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Page last updated at 19:42 GMT, Saturday, 19 December 2009

Saturday football as it happened



To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide). (Not all contributions can be used)

By Jonathan Stevenson

1942: I cannot remember too many days like this, that's for sure - though surely nothing should surprise us in this crazy season? Follow Jez's advice, below, have a cracking evening and see you tomorrow when it'll all kick off again. Phew.

From Jez in Doncaster, via text on 81111: Stevo, after all that action, do you even need to remind people about Match of the Day?! (BBC One and this website, 2230 GMT). Also, any chance of a mention of Doncaster's meteoric rise? Thank you Billy Sharp!"

From henrywinter on Twitter: "Mark Hughes not given enough time. Garry Cook must realise team-building takes time. This is not Nike where new schemes are rushed thru overnight."

From Thierry9Henry on 606: "Arsenal's back four have been immense this season and are a big reason why they are a match away from being second despite all the injuries. Kudos to Gallas, Vermaelen and the rotating set of left and right-backs."

Full time
1928: Full-time Arsenal 3-0 Hull
For a lot of that match Hull were right in it, but Arsenal kept persevering and in the end got the goals they needed. They are now only two points behind Manchester United, with a game in hand.

1925: Daniel Cousin gets his head on to a cross from the left but he can only nod over the crossbar. Phil Brown tried to head it in too - the Hull boss might have got closer with his effort.

1923: Gorgeous backheel from Carlos Vela to Mikael Silvestre and he finds Aaron Ramsey, only for the Welshman to curl narrowly over from 20 yards. What a goal that would've been and Arsene Wenger applauds from the touchline.

1923: Think the fourth official just mouthed five minutes of injury time to Hull assistant Brian Horton.

1921: Stephen Hunt crashes in a volley from a narrow angle on the left, but Manuel Almunia tips it away one-handed. Seconds later Theo Walcott races clear and lofts the ball over Boaz Myhill, who has rushed to the edge of his area, but the England winger is slightly off target.

1920: Four minutes left at the Emirates. Part of me doesn't want today to end. Ah well, at least we've got tomorrow.

1917: A lot has happened today, and I'll try to wrap stuff up at the end of the match, but for those of you just coming to BBC Sport for the first time Manchester City have sacked manager Mark Hughes and replaced him with the Italian Roberto Mancini.

1916: Carlos Vela comes on for Andrey Arshavin. Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey have already come on for Samir Nasri and Eduardo.

Arsenal goal: That's a gorgeous way to wrap things up - delightful one-two between Abou Diaby and Andrey Arshavin and from the Russian's metronomic slide-rule pass, Diaby takes a touch and thumps it past Boaz Myhill from 12 yards.

1913: GOAL Arsenal 3-0 Hull City

1911: Another meaty challenge from Denilson this time leaves George Boateng needing a little bit of treatment at the Emirates.

1910: Full-time in the Championship, where it's finished Nottingham Forest 3-0 Preston North End. Forest go third, Preston stay 15th.

From U13653680 on 606: "Couple of great, meaty, really crunchy tackles by Denilson today. Having a good match."

1905: There hasn't been any breaking news for a good few minutes. I wonder whether my news feed's working?

1903: Arsenal are content to knock it around at the Emirates, safe in the knowledge they have a 2-0 lead over Hull to sit back on. The victory will move them to within five points of leaders Chelsea, who play at West Ham on Sunday.

From leemeadowcroft on Twitter: "Welcome to Manchester, Roberto Mancini - regardless of thoughts about Hughes I'm sure all City fans welcome you with open arms."

1858: Nottingham Forest have gone 3-0 up at home against Preston, thanks to a lovely Lewis McGugan strike. He falls flat on his backside celebrating, but it's unlikely he or any of the Forest fans will care. Flying.

1857: Abou Diaby blazes over at Arsenal - they lead Hull 2-0 with just over 25 minutes remaining.

From Mark, Glasgow, via text on 81111: "Obviously Mark Hughes knew he was for the sack. Explains the dropping of Emmanuel Adebayor and Robinho, two players who have let him down more than most maybe?"

Arsenal goal: Cruel game, football. Moments after nearly getting back on level terms, Hull are two-down. Abou Diaby plays a lovely one-two with Alex Song and having got to the byeline down the left, he crosses for Eduardo - who mis-kicks - to tap in from a yard.

1852: GOAL Arsenal 2-0 Hull City

1851: This is the day that keeps on giving.

1850: You'd have to say justice was done there. Referee Steve Bennett gives the softest of all penalties, for an apparent Mikael Silvestre tug on Craig Fagan. It's never a penalty and Geovanni's spot-kick is poor, saved by Manuel Almunia, with Stephen Hunt heading the rebound woefully wide.



From Matt_Utd_FC on 606: "So sorry for Mark Hughes, a decent man and a top manager. How can anyone hope to achieve anything if they're given no time or support? I had no real love for City before this decision, but what respect I had has gone now."

1845: I feel desperately sorry for Mark Hughes. If it's true that Roberto Mancini was at the game today, then that really is reprehensible behaviour from the City hierarchy. I feel a little bit sick on Hughes' behalf, actually.

From Matthew, via text on 81111: "Bet the board wish City had lost today to make this sacking look better. Absolutely ridiculous."

1841: Arsenal striker Eduardo misses a fine chance from just inside the Hull box after being played in by Andrey Arshavin.

1841: Yet more breaking news: Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp is to face proceedings over a tax issue, his solicitors said today in a statement issued by the football club.

Manchester City statement: "This is a particularly difficult announcement given the personal investment over the past 15 months on all sides and we would like to put on record our respect for and thanks to Mark Hughes and we wish him the best in his future career."

Manchester City statement: "A return of two wins in 11 Premier League games is clearly not in line with the targets that were agreed and set. Sheikh Mansour and the board felt that there was no evidence that the situation would fundamentally change."

1839: Back under way at the Emirates, for the final 45 minutes of what has been a truly memorable day in the history of the Premier League.

From chrisbevan_bbc on Twitter: "If I were Man City's owners, I'd have got rid of Robinho before sacking Mark Hughes. He should have been given the rest of the season."

1834: More breaking news: Barcelona have won the Club World Cup final 2-1 against Estudiantes. They have won all six competitions they were involved in in 2009, an unprecedented achievement.

1831: BREAKING NEWS: Manchester City have confirmed the sacking of manager Mark Hughes, and announced the appointment of Roberto Mancini as his replacement.

From Dwade on Twitter: "Remember that the last time these two played was the Cesc Fabregas-Phil Brown incident. That this got spiky comes as no surprise."

1825: The great Lionel Messi has put Barcelona 2-1 up against Estudiantes in extra-time in the final of the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.

1823: They don't like each other much, these teams. It kicks off again at half-time, with the Hull players targeting Samir Nasri again. It's not exactly a tunnel of love - though it's so dark, God knows what the hell is going on in there.

1821: Half-time Arsenal 1-0 Hull City

Arsenal goal: Out of place in the context of the rest of the game, lovely 25-yard free-kick from Denilson past the flailing dive of Boaz Myhill after it was given for a foul on Abou Diaby. Hull are furious about the decision.

1820: GOAL Arsenal 1-0 Hull City

1818: Kamil Zayatte is booked for a late challenge on Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen. Ooh, it's got a bit spiky all of a sudden.

1817: We're into three minutes of stoppage time at the end of a hugely disappointing first half at the Emirates.

1816: Referee Steve Bennett has a word with Arsenal's Samir Nasri and Hull's Stephen Hunt and books them both. Very sensible refereeing.

1814: I've got the handbags graphic out, but there's a bit more going on there - almost all the players on the pitch involved at some stage. Andrey Arshavin won a free-kick on the edge of the Hull box, a bit tame perhaps, and then it seems like Samir Nasri kicked it off by barging Richard Garcia to the floor. After that, it was a free-for-all.

1812: Arsenal are putting some concerted pressure on the Hull side but a couple of corners don't come to anything, perhaps no surprise given the size of the Gunners team.

From HOT-TOTTI, Rome, via text on +44 7786200666: "The headline in Gazzetta dello Sport is: "City, addio a Hughes? Mancini in pole position". No need to translate, I think."

1809: Just not happening for Arsenal right now, they look a bit short in the final third. Meanwhile, it's just another 81 minutes until Manchester City confirm they have sacked Mark Hughes.

1806: It's half-time in the Championship and Nottingham Forest are 2-0 up at home to Preston. If the Reds win, they move level on points with West Brom in second place in the league.

1804: Andrey Arshavin runs at the heart of the Hull defence, but the little Russian magician is miles off target with his left-foot shot from 22 yards.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson: "I hope this defeat doesn't cost us the league - we need defenders back to go for the league and the quicker the better. We're working overtime to get them back but there's no light at end of tunnel at moment, that's for sure. The players are feeling a little bit sorry for themselves at moment."

From HashimBashir_15 on Twitter: "I bet you anything Hughes won't be sacked! It's all the media hype around him and 'rumours' which are making it sound bad!"

1758: Arsenal are having most of the play, as you'd expect, but they look a little lightweight up front and haven't created too many chance so far.

From David, Chester, via text on 81111: "I'm no City fan, but I'm a football fan and if he gets sacked it's another nail in the coffin for me. What was his brief? Win league or qualify for Champions League and win a cup? If latter then the owners are pulling the trigger too early. If former, then the owners are obviously insane."

1754: Eduardo collects the ball on the right-hand corner of the Hull 18-yard box and curls a left-foot shot just beyond the far post with Boaz Myhill sprawling across his line.

1753: Now everyone is reporting that Mark Hughes is about to be sacked by Manchester City. The newspapers in Italy are suggesting Roberto Mancini could be given a three-and-a-half year contract as his replacement. I'd bet the world he doesn't last that long.

1752: The drama is spreading far and wide today - in Abu Dhabi, Barcelona have only gone and equalised against Estudiantes in the final of the Club World Cup in the last minute, thanks to Pedro. It's 1-1.

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson on Bobby Zamora: "Last year the balls eluded Bobby, the chances became half-chances. When you start scoring the ball starts falling more kindly for you, but the goal today didn't detract from the other aspects of his game as a hold-up player. Before Bobby gets seriously considered for an England call-up he has a lot of work to do. But if Fabio Capello wants to look at him he knows where he is. I will never push a player in the direction of a national team coach, but if he needs any information on Bobby I'm happy to help out."

1747: Arsenal work the ball brilliantly and it falls to Samir Nasri in the Hull box - the Frenchman chips it up and volleys it in, but it takes a deflections and it rolls harmlessly towards Boaz Myhill.

1746: I don't know what to do with myself, genuinely. Nottingham Forest have gone 2-0 up at home to Preston in the Champo, this time thanks to Dele Adebola's close-range strike.

1745: Samir Nasri lays the ball off to the edge of the Hull box and Abou Diaby sees his shot deflected away for a corner by a visiting defender.

1742: Breaking news: Manchester City have confirmed manager Mark Hughes will not carry out his normal post-match media duties this evening. Oh just tell us, for heaven's sake.

1741: Speculation is mounting that former Inter Milan gaffer Roberto Mancini will be named as the new Man City manager later today. Remember, they are supposed to be making a statement at about 1930 GMT.

From Israeli-Gooner on 606: "Can't understand why Ramsey hasn't started the game with Cesc injured. He's the true replacement for our captain."

1736: Nottingham Forest have taken an early lead against Preston in the Championship, former North End skipper Paul McKenna firing in an unstoppable volley from 22 yards and refusing to celebrate. Nice touch.

1735: Craig Fagan is allowed to turn 25 yards out after Denilson concedes possession, but the striker's shot is dragged wide of Manuel Almunia's right-hand post.

1733: Some nice passing early on from Arsenal, until Abou Diaby gives it away in a promising position.

1731: Under way at the Emirates, as Arsenal meet Hull. Wouldn't be a bad weekend for the Gunners to get three points under their belt.

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill: "Considering the games that we've had recently I thought it was our best win. I think it's even more difficult to break into the top four this year, but it's great that we are going into games against Arsenal and Liverpool with great confidence."

1728: It's minus two degrees at the City Ground in the Championship, where it's Forest 0-0 Preston. Bet it was sunny earlier, that's probably why.

1727: The teams are out at the Emirates for the final Premier League match of an astonishing day. Arsenal will be hoping there's no repeat of last season, when Geovanni slammed in a scorcher and Daniel Cousin won it for Hull.

From Dwaynsta on Twitter: "Mark Hughes shouldn't be sacked. He's a good manager. Building a dynasty takes time. Ask Wenger and Fergie. I'm disgusted."

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce: "It was a magnificent spectacle. For the spirit and the commitment the players put in we deserved something from the game. The red card for Michael Turner was obscene. He's a centre-half and he's got to go and win it. It's an outrage. And he's gonna miss three games unless the referee has got the guts to rescind it. I haven't heard anything about Mark [Hughes rumours] but if that's the case [that he's losing his job] I feel very sorry for him."

From Edd, via text on 81111: "I think today's results, if nothing else, make a mockery of Mick McCarthy's we-can't-beat-the-top-teams team selection."

1715: This is the 12th time Arsenal have started without a single Englishman in their team this season already. No other Premier League side has even done it once this term.

1714: Arsenal bring in Denilson for injured skipper Cesc Fabregas and make two other changes from the side that drew with Burnley in midweek, with Emmanuel Eboue and Eduardo replacing Bacary Sagna and Theo Walcott. Hull line up with one change from the team that drew with Blackburn last weekend, with Nicky Barmby coming in for Dean Marney.

1711: Arsenal v Hull City line-ups:
Almunia, Eboue, Vermaelen, Gallas, Silvestre, Song Billong, Denilson, Nasri, Diaby, Eduardo, Arshavin.
Subs: Fabianski, Sagna, Vela, Walcott, Ramsey, Wilshere, Emmanuel-Thomas.
Hull: Myhill, McShane, Zayatte, Gardner, Dawson, Boateng, Garcia, Geovanni, Barmby, Hunt, Fagan.
Subs: Duke, Mendy, Kilbane, Ghilas, Cousin, Vennegoor of Hesselink, Olofinjana.
Referee: Steve Bennett (Kent)

1708: We are 99% certain that Manchester City will be releasing a statement at about 1930 GMT. I'm not going anywhere until that statement arrives. Stay tuned.

1707: As well as Arsenal v Hull, we've also got Nottingham Forest v Preston from the City Ground to keep an eye on this evening. I'll surely be keeping you up to date with that.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Craven Cottage: "Fulham depart to the strains of "Too Good To Be True" - they were certainly too good for Manchester United. Bobby Zamora was unstoppable and this was move evidence of the superb job Roy Hodgson is doing at Craven Cottage. United can forget taking any positives. There weren't any. The champions were shocking."

From emmetmcevoy on Twitter: "If Mark Hughes is sacked it just proves the City job is an untenable as the Chelsea job, owners nowadays have no patience."

From Zippy, George and Bungle on 606: "To be fair to Fulham, despite how awful United were, they were every bit a Champions League contender for this season. I would say that's the best team performance against United this season."

1657: Mark Hughes claps every corner of the City of Manchester Stadium, waves to the City fans and then departs down the tunnel. Forgive me, but that looked like a farewell.

1657: Mark Hughes shakes hands with former Manchester United team-mate Steve Bruce - will that be his last act as City boss? He isn't smiling, which might be something do to with an apparent 1930 GMT announcement at Eastlands. Will try to get more on that asap.

1655: Full-time Manchester City 4-3 Sunderland

1654: Full-time Aston Villa 1-0 Stoke City

1653: Full-time Blackburn 0-2 Tottenham

1652: Full-time Fulham 3-0 Manchester United

1652: Weather-affected Football League Danny: "Dave Martin levels for 10-man Millwall at the Valley - only for Steve Morison (who scored the two early goals to put Millwall 2-0 up) to put through his own net. It's now Charlton 4-3 Millwall. Meanwhile MK Dons are losing 1-0 at home to Brentford thanks to Charlie McDonald's late strike."

Red card
1650: SENDING OFF (Michael Turner, Sunderland)
The Black Cats centre-back is shown a ridiculous straight red card for an elbow on Gareth Barry. It was no better or worse than Fernando Torres' one earlier today that didn't even warrant a yellow card. Consistency is what we want.

1649: Not long left anywhere. Is there any late, late drama on this most remarkable of Saturdays?

1648: Manchester United have been every bit as useless as Liverpool were earlier on today. I've never written that sentence before, and I don't expect to again. Bobby Zamora fires in a shot from 22 yards that Tomasz Kuszczak gets down well to save.

1647: Ryan Nelsen heads into the ground and over the Tottenham bar from about a yard out. Sounds impossible, eh? Not today. Today, impossible is nothing.

From Sadie, via text on 81111: "See 1637 - all we need now is the appearance of the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny, and for Scholes to reveal that he is, in fact, Ron Weasley."

1643: Nearly 5-3 at Eastlands, Marton Fulop tipping over Stephen Ireland's drive from just outside the area.

Spurs goal: Sweeping counter-attack and the visitors have wrapped the points up now. Aaron Lennon finds Jermaine Jenas and on the fall he slips in Peter Crouch, who keeps his cool to fire his second of the game past former Tottenham keeper Paul Robinson.

1641: GOAL Blackburn 0-2 Tottenham

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Craven Cottage: "Fulham have controlled this game with something to spare and a scoreline of 3-0 is a fair reflection on their dominance. Damien Duff, another player rebuilding his reputation under Hodgson, scores and is then taken off to rapturous applause. "Can We Play You Every Week?" ask the Fulham fans. United's supporters, like their team, have no answer."

1640: Latest news from the Club World Cup final is that Estudiantes are beating Barcelona 1-0 thanks to Mauro Boselli's first-half strike.

1639: Weather-affected Football League Danny: "Big goal in League One. Robert Snodgrass has made it Leeds 1-0 Southampton with 13 minutes to go and, with Charlton currently winning as well, it's looking like a good day for the division's top-two elect."

1638: Tottenham's Peter Crouch heads in Aaron Lennon's cross at Blackburn, but the flag is rightly raised against the giant striker.

1637: These results today: Is this an elaborate hoax?

1636: Fulham fans might have been too busy pinching themselves to see that Anderson challenge on Jonathan Greening inside the area - never a penalty but it doesn't stop the home fans chanting "We want four".

Fulham goal: That is a stunning goal to score, and Sir Alex looks suitably humbled. Brede Hangeland hits a long ball to the edge of the United penalty area and the great Bobby Zamora, who has once again been absolutely unplayable today, chests it down and flicks it off to Damien Duff, who hits a stunning, low left-foot volley into the bottom right-hand corner of Tomasz Kuszczak's net.

1633: GOAL Fulham 3-0 Manchester United
This season is just not for real

1632: Weather (and perhaps goal)-affected Football League Danny: "It's all gone a bit quiet in the Football League. Sorry, I feel partly responsible. No doubt it's a great day for League Two leaders Rochdale though, they're now 4-0 up against Shrewsbury and with no other matches surviving in the division, they'll be moving 10 points clear tonight."

1630: When he scored that goal for Villa, John Carew kicked the corner flag at Villa Park into the crowd. Just thought I should flag that up.*

* Gag copyright Sam Lyon, 1629 GMT, Sat 19 Dec, 2009

City goal: I hate seeing defenders put their arms up for offside when play is still going on. Pablo Zabaleta's ball into the Sunderland box is hit back across goal by Gareth Barry (who is probably just, just onside) to Roque Santa Cruz, who bags his second of the game. And what a game it is.

1628: GOAL Manchester City 4-3 Sunderland

From yeahitsjames on Twitter: "With us losing at Craven Cottage today and Chelsea probably picking up three points tomorrow, I'd say the title is going back to London."

1624: Not Paul Scholes' afternoon. He meets a Dimitar Berbatov cross from the right with a useless left-foot shot that is sliced miles wide.

Sunderland goal: Nyron Nosworthy chips the ball through to Jordan Henderson down the right and his cross is met by substitute Kenwyne Jones, who beats Vincent Kompany to head home. They don't do dull do they, City?

Villa goal: It's been a terrible game so far, but Villa won't care - Ashley Young swings over a cross from the right and the giant John Carew gets up to head home from close range.

1621: GOAL Manchester City 3-3 Sunderland

1620: GOAL Aston Villa 1-0 Stoke

1619: United are putting some pressure on now and after a deliberate build-up down their left, Wayne Rooney's fizzing cross-shot just evades Michael Owen and Luis Valencia at the back post. They don't attack with enough pace these days.

From "The Referee Was Perfect" on 606: "Final top four = Tottenham, Man City, Aston Villa, Chelsea."

1616: Double change for United - Ritchie de Laet and Darron Gibson make way, with Fabio and Dimitar Berbatov coming on.

1615: Weather-affected Football League Danny: "Charlton are now ahead in a real cracker of a derby against Millwall. Nicky Bailey has put the Addicks 3-2 up - they were 2-0 down. And John Eustace has levelled for Watford, who are now 1-1 at Peterborough."

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Craven Cottage: "Bobby Zamora again and Manchester United are in desperate trouble now. Fulham boss Roy Hodgson has tapped into the potential Zamora has always had and is reaping rich dividends. Fulham are the model for the sort of common sense, experienced management Hodgson specialises in and it's a long way back for Sir Alex Ferguson's side."

Someone has struck the woodwork
1612: How have Blackburn not equalised? Benni McCarthy chests down a pass into the Spurs box and looks like he must score six yards out, but Heurelho Gomes makes a fine save, deflecting it on to the post before the danger is cleared.

1611: Shaun Wright-Phillips limps off at Eastlands, replaced by Vincent Kompany. At Fulham, Zoltan Gera rifles in a left-footer from 25 yards that flies just over the United crossbar.

1609: Luis Valencia fires in a shot from the Manchester United right, but Mark Schwarzer makes a very comfortable save.

1606: Bobby Zamora: Ten goals for the season and five in his last four. Show me a more in-form English striker, and I'll tell you they should play together for Fabio Capello's team.

Fulham goal: Unbelievable scenes. The bandwagon to get this guy playing for England is not about to stop - Damien Duff crosses from the Fulham right, Clint Dempsey heads it back across the six-yard box and that man Bobby Zamora smashes a volley into the roof of the net.

1604: GOAL Fulham 2-0 Manchester United

1604: They are getting back under way across the country.

From Sirhan, Kuwait, via text on +44 7786200666: "Watching the replay of Fulham goal - Tomasz Kuszczak slipped while changing direction, so we can't blame him."

From optajoe on Twitter: "There have been just six shots on target in the first half of the Man City v Sunderland game, but five have been goals. Frenzy."

1555: There's also the Club World Cup final to consider, as Argentine outfit Estudiantes take on Spanish giants Barcelona for the title of best football team on earth. If Barca win, they will have reaped an astonishing six titles in one calendar year - a feat never achieved before. It starts in five minutes, will endeavour to keep you updated.

From Desolation_row on 606: "United's best two midfielders are stuck in defence and Rooney and Owen dropped deeper and deeper throughout that half just to get a touch of the ball. As things stand a draw would be a very good result for United."

1549: Half-time Manchester City 3-2 Sunderland

1549: Half-time Aston Villa 0-0 Stoke

1548: Half-time Fulham 1-0 Manchester United

1548: Half-time Blackburn 0-1 Tottenham

Spurs goal: In the second minute of first-half stoppage time, Spurs take a lead they probably don't deserve. Tom Huddlestone's woeful shot ends up out on the right wing, Niko Kranjcar swings over a cross and Peter Crouch, who is tussling with Ryan Nelsen, heads in-off the crossbar.

1546: GOAL Blackburn 0-1 Tottenham

1545: We haven't lost pictures - there just haven't been any goals at Eastlands for the last few minutes. At Fulham, the off-his-game Paul Scholes drills well wide from 22 yards.

1543: The snow hasn't affected his output, anyway. Here's the delightful Weather-affected Football League Danny: "The tables have turned at what sounds like a cracking south London derby at The Valley. Two penalties in seven minutes from Deon Burton have brought Charlton level at 2-2 with Millwall - the second following an incident which saw the Lions' Nadjim Abdou sent off for a professional foul."

From TJ, Leeds, via text on 81111: "Can somebody give Sir Alex a tape of Hugo Lloris playing for Christmas, so he might buy him in January and we have a goalkeeper for the next 12 years."

From Phil McNulty at Craven Cottage on Twitter: "Paul Scholes giving the ball away far too often. At fault for Murphy's goal and another mistake almost saw Zamora get a second for Fulham.."

1540: Weather-affected Football League Danny: "Doncaster lead 1-0 at Derby thanks to Billy Sharp's goal, while Watford's rollercoaster week has taken another dip as they are 1-0 down at Peterborough. Swansea are now 2-0 up at managerless Sheffield Wednesday, Darren Pratley bagging the second."

1539: Aston Villa have put their early torpor behind them, with Stiliyan Petrov and Gabriel Agbonlahor forcing Thomas Sorensen into a fine double save. Stoke are still right in there, though, and almost opened the scoring through Mamady Sidibe, who headed past Brad Friedel only to see his 'goal' ruled out by referee Lee Probert for a nudge on Stephen Warnock.

City goal: Can they hold on this time? It's a lovely goal this one, as Pablo Zabaleta plays it over the top down the right to Shaun Wright-Phillips, he crosses and after it evades the falling Roque Santa Cruz, Craig Bellamy curls it into the far corner from 16 yards.

1536: GOAL Manchester City 3-2 Sunderland

1534: Also forgot to tell you that Emile Heskey has limped off for Aston Villa, with John Carew coming on in his place. Blame all those goals at Man City.

1533: Paul Scholes loses the ball again and Fulham are playing some top, top football - Zoltan Gera stands it up to the far stick where bang in-form Bobby Zamora can only head wide.

1532: Forgot to tell you earlier that Micah Richards limped off for Man City, replaced by Pablo Zabaleta.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Craven Cottage: "Danny Murphy is a real scourge of Manchester United, both in the past with Liverpool and again now, and he capped a spell of Fulham supremacy with that goal. Tomasz Kuszczak went down slowly and should have done better. And all this after saving magnificently from Zoltan Gera moments earlier. Craven Cottage is suitably pleased."

From TaiSx on Twitter: "No Ronaldo to produce a bit of magic today! =( Someone needs to take charge, but that man is playing at right-back though! Grrr."

1528: Decent chance for Blackburn, but Franco di Santo's shot from a Benni McCarthy cross is saved by Heurelho Gomes.

1526: Weather-affected Football League Danny: "A few more goals to tell you about in the league. Paul Hartley's penalty makes it Bristol City 1-0 Reading, while Daniel Bogdanovic has put Barnsley 1-0 up at Crystal Palace. In League One, here's a big goal - Steve Morison has put Millwall 1-0 up at high-flying south London rivals Charlton."

Sunderland goal: Mark Hughes might be panicking now. Sunderland had just gone so close to levelling, with Shay Given pulling off one fine save, but from a corner Kolo Toure cannot clear his line and it falls to Jordan Henderson to absolutely smash the ball into the net from 14 yards. Woeful stuff from Toure.

1524: GOAL Manchester City 2-2 Sunderland

Fulham goal: United fans won't be surprised by the scorer - doesn't Danny Murphy always score against them? Paul Scholes carelessly loses the ball to the former Liverpool midfielder and he takes it forward before curling a shot into Tomasz Kuszczak's bottom right-hand corner. You know, I think the Pole should have saved that.

1522: GOAL Fulham 1-0 Manchester United

1521: Niko Kranjkar puts Jermain Defoe through at Blackburn, but the little striker, who has scored 17 goals this season, screws wide.

From Vermaelen's left peg on 606: "I am starting to take an unusual liking to Man City. It seems there is never a dull moment with them, ON and OFF the pitch. Looks like another high scoring draw today - 4-4 anyone, just to top last week's?"

1519: Wonder save from Tomasz Kuszczak to deny Fulham after Bobby Zamora expertly chests the ball into the path of Zoltan Gera and the Hungarian's volley forces a stunning one-handed tip over from the Pole.

1518: Stoke have started brightly again, making light of their poor away form to enjoy the lion's share of the early possession despite a brief scare when Richard Dunne headed over a Stewart Downing free-kick.

Sunderland goal: If they win 6-1, can Mark Hughes be sacked? Sunderland plough forward and Andy Reid swings over a fabulous cross from the right that defender John Mensah heads in. Lovely reply.

1516: GOAL Manchester City 2-1 Sunderland

1516: He's renamed himself today. Here's more Weather-affected Football League Danny: "Say what you like about Loftus Road - it certainly ain't dull there, on or off the pitch. Richard Cresswell has equalised for the visitors to make it QPR 1-1 Sheffield United. Elsewhere, Sheffield Wednesday are 1-0 down at home to Swansea."

1515: If Manchester City win 6-0, can they still sack their manager?

Someone has struck the woodwork
1514: Rovers hit the woodwork at Ewood Park as Benni McCarthy's free-kick hits one-man wall Aaron Lennon, loops up and bounces off the top of the bar and away.

City goal: Craig Bellamy is getting through some good work down the left and he beats Nyron Nosworthy just inside the area, before the big defender steps on his foot and brings him down. It's a peno, and after an eternity to wait while the ref deals with encroaching players, Carlos Tevez bundles it down the middle of the goal.

1512: GOAL Manchester City 2-0 Sunderland


1508: Man United's Paul Scholes is booked early on at Fulham for a poor challenge on Damien Duff.

1507: After a break of what seemed like an eternity, here's weather-affected Football League Danny: "Just eight Championship games have survived the Big Freeze '09, although League One has done rather better, with 11 of 12 matches still going ahead. Just the one game taking place in League Two, with leaders Rochdale taking on Shrewsbury. And here's your first goal - Mikele Leigertwood putting QPR 1-0 up against Sheffield United."

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez: "The sending off changed the game. The referee was perfect."

City goal: Simple but effective football, and exactly what Mark Hughes needed. Carlos Tevez slips a pass down the left for Craig Bellamy and his inch-perfect ball along the six-yard box is converted by Roque Santa Cruz. Wonder what Roberto Mancini makes of that.

1505: GOAL Manchester City 1-0 Sunderland

1503: Manchester United are playing three at the back, like they did at Wolfsburg a couple of weeks ago. Darren Fletcher, Ritchie de Laet and Michael Carrick are flanked by Patrice Evra and Luis Valencia.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Craven Cottage: "Fulham might fancy their chances when they see this injury-hit Manchester United side. Bobby Zamora has had his moments with the Craven Cottage fans this season, but he gets a huge ovation when his name is announced - as he deserves for his recent run of fine form. The announcement of Liverpool's loss at Portsmouth has already put United's supporters in a suitably festive mood."

1501: And the games at Villa Park, Craven Cottage and the City of Manchester Stadium have started too now.

1459: Under way at Ewood Park for Blackburn versus Tottenham.

1459: The camera lingers on Mark Hughes for an unnerving amount of time at Eastlands. There's no smile from the City boss; he's as deadpan as they come right now.

1458: So, not long to go until we're under way in the four 1500 GMT kick-offs. They are Aston Villa v Stoke, Blackburn v Tottenham, Fulham, v Manchester United and Manchester City v Sunderland.

1456: When a Forest fan feels sorry for Liverpool, you know you're in trouble. Could Rafa Benitez and Mark Hughes both be out of a job before Christmas? Watch this space.

From shinydh on Twitter: "I can one-up the comment re: Liverpool as close to the bottom as the top. On goal difference (19 vs 18), they're actually nearer Pompey."

From Jono_redforever, via text on 81111: "It's not a question of if he goes, it's a question of when will they sack Rafa now. He's taken the team as far as he is capable, bring on Jose."

From The King of Spain on 606: "Its not the defeat so much as the performance. I think the ref got it wrong with Masch's red card, but just because of that we should try harder - not just admit defeat and blame all around us."

1445: We have unconfirmed reports that a certain Mr Roberto Mancini is at the City of Manchester Stadium today to watch them take on Sunderland. This morning, he was linked with the job with Mark Hughes widely thought to be on his way out. Keep you posted.

1444: Emile Heskey is once again preferred to John Carew in attack as Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill names an unchanged side for Stoke's visit. Tony Pulis' side, who have won just once on their Premier League travels this season, make four changes. The suspended Robert Huth is replaced by Danny Collins, while a further defensive blow sees the injured Ryan Shawcross miss out, which means a first start since late October for Danny Higginbotham. Glenn Whelan, who scored in the corresponding fixture last season, comes in for Rory Delap, while Mamady Sidibe replaces Ricardo Fuller up front.

1443: Emmanuel Adebayor and Robinho are both dropped by under-pressure Manchester City boss Mark Hughes, with Roque Santa Cruz stepping in for the former and Craig Bellamy returning from suspension to claim the latter's place. Nigel de Jong is suspended, so Shaun Wright-Phillips returns to the side after missing the midweek defeat at Tottenham with an ankle injury. Midfielder Lee Cattermole starts his first game for Sunderland since damaging knee ligaments in October's 1-0 win over Liverpool. He replaces Lorik Cana, who is suspended after being sent off in the 2-0 midweek loss to Aston Villa. Defender John Mensah is in for Paulo da Silva, who drops to the bench. Fraizer Campbell and Steed Malbranque both step up from the bench to take the places of Kenwyne Jones and Keiran Richardson respectively.

1441: We are getting an astonishing amount of messages from Liverpool fans saying this is the straw that broke the camel's back. Reds supporters seem to have turned on Rafael Benitez.

Full time
1440: Full-time Portsmouth 2-0 Liverpool
Fabulous boost for Pompey - they remain bottom, but what a lift those three points will give them. As for Liverpool, that was utterly abject.

1438: Frederic Piquionne gets a deserved round of applause as he is taken off and Nwankwo Kanu comes on for a token appearance.

1437: Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce responds to last week's reverse at Birmingham by making sweeping changes for the visit of Spurs, with Morten Gamst Pedersen, El Hadji Diouf, Jason Roberts and Ivan Kalinic all dropped to the bench. With Brett Emerton and Christopher Samba out injured, it makes six changes in total for Allardyce, who celebrates a year in charge of Rovers today. Tottenham, by contrast, are unchanged from the starting XI that beat Manchester City 3-0 in midweek.

1437: Fulham make two changes from the side which started at Burnley last time out as Danny Murphy replaces Jonathan Greening and Zoltan Gera comes in for Erik Nevland. There are three alterations for Manchester United - Darren Fletcher is in for the injured Nemanja Vidic, Anderson is preferred to Gabriel Obertan and Michael Owen starts ahead of Dimitar Berbatov.

1435: Into injury time and we'll have four minutes to prolong the agony for the visitors.

1434: Steven Gerrard forces his way into the Pompey area from the left and he sends in a shot that flashes a couple of feet past the far post. Pompey take Kevin-Prince Boateng off and Hayden Mullins comes on.

1433: Jay Spearing comes on for Lucas for Liverpool.

1431: Portsmouth have four minutes plus injury time to score another goal - it would be a goal that would take them off the bottom of the Premier League.

1429: The Pompey fans are all over this chat. Web users - refresh, and you can watch Final Score at the top of this page. Lucky people.

Pompey goal: It's another sizzler - and that's game over. Kevin-Prince Boateng squeezes over a cross from right next to the corner flag on the Portsmouth right and it finds Frederic Piquionne. His first touch loops the ball into the air and away from goal, but my word he makes up for that by slapping in a gorgeous right-foot volley from an angle every bit as ludicrous as the one Nadir Belhadj scored from earlier.

1427: GOAL Portsmouth 2-0 Liverpool

1426: Man City v Sunderland line-ups:
Man City:
Given, Richards, Onuoha, Toure, Sylvinho, Ireland, Barry, Wright-Phillips, Tevez, Bellamy, Santa Cruz.
Subs: Taylor, Zabaleta, Robinho, Petrov, Adebayor, Kompany, Weiss.
Sunderland: Fulop, Nosworthy, Turner, Mensah, McCartney, Campbell, Henderson, Reid, Cattermole, Malbranque, Bent.
Subs: Carson, Bardsley, Richardson, Murphy, Jones, Da Silva, Healy.
Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands)

1425: Asmir Begovic comes for a corner and doesn't get much of it, but it falls to Jamie Carragher and on his 600th appearance, he skies one miles over.

1424: Fulham v Man Utd line-ups:
Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Duff, Murphy, Baird, Gera, Dempsey, Zamora.
Subs: Zuberbuhler, Nevland, Riise, Etuhu, Smalling, Greening, Dikgacoi.
Man Utd: Kuszczak, Fletcher, De Laet, Carrick, Evra, Valencia, Scholes, Anderson, Gibson, Owen, Rooney.
Subs: Foster, Berbatov, Park, Tosic, Welbeck, Fabio Da Silva, Obertan.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

1423: Fernando Torres conjures a piece of magic from nothing, somehow shaking off two challenges in the area, but he delays his shot for too long and it is blocked.

1421: Dirk Kuyt changes his boots by the touchline. Liverpool fans will hope he's just put his scoring ones on.

1421: Kevin-Prince Boateng curls over a fabulous cross from the Pompey right, but Frederic Piquionne gets in all wrong in attempting to head home and the ball strikes his shoulder and flies out.

1419: Aston Villa v Stoke line-ups:
Aston Villa:
Friedel, Luke Young, Cuellar, Dunne, Warnock, Ashley Young, Milner, Petrov, Downing, Agbonlahor, Heskey.
Subs: Guzan, Sidwell, Carew, Delph, Reo-Coker, Beye, Collins.
Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Collins, Abdoulaye Faye, Higginbotham, Whitehead, Diao, Whelan, Etherington, Sidibe, Sanli.
Subs: Simonsen, Cort, Lawrence, Beattie, Fuller, Pugh, Delap.
Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

1418: Blackburn v Tottenham line-ups:
Robinson, Jacobsen, Nelsen, Givet, Chimbonda, Salgado, Nzonzi, Grella, Hoilett, McCarthy, Di Santo.
Subs: Brown, Roberts, Pedersen, Andrews, Diouf, Kalinic, Jones.
Tottenham: Gomes, Corluka, Dawson, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Huddlestone, Palacios, Kranjcar, Crouch, Defoe.
Subs: Alnwick, Hutton, Bale, Jenas, Pavlyuchenko, Keane, Rose.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)

From John in Liverpool, via text on 81111: "I am a season ticket holder in the Kop. I am sick and ashamed at this team. No desire, no passion, no confidence, no clue! To all you clowns who still say in Rafa we trust, then go on and you trust him because I want him out - this is a joke. I bet he takes Nando off."

1414: Jamie O'Hara spins on the edge of the Liverpool box and fires in a left-foot volley wide of Pepe Reina's right-hand post.

From Derry in London, via text on 81111: "A reliable source informs me that Mark Hughes has been sacked."

1412: Pompey give the ball away cheaply and Steven Gerrard drives forward- when it falls back to him 15 yards out, his shot takes two horror deflections and Asmir Begovic has to be alert to make a fine one-handed save. Liverpool bring Fabio Aurelio on for Emiliano Insua.

1411: Fernando Torres leads with his arm in an aerial challenge with Tal Ben Haim, and the big defender needs a bit of treatment. Torres might have to be careful - he's already been booked. Ben Haim gives him some stick when he gets back on his feet.

1409: Pompey have looked livelier since Yossi Benayoun came on for Liverpool, strangely. They are pouring forward in greater numbers and seem keen to get the second goal that could wrap this game up.

From kano96 on Twitter: "If it stays like this, Liverpool will be exactly the same number of points off the bottom as they are off the top. Shocker."

1404: Glen Johnson is cautioned for a foul on Jamie O'Hara right by the Liverpool byeline down the Pompey left.

1402: Pompey are committing players forward and from a corner Younes Kaboul fires over.

1401: Kevin-Prince Boateng slides Frederic Piquionne into some space on the inside right channel of the Liverpool area but he delays his shot a fraction too long and Jamie Carragher gets back to make a brilliant block. Fernando Torres is booked for a late tackle on Michael Brown - that was coming after he blew-up at the midfielder in the first half.

1359: The woeful Andrea Dossena is hauled off by Liverpool and Yossi Benayoun comes on - good attacking change that from Rafa Benitez.

From BENAYOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNN on 606: "A man down, a goal down. If ever there was a moment to turn this season around, this is it."

1356: Liverpool are readying Yossi Benayoun.

1354: By the way, Javier Mascherano will actually serve a four-match ban for that dismissal as he has already been sent off this season, against Manchester United.

1352: Liverpool midfielder Lucas is shown a yellow card very early on in the second half for a late challenge.

1350: Back under way at Fratton Park.

From Anon (pity), via text on 81111: "You watching the same game, Stevo? It's a 50/50 tackle and Masch got it a bit wrong. Yellow card and no more. There was more intent in the tackle from Yebda two minutes later."

From MUSICFANSMIC on Twitter: "Had Mascherano merely been injured there wouldn't have been a replacement for him. Benitez has royally screwed up once more."

From davelfc1986 on 606: "Have to laugh really. Some of our players just have absolutely no passion for the club, that was a red card - shocking challenge - and to top it off I can't drink because I'm on antibiotics."

1338: Looking at the replay of Javier Mascherano's dismissal again, it didn't look like the Argentine was that surprised to be sent off. Though he did look in an awful lot of pain too, so let's hope the injury doesn't keep him out any longer than his three-match ban (Wolves, Aston Villa, Reading).

Half time
1336: Half-time Portsmouth 1-0 Liverpool
Hassan Yebda is booked for a silly challenge on Emiliano Insua and that's the last action of the first half.

1333: We're into first-half injury time now and Kevin-Prince Boateng volleys over from 18 yards. Don't write Liverpool off just yet, though.

Red card
1331: SENDING OFF (Javier Mascherano, Liverpool)
Referee Lee Mason tries to have a word with his fourth official, all the while Rafa Benitez trying to have a word in his ear. It makes no difference - when Mascherano gets up, he is shown the red card. Personally, I don't think he can complain - it's a shocking challenge.

1329: Javier Mascherano could be in trouble in two ways here - he lunges in on Tal Ben Haim, but the Argentine goes down straight after too. He needs treatment, but he should be getting a card too.

1328: You don't often see Fernando Torres spitting blood, but a Michael Brown challenge on the striker causes the Spaniard to verbally lash out, having a word with ref Lee Mason too.

1326: How has he missed that? Steven Gerrard curls a wonderful free-kick over from about 45 yards and Daniel Agger meets it five yards out, only to direct it inches over the crossbar. Have to hit the target.

From AnnieAura on Twitter: "As a Liverpool fan, that was a class finish."

1323: It's just a brilliant goal, that one - and it's raised the roof at Fratton Park as the crowd awakens from their midday slumber. I was just gonna tell you what a poor game it was...

Pompey goal: You don't save those - I don't care whether it was at the near post. Pompey attack down the right and it falls for Kevin-Prince Boateng - he has a shot saved by Pepe Reina, Glen Johnson heads it away to the Liverpool left where Nadir Belhadj meets it on the volley as sweet as you could ever want to smash it past a bemused Reina from a tight angle.

1320: GOAL Portsmouth 1-0 Liverpool

From Webbo in Luton, via text on 81111: "Anybody else think that Alberto Aquilani looks a little like Alice the Goon, good friend of Popeye's girlfriend Olive Oyl? Its the eyes me thinks! Too close together. Well what do you know. Ag ag ag ag ag ag!"

1317: Hassan Yebda fires in a shot from 15 yards that cannons off the head of Jamie Carragher and flies behind for a corner. Not great defender from Daniel Agger that preceded it, though.

1314: Pompey have a couple of corners, but nothing comes of them. The next goal in this Premier League season will be the 500th - and in only the 168th game, it'd be the quickest 500 in Prem history (185 games in 1994/95, my favourite Premier League season of all).

1312: Jamie O'Hara curls a free-kick goalwards from out on the Pompey right, possibly trying to catch Pepe Reina out, but the Spaniard plucks it out of the air no problem.

From darkanddom on 606: "Portsmouth's number nine is an awful player... either that or he is completely disinterested in this game."

1309: Kevin-Prince Boateng needs a bit of treatment, and then Fernando Torres goes down by the touchline on the far side, but he gets up pretty quickly and looks OK. Last thing Rafa needs right now.

1307: Whoosh that was close - Emiliano Insua finds Fernando Torres and his lightning-quick movement sees him create a yard of space 20 yards out and rifle in a right-footer a yard over Asmir Begovic's crossbar.

1305: By the way, a goal for the magnificent Fernando Torres today would be his 50th in the Premier League for Liverpool - in just his 70th appearance and 61st start. What a record that is. He'd become the fastest to reach 50 in the league for the Reds, beating Sam Raybould (1902) and Albert Stubbins (1949) by a full 10 games.

1303: Lots of endeavour, not much real quality yet. Steven Gerrard twice nearly fashions something, firstly seeing his 20-yard shot hit Fernando Torres and then moments later his header down just evades Dirk Kuyt in the Pompey box.

1300: Liverpool are having most of the ball, but largely because Portsmouth appear to be allergic to the spherical object right now. They've got to stop giving it away, or they'll get murdered.

It's sunny
1258: It's a pitch of two halves at Pompey - one half in glorious sunshine, one shadowed by the stand looks a little frosty still. I'm whacking out the sun graphic, mostly for the shock value.

1255: New ball, please. Kevin-Prince Boateng latches on to a knock-down 25 yards out only to spank it out of the ground. Whoops.

1254: Michael Brown lifts the ball into a packed Liverpool penalty area and it looks like it's falling for Frederic Piquionne, but Pepe Reina is alert and he races off his line to deal with the danger.

From Eniola from offshore Nigeria, via text on +44 7786200666: "I'm in a remote oil offshore location off the coast of Nigeria, with no TV. But I've got GPRS on my phone to stay in touch with the Premier League. Go Man Utd and close the gap, albeit till tomorrow."

1251: Glen Johnson received a warm reception from the Pompey fans on his first return to Fratton Park since a £17m move to Liverpool in the summer, and he picked up his Player of the Year award for last season prior to kick-off. His first thrust down the right is thwarted by Hermann Hreidarsson.

1249: I'm disappointed that Alberto Aquilani's not playing too, I think he can be a star in the Premier League and there's no doubt Liverpool would have done better with him in the side. If you're sad about AA absence, you could always google pictures of his missus to cheer you up.

1247: A tad on the tardy side, we get ourselves under way on the south coast as Portsmouth take on Liverpool.

1243: The teams are out at Fratton Park, and by my admittedly primary school workings out, that means we should be under way very, very soon.

From Sam, Chelsea fan, via text on 81111: "I hope Mark Hughes stays for a long time yet. Show a little faith in your manager, guys. Otherwise you'll end up like us."
I think they'd take that, Sam, though you're probably right

1236: From the horses mouth, Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez says Alberto Aquilani "has a knock on his calf and couldn't train properly." Rafa also says "lunchtime kick-offs are harder," which seems an odd statement to make.

1233: Staying with Mark Hughes for a second, and it's probably not too much of a surprise that he's under so much pressure given the club's resources, their position in the league and their shambolic 3-0 capitulation at Tottenham on Wednesday. Names in the frame today include Arsene Wenger (stop laughing), Guus Hiddink, Roberto Mancini and Jurgen Klinsmann. You can laugh now.

1230: Stevo's Predos:
Portsmouth 2-2 Liverpool
Aston Villa 2-1 Stoke
Blackburn 1-2 Tottenham
Fulham 1-2 Man United
Man City 2-1 Sunderland
Arsenal 3-0 Hull
Lawro's predictions

1227: If the future of Manchester City manager Mark Hughes is going to dominate discussion today, we might as well get cracking: almost every single newspaper is running the story that he is going to get sacked, regardless of their result at home to Sunderland today. Are you a yay or a nay?

From ditasplaything on Twitter: "How has Aquilani got a thigh strain? He hasn't done anything yet."

1221: Jamie Carragher is making his 600th appearance for Liverpool today and Jeff Stelling on Sky Sports just came up with one of the great stats of modern times: Carragher helped the Reds keep clean sheets on his 100th, 200th, 300th, 400th and 500th appearances for the club. I had to *borrow* it - it deserves the widest audience possible.

From Il Principino on 606: "Before everyone starts moaning, Aquilani has picked up a slight calf strain."
Uh-oh, too late...

1215: Portsmouth's Younes Kaboul returns to the first XI after suspension as he replaces Marc Wilson. He is one of four Pompey changes with Hassan Yebda, Nadir Belhadj and Michael Brown also coming in for midfield trio Aaron Mokoena, Hayden Mullins and Papa Bouba Diop. Liverpool striker Fernando Torres starts and right-back Glen Johnson returns to face his former club. Lucas and Andreas Dossena are also in the Reds side with Martin Skrtel, Yossi Benanyoun, Fabio Aurelio and David Ngog making way. The Anfield side's £20m midfielder Alberto Aquilani is not even in the squad at Fratton Park.

From a confused and cold Simon in Skipton, via text on 81111: "No Aquilani again! What's Rafa's excuse this time? It's too cold for him?! Come on, play him, for the love of God!"

1211: Refresh if you can, and you'll be able to watch Football Focus at the top of this very page.

1210: Portsmouth v Liverpool line-ups:
Begovic, Finnan, Kaboul, Ben-Haim, Hreidarsson, Yebda, Brown, O'Hara, Belhadj, Boateng, Piquionne.
Subs: Ashdown, Mullins, Utaka, Hughes, Dindane, Kanu, Wilson.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Insua, Kuyt, Mascherano, Lucas, Dossena, Gerrard, Torres.
Subs: Cavalieri, Aurelio, Benayoun, Babel, Ngog, Spearing, Skrtel.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

1207: Here's how you get in touch, you lovely festive folk: get the texts in to 81111 (UK) and +44 7786200666 (worldwide), mix it up with the chatmaster generals on 606 and last but not least, Tweet me to death with everyone's favourite micro-blogging toy.

1205: I love days like today, because while other people seem to have more important stuff to do, we don't - oh no. It might be the last Saturday before Christmas, but it's still a Saturday for goodness sake. Portsmouth v Liverpool gets us under way at 1245 GMT, four more games start at 3, and Arsenal v Hull is a 1730 kick-off. There are also a few games that have survived the 'Big Freeze 09' in the Football League, which we'll keep you updated with as per usual.

1200: I'm sat here in our west London office frantically trying to warm my all-but-dead hands up, and when I glance up at my telly all I can see are Brits abroad basking in glorious sunshine while slamming down some beers and watching Test cricket at Centurion Park in South Africa. Yet with football to warm my heart, I know exactly where I'd rather be. Happy, er Football Christmas Saturday.

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Premier League table

Saturday, 19 December 2009 19:35 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
Full Premier League table
1 Chelsea 17 28 40
2 Man Utd 18 20 37
3 Arsenal 17 24 35
4 Aston Villa 18 15 35
5 Tottenham 18 18 33
6 Man City 17 6 29
7 Liverpool 18 9 27
8 Birmingham 17 1 27
9 Fulham 17 6 26
10 Sunderland 18 -3 21
11 Stoke 17 -5 21
12 Burnley 17 -14 19
13 Blackburn 18 -15 19
14 Wigan 17 -18 18
15 Everton 16 -8 17
16 Hull 18 -20 17
17 Bolton 16 -10 16
18 Wolves 17 -16 16
19 West Ham 17 -9 14
20 Portsmouth 18 -9 14

see also
Football on the BBC
11 Aug 10 |  Football

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