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By Caroline Cheese
2214: Well, I was hoping to bring you a bit of Mick McCarthy after his rather controversial team selection tonight, but it seems he's taking his time to come out and speak to the waiting media. Watch out for that on the website later though. Stevo returns tomorrow as Chelsea look to restore their three-point lead, there's also the battle of the top-four wannabes as Spurs host Man City and Liverpool and Arsenal in action - as well as Fulham at Basle in the Europa League.
2208: Fergie reveals that Nemanja Vidic has a calf strain, which is a "bit of a worry".
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson: "It was a difficult night. They made it very difficult for us, pressed every ball, tackled everywhere. I thought they put up a good show considering they had most of their second string out. That wasn't surprising given the game they've got against Burnley at the weekend. Once we got the goal, we were comfortable enough."
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish: "I'm so proud of the players, to win five games in a row is absolutely sensational. I did a double take when I saw that we're in the top six, but we're proud of that and we've earned it. I don't think we've been lucky."
2204: Manchester United's easy win over weakened Wolves means they are level on points with Chelsea at the top ahead of the Blues' game against Portsmouth tomorrow. Villa five points behind in third.
2200: I've just seen a "Zola must go" text, which follows a "Bruce must go" shout over on
They appear to be lone calls though. Sunderland are 10th, six points off the European places, but five points above the relegation zone. The Hammers sit 19th, two points from safety having played a game more than Bolton in 17th.
2158: And Southampton beat Norwich 6-5 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out to go through to the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Southern Area final against MK Dons.
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at St Andrews: "Birmingham win - and the most relieved man inside St Andrew's will be Chucho Benitez after that incredible miss from six yards allowed Blackburn to live in hope of a point a little longer. Deserved victory for Alex McLeish's side, who go sixth, and Blackburn are left to wonder why they only started to play after going two down."
2156: Birmingham are unbeaten in eight, have won a club record five in a row in the Prem and are up to the heady heights of sixth.
2154: FULL-TIME Bolton 3-1 West Ham
2153: FULL-TIME Birmingham 2-1 Blackburn
2151: Seb Larsson saves Birmingham's bacon with a goal-line clearance from Nikola Kalinic's header. Birmingham counter quickly, but Paul Robinson - who had been up for the corner - chases back to save well from Larsson.
2151: FULL-TIME Man Utd 3-0 Wolves
Bolton goal: Ricardo Gardner's corner is headed in at the far post by defender Gary Cahill and that surely wraps up a crucial win for Bolton with two minutes remaining. Gary Megson's will be out of the bottom three too.
2148: GOALFLASH Bolton 3-1 West Ham (Cahill)
2146: Eventful little spell for Birmingham striker Chucho Benitez, who does brilliantly initially to play in Cameron Jerome on the left. With a hat-trick on the line, the striker's shot is saved by Paul Robinson. Benitez's follow-up crashes back off the bar and he tries an overhead kick - but that balloons disastrously into the crowd.
FA Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy Macca: "Late drama in the JPT as Dan Harding has notched an injury-time leveller for Southampton against Norwich. It's finished 2-2 and they're straight into penalties. None of that extra-time nonsense. Leeds and Carlisle are through to the final of the Northern Section. In the FA Cup, Torquay have beaten Stockport 4-0 to earn a home tie against Brighton. Cupset."
2140: Decent away win for Villa, who are up to third at least for 24 hours. Sunderland have won two in nine league games - against Liverpool and Arsenal. Show-boaters.
2138: FULL-TIME Sunderland 0-2 Aston Villa
Bolton goal: When you're struggling, the last thing you need is your keeper dropping a clanger, but that's what just happened to West Ham. Gary Cahill's shot comes off a Bolton team-mate's head, but Rob Green should deal with it easily. Instead, he lays it on a plate for Ivan Klasnic to tap in.
2136: GOALFLASH Bolton 2-1 West Ham (Klasnic)
2132: At Old Trafford, Michael Owen comes on to replace Wayne Rooney, who looks as delighted as usual to be coming off early. Wolves, according to the stats, are yet to muster an attempt on target.
West Ham goal: A well-worked move from the visitors brings them level. Guillermo Franco crosses the ball in low and Jack Collison touches it on for Alessandro Diamanti to fire in from 12 yards.
Blackburn goal: Joe Hart makes a great save from Pascal Chimbonda's far-post header, but Ryan Nelsen is quickest to the rebound. Nervous final 20 minutes or so for the home fans.
2128: GOALFLASH Bolton 1-1 West Ham (Diamanti)
2127: GOALFLASH Birmingham 2-1 Blackburn (Nelsen)
Bolton goal: Chung-Yong Lee cuts in from the Bolton left and plays a one-two with Ivan Klasnic which puts him through on goal. The South Korean then makes no mistake by dinking the ball over the on-rushing West Ham keeper Robert Green to put the home side ahead.
Man Utd goal: It's three at Old Trafford with Paul Scholes setting up Dimitar Berbatov on the right, and the Bulgarian hooks the ball back over his new haircut for Antonio Valencia to crack in a half-volley. A rare bit of magic in a very dull second half.
Sunderland red card: No complaints there - not even from Lorik Cana. The, er, tough-tackling Black Cats midfielder flies in two-footed on James Milner, sending the England winger up in the air, and is shown a second yellow card.
2123: GOALFLASH Bolton 1-0 West Ham (Lee)
2123: GOALFLASH Man Utd 3-0 Wolves (Valencia)
2122: RED CARD Sunderland (Cana)
2120: By the way, Wayne Rooney's goal is his 20th in the Premier League in 2009 - more than anyone else. Here's the top five: Rooney (20), Torres (19), Drogba (17), Bent and Defoe (15).
2117: Darren Fletcher replaces Nemanja Vidic for Manchester United. That means Patrice Evra takes the captain's armband. Meanwhile, a huge roar at the Stadium of Light as Lee Cattermole makes his injury return, in place of Jordan Henderson.
2115: Things are heating up at the Reebok. Gary Cahill gallops out of defence for Bolton and he neatly sidesteps the defender to make room for the shot - which is decent, but straight at Rob Green. West Ham break and Scott Parker's effort from the edge of the box is tipped over by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
FA Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy Macca: "In the JPT, Chris Martin has put Norwich 2-1 ahead at Southampton, who had led 1-0, and Scott Dobie has made it 2-0 to Carlisle. But not for long as Matthew Robson makes it 3-0."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at St Andrews: "Birmingham boss Alex McLeish used his programme notes to deliver public backing to striker Cameron Jerome and insist the goals would come for the striker. So they have and his second was the crispest of finishes. Perfect cross from Stephen Carr too - what an inspired signing he is turning out to be. Happy days at St Andrews."
2112: West Ham defender Danny Gabbidon denies Tamir Cohen for Bolton, diverting the Israeli striker's shot around the post.
2110: Richard Dunne produces a magnificent goal-saving tackle, the Villa defender sliding in as Kenwyne Jones is preparing to slot in George McCartney's cross.
Birmingham goal: Seb Larsson flicks the ball over his head for Stephen Carr who squares for Cameron Jerome to stroke the ball in. That's his second of the night - and now he's got a booking too for jumping into the crowd.
2106: GOALFLASH Birmingham 2-0 Blackburn (Jerome)
Villa goal: That's the goal of the night in the Prem (although there's not a lot of competition at the moment). James Milner brings the ball down and takes two touches before driving a wonderful right-footed 25-yard shot into the top corner.
2104: GOALFLASH Sunderland 0-2 Aston Villa (Milner)
2104: Go, go, go at Birmingham and, indeed, at Bolton.
2102: They're off already at Old Trafford. No hanging around there. I imagine Mick McCarthy might not want to hang around too long after the final whistle. Some angry Wolves fans out there...
2101: As Ashley Young smashes a shot onto the outside of the post for Villa, FA Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy Macca has this to say for himself: "They will be dancing in the streets of Milton Keynes tonight. The Dons have booked their place in the final of the Southern Section of the JP Trophy with a 4-1 win at Hereford, Aaron Wilbraham and Jermaine Easter getting goals in the last 12 minutes to secure their passage. Meanwhile, in the Northern Section, Leeds are 2-0 up against Accrington Stanley through Neil Kilkenny."
2057: If you missed it, troubled Watford have been hit
by the resignation of their chairman and two other directors.
The club were already teetering on the brink of administration. They need to raise £5.5m by June, and that could now go up as the outgoing chairman is owed money by the club. Time to call Sir Elton methinks...
2053: Andy Reid misses a great chance to level for Sunderland, slicing wide from Darren Bent's flick-on. Villa still leading 1-0.
2051: Birmingham fans will be wishing they can stop the season now. The Blues are sixth as it stands, ahead of Manchester City and Liverpool. On second thoughts, maybe they'll want to see if they can get into the European places?
2049: They're back under way at the Stadium of Light.
2049: HALF-TIME Bolton 0-0 West Ham
2048: HALF-TIME Birmingham 1-0 Blackburn
2046: Just before the whistle, Gabriel Obertan jinks into the box but, with Wayne Rooney waiting for the chance to slot in, the Frenchman opts to go for the shot himself. A waste.
2046: HALF-TIME Man Utd 2-0 Wolves
Man Utd goal: That's that then. From the corner, Nemanja Vidic rises above the Wolves defence to head towards goal. Marcus Hahnemann appears to have it covered but he just helps it into the net.
2043: GOALFLASH Man Utd 2-0 Wolves (Vidic)
2041: Wolves defender Segundo Castillo is in the book for a late foul on Antonio Valencia.
FA Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy Macca: "Goals from the JPT, with Gary Doherty levelling matters for Norwich against Southampton, Richard Keogh putting Carlisle 1-0 up against Bradford, who had Simon Ramsden sent off for a second yellow card, and Jason Puncheon making it 2-1 to MK Dons at Hereford."
2034: Sorry, the Wolves defender who gave away that penalty at Old Trafford was Ronald Zubar, not Zumar. I'm beginning to wish I had spent more time watching Wolves' reserves in action. That's not a sentence I ever expected to write.
2033: HALF-TIME Sunderland 0-1 Aston Villa
2033: The increasingly pun-weary FA Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy Macca: "Cupsetting news for Stockport fans: Torquay just cannot stop scoring. It's 3-0 to the Gulls now with Elliot Benyon grabbing his second of the game and eighth of the season."
Man Utd goal: Ronald Zubar - yes, him - bats away Darron Gibson's corner with his hand. Bit of confusion as no-one is quite sure if Steve Bennett has awarded the penalty. He has - and Wayne Rooney steps up to drive home his 12th league goal of the season.
2030: GOALFLASH Man Utd 1-0 Wolves (Rooney)
2029: PENALTY TO MAN UTD
FA Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy Macca: "Cupset Cupdate: League Two strugglers Torquay lead 2-0 at League One strugglers Stockport now. Scott Rendell is the scorer with his sixth of the season. A home tie with Brighton awaits the winner, by the way."
2023: Birmingham have the ball in the Blackburn net once more, but this time an assistant referee's flag rules it out as Chucho Benitez nipped in to divert Sebastian Larsson's shot into the net. Moments later, Rovers make a change as Keith Andrews comes on for Brett Emerton and it nearly pays immediate dividends as Steven Nzonzi has a shot cleared off the line.
2023: Great chance for Sunderland to get back in it - but they are denied by Mr Reliable Brad Friedel in the Villa goal. Jordan Henderson's clipped cross is volleyed goalwards at the back post by Andy Reid, but American keeper Friedel beats the shot away and Villa's lead remains.
2022: Gianfranco Zola predicted that Kieron Dyer wouldn't last 90 minutes for West Ham - and he was spot on, as it turns out. The injury-plagued winger is limping down the tunnel after less than 20 minutes on the pitch. Junior Stanislas comes on to replace him.
2020: United continue to dominate but Wolves make a rare attack and George Friend volleys over from seven yards with the home defence looking a little confused. Big let-off for the hosts.
2018: West Ham keeper Rob Green gets a little shoulder barge from Kevin Davies after catching the ball. Davies gets a yellow. Scott Parker wags his finger at the Bolton striker and then gets involved in a little scuffle with Ivan Klasnic in the aftermath and the Croat collects a yellow too. Scrappy at the Reebok as you might expect.
2017: Wayne Rooney slips over as he tries to take down a Paul Scholes pass on the edge of the box. As he gets to his feet, he raises his hand to the ref to indicate there was no foul. Interesting.
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at St Andrews: "Scrappy start and a scrappy goal but Birmingham will not care. Important early strike scrambled in by Cameron Jerome and manager Alex McLeish's reaction on the sidelines tells the story. Birmingham have been miserly and Blackburn have not been scoring in the Premier League. Something will have to change for Sam Allardyce's side to fight their way back in."
2016: A word from Johnstone's Paint Macca if you don't mind... "No disrespect to the JP Trophy, but the competition has rarely enjoyed such a night like tonight. Southampton meet Norwich, a Premier League fixture just four years ago, while Leeds are also in action at home to Accrington, along with two other games. There's goals in three of them already - Hereford 0-1 MK Dons, Leeds 1-0 Accrington and Southampton 1-0 Norwich."
Birmingham goal: Chucho Benitez heads Sebastian Larsson's cross goalwards and Cameron Jerome is right in front of goal to tap in from a yard.
2012: GOALFLASH Birmingham 1-0 Blackburn (Jerome)
Villa goal: Simple. Stiliyan Petrov lays the ball off to James Milner, who feeds it through for Emile Heskey to fire in from 10 yards. Three in six games for the England striker.
2010: GOALFLASH Sunderland 0-1 Aston Villa (Heskey)
From Richard, Birmingham, via text: "West Brom played a weakened side against Chelsea about four years when Bryan Robson was manager. We lost 4-0 and then lost to Birmingham in the following game!"
2003: Massive opening for United already. In the fourth minute, Darron Gibson's shot is blocked but it bounces into Wayne Rooney's path. The England striker is one on one with Marcus Hahnemann, but the Wolves keeper smothers his effort.
2001: Stewart Downing rattles the bar with a 20-yard curling free-kick for Villa. Meanwhile, they're off at the Reebok - and Bolton striker Kevin Davies has already had a shot, deflected wide off Danny Gabbidon.
2000: Wolves reserves are under way against Manchester United. The game at St Andrews is also up and running.
1958: Still not sure of the answer to that question I posed at 1943. Some suggestion it might have been West Brom or Middlesbrough...
1956: Time for a calming word from FA Cup Macca: "By the way, we have a game in the FA Cup tonight, with Stockport and Torquay finally playing their second-round tie at Macclesfield's Moss Rose ground after it was twice postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Edgeley Park. Torquay obviously couldn't wait to get going as they are 1-0 up already. Elliot Benyon got the goal after two minutes. Cupset alert."
1954: Jordan Henderson wallops a ferocious shot just a tough too high and wide, swerving away from the top corner at the last moment. Decent start for Sunderland at a fairly subdued Stadium of Light.
From Joe, Kentish Town, via text: "Before any Liverpool fans start complaining about the Wolves team. In 2007 Liverpool made nine changes in a team that lost at Fulham in the penultimate game end of the season - a result that saved Fulham from relegation. Anyone remember Gabriel Paletta? Exactly."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at St Andrews: "Birmingham City have quietly become one of the success stories of the season so far, and they will hope to build on that as they name an unchanged side to face Blackburn Rovers at a freezing St Andrew's. Blackburn will provide stubborn opposition though - neither team gives much away. Let's hope that changes to warm things up here."
From a frustrated Scouser, via text: "Re 1935: Cheesy has no-one told Rafa Benitez about Section E Rule 20!?!?!"
1946: Away they go at the Stadium of Light in tonight's slightly earlier kick-off.
From Sean, London, via text: "Sorry Cheesy, but you cannot justify McCarthy's decision at all. They got a result against Spurs, they could get a result tonight. Shocking decision to make so early on in the season."
1943: I seem to remember another struggling club doing a similar thing to Wolves a while back. Unfortunately, my memory has failed me. Anyone?
1938: TEAM NEWS Man Utd v Wolves Following their 1-0 win at Spurs at the weekend, Wolves boss Mick McCarthy makes an incredible 10 changes with goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann the only survivor. And for his 900th league game in charge at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson makes five changes after their loss to Aston Villa. Michael Carrick plays at centre-half as Wes Brown is struggling with a hamstring problem, while Ritchie De Laet and midfielder Gabriel Obertan get the nod. Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney start up front. Sports Personality winner Ryan Giggs keeps his slippers on because of a slight hamstring strain.
1937: It's easy to make a case for McCarthy's decision. They have a massive game against Burnley, and he will be mindful that three of his best players (Andy Keogh, Michael Kightly and Dave Edwards) have succumbed to injury in recent weeks. It just doesn't feel quite right, does it?
1935: Section E, rule 20 says: "In every league match each participating club shall field a full strength team." I don't know how you enforce that though. Presumably, Mick McCarthy could just say that his usual first-teamers have a variety of niggles and sniffles.
1932: TEAM NEWS Birmingham v Blackburn Birmingham name an unchanged team for the visit of Blackburn, fresh from the 1-0 win over West Ham at the weekend that lifted them up to eighth in the division. Blackburn make four changes from the 0-0 draw at Hull, with El-Hadji Diouf, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Jason Roberts and Nicola Kalinic getting starts.
From Murtini on 606:
"Mick is spot on, think about it. He won't want his best players to be injured and miss the six-pointer with Burnley on Sunday."
From anon via text: "I feel for the fellow Wolves fans that have shelled out £45 plus travel expenses to watch a second string. Shocking."
1927: TEAMS Man Utd v Wolves Man Utd: Kuszczak, De Laet, Carrick, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Scholes, Gibson, Obertan, Berbatov, Rooney. Subs: Foster, Owen, Anderson, Park, Welbeck, Fabio Da Silva, Fletcher. Wolves: Hahnemann, Zubar, Mancienne, Elokobi, Hill, Halford, Foley, Castillo, Friend, Surman, Maierhofer. Subs: Hennessey, Henry, Ebanks-Blake, Jones, Berra, Jarvis, Iwelumo.
From anon via text: "Re Wolves team news: Surely that's breaking the rules, and what about the travelling Wolves fans?"
1925: TEAM NEWS Bolton v West Ham Bolton boss Gary Megson saw plenty of promise in his side's performance in the 3-3 draw against Manchester City and sticks with the same starting XI. West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola saw his side lose 1-0 to Birmingham last time out and makes two changes. Kieron Dyer starts, while fellow midfielder Jack Collison is also promoted from the substitutes' bench as they replace Mark Noble, who is suspended, and Junior Stanislas.
1912: So can Birmingham make it a club-record breaking five wins in a row against Blackburn? Can Manchester United bounce back from defeat by Aston Villa as they take on Wolves? Will Villa continue their excellent form, or have a let-down as they travel to unpredictable Sunderland? And who will win the battle at the bottom between Bolton and West Ham? I don't know. I'm just wondering, that's all.
1909: TEAM NEWS Sunderland v Aston Villa Kieran Richardson returns from a one-match suspension to re-take his place in the Sunderland starting line-up, Fraizer Campbell making way, while Kenwyne Jones also starts after shaking off a shoulder injury. Lee Cattermole is on the bench after making an earlier-than-expected recovery from the knee injury he suffered in October. Aston Villa, boosted by the swift recovery from whiplash of left-back Stephen Warnock, are unchanged from the side that beat Manchester United 1-0 last time out.
1908: TEAMS Sunderland v Aston Villa Sunderland: Fulop, Nosworthy, Turner, Da Silva, McCartney, Henderson, Cana, Richardson, Reid, Bent, Jones. Subs: Carson, Bardsley, Malbranque, Campbell, Mensah, Healy, Cattermole. Aston Villa: Friedel, Luke Young, Cuellar, Dunne, Warnock, Ashley Young, Petrov, Milner, Downing, Heskey, Agbonlahor. Subs: Guzan, Sidwell, Carew, Delph, Reo-Coker, Beye, Collins.
1906: And, if Cliff was writing that song now, he'd probably want to mention how Christmas is really a time for relegation six-pointers and the title race really hotting up. As well as logs on the fire, gifts on the tree, rejoicing in all that we see, and all that stuff.
1900: Christmas time, mistletoe and wine, children singing Christian rhyme...
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