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By Chris Bevan
1722: But that's just about all from me for today. Still plenty of football going on though - you can listen to Nottingham Forest v Newcastle on BBC Radio 5 live Sports Extra in a few minutes, then Alan Green will be taking your calls on 606 at 1900 BST. Enjoy... thanks for your banter and see you all soon.
1720: I know you won't need reminding that you can catch all of today's Premier League action - balloons/beach-balls and all - on Match of the Day at 2220 BST on BBC1 and then watch every goal from the Championship, League One and League Two in the Football League Show which is on straight afterwards at 2345 BST. If you still want yet more football after that little lot, then join me tomorrow for Burnley-Blackburn and Wigan-Manchester City. I'm looking forward to it already.
1717: It's been a busy old day and here's Football League Danny to round up all the action from the lower divisions: "Good day for West Brom - they fought back strongly from a goal down to beat Reading 3-1 and move level on points with Newcastle at the top of the Championship. The Magpies are kicking off at Nottingham Forest in a few minutes, so they have a chance to move clear - although a Forest win could put the Baggies top on goal difference. Watford won 1-0 at Middlesbrough - excellent result for them and very disappointing for Gareth Southgate. QPR routed Preston 4-0, while Bristol City's push for the play-offs was halted by a last-gasp Peterborough equaliser. Down in League One, Charlton are top after beating Huddersfield and Bournemouth march on in League Two, winning 1-0 at Accrington."
1719: Sunderland goalscorer Darren Bent on his winner against Liverpool, which took a huge deflection off a balloon on its way into the net: "I just remember hitting the shot and it hitting the top of the balloon and flying in. The balloon was right in the middle of the Liverpool penalty area so I don't know why they didn't move it."
1717: There might be a bit of fall-out from that clash at the Brittannia Stadium, however, as Stoke defender Robert Huth escaped punishment completely after appearing to swing an arm at Matthew Upson. I think the officials missed it.
1715: Back to the Premier League and at the bottom end of the table, West Ham are now without a win in eight league games following today's defeat by Stoke and remain second-bottom.
1710: No late game in the Premier League tonight, but there is some more Championship action to come as Nottingham Forest play host to leaders Newcastle.
1708: Also keeping touch at the top of the table are Tottenham, who held on to beat Portsmouth despite having Jermain Defoe sent off with half-an-hour to go. They stay third, three points behind Manchester United.
From Desolation_row on 606:
"Well that certainly sets it up nicely for next weekend. Liverpool have lost all their games against decent opposition so far this season and now face Man Utd at home knowing that, if they lose, they'll be 10 points off the top of the table."
1703: It is Manchester United who go top tonight. They were given a bit of a scare in the final few minutes by Bolton after dominating for most of the game, but they held on to win 2-1 and move a point above Chelsea, who lost at Aston Villa in the early game.
1702: I wonder who Steve Bruce's man of the match will be today eh folks? Mr Balloon per chance? The win takes his side to seventh in the Premier League, and sees them leapfrog Liverpool.
1700: An incredible game at the Stadium of Light, where Sunderland hold on to win 1-0 through Darren Bent's deflected goal - whether it was a balloon or small beach-ball, it still got a huge final touch - despite some heavy late Liverpool pressure.
1659: Both those red cards from earlier were for second bookings - Stefan Maierhofer for blocking Tim Howard and Michael Brown for fouling Aaron Lennon.
1658: FULL-TIME Sunderland 1-0 Liverpool
1657: FULL-TIME Everton 1-1 Wolves
1657: FULL-TIME Stoke 2-1 West Ham
1656: FULL-TIME Arsenal 2-1 Birmingham
1655: FULL-TIME Portsmouth 1-2 Tottenham
1655: A frenetic finish at the Stadium of Light, where a couple of superb saves by Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon keep Liverpool at bay - he stops Dirk Kuyt's shot from the edge of the area and is up to keep out David Ngog's follow-up.
1654: RED CARD Wolves' Stefan Maierhofer
1653: RED CARD Portsmouth's Michael Brown
1653: FULL-TIME Man Utd 2-1 Bolton
1652: One last chance for Bolton, who hoist the ball into the area for Gary Cahill to head goalwards... but straight at Edwin van der Sar. Manchester United survive, but only just.
1651: Seven minutes of injury time to be played at Sunderland. The Black Cats still lead 1-0.
Blimey, Everton have left it late - but they are level. A nice move down the left ends when Jo squares for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov to fire home.
1648: We're into four minutes of injury time at Old Trafford, where Ivan Klasnic has just sent a low shot skidding wide for Bolton and Zat Knight has headed over. Bolton still piling forward looking for an equaliser.
1646: Lots happening down the divisions too - here's Football League Danny with more: "Performance of the day in the Championship? Has to be QPR - Wayne Routledge has put them 4-0 up against high-flying Preston. Rangers putting together a decent run of results of late."
1645: Arsenal might look safe but Manchester United still have work to do here. Bolton are bombarding their penalty are area and the home side are only attacking on the break now.
Sorry about that Birmingham fans. Vito Mannone finds Cesc Fabregas, who feeds Andrey Arshavin and his neat finish finally gives Arsenal their third goal. That should wrap the points up but they've made hard work of it.
1642: GOALFLASH Arsenal 3-1 Birmingham (Arshavin)
1641: Arsenal are still on top against Birmingham but they also only lead by a single goal despite having chances to score plenty more.
1641: Manchester United are looking VERY nervy in the final 10 minutes against Bolton. The visitors are pushing hard for an equaliser and United have pulled everybody back to defend.
Wolves are ahead and it doesn't get much more route one than that - Wayne Hennessey's goal-kick is missed by everyone and Kevin Doyle runs through before slotting home - helped by Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard leaping out of the way of the ball.
1637: GOALFLASH Everton 0-1 Wolves
1635: More goal news from Football League Danny: "Good day for Neil Harris - the Millwall veteran has notched a hat-trick and the Lions lead 4-0 at Stockport."
Out of nowhere, Bolton pull a goal back at Old Trafford. Kevin Davies crosses at the second attempt and Matty Taylor rises above Patrice Evra to nod home.
Stoke have been under a lot of pressure in the last few minutes but they have just retaken the lead against Hammers after scoring from a swift break. Ricardo Fuller beat Matt Upson down the right and, after his shot was saved by Rob Green, James Beattie slid in to bundle home the rebound.
1632: GOALFLASH Man Utd 2-1 Bolton (Taylor)
1630: GOALFLASH Stoke 2-1 West Ham (Beattie)
1628: Ten-man Tottenham are hanging on for dear life against Pompey. Goalkeeper Heurelho Gomez has just come to Spurs' rescue with a blinding stop to keep out a far-post volley from Hassan Yebda - Portsmouth fancy this.
1627: After all that excitement, here's Football League Danny: "Charlton are back in front against Huddersfield and a 2-1 win will put the Addicks top of the League One pile tonight. Back in the Championship, Jerome Thomas's second goal puts West Brom 2-1 up against Reading."
Portsmouth were given another boost seconds after pulling a goal back, with Tottenham goalscorer Jermain Defoe shown a straight red card for a stamp on Portsmouth defender Aaron Mokoena, who was down on the ground after just tackling him.
Here's that Portsmouth goal - it came after a spell of heavy Pompey pressure, with former Tottenham playerKevin-Prince Boateng firing home with a first-time shot from the edge of the area.
1621: More woodwork action, this time at the Stadium of Light. Darren Bent is causing Liverpool lots of problems in the second half - intercepting a poor Martin Skrtel back-header and firing against the post from a narrow angle. Sunderland's goalscorer, balloon, has gone a bit quiet since the break.
1617: Chaotic scenes at The Emirates Stadium, where Arsenal are given an indirect free-kick about 10 yards from goal when Sebastian Larsson's interception is seen as a back-pass. With every Birmingham player back, Andrey Arshavin taps the ball to Robin van Persie, who slams his shot against the bar.
1620: RED CARD Tottenham's Jermain Defoe
1618: GOALFLASH Portsmouth 1-2 Tottenham (Boateng)
1616: Stoke are turning the screw a bit against West Ham - James Beattie curled one shot wide and Ryan Shawcross went close with a header before shooting wide from the follow-up.
1615: Liverpool are pushing hard for an equaliser but are almost caught out on the break - Darren Bent took the ball around Pepe Reina but the Reds goalkeeper gets back to keep out his shot.
1614: Manchester United keep creating chances and Jussi Jaaskelainen is very busy at the moment - brilliantly keeping out a Dimitar Berbatov volley.
1611: Er, speaking of missed opportunities, Arsenal's Andrey Arshavin finds himself completely unmarked inside the six-yard box after a Birmingham defender stands on the ball. Arshavin has time to pick his spot but drags his shot wide. A real waste.
1609: Michael Owen misses a golden chance to put Manchester United 3-0 up, latching on to Dimitar Berbatov's sublime flick in front of goal but flicking the ball wide after avoiding Zat Knight's lunging tackle.
1606: The second half starts at the three other Premier League grounds. At Old Trafford, Zat Knight tried to make amends for his earlier own-goal howler but heads Matty Taylor's free-kick straight at Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.
1603: We're under way at Old Trafford, The Emirates and Fratton Park - it's still half-time everywhere else.
1600: Birmingham are not out of it against Arsenal after Lee Bowyer pulled a goal just back before half-time but they've got their work cut out to salvage even a point at the Emirates as the Gunners have been top class going forwards at times. New Blues owner Carson Yeung is at the Emirates, do you think the £40m he has pledged to spend in January is enough for Alex McLeish to strengthen his team, or is more needed?
1558: As things stand, Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp looks like his return to Fratton Park will be a very happy one. A big ask for Pompey to come back from 2-0 down, especially with Spurs looking so sharp going forward.
From anon, via text on 81111: "Balloon causes Liverpool's title dream to pop? "
Keep 'em coming folks...
1555: United will be top of the Premier League table at the end of the day if they beat Bolton and, leading 2-0 they are well on their way to victory. They should be further ahead too, after completely dominating the first half against Wanderers.
1553: Whether Mr Balloon's goal should have counted or not, Sunderland are on top against Liverpool. The Black Cats look the more determined and giving the visitors' defence plenty to worry about, while the Reds look a lacklustre team and rarely look like scoring. I'm sure Mr Benitez will have a lot to say about that goal at full-time though... Darren Bent's shot took a huge deflection.
1550: I just can't keep Football League Danny quiet today, can I? "Some important goals at the top of the Championship and League One. West Brom have levelled against Reading with a Jerome Thomas strike That one is 1-1. And it's the same score at The Valley where Anthony Pilkington levels for Huddersfield against Charlton. As it stands, Colchester are going top of League One tonight."
1550: HALF-TIME Everton 0-0 Wolves
1549: HALF-TIME Sunderland 1-0 Liverpool
1549: HALF-TIME Arsenal 2-1 Birmingham
1548: HALF-TIME Portsmouth 0-2 Tottenham
1547: HALF-TIME Man Utd 2-0 Bolton
Right on half-time at Fratton Park, Jermain Defoe extends Tottenham's lead with a trademark poacher's finish. Jermaine Jenas had escaped down the right and crossed for Defoe to prod the ball past David James.
1546: GOALFLASH Portsmouth 0-2 Tottenham (Defoe)
1545: Another opportunity for Wolves, with Ronald Zubar's cross being turned wide by Sylvan Ebanks-Blake after he had swivelled into space in the box.
1543: Wolves finally threaten the Everton goal at Goodison Park but Kevin Doyle's curling strike is saved by Tim Howard. To be fair to Wolves, the home side have hardly created loads of chances either in a game that has failed to ignite.
1541:Football League Danny has still got his eyes firmly on the lower leagues, particularly the race for promotion to the Premier League: "Could this be a good day for Newcastle? West Brom are losing and now Championship promotion rivals Middlesbrough are behind as Tom Cleverley puts Watford 1-0 up at the Riverside. Remember, the Magpies play Forest at 1720 BST this evening."
1540: Before Birmingham scored, Arsenal had taken Theo Walcott off, after he picked up a knock in a challenge by Liam Ridgewell. He has been replaced by Andrey Arshavin. A real shame for the winger, who had started brightly.
A mix-up in the Arsenal defence is ruthlessly punished by Birmingham, who pull a goal back. Barry Ferguson's cross is not dealt with by either Abou Diaby or Vito Mannone and the loose ball is slammed home by Lee Bowyer at the far post.
1538: GOALFLASH Arsenal 2-1 Birmingham (Bowyer)
Not sure why, but everybody in the Premier League seems to have forgotten how to defend corners today. West Ham have created very little indeed but they are level after Matthew Upson is allowed time and space to meet Mark Noble's corner and head into the net.
1536: GOALFLASH Stoke 1-1 West Ham (Upson)
1535: A good response by Portsmouth and they are almost level. Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes has to spectacularly tip over one-handed after almost being wrong-footed by a wickedly deflected Kevin-Prince Boateng free-kick.
Bolton are completely opened up as Manchester United pour forward, and Gary Neville crosses for Antonio Valencia to fire home at the near post - that's his first goal since his summer move from Wigan.
1532: GOALFLASH Man Utd 2-0 Bolton (Valencia)
Simple as you like for Tottenham as they take the lead at Fratton Park - Niko Kranjcar floats over a corner and Ledley King heads home, with David James stuck in no-mans land. Harry Redknapp was on the phone when the goal went in.
1531: GOALFLASH Portsmouth 0-1 Tottenham (King)
1530: I thought we'd seen it all from balloons in the news this week when 'Balloon Boy' was found to be safe. I didn't realise Steve Bruce had signed him for Sunderland?
1527: Here's that man again - Football League Danny, with more informed chat from the lower leagues: "Bad start for high-flying West Brom, who can go top of the Championship - for a couple of hours at least - with a win at home against struggling Reading today. Matthew Mills put the Royals 1-0 up early on and they still lead. Elsewhere, QPR lead Preston 1-0 and Ipswich are 1-1 with Swansea. In League One Charlton and Colchester both lead and will both go above Leeds as it stands."
From Mete, via text on 81111: "Liverpool are looking very deflated at the moment. Are their title hopes about to pop?"
1525: A quiet(ish) start at Goodison Park but there has been one glorious chance for the home team. It fell to Tim Cahill, who blazed wildly over after racing onto a long ball that bounced away from Louis Saha.
From Dan, via text on 81111: "Re Darren Bent's goal - a new meaning to the phrase 'ballooning a shot'!"
1522: The balloon that 'scored' Sunderland's goal actually came from the Liverpool fans behind Pepe Reina's goal - I guess I should change my description to balloon og - but should it have stood?
1520: Manchester United have been all over Bolton in the opening few minutes, and Jonny Evans had a header turned on to the post by Jussi Jaaskelainen's fine save soon after the home side took the lead. Bolton have just had an opening too, mind, with Sam Ricketts' right-wing cross finding a totally unmarked Kevin Davies - but the Bolton striker put his header wide of Edwin van der Sar's goal.
1519: Portsmouth aren't just defending at Fratton Park you know - in fact, they should be ahead. Aruna Dindane somehow fired over an open goal from inside the six-yard box following a fine left-wing cross by Tommy Smith.
Birmingham are cut to shreds again, and Tomas Rosicky's low cross from the right finds Abou Diaby at the far post - he slots home to extend the Gunners' lead.
1518: GOALFLASH Arsenal 2-0 Birmingham (Diaby)
A poor clearance by Birmingham only finds Alex Song, and he slips the ball through to Robin van Persie, who drives the ball low into the corner of the net with a precise finish to give Arsenal the lead.
1516: GOALFLASH Arsenal 1-0 Birmingham (Van Persie)
1514: A decent chance for Arsenal against Birmingham, as Theo Walcott flips the ball past Liam Ridgewell and races clear before forcing a good save from Joe Hart, who tips the curling shot over the bar. A good start from the England winger, on his first start of the season.
Referee Martin Atkinson points to the spot when Julien Faubert hauls down Matthew Etherington in the box. James Beattie steps up to smash the penalty into the top corner and give Stoke the lead.
1512: GOALFLASH Stoke 1-0 West Ham (Beattie pen)
1511: PENALTY to Stoke
1509: No balloons, or own goals at Fratton Park but Jermain Defoe has just gone mightily close to putting Tottenham ahead. He bursts into the box before slamming a low shot against David James' left-hand post with the keeper beaten.
Manchester United's goal was almost as ridiculous as Sunderland's - with Patrice Evra's cross being flicked on by Michael Owen before Bolton defenderZat Knight's attempt to clear sees him clumsily hit the ball into his own net.
Amazing scenes at the Stadium of Light, where Darren Bent meets Andy Reid's cross with a shot that cannons off a stray balloon, past Pepe Reina, and into the net. The Liverpool players protest to referee Mike Jones, but the goal stands and Sunderland lead.
1505: GOALFLASH Sunderland 1-0 Liverpool (Bent)
1504: GOALFLASH Man Utd 1-0 Bolton (Knight og)
1503: Jermain Defoe is the first to try his luck for Tottenham, letting fly from 20 yards against his former club - but David James makes a routine save. We've started at the Britannia Stadium and Goodison Park, at last.
1501: We are under way in five of this afternoon's Premier League matches - only Stoke v West Ham and Everton v Wolves are letting the side down.
1459: Quite a mild reception for Tottenham Harry Redknapp at Fratton Park as he takes his seat just before kick-off. I think he was fearing a lot worse.
1458: Right then. Time to find out if Chelsea's rivals at the top of the table can take advantage of the leaders' defeat at Aston Villa. Manchester United will go top if they beat Bolton, while Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool could all close the gap.
From Gil, via text on 81111: "Hmm, I wonder if man-marking will be getting the same kind of stick as Rafa Benitez's zonal system has, after Chelsea's defensive performance today...?"
1452: TEAM NEWS Portsmouth v Tottenham Former boss Harry Redknapp returns to Fratton Park and includes Ledley King in the heart of the Tottenham defence after he missed the last two league games with hamstring trouble. Ex-Pompey striker Jermain Defoe starts up front with Robbie Keane, with another former Portsmouth favourite Peter Crouch on the bench, along with Wilson Palacios, who returned late after international duty. David James, linked with a move to White Hart Lane, is fit for Portsmouth following knee trouble, with former Spurs players Younes Kaboul and Kevin-Prince Boateng facing their old club.
1451: Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson on Rio Ferdinand's drop in form for club and country: "He has not had spells like this since he joined the club. "It is an unusual experience for him but he will get through it I am sure of that. We all go through little phases where we have to correct our game or take it a step up. I am sure Rio will do that."
1450: TEAM NEWS Stoke v West Ham Stoke are unchanged from the side that drew 1-1 at Everton last-time out. Glenn Whelan has recovered sufficiently from the calf problem he picked up on midweek international duty with the Republic of Ireland to be named on the bench. West Ham make three changes to the side that were held 2-2 at home by Fulham a fortnight ago. Midfielder Jack Collison starts after overcoming a knee injury. Valon Behrami and Radoslav Kovac also come in with Luis Jimenez and Zavon Hines dropping to the bench, while Scott Parker is suspended.
1448: So, a second straight away defeat for Chelsea, who remain top of the Premier League for the time-being but are left to rue some terrible defending from corners. Villa recovered well from Brad Friedel's early howler and James Collins fully deserved to net their winner after an impressive all-round display. Martin O'Neill's men go fifth in the table, level on points with third-placed Tottenham on 16 points.
1445: FULL-TIME Aston Villa 2-1 Chelsea
1443: A long free-kick by Michael Essien is nodded on by Nicolas Anelka, but bounces harmlessly out of play. Time running out for Chelsea.
1442: Villa defender James Collins has been named man-of-the match by the tannoy announcer at Villa Park - apparently Steve Bruce thought Emile Heskey deserved it... he has been on for 10 minutes now you know.
1441: We've got three minutes of added time left to play at Villa Park. By the way, if you give this page a refresh, Score will appear as if by magic at the top.
1439: Carlo Ancelotti looks distinctly unimpressed as his side dither in possession and John Terry gives the ball away. The visitors seem to have run out of ideas - they haven't put Villa under serious pressure for a while now.
1438: TEAM NEWS Sunderland v Liverpool Sunderland's Kieran Richardson misses out through suspension and George Mccartney takes his place at left-back. New signing and ex-Liverpool player Boudewijn Zenden is on the bench.Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard and striker Fernando Torres are out injured, while Javier Mascherano, Emiliano Insua and Albert Riera are on the bench as the Reds make five changes from the side which was beaten at Chelsea. Centre-back Daniel Agger, left-back Fabio Aurelio, midfielder Jay Spearing as well as wingers Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun all start.
1437: Here comes Joe Cole for Chelsea, replacing Florent Malouda. He's got five minutes to salvage something for Chelsea here. Cole drops in for Deco in the middle, behind the front two - Deco has gone out wide on the left.
1436: TEAMS Sunderland v Liverpool Sunderland: Gordon, Bardsley, Turner, Ferdinand, McCartney, Malbranque, Cana, Cattermole, Reid, Bent, Jones. Subs: Fulop, Nosworthy, Zenden, Campbell, Henderson, Da Silva, Healy. Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Carragher, Babel, Lucas, Aurelio, Spearing, Benayoun, Kuyt. Subs: Cavalieri, Voronin, Riera, Mascherano, Insua, Ngog, Kelly. Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)
1435: TEAM NEWS Everton v Wolves Everton manager David Moyes makes just one change from the side held at home by Stoke, with Joseph Yobo replacing midfielder Marouane Fellaini who drops to the bench. Winger Michael Kightly is handed his first start of the season as Wolves make four changes from the side that lost at home to Portsmouth. Slyvan Ebanks-Blake partners Kevin Doyle in attack, defender Ronald Zubar makes his debut and there's also a recall for Jody Craddock.
1433: Michael Essien fires a shot goalwards from 30 yards when a corner is only half-cleared, but it hits his team-mate Branislav Ivanovic in a crowded penalty area. With eight minutes left, Villa bring Emile Heskey on for John Carew.
1432: TEAM NEWS Arsenal v Birmingham Arsenal make three changes to the team that beat Blackburn last time out, with Emmanuel Eboue, Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott replacing Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy and Andrey Arshavin. Birmingham make four changes from the side that lost at Burnley, bringing in Liam Ridgewell, Sebastian Larsson, Lee Carsley and Cameron Jerome for Franck Queudrue, Keith Fahey, Teemu Tainio and Garry O'Connor.
1430: Chelsea are still pressing at Villa Park, where the home side have pulled back everyone bar John Carew as they look to protect their lead.
1429: TEAM NEWS Man Utd v Bolton Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson makes eight changes from the side held at home by Sunderland last time out. Edwin van der Sar makes his first appearance of the season in goal after recovering from two broken fingers, with deputy Ben Foster failing to even make the bench. An ankle injury to Nemanja Vidic means Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans form the centre-half partnership and in the absence of the injured Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen starts alongside Dimitar Berbatov in attack. Bolton are unchanged from the side which drew with Tottenham in their last match.
1425: Chelsea's turn to spurn a chance. Nicolas Anelka surges towards goal but his low shot is saved, yet again, by Brad Friedel. We've got 15 minutes left at Villa Park.
1424: Villa should really have wrapped this up by now, but they haven't. James Milner's deep cross is sent back across goal by Ashley Young and falls for John Carew at point-blank range - it looks a certain goal but somehow he manages to scoop the ball over the bar. Chelsea survive but Martin O'Neill is furious.
1423: TEAMS Stoke v West Ham Stoke: Sorensen, Huth, Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Collins, Delap, Diao, Whitehead, Etherington, Fuller, Beattie. Subs: Simonsen, Higginbotham, Whelan, Lawrence, Kitson, Sanli, Wilkinson. West Ham: Green, Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Behrami, Kovac, Noble, Collison, Cole, Diamanti. Subs: Kurucz, Franco, Jimenez, Spector, Da Costa, Hines, Stanislas. Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)
1422: More problems for Chelsea as they try, unsuccessfully, to defend another Villa corner. Richard Dunne has another free header, but cannot find the target this time. That should have been 3-1, and Martin O'Neill knows it.
1421: TEAMS Arsenal v Birmingham Arsenal: Mannone, Eboue, Gallas, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Fabregas, Song Billong, Diaby, Walcott, van Persie, Rosicky. Subs: Almunia, Sagna, Ramsey, Silvestre, Wilshere, Arshavin, Traore. Birmingham: Hart, Carr, Roger Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell, Larsson, Ferguson, Bowyer, Carsley, McFadden, Jerome. Subs: Maik Taylor, O'Connor, Phillips, McSheffrey, Damien Johnson, Bent, O'Shea. Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)
1420: A bit of a delay at Villa Park - Jose Bosingwa is injured and is being replaced - Branislav Ivanovic is on for Chelsea instead.
1415: More pressure from Chelsea but that man James Collins is there to clear from Frank Lampard's low cross. Villa have around 30 minutes left to hang on to their lead.
1413: TEAMS Man Utd v Bolton Man Utd: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Jonathan Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Anderson, Giggs, Owen, Berbatov. Subs: Kuszczak, Brown, Nani, Scholes, Welbeck, O'Shea, Macheda. Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Ricketts, Knight, Cahill, Samuel, Lee, Cohen, Muamba, Gardner, Taylor, Kevin Davies. Subs: Al Habsi, Robinson, Steinsson, Mark Davies, Klasnic, McCann, Basham. Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)
From GreatGoon on 606:
"Chelsea are very poor defensively. Teams like Man Utd and Arsenal will tear them apart if they keep defending like this..."
1411: Another decent stop by Villa keeper Brad Friedel, who is making up for his mistake earlier. He beats away a shot from Florent Malouda, who had let fly from the edge of the area.
1409: Carlo Ancelotti's men are much better coming forward, that's for sure. Didier Drogba slides Deco clear but Brad Friedel saves with his legs - there wasn't much power in the shot.
1407: Chelsea do look decidedly dodgy at the back, with their latest problems coming from a deep James Milner cross that they only belatedly clear.
1405: I've just seen John Terry's reaction after James Collins' goal - he was absolutely livid, in the same way I used to throw a tantrum when my mum told me I couldn't play on my Megadrive anymore. Chelsea have responded well since going behind, though, and Frank Lampard has just fired wide with a low shot from the edge of the area.
You lot have been singing his praises on 606 and James Collins has just put Villa ahead. More poor defending from Chelsea, mind, as the Welsh defender was completely unmarked as he rose to head home Ashley Young's corner at the far post. Villa lead the Premier League leaders.
1403: GOALFLASH Aston Villa 2-1 Chelsea (Collins)
1402: Didier Drogba lines up a free-kick from 30 yards out, and takes his time to pick his spot... before blasting the ball straight into the wall.
1400: More news from Football League Danny (who has just been scolded via text for referring to Scunthorpe as 'lowly' in his last missive): "Final score from Glanford Park - Scunthorpe 3-1 Sheffield Utd. Big win for Scunny who move up to 16th - for a few hours at least. Not the result the Blades will have wanted."
1359: A decent spell of possession for Chelsea comes to nothing as Stiliyan Petrov - who was mightily impressive in the first-half by the way - intercepts. It's a bit scrappy at the moment but stand-in referee Kevin Friend is trying to let the game flow.
From BoltonSpur on 606:
"I've said it before and I'll say it again. in James Milner and Ashley Young, Villa have the best pair of wingers in the league."
1355: Ooh. I've just seen that Martin O'Neill has got a grazed elbow from his collision with Nicolas Anelka - he's bravely come out for the second half, which has just started, though.
1353: If the score stays the same, then a point for Chelsea will extend their lead at the top of the table to three points and Villa will stay seventh. This one looks like it has got more goals in it, but I wouldn't like to predict a winner.
From TeleKemis on 606:
"Congratulations Chris, you referred to Casualty at the start of the live text and look at 'em, they're going down like flies in this match! Personally, my team AFC Bournemouth don't need any help in that department thank you very much!"
1348: All of Chelsea's starting XI played international football during the week, apart from Ashley Cole, so will we see a spot of fatigue from the visitors in the second half? Still all to play for at Villa Park - Martin O'Neill's men still look dangerous.
1342: Blimey. Plenty to talk about after the first 45 minutes at Villa Park then. Referee Steve Bennett went down with flu just before kick-off, so he was replaced by fourth official Kevin Friend - who turned down a decent early penalty shout from the home team. A real clanger from Brad Friedel allowed Chelsea to take the lead before Frank Lampard's mistake let Villa equalise. Oh, and Nicolas Anelka almost caused Martin O'Neill serious damage in an accidental collision - the Villa boss seems OK though.
1339: HALF-TIME Aston Villa 1-1 Chelsea
1338: Ashley Cole goes into Kevin Friend's book for a wild challenge on Gabby Agbonlahor - seconds after he had received a rollicking from team-mate Didier Drogba. That seemed to wind him up a bit, unsurprisingly.
1337: Villa's best bet coming forward is definitely when they use their width - and two dangerous crosses almost see them end the first half with a flourish. James Milner's delivery from the right is just an inch too high for Steve Sidwell, who is unmarked in front of goal. The ball then runs to Ashley Young on the left, who almost finds John Carew with his delivery.
1334: It's been a very open game so far but Chelsea are well on top at the moment. It takes a great block from James Collins to deny Didier Drogba, who had found space on the left-hand corner of the six-yard box. We're into the last five minutes of what has been a very eventful first half at Villa Park.
1331: What's this? Even more news from Football League Danny: "Them goals just keep on a-coming at Glanford Park - Grant McCann's second of the game puts Scunthorpe 3-1 up and the lowly Iron look well on their way to three much-needed points."
From Nathan and Nathan, via text on 81111: "Re 1312. Got to give credit to Martin O'Neill for getting back up! It must have been an inspiration to Richard Dunne when he scored!"
1328: Chelsea try to up the ante again and go close to retaking the lead with a great effort by Deco, who picks his spot with a delicate chip from the edge of the area that is heading goalwards until Brad Friedel sticks out a arm to push it away, just. The Villa goalkeeper gets a mouthful of post for his trouble too.
Another goal at Villa Park, and it's down to another mistake. Frank Lampard can only flick the ball on as he tries to clear a corner at the near post and Richard Dunne runs in unchallenged to head home. We're all square.
1323: GOALFLASH Aston Villa 1-1 Chelsea (Dunne)
From Sam in Sheffield, via text on 81111: "James Milner is looking dangerous for Villa. Better marking or another goal please Chelsea."
1319: It's good to see that Martin O'Neill seems none the worse for his little accident just now but, on the pitch, Chelsea seem to have stepped things up in the last few minutes. Didier Drogba just had another sight of goal but he curled his shot well wide from a decent position.
1317: More chat from Football League Danny, who is just getting going, I think: "Quick exchange of goals down in the Championship. Ched Evans equalises for Sheffield United - only for Paul Hayes to restore Scunthorpe's lead within two minutes. The Iron lead the Blades 2-1."
1315: End to end stuff at the minute at Villa Park, and Chelsea's turn to attack sees Ashley Cole beat three players before flashing his shot high and wide (just) from the edge of the area. Still a great run though.
1313: Villa are still coming forward strongly, and James Milner is seeing plenty of the ball on the right. He fires in a dangerous low cross from the right but John Terry is in the right place on the edge of the Chelsea six-yard box to hack the ball clear.
1312: Oh dear. Villa boss Martin O'Neill's day just got worse - he's just been clattered by Nicola Anelka, who was shoved off the pitch by Gabby Agbonlahor and flew straight into O'Neill, who was sent flying. Not sure how badly he's been hurt - will Villa need a replacement boss for the rest of the game? - I hope not.
1309: The Aston Villa fans are still not happy at being denied that penalty earlier. They're singing "you're not fit to referee" at Kevin Friend - nobody left to replace him though.
A goal out of nothing for Chelsea but Brad Friedel won't be happy with being beaten like that. Didier Drogba turns neatly and fires in a speculative shot from 30 yards out - the ball bounces awkwardly in front of the Villa goalkeeper and he cannot stop it flying past him.
1306: GOALFLASH Aston Villa 0-1 Chelsea (Drogba)
From shimmyshimmy on 606:
"Re 1303. There was definitely contact from Bosingwa but Agbonlahor looked like he could have easily let it bounce off him and stay on his feet..."
1304: Chelsea respond with a decent opening of their own, with Nicolas Anelka breaking down the right and crossing for Florent Malouda, only for James Milner to prevent a shot with a superb tackle. This game has opened up.
1303: A big shout for a penalty for Aston Villa, and a first big decision for replacement referee Kevin Friend. Gabby Agbonlahor appears to be hauled down by Jose Bosingwa as he shapes to shoot but Friend waves away the home side's appeals.
1302: Aston Villa's chance to waste a decent opportunity from a set-piece. Ashley Young curls a free-kick in from the left but it is straight at Petr Cech.
1301: Er, this is getting a bit silly. Kevin Marriott just replaced Paul Rejar as the fourth official but has now been replaced himself. They are going to change the fourth official for the fourth time... I'll keep you posted.
1300: Chelsea have settled down a little bit now and are enjoying a bit of possession in midfield. Villa are defending well, though, and keeping the visitors quiet in the final third of the pitch.
1257: Chelsea's first chance - a free-kick from a dangerous position on the right. They need to put this into the Villa penalty area but Deco makes a complete hash of it and it does not even clear the first defender. A real waste.
From anon via text on 81111: "How about Fergie for fourth official, he seems to know what is required?"
1253: More news on the officials at Villa Park. Paul Rejar is a former Football League referee but he will only be a temporary fourth official - the search is on for somebody else to take that role as soon as possible. If you're at Villa Park, and a qualified ref, then show yourself...
1252: An early corner for Villa, who have made a lively start. It's aimed towards Gabby Agbonlahor at the near post but he can't flick it on and Chelsea clear.
From stirydka1 on 606:
"I'm afraid that the absence of Michael Ballack could be crucial for Chelsea today. He's been a brilliant leader for us so far, and although Florent Malouda is a much improved player, he doesnt offer the experience and aerial prowess of Ballack."
1251: We're running five minutes late but Chelsea have just got us started at Villa Park. Paul Rejar will be our fourth official.
1248: The teams are in the tunnel at Villa Park, and kick-off will be in a couple of minutes apparently - at 1250 BST. And I thought it was just players who missed games after the international break...
From Jonathan, from Cambridge via text on 81111: "No fourth official? Where is Jimmy Hill when you need him?"
1244: The reason for the delay at Villa Park is that referee Steve Bennett has been taken ill. Fourth official Kevin Friend will take charge, but they need to find a replacement for him on the touchline. No news on when we will get under way though.
From Milnesy, via text on 81111: "Off to the Arsenal with a mate who is a Birmingham fan. He's pointing out that the Blues cost us more than Eduardo's injury two seasons ago. The four points dropped in the two games against them were massive - and blew our title chances. These are the games we have to win and this season seem to be giving more focus to."
1241: Kick-off has been delayed at Villa Park - not entirely sure why, or how long for. I'll tell you as soon as I know.
From Stuart in Camberley, via text on 81111: "Re Ben Johnson on Twitter about 1202. No, just that all those players are first team players unlike the Arsenal subs."
1238: Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp, who won the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008, on his return to Fratton Park: "I'm the best manager they ever had and I am very proud of what I achieved there. I'm looking forward to it, why shouldn't I?"
Rednapp looking forward to Pompey clash
1234: Quite a spicy looking encounter at Fratton Park today, where Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp returns to former club Portsmouth for the first time since he quit to move to White Hart Lane around 12 months ago, along with fellow Pompey old-boys Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch and Niko Kranjcar. Defoe and Crouch both scored for Portsmouth as they won this fixture 2-0 last season - an awful lot has happened to the south coast club since then.
1231: Lots going on outside the top-flight too today, of course. And who better than our very own Football League Danny to tell you all about it? (sorry, nobody else was available): "Lower league fans will note that Nottingham Forest host leaders Newcastle in the Championship's big match at 1720 BST. Before that, Middlesbrough host Watford and West Brom take on Reading, while in League One, Charlton can take over top spot from Leeds - who don't play until Monday - should they triumph over free-scoring Huddersfield. And there's one match already under way - Scunthorpe lead Sheffield Utd 1-0."
1228: Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti on his side's trip to Aston Villa: "We want to play like we did in the game against Liverpool, not Wigan. If we play like we did against Liverpool we can win. If we play like we did against Wigan we'll have a problem. We've won away at Sunderland and Stoke this season. Only at Wigan was there a problem."
From Ben Johnson on Twitter:
"Re 1202. You missed Nicklas Bendtner, Gael Clichy, Eduardo and Carlos Vela for Arsenal. I suppose thats because Arsenal have replacements, whereas Liverpool don't."
1223: Ah, ignore that Aston Villa team news from 1212. Sorry folks, I got given duff info - it's Ashley Young playing for Aston Villa, NOT Luke Young. I have dealt severely with the person concerned. If you give this page a refresh, it will be magically corrected before your very eyes.
1219: Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez, without Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres at Sunderland today, on the frustration of seeing players injured while on international duty: "You just have to hope your players come back safely. The World Cup is coming, so we must wait and hope they all return. There is still one more international date next month so the same thing will happen again."
1215: Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill on unsettled striker Emile Heskey's need for first-team football to boost his England hopes: "In terms of centre-forwards, Gabby Agbonlahor has been fantastic for us. His recent form has been superb so it would be hard to shift him out of the team at the moment. John Carew has also been great for us and also having to battle to get into the team. That competition can only be good for me as a manager but I can't guarantee people playing every single week."
1212: TEAM NEWS Aston Villa v Chelsea England striker Emile Heskey again finds himself on the subs bench for Aston Villa despite his concerns over his lack of recent starts. For Chelsea, Petr Cech is back in goal following suspension, while Jose Bosingwa recovers from a hamstring problem to make the starting line-up - though Michael Ballack (ankle) is out.
The bottlenose dolphins were spotted tossing the jellyfish off Tremadog Bay
1208: We've got a busy day today, starting with Chelsea at Aston Villa at 1245 BST, ahead of seven other matches at 1500 BST - so I need you lot to get involved really. You've got a choice too - use
text me via 81111 or even drop me a tweet on
Go on, I know you want to.
1205: TEAMS Aston Villa v Chelsea Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Collins, Dunne, Warnock, Petrov, Milner, Sidwell, Ashley Young, Carew, Agbonlahor. Subs: Guzan, Delph, Heskey, Reo-Coker, Shorey, Beye, Gardner. Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Essien, Malouda, Lampard, Deco, Anelka, Drogba. Subs: Hilario, Ivanovic, Joe Cole, Zhirkov, Kalou, Sturridge, Belletti. Referee: Steve Bennett (Kent)
1204: It's not just injuries that managers have to worry about when they watch their players jet off to foreign climes. They're also not altogether sure when they will actually come back. Birmingham will be without Christian 'Chucho' Benitez at Arsenal after he missed his flight back from South America following Ecuador's match in Chile. And Tottenham midfielder Wilson Palacios spent two days celebrating after helping Honduras beat El Salvador to qualify for South Africa 2010 (their first World Cup finals since 1982). He's back in the UK now, just about, but will miss his side's trip to Portsmouth.
1202: The latest victims are Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Sotirios Kyrgiakos (all Liverpool), Michael Ballack (Chelsea) and Glenn Whelan (Stoke) - all of whom will be absent from today's games after being injured playing for their country. None of them actually did fall off a ladder, though, as far as I know - although Ballack was crocked in a tackle from Blues team-mate Yury Zhirkov, which I'm sure delighted Carlo Ancelotti no end.
1201 BST: I guess that, for Premier League managers, international weeks are a bit like watching an episode of Casualty; you know from the start that somebody is going to fall off a ladder, or down the stairs, but you're not sure who and you don't know quite how badly they will get hurt.
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