits Mark Schwarzer's left-hand post, squirts across the goal line and rebounds off the right-hand post and then ricochets off Schwarzer back onto the left-hand post before being scrambled to safety. You really cannot get much closer.

1544: Blackburn come close to breaking the deadlock at the Reebok when Carlos Villanueva collects the ball on the edge of the area and his shot clips the bar with Jussi Jaaskelainen well beaten.

1542: (See 1530) My dog looks up all the time. Especially when I'm eating. Or when he knows I'm doing something wrong."
Anonymous via text on 81111

"I've heard that it's only some sort of dogs that can look up; poodles for instance can't. Not that they count as dogs though."
Anonymous via text on 81111

1541: Joleon Lescott heads goalwards for Everton and almost doubles their lead but Gael Clichy clears off the line.

1539: GOAL Liverpool 1-1 Wigan
Daniel Agger is allowed to roam forward, the Wigan players dropping off. The Dane collects a return pass from Albert Riera and slips the ball to Dirk Kuyt, who slots home from seven yards.

1536: Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor is booked for diving. Are the Gunners in for one of their trademark frustrating afternoons?

1535: (See 1530) "Dogs can look up, they just choose not to."
Jim, Cardiff, via text on 81111

1532: Set up by Jermain Defoe, Armand Traore batters the ball against the upright with Villa keeper Brad Friedel well beaten. Defoe then volleys the ball into row Z from four yards out with the goal gaping.

1531: GOAL Liverpool 0-1 Wigan
Amr Zaki robs Daniel Agger on the edge of the Liverpool area and the Eygptian striker slides the ball beyond Pepe Reina for his sixth Premier League goal of the season. Shocking defending from the Danish defender. Truly terrible.

1531: Robbie Keane tries to curl one into the far corner from an acute angle. The Liverpool striker just misses the target.

Robin van Persie shoots wide for Arsenal from 14 yards.

1530: "My mate says Amr Zaki has agreed to join Man Utd in January. Dunno if that is true as he also says dogs can't look up."
Stu, Leicester, via text on 81111

Text of the day, bar none.

1525: Still only one goal from the five games currently taking place. Joleon Lescott makes a timely interception at Arsenal with Samir Nasri poised to equalise for the Gunners.

1524: Olivier Kapo goes close for Wigan after cutting in from the left and shooting at goal. Pepe Reina makes a good save.

1523: Bolton's Matt Taylor goes close when his inswinging free-kick from the right eludes everyone. Rovers keeper Paul Robinson does well to palm the ball around the post.

1521: Everton's Leon Osman shoots at goal from 20 yards but his strike is deflected just wide off Mikael Silvestre.

All happening at Craven Cottage. Djibril Cisse shoots from an acute angle, his effort just shaving the Fulham post.

1520: Break in play at Anfield as Amr Zaki falls heavily after a challenge with Alvaro Arbeloa, the Egyptian looks in some discomfort but should be OK to continue.

1518: Robin van Persie almost equalises after superbly controlling a Cesc Fabregas pass with his chest. The Dutch forward shoots at goal but his shot is saved by Tim Howard.

1517: Albert Riera puts in a tidy cross that Dirk Kuyt seems certain to meet, but Wigan defender Titus Bramble puts the ball out for a corner.

1515: "There are 1500 kickoffs!? That's a hell of a lot. Are you sure about that Fletch?"
Tom, Bath, via text on 81111

Is that really worth a text message? Couldn't you have used it to tell some of your nearest and dearest that you love them?

Cesc Fabregas shoots over.

1510: GOAL Arsenal 0-1 Everton
Leon Osman slips the ball to Steven Pienaar, bursts into the box and collects a return pass, slotting the ball past Manuel Almunia.

1510: Zoltan Gera rounds the keeper at Fulham but his effort is cleared off the line by a Sunderland defender.

1510: Robbie Fowler enjoying plenty of early touches on his Premier League full debut for Blackburn.

1508: Wigan, lining up 4-3-3, are really trying to put Liverpool under pressure at Anfield.

End-to-end at a vocal Villa Park. John Carew volleys just wide for Villa.

1507: Another good chance for Sunderland, Kieran Richardson shooting low and across goal, with Mark Schwarzer again making a brilliant save.

1505: "Paul Fletcher is updating his thread on the BBC Sport homepage rather slowly & stutteringly."
Poland's Finest Kopite on 606Join the debate on 606

Rest assured my friend this is a server and not a finger issue. I'll let you know when I reach the stage when I can no longer type fast enough to keep up.

1503: Djibril Cisse goes close for Sunderland from an acute angle - Mark Schwarzer making a decent save.

1500: All of the 1500 kick-offs are under way.

1500: Not Premier League but must mention this - the referee at Huddersfield is called Michael Oliver and is just 23. I'd like to see him withstand a Stan Ternent blast.

1459: By the way, today is Steven Gerrard's 450th game for Liverpool.

1456: Are we ready to some serious Premier League action? Hope so.

1452: Not many people in their seats at the Reebok. Nothing to do with the free beer the club are giving away?

1450: "We have a long way to go to win the Premier League."
Chelsea boss Big Phil Scolari.

Yes, but you have made a rather sensational start.

You may not be massively surprised to learn that Chelsea's players are very much on top on Player Rater. Their lowest-ranked man, Wayne "6.28" Bridge is well clear of Boro's top-ranked Jeremie "5.14" Aliadiere. Salomon Kalou is leading the way with a monstrous 8.15. Difficult to argue with that, but get involved anyway....
Player Rater

Bolton hand a start to Matt Taylor after his goal from the bench against West Ham two weeks ago. Ricardo Gardner drops out of the starting XI.

Blackburn make six changes, with Robbie Fowler making his first league start for the club. Jason Roberts and Carlos Villanueva also come into the line up, as does keeper Paul Robinson.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Andrew O'Brien, Cahill, Samuel, McCann, Davies, Nolan, Muamba, Taylor, Elmander.
Subs: Al Habsi, Hunt, Joey O'Brien, Smolarek, Gardner, Riga, Shittu.

Blackburn: Robinson, Simpson, Nelsen, Samba, Ooijer, Emerton, Villanueva, Kerimoglu, Warnock, Fowler, Roberts.
Subs: Brown, McCarthy, Grella, Khizanishvili, Andrews, Treacy, Derbyshire.

1437: Full-time Middlesbrough 0-5 Chelsea
All that talk of a potential upset has something of a hollow look about it now. Chelsea were rampant, absolutely thrashing a Boro side that has some serious soul searching to do (or maybe they will choose just to forget all about it).

1433: TEAM NEWS:
Andrew Johnson returns forFulham after a one-match ban and replaces Clint Dempsey in attack.

Sunderland make two changes from the team that drew 1-1 with Arsenal. Grant Leadbitter, who scored against the Gunners, comes in for Dwight Yorke while Michael Chopra replaces Andy Reid.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Davies, Murphy, Bullard, Gera, Zamora, Johnson.
Subs: Zuberbuhler, Nevland, Gray, Dempsey, Andreasen, Kallio, Baird.

Sunderland: Gordon, Chimbonda, Ferdinand, Collins, McCartney, Malbranque, Leadbitter, Whitehead, Richardson, Cisse, Chopra.
Subs: Fulop, Bardsley, Tainio, Diouf, Murphy, Reid, Healy.

1431: "I have to feel sorry for my dad... he was invited to the VIP hospitality at the Riverside today... hope the bar is well-stocked!"
swebbing on 606
Join the debate on 606

Carlos Cuellar makes his Premier League debut in defence but Aston Villa have a settled look in attack with Gabriel Agbonlahor partnering John Carew.

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp makes a change in midfield, bringing in Glen Little, while Noe Pamarot is restored in defence.

Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Davies, Laursen, Milner, Reo-Coker, Petrov, Barry, Ashley Young, Agbonlahor, Carew.
Subs: Guzan, Luke Young, Sidwell, Harewood, Knight, Shorey, Gardner.

Portsmouth: James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Armand Traore, Little, Davis, Diop, Pamarot, Defoe, Crouch.
Subs: Ashdown, Hreidarsson, Thomas, Utaka, Mvuemba, Kanu, Belhadj.

Mikael Silvestre makes his belated debut for Arsenal after recovering from a thigh injury and comes into a back four hit by the loss of injured duo William Gallas and Bacary Sagna. Cesc Fabregas - who suffered a broken nose while with Spain - is fit to play, but England winger Theo Walcott is rested to the bench.

Everton boss David Moyes makes only one change from the team that drew with Newcastle with striker Louis Saha dropping to the bench and teenager Jack Rodwell starting.

Arsenal: Almunia, Song Billong, Toure, Silvestre, Clichy, Eboue, Fabregas, Denilson, Nasri, Van Persie, Adebayor.
Subs: Fabianski, Diaby, Vela, Walcott, Ramsey, Gibbs, Hoyte.

Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines, Arteta, Osman, Rodwell, Fellaini, Pienaar, Yakubu.
Subs: Nash, Saha, Vaughan, Neville, Nuno Valente, Gosling, Wallace.

1424: Afonso Alves, on as a sub for Boro, stands over a free-kick. His strike hits the wall. Boro probably just want putting out of their misery.

1423: Mido has a crack at goal. It is some distance from goal and, indeed, misses by some distance as well.

1420: It is almost six at the Riverside but Turnbull makes a good save to deny Anelka.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has handed Daniel Agger and Jermaine Pennant their first Premier League starts of the season, while Robbie Keane and Dirk Kuyt will start up front in the absence of Fernando Torres.

Wigan are without England talisman Emile Heskey, who misses the chance to face his old team with a back problem. In comes Dutchman Daniel de Ridder in the Latics' only change.

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Dossena, Pennant, Gerrard, Alonso, Riera, Keane, Kuyt.
Subs: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Benayoun, Leiva Lucas, Insua, Ngog, El Zhar.

Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Scharner, Bramble, Figueroa, Valencia, Cattermole, Palacios, Kapo, De Ridder, Zaki.
Subs: Pollitt, Taylor, Kilbane, Koumas, Brown, Boyce, Camara.

1415: Frank Lampard drills the ball into the side netting. I bet Gareth Southgate hasn't felt this bad since he missed a penalty for England.

1413: Nicolas Anelka has the ball in the net but the goal is ruled out for offside. Boro fans streaming out, more than 20 minutes remain.

1411: GOAL Middlesbrough 0-5 Chelsea
Speaking of the circus - oh dear. Ross Turnbull spills Nicolas Anelka's shot on to the post in unconvincing fashion, it rebounds and Florent Malouda is on hand to finish for his first league goal of the season.

1410: (See 1130) "I know I'm chiming in a bit late, but I'd pay to see Posh Spice attempt to negotiate an obstacle course in those high heels. Boozing encouraged."
BleedTheBlue on 606
Join the debate on 606

You're not too late, you're more than welcome. I'd like to see that as well.

1409: Ironic chants of "boring, boring Chelsea" can be heard. Man, they look good - and with all those injuries.

1407: GOAL Middlesbrough 0-4 Chelsea
Wonderfully constructed goal that ends with Salomon Kalou delivering a cross between the keeper and backline that Frank Lampard heads home, diving style.

Anonymous via text on 8111


1404: Frank Lampard shoots from 20 yards but too close to Turnbull, who saves.

1403: "Mido has been awful today. I genuinely think I would have been more effective than him and I'm 45, overweight and have two broken toes."
Francis via text on 81111

I've got a sore toe, stubbed it on the base of the sofa the other day. Very painful.

1401: Aliadiere shoots for Boro but Cudicini saves. Up the other end Belletti blazes over from 14 yards. All happening.

1400: "I'd like to see a reverse of the scoreline and see Boro win. I'd also like to win the lottery. I know which one is more likely."
smogfrog via text on 81111

Better get your numbers on.

1358: Check this - John Johnson has replaced Jonathan Grounds for Boro.

1356: GOAL Middlesbrough 0-3 Chelsea
A brilliant cut back on the volley from Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou shoots at goal. The ball strikes David Wheater, taking a substantial deflection past Ross Turnbull.

1355: A Liverpool fan in our office has just realised that Boro have not equalised. Oops.

1354: GOAL Middlesbrough 0-2 Chelsea
Juliano Belletti 25 yards from goal, at least. Nothing on. Bang. Goal. Brilliant.

1352: Boro win a free-kick and the ball is swung in but Cudicini collects. Chelsea swiftly counter and Jonathan Grounds horrifically judges the bounce of a long ball up field. Malouda is through on goal but seems to be caught in two minds. He tries to round the keeper and ends up squirting the ball wide. A terrible waste.

1351: Stewart Downing, doubtless stung by all the comments on 606 suggesting he should not be in the England squad, tries his luck on his RIGHT foot. His effort flies over the crossbar.

1349: Will we see an improvement from Boro? As I write these words Chelsea go on the attack...

1348: The second half has started at the Riverside.

1347: Sorry to everyone reading this on your mobile, but quite a few texts and 606s have come in pointing out that the combination of the images on the English and Scottish live texts make it looks as though two players have just one set of legs. Very droll, though I see your point.

Here's Danny the Stat's number-based chat... "Salomon Kalou and Frank Lampard are the leading pair with 7.74 and 7.27 respectively. No-one has slipped beneath six for Chelsea after an accomplished half. Furious at this news? Log on and change stuff."
Rate the players

1333: Half-time Middlesbrough 0-1 Chelsea
The Blues fully deserve their lead at the break after dominating huge chunks of the half. Boro were booed from the field, which may be a touch harsh but there is no doubt an improvement is required if they are to take anything from this game.

1331: A slightly dodgy attempted pass back to his keeper from John Terry is chased down by Jeremie Aliadiere but Carlo Cudicini clears before the French forward can reach it.

1330: "Downing in the England squad ahead of Ashley Young?! I love Capello but please Fletch or ANYONE give me one good reason why."
Chris, Preston, via text on 81111

I hear that he brings along his games console.

1328: "This 606 server is so slow I'm almost tempted to switch the TV on and actually watch Boro v Chelsea."
legendaryBenny25 on 606
Join the debate on 606

Stick with it. We need you.

1323: Lots of people thought this might be a potential upset. Chelsea, though, have retained possession very well and worked the ball up the field brilliantly - very much a case of fluid passing and movement. Malouda's shooting is not quite as smooth as he shoots way over from 20 yards.

1320: "Mido is awful. Fact."
Matt in Manchester (but a Spurs fan) begrudgingly admiring Chelsea via text on 81111

Ironic or mistaken use of the word fact? You decide.

1316: Boro ride the storm, go up the other end and win a corner. The ball rolls to Stewart Downing on the edge of the area. Alas, he misses it completely. Chelsea counter and Malouda delivers a superb low cross that eludes everyone.

1312: David Wheater makes a crucial defensive header for Boro with the ball arcing its way towards goal. Chelsea are rampant.

1309: Chelsea almost score. Florent Malouda delivers a teasing low cross from the right and Frank Lampard seems certain to convert from six yards but misses the target. However, the referee awards a corner.

1308: "I know Cech revels in it but does Cuducini have to look like a traffic cone as well?"
redandblackT1899 on 606
Join the debate on 606

Stop right there. Be safe, be seen.

1305: A second for Chelsea rather a Boro equaliser looking the most likely at the moment. Kalou sees an angled shot saved.

1259: GOAL Middlesbrough 0-1 Chelsea
David Wheater only manages to head clear a cross as far as Juliano Belletti, who shoots at goal. His effort ricochets off several players before falling at the feet of Salomon Kalou, who slips the ball home from close range.

1256: Frank Lampard delivers a free-kick that Alex heads harmlessly wide. Does not stop the Brazilian appealing for a corner.

1253: Chelsea enjoying plenty of possession at the Riverside without threatening. Boro showing real intent when they are on the ball.

1252: (See 1241) "That can only be the opinion of a six year old. Wenger is one of the Premier League's most important assets, and the day he leaves the game I will literally cry for a full month."
Anonymous via text on 81111

Sensational end to the text. It could well see you end up in the Guinness Book of Records. Literally.

1251: Cracking run down the right from Adam Johnson, leaving Wayne Bridge trailing very much in his wake. Johnson delivers a low cross but there are no Boro players taking a chance in the box.

1250: "What a joke John Terry is - he was too injured to play for England yet surprise, there he is leading out Chelsea. He should be stripped of his captaincy for England as clearly he doesn't appreciate it as much as he does his Chelsea armband. Chelsea through and through yet he is a Manchester United fan!!! He is a disgrace to England."
sparkle230 on 606
Join the debate on 606

I really, really hope you feel better now.

1246: Chelsea have lost two of their last three visits to Boro.

1245: The match has started at the Riverside. Big Phil on the sidelines wearing his trackie, smiling and looking pretty happy with life. Big Phil does seem to be a happy sort, apart from when he is looking extraordinarily flustered.

1241: "If Arsenal don't win today then Wenger should be sacked and another striker bought."
Matt via text on 81111

To borrow from John McEnroe, you cannot be serious? This sort of talk irritates me more than I could possibly express in written form.

1239: "West Brom have a good side at the minute and Tony Mowbray is a king. We won't be pushovers today!"
Buck, Bingley, via text on 81111

A king of what or where, ruling over whom?

1236: Boro up against an injury ravaged Chelsea - upset on the cards? Plenty of people seem to think so. It will certainly be a good test of Chelsea's mettle.

1231: "I love Danny Dyer so much but I'm only asking for one night. Just one night of passion and then I promise you'll never hear from me again!"
Victoria, Bath, via text on 8111

Just saw this in the text inbox. One of the best texts ones I have ever seen. What would Danny say to that? "You gotta come round to my manor." Or "Jog on".

And if you are still having server problems, stick with it, some comments are getting through and people are working on it. I'm sorry about the situation all the same.

1230: Just to clarify - the comment at 1215 was by Saint Fabregas. Would not like him/her to think his/her words have been stolen.

John Terry returns for Chelsea, but Luiz Felipe Scolari has to make five changes - four of them enforced - against Middlesbrough. Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Michael Ballack and Joe Cole are on the lengthening casualty list, with Carlo Cudicini, Wayne Bridge, Alex, Juliano Belletti and Salomon Kalou getting the nod.

Boro welcome back Andrew Taylor from a hip problem with Justin Hoyte joining the injury victims, while Adam Johnson is preferred to record signing Afonso Alves.

1225: "Ahhh, I'm glad the Premier League is back, I'm not a big fan of these international breaks ...but that might be explained by the fact I'm Welsh."
Llanlad on 606
Join the debate on 606

No easy games now and your boys saw off Liechtenstein. Touch.

1222: "On my way to the Emirates - Everton look like they can be torn apart quite easily at the moment. Come on you Goons!"
Martin, London, via text on 81111

Hmm. Everton might be buoyed by the news Moyes has penned a new deal. I reckon it might be a draw.

1220: Wigan beware - Liverpool have come from behind to win on three occasions his season.

1215: "I had a dream a couple of nights ago that West Brom won the league. It might be a sign that they will beat United today. Here's hoping (I highly doubt it though)."
SaintFabregas on 606Join the debate on 606

What are we without dreams? Empty vessels.

1213: I am not one for predictions. I don't do very well and try to avoid anything that will leave me hoisted by own petard. But anyway, I reckon Chelsea, Bolton, Fulham, Liverpool and Man Utd will win. The other two games to finish honours even.

1207: "Money talks now days in football. That's the only reason I can see the point in Heskey returning to Liverpool."
Anonymous via text on 81111

It is not all money, money, money. These boys do it for the love of the game.

1205: "Manchester United will slip up against West Brom."
Nuggets on 606
Join the debate on 606

If you are a betting man I am assuming that you are not known for your wealth?

1201: TEAMS
Middlesbrough: Turnbull, Grounds, Wheater, Riggott, Taylor, Aliadiere, Shawky, O'Neil, Adam Johnson, Downing, Mido. Subs: Jones, Digard, Emnes, Alves, Bennett, John Johnson, Walker.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Bosingwa, Terry, Alex, Bridge, Belletti, Lampard, Mikel, Kalou, Anelka, Malouda. Subs: Hilario, Ivanovic, Sinclair, Ferreira, Deco, Mancienne, Stoch.

1200: (See 1146) "I hope that'll be the case but I reckon Everton will struggle all year. Comedy defending, lightweight midfield and a not enough striking options."
Neon via text on 81111

1158: "WAGS circus: Posh and Becks human cannonball. Robinson/Carson/James doing flying trapeze with their WAGS and no safety net."
dmrickht on 606
Join the debate on 606

1154: "Server too busy, I bet that makes you feel a little good doesn't it Fletcher."
Boobiek100 on 606
Join the debate on 606

Not really, leaves me feeling a touch empty and whatever is the opposite of interactive.

(See 1130) "I would pay anything to see Cheryl Cole."
HiathamTheChosenOne on 606
Join the debate on 606

We need to be very careful here. But I take your point.

1148: "Does anyone really think Emile Heskey should go back to Liverpool? Complete rubbish. Stay where you are, stay in the England squad. Simple."
Blake, Kent, via text on 81111

Sage words, I'm sure that Steve Bruce would wholeheartedly agree. For all you web users, in case you did not see the story...
Heskey open to Liverpool return

1146: One of the five 1500 BST kick-offs features Everton. The Toffees have gone 12 league games without a clean sheet and have conceded 15 goals this season. But now that David Moyes has finally signed a new contract can we expect an upturn in fortune for the men from Goodison?

1141: "Come on get 606 fixed. I need something to distract me from writing a report for Uni."
Anonymous via text on 81111

We are trying our very, very, very best.

1140: If you're out and about later, shopping or other such Saturday activities, you can still follow this text commentary and get all the scores on your mobile.

From a UK phone, just text FOOTBALL to 81010, it will cost you 10 to 15p and you will receive in return a link to our mobile site. Click on that, and you'll be straight through (then bookmark it so you never need to text that number again). The cost of being online on your phone will vary according to network and your own contract. If I was speaking the last bit of this paragraph I would have done so very quickly, just like in the adverts you see on the telly.

1135: The early fixture of the day sees Chelsea travel to Middlesbrough looking to consolidate their position at the very summit of the Premier League.

An early factoid; no team have taken more Premier League points off Boro than Chelsea - 51 and counting.

1132: Now then, there seems to be a temporary problem with 606 - this is being worked on by our finest minds.

1130 BST: Roll up, roll up, the circus is in town.

Did you hear Rio Ferdinand this week talking about the WAGS circus. Well what if there literally was a WAGS circus?

Could you imagine paying your money to some extraordinarily expensive big tent to watch Posh Spice negotiate the trapeze in her ridiculous heels? Would I pay money to watch that? No.

The question is - who would you like to see doing what in the WAGS circus? And keep it clean, this is a family show.

Meantime, there are seven Premier League fixtures today as the world's finest footballing entertainment extravaganza resumes after the international break.

All of the big four are in action today, which makes this a somewhat unusual Saturday, though that isn't the top four as Hull don't play until Sunday.

Should be a cracker.

Barclays Premier League Table
01 February 2010 22:00
    P GD PTS
1 Chelsea 23 38 54
2 Man Utd 24 36 53
3 Arsenal 24 32 49
4 Tottenham 24 20 42

5 Liverpool 24 16 41

6 Man City 22 14 41
7 Aston Villa 23 13 40
8 Birmingham 23 -1 34
9 Everton 23 -1 32
10 Blackburn 24 -15 28
11 Fulham 23 -2 27
12 Stoke 22 -7 26
13 Sunderland 23 -10 24
14 Wigan 22 -23 22
15 West Ham 23 -9 21
16 Bolton 22 -15 21
17 Wolverhampton 23 -21 21

18 Burnley 23 -23 20
19 Hull 23 -26 20
20 Portsmouth 22 -16 15

see also
Saturday's football photos
18 Oct 08 |  Football

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