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Page last updated at 19:46 GMT, Saturday, 27 March 2010

Saturday football as it happened

GOALFLASHES AND MAJOR INCIDENTS (all times GMT)

To get involved, please use 606, Twitter or text us your views & comments on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide). (Not all contributions can be used. Messages will be charged at your standard operator rate)

By Jonathan Stevenson

1945: I think I might have overstayed my welcome. Thanks for your company, it really is great to be back. Match of the Day is on BBC One and online at 2230 GMT and The Football League Show straight after at 2350 GMT. And as Jimmy Hill so famously meant to say once upon a time, don't forget to put your (UK) clocks back tonight. Manana.

Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson: "At times we did play some decent football, but I would have liked to have seen us play a bit more. Edwin van der Sar made two brilliant saves - the second one was match-winning. It was difficult today."

1939: Don't forget to get involved tomorrow, for what looks like a lively old Sunday of football. Burnley v Blackburn gets us under way at high noon, there's the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final between Carlisle and Southampton at 1330 BST and then Liverpool v Sunderland in the Premier League at 1600 BST.

From Whos_The_Daddy68 on 606: "As close as the title race is, if United beat Chelsea next weekend surely that's that."

1933: So a fabulous day for both Chelsea and Manchester United, but with the top two meeting at Old Trafford next Saturday, it would be foolish to write Arsenal off just yet. As if any of you would.

From Pete, Derby, via text to 81111: "Maybe this ends the "if Rooney gets injured" argument."
Not for England it doesn't, Pete

Full time
1927: Full-time Bolton 0-4 Manchester United
What a professional performance from United and they go back to the summit of the Premier League ahead of the meeting with Chelsea next weekend. As for Bolton, they are still not quite safe from relegation.

1926: Luis Valencia crosses from the right and Gary Cahill has to be alert to get in a challenge ahead of Federico Macheda. What a game for Cahill to come back in.

1924: Fabrice Muamba gets the ball on to his right foot and hits a decent shot straight at Edwin van der Sar from 20 yards. Into three minutes of stoppage time.

1923: United are knocking it around with consummate ease. Could get another one before the finish.

From Alex in Huddersfield, via text to 81111: "Stevo, recurring theme today with these eastern Europeans and their right feet. Impudent the lot of them! Re 1911 and 1541."

1919: Kevin Davies heads a Bolton corner wide as the hosts look for a consolation. About five minutes left.

1918: Last change for Man United as Federico Macheda - remember him? - comes on for Ryan Giggs. I wonder if Chelsea and United will leave Drogba and Rooney out next week after 11 goals without them today.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
United goal: He's only been on the pitch for two minutes. Nani again makes hay down the United left, gets into the box and pulls the ball back to near the penalty spot where Darron Gibson, with no Bolton players anywhere near him, opens up his body to side-foot in right-footed via Jussi Jaaskelainen's fingertips and the crossbar. It's goal difference o'clock today for the top two.

1916: GOAL Bolton 0-4 Manchester United

1914: Darron Gibson comes on for Darren Fletcher as Manchester United make another change.

1913: Matty Taylor drags wide from outside the Man United box and some of the Bolton fans take that as their cue to leave, with more than 10 minutes left.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
United goal: Brilliant. Just a lovely, lovely goal. Nani marauds down the left and gets into the Bolton box, giving poor Sam Ricketts twisted blood as he goes thisaway and thataway before rolling it along the six-yard box for Dimitar Berbatov to nonchalantly flick the ball into the net with the outside of his right foot. Impudent.

1911: GOAL Bolton 0-3 Manchester United

1908: Bolton bring on Croatian striker Ivan Klasnic for Johan Elmander, who to be fair to him has put in an awful lot of effort today. Matty Taylor also comes on, for Tamir Cohen. United send Michael Carrick on for Paul Scholes.

From faranjiniho on 606: "Well deserved goal for Berba, he has been fantastic today. I wish there was a way we could play 4-5-1 and have both Berba and Rooney on the pitch."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
United goal: Game over. It's been coming a little bit in the second half, and the champions now have their two-goal lead. They break with pace and Darren Fletcher runs on to Ryan Giggs superbly-weighted pass before hitting a left-foot shot from 20 yards that Jussi Jaaskelainen can only parry into the path of Dimitar Berbatov, the Bulgarian slotting in from 10 yards. Jaaskelainen will be disappointed with that.

1902: GOAL Bolton 0-2 Manchester United

1901: Some more decent pressure from Bolton, but Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic are dealing exceptionally well with the balls into their box. Johan Elmander is just too ineffective - though the Swede is off the pitch right now after suffering a cut in an aerial challenge with the Serb.

1859: Gary Neville is just permanently furious, arguing with the referee after every single decision that goes against United. I know he was injured when the Respect campaign kicked off, but surely he heard about it? It's a bit tiresome really.

From Giles in Ghana, via text to +44 7786200666: "Nightmare for the Villa and same for me, I cannot face the office on Monday. Working in Ghana there is huge support for Chelsea, please let me wake up tomorrow and see that it was all a dream."

1854: An hour gone at the Reebok and the score remains Bolton 0-1 Manchester United. Looking for a bit more from the hosts in the final third, though they have got Ivan Klasnic and Vladimir Weiss on the bench.

West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola: "I have to find out what the problem is. If the problem is me then why not [resign]? The players are trying hard for us. The bottom line is to see whether I can help them or not. I will consider overnight whether I am doing a good job or not."

1850: It's not a bad game this, with United doing a fair bit of pressing and then Bolton taking their turn to attack. But as Mike Ingham just pointed out on BBC Radio 5 live, Nemanja Vidic is having a brilliant game for United, a rock at the back.

From optajoe on Twitter: "Manchester United have dropped the fewest points after scoring first in the Premier League this season (3)."

1847: Breaking news: Gianfranco Zola has said he will consider his future as West Ham manager following the 1-0 home loss to Stoke.

1846: Darren Fletcher's turn to play a neat one-two, this one with Dimitar Berbatov, before the Scottish midfielder clips a shot into the side-netting from 14 yards.

1843: Some of the league tables aren't updating on our website, apparently. Sorry about that. The technical people are working on a fix. It's like I've never been away.

1841: Dimitar Berbatov lopes forward and plays a quick-one two with Ryan Giggs, but just as he is about to shoot inside the Bolton area the Bulgarian slips and the chance goes begging.

1839: Back under way at the Reebok Stadium. The telly people just did an interview with referee Mark Halsey, who is back in the game after fighting lymphatic cancer. He's set for his first Football League outing on Tuesday, at Accrington. Welcome back Mark.

From Matt, Cambridge, via text to 81111: "My dad says we should sack O'Neill. Rubbish result today but I think he's going senile."

From Eliza on Twitter: "As an Arsenal fan with Villa sympathies I feel like throwing myself under a bus right about now..."
Don't, love. Anyway, you might miss given your luck today.

1831: Hull, er, whatever his title is Iain Dowie: "It's important we looked after our result. Now it's about moving on - one swallow doesn't make a summer. The lads deserve a large amount of respect for handling the pressure - this is a group of individuals who care. There's 21 points to play for. The fans were brilliant today and they know the players all put in a good effort."

From BWFC4EVA1981 on 606: "Didn't even know Samuel had a right foot, but placed that really well. We need to get the ball to Lee more and get someone on the left who can run at Neville."

1826: Bolton had a corner just before the break and United keeper Edwin van der Sar went for a little stroll behind his goal for some reason. He wasn't even on the pitch when the corner was taken. Luckily, one of his defenders headed it clear. The end to that half was bizarre.

Half time
1822: Half-time Bolton 0-1 Manchester United
Decent 45 minutes for the champions but there are a few afters between Nani and Sam Ricketts at the whistle and then Sir Alex walks on to the pitch to remonstrate with referee Martin Atkinson. Should be sent off, really. Got no right to be there.

1820: ... The free-kick flies into the United wall - though remarkably, Ryan Giggs was allowed to stand about four yards away as it was being taken. Have the rules changed while I've been away?

1820: Free-kick for Bolton right on the edge of the United box for an alleged foul from Nemanja Vidic on Kevin Davies. Seemed like Davies just ran into the Serb and fell over. Fergie will be furious if this goes in...

1818: Into injury time and we'll have three minutes of the stuff at the Reebok Stadium. Still Bolton 0-1 Man Utd.

1815: See 1726. Mark, I hope you put money on own goal for first scorer. Were you Nostradamus in a former life?

1812: Magnificent save from Edwin van der Sar as Bolton try to level straight away. Jack Wilshere tees up Fabrice Muamba just inside the United box and his right-foot shot is heading for the top corner until the flying Dutchman gets across to tip it away from goal. Fabulous stuff.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
United goal: It's hard to explain this without being ridiculous critical of Jlloyd Samuel, but that's absolutely crazy. Nani's flick gets Ryan Giggs away down the left and his ball into the box evades Darren Fletcher, only for Samuel to inexplicably roll it past Jussi Jaaskelainen and into the far corner from 10 yards. Amazing.

1810: GOAL Bolton 0-1 Manchester United

From Anon, via text to 81111: "Good day to be a Spurs fan in Norwich but gutted for Hreidarsson. Apparently one of only two players who offered to take a wage cut. Top player and bloke, horrible injury."

1806: Hey, Manchester United fans - your Champions League quarter-final opponents on Tuesday, Bayern Munich, lost their second successive Bundesliga game today when they went down 2-1 at Stuttgart. They rested star duo Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, though.

1804: Dimitar Berbatov feeds the ball in for Ryan Giggs on the edge of the Bolton box and he rounds Zat Knight easily before slamming a left-foot shot uncharacteristically off target from 18 yards.

1803: We're half an hour in at the Reebok Stadium and it's still Bolton 0-0 Manchester United.

From plasticoutcome on 606: "United are looking good. All the creativity is there; Bolton are doing a good job defensively, as we know they can."

1759: Brilliant pass from Jack Wilshere, opening up the United defence and playing in goal-shy Johan Elmander in the area on the left, but his first touch takes him to an angle a fraction too narrow and his shot is parried away by Edwin van der Sar.

1758: Kevin Davies flicks on a long ball and Tamir Cohen tries to sneak into the United box, but before he can get his shot away Jonny Evans sticks out a boot and gets in a clearance.

Portsmouth boss Avram Grant: "I don't know what to say about our situation. We have too many injuries, seven in the past week alone. We think Herman Hreidarsson's is not good but we will have to wait and see, just like we must wait on Danny Webber and David James. This week belongs to the medical department. On and off the pitch at this club it is something I have never seen before in football and I never want to see it again. But I'm very proud of the boys - they are doing everything in their power to keep the spirit of the game."

1753: Nasty looking collision between Bolton's Sam Ricketts and United's Patrice Evra. They both need treatment, but looks like they'll be OK to continue.

1752: Chance. From United's second corner Dimitar Berbatov hooks it back into the danger zone and after Darren Fletcher tees it up for Jonny Evans, the defender leans back and hammers over from eight yards.

1751: Darren Fletcher whips over a cross from the United right and at the near post Dimitar Berbatov beautifully helps it goalwards, Jussi Jaaskelainen reacting well to tip it over and behind.

1749: By the way, John Terry today played his 325th game as Chelsea captain, which is a new club record after he went past Ron 'Chopper' Harris. Congratulations to the former England skipper.

West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola when asked if he is considering his future: "I don't want to talk about it, we'll see. I'm so disappointed about today's game and that's what's on my mind right now." And on co-owner David Sullivan's pre-match comments: "It's not helpful but if it's OK my thoughts are on other things right now."

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live pundit Jimmy Armfield: "The way Manchester United have started, with Nani on the left and Valencia on the right, that's where I would concentrate if I was Bolton. If one of them gets in behind, you've got a massive problem. I'd be less concerned about Giggs coming from a central position."

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy: "We had to weather a fair old storm against a team as good as anything that's come down here. We have to stay in the league, by hook or by crook. We played some great football at West Ham and got a win, but we're not suddenly Barcelona."

1740: Apparently the South Korean ambassador is at the Reebok today. He'll be pleased to see Bolton's impressive Chung-Yong Lee in action, but slightly disappointed that Man United's Park Ji-Sung is on the bench.

From philmcnulty on Twitter: "Dejected Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill on the 7-1 hammering at Chelsea: 'It's as devastating as any I have had in the game.'"

Chelsea's four-goal hero Frank Lampard: "I'm very proud. I've passed Peter Osgood, I took a few more games, but I'm very honoured to be among those sort of names. I missed a couple of penalties in training on Friday and I know Brad Friedel is a top keeper and they can save them if they go the right way, so I wanted to put my foot through it."

1734: Nice early glimpse of the talent of Jack Wilshere as he dribbles around Luis Valencia and fires a left-foot shot well wide from 20 yards.

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill: "We were well beaten by a fine side. We were masters of our downfall. We stopped competing at 3-1 and that's unforgivable. We are devastated and we have to fight back from this."

1733: Under way at the Reebok Stadium for Bolton v Manchester United. Can the visitors go back to the top of the Premier League with victory?

1731: That Harry Redknapp quote just made me feel a little bit sick. Let's hope Hermann Hreidarsson makes a full recovery from this horrific injury.

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp: "This was a vital win for us, and of course I'm delighted, but the injury to [Pompey defender] Hermann Hreidarsson has put a real dampener on things. He's one of the best lads and professionals I've ever come across and his looks a real serious injury. All the players said they heard his Achilles snap like a gunshot. I really feel for him and, of course, for Portsmouth. They'll go down now but they can bounce back I'm sure."

1727: The teams are out in the north-west, we're minutes away from Bolton v Manchester United.

1726: Bolton v Man Utd: Can you imagine how relieved Bolton were to see United's teamsheet without the name Wayne Rooney on it? 17 goals in his last 13 games and six in his last four against the Trotters, including a hat-trick at the Reebok in 2006. But Bolton have kept four successive home clean sheets, so it might not be such an easy task for the champions.

From Mark, Northampton, via text to 81111: "In the absence of Rooney I think we'll see a hat-trick from that 'own goals' chap today. He's gone missing in recent weeks."

Chelsea assistant Ray Wilkins: "We have to keep winning. It's just another three points, although good to boost the goal difference. I tried to keep them going and even at the end we were pressing for eight. It was the perfect tonic before we go to Old Trafford next weekend. We fear nobody and we'll go there and play and hopefully we'll get the right result. Carlo Ancelotti is delighted and he's in there having a nice glass of red wine - good luck to him as he deserves it."

1717: Defender Gary Cahill returns from a two-month absence as Bolton manager Owen Coyle makes three changes to the side beaten at Everton. With Gretar Steinsson suspended and Paul Robinson injured, Sam Ricketts and Jlloyd Samuel start at right-back and left-back respectively. Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs are both named for Manchester United, while Wayne Rooney is rested after limping out of Old Trafford following Sunday's win over Liverpool. Dimitar Berbatov replaces Rooney up front, and in one further change Jonny Evans replaces Rio Ferdinand in defence.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "I thought we were closer to scoring the second goal than to losing 2-1. We were a bit naive and not killer enough. The last thing we wanted was a free-kick and unfortunately we were punished. The pitch is a massive handicap - you can't play football on it."

From Eboue the great on 606: "Gunners should not give up on the title just yet. Birmingham away was always going to be a tough game. The others will have much tougher games and United might not win without Rooney today."

From InfostradaLive on Twitter: "Aston Villa conceded seven goals in a top flight match for the first time in over 45 years since losing 7-0 at Man United in October 1964."

From InfostradaLive on Twitter: "West Ham United lost their sixth consecutive PL match - their longest losing run in the top flight in 43 years."

1705: Bolton v Manchester United line-ups:
Bolton:
Jaaskelainen, Ricketts, Cahill, Knight, Samuel, Muamba, Lee, Cohen, Wilshere, Elmander, Kevin Davies.
Subs: Al Habsi, Taylor, Riga, Mark Davies, Klasnic, Andrew O'Brien, Weiss.
Man Utd: Van der Sar, Neville, Vidic, Jonathan Evans, Evra, Fletcher, Scholes, Valencia, Giggs, Nani, Berbatov.
Subs: Kuszczak, Park, Carrick, Rafael Da Silva, Macheda, Gibson, De Laet.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)

1702: Crikey. Is this the most decisive day of the season so far? Huge results for Chelsea and Arsenal at the top, not to mention Hull and West Ham at the bottom. After their 2-0 defeat at Spurs, Portsmouth can now be relegated next weekend.

1659: Full-time Tottenham 2-0 Portsmouth

1658: Football League Macca: "Big, big smiles if you're a fan of Norwich and Notts County tonight. Chris Martin won it late for the Canaries in the big L1 clash with Leeds and are now 11 points clear at the top. Luke Rodgers won the big game in L2 for Notts County against Rotherham. Rochdale's march goes on at the top there with a 4-1 win. West Brom narrowed Newcastle's lead at the top of the Champ to a point with a draw at Reading. The Magpies play Forest on Monday."

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge: "If 7-1 wasn't enough to make Chelsea's fans delirious, they have just been told Birmingham have taken a point against Arsenal. Magnificent performance by Chelsea, led by Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda. To say this sets up Chelsea's visit to Manchester United next week perfectly is a massive understatement. As for Aston Villa, rarely can a Martin O'Neill side have crumbled in such a dismal fashion as this."

1654: Full-time Hull City 2-0 Fulham

1654: Full-time Wolves 0-0 Everton

1653: Full-time West Ham 0-1 Stoke City

1653: Full-time Birmingham 1-1 Arsenal

1652: Everton's Tim Cahill sees his flick over his head cleared off the line by Wolves' Jody Craddock. At Spurs, David James has now hobbled off for Portsmouth. Blimey.

1652: Full-time Chelsea 7-1 Aston Villa

1652: Football League Macca: "Some crucial goals in the Champ as West Brom equalise at Reading on 86 mins, Cov grab a leveller against Sheff Wed and Blackpool are now 2-0 in front at Plymouth. Bournemouth have a second against Accrington and look like going second in L2. Bradford threw away a 2-0 lead against Daggers but are back in front 3-2 now. Northampton have equalised at Lincoln and Brighton have gone 3-0 up against Tranmere but Darlo are leading at Shrews 2-0."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Blues goal: That's a potential hammer blow for the Gunners. Craig Gardner's ball into the Arsenal box is kicked against Kevin Phillips by Bacary Sagna and the ball flies towards Manuel Almunia, who can only parry it up into the air and into his net. Shocking goalkeeping.

1650: GOAL Birmingham 1-1 Arsenal

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Chelsea goal: Unbelievable scenes at the Bridge. Surely a top team hasn't taken a Premier League beating like this for a very, very long time. Chelsea toy with Villa down their left, Florent Malouda crosses and after James Milner sliced his attempted clearance, Frank Lampard rifles home from 12 yards for his fourth of the game and he is now Chelsea's third record goalscorer.

1648: GOAL Chelsea 7-1 Aston Villa

1647: Match reporter Sam Lyon has it bang on: they're dropping like flies, the Pompey players. Now Danny Webber is stretchered off at Tottenham. Oh dear.

From Max, Bournemouth, via text to 81111: "The question is, should Drogba be starting against United if we have scored 24 goals in six games without him!?"

1643: About five minutes left at West Ham, where the hosts trail Stoke by 1-0. Gianfranco Zola has thrown on Ilan and Benni McCarthy in a desperate bid to get an equaliser.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Chelsea goal: Nicolas Anelka, without a goal in 10 games, twists and turns on the edge of the box before unselfishly setting up Salomon Kalou to hit a first-time right-foot shot beyond poor Brad Friedel from a dozen yards.

1642: News in that Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand are not part of the Manchester United squad for their game at Bolton this evening. Full teams on the way.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Arsenal goal: Massive, massive, massive x one million. Samir Nasri picks the ball up 40 yards out, for some reason is allowed to run unchallenged towards the Blues goal and from 20 yards unleashes a fine right-foot drive that flies low into the far corner.

1640: GOAL Chelsea 6-1 Aston Villa

1640: GOAL Birmingham 0-1 Arsenal

1638: Kanu latches on to a poor backpass at Tottenham, but the Pompey striker hasn't got enough in his legs and toe-pokes woefully wide.

From brianyerkes on Twitter: "Gutted to see how much Villa have choked the last few weeks. They should be better than this..."

It's raining
1636: It is absolutely smashing it down at Chelsea. It looks a bit like the end of the world. It probably feels a lot like that to Martin O'Neill and his Aston Villa players. The Chelsea fans getting soaked won't care a jot.

1633: Even more Football League Macca: "Millwall are running riot at home to Stockport. Not literally. It's 5-0 now. Daggers are 2-1 down at Bradford. Gillingham have levelled it at 2-2 against MK Dons, as have Neil Warnock's QPR at Preston. Coventry have gone behind at home to Sheff Wed through Luke Varney. Peterboro's woes go on as they trail 1-0 at home to Bristol C."

1631: Football League Macca: "It's still 0-0 between Notts Co and Rotherham and Bournemouth could be bumping up to second place while, just behind them, Chesterfield are losing 2-0 to Hereford, Aldershot are beating Bury and Northampton are losing to Lincoln. In L1 Charlton have equalised at Huddersfield, Millwall are 4-0 up against Stockport and it's Bristol R 3-3 Southend and Colchester are beating lowly Wycombe. In the Champ, Boro have levelled at Watford. Lively."

1631: Great chance for Arsenal. Andrey Arshavin gets to the byeline and lays it back eight yards out for Samir Nasri, but the Frenchman's tame right-foot shot is easily saved by Joe Hart. They haven't had too many of them.

1630: Jimmy Bullard shoots wide after a sweeping move from Hull. Meanwhile, the camera pans to David Sullivan and David Gold at Upton Park. Wonder whether they'll have anything to say about this.

1628: Double change for Arsenal. Samir Nasri and Andriy Arshavin on for Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Stoke goal: That is a very, very big goal at the bottom - especially with Hull winning. Ricardo Fuller, who has only just come on, goes on a wonderfully mazy run after picking the ball up on the edge of the Hammers box, jinking inbetween two players, dribbling round a third and then firing past Rob Green. Stunning goal - and how West Ham need a response now.

1627: GOAL West Ham 0-1 Stoke City

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge: "Game most emphatically over Frank Lampard made it 4-1 to Chelsea with his 150th goal for the club. Superb achievement by an outstanding professional, making a nonsense of those who are still so quick to criticise him. Chelsea fans ironically ask Martin O'Neill for a wave - to no-one's surprise he studiously ignores them."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Chelsea goal: Emphatic. This is an absolute thumping, make no mistake about it. Villa are shell-shocked as Chelsea knock it around with ease and Frank Lampard stops the ball on the edge of the Villa box before rolling it across for Florent Malouda to expertly rifle into the roof of the net with his right foot from 12 yards.

1624: GOAL Chelsea 5-1 Aston Villa

1623: Chelsea have now scored 22 goals in the six league games Didier Drogba has not started. And there's still about half an hour to go in this one. Remarkable statistic.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1620: My word that was close for Birmingham. A ball into the Arsenal box reaches Roger Johnson at the far post and his hooked shot drops over Manuel Almunia and off the post, with Scott Dann somehow kneeing the rebound over from point-blank range.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Chelsea goal: That's that wrapped up then. Villa are at sixes and sevens and Yuri Zhirkov is rampant in a left wing-back role - the Russian's latest foray into the Villa box is brought to a crashing halt by Richard Dunne, who is booked for the foul. Frank Lampard steps up once more and fires the spot-kick into the corner for his 20th of the season and 150th goal in a Chelsea shirt. Congratulations to him.

1618: GOAL Chelsea 4-1 Aston Villa

1618: PENALTY TO CHELSEA

From Tom, Edinburgh, via text to 81111: "If Joe Cole is available for free this summer and Liverpool don't make a huge effort to sign him it'll be an astonishing error on Benitez's part!"

1615: Neat interplay from Arsenal as Tomas Rosicky feeds Abou Diaby, who turns in space and fires a shot straight at Joe Hart. Lots of niggle at St Andrews and still anyone's game.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Chelsea goal: Surely Villa won't come back from this? They are carved wide open down their right as Deco sends Yuri Zhirkov into acres of space and the Russian's ball into the box is swept home by the impressive Florent Malouda 10 yards out.

1613: GOAL Chelsea 3-1 Aston Villa

1611: Hermann Hreidarsson is in serious, serious pain here. Without a player within a yard radius of him the Portsmouth defender goes down clutching his ankle and after a long period of treatment he is stretchered from the field with an oxygen mask across his face. That looks like his FA Cup semi-final hopes done and dusted - and how typical of Pompey's season is that? Danny Webber replaces him.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Hull goal: It's a very dangerous score, 2-0, but that doesn't stop Iain Dowie and Hull from celebrating wildly. Dean Marney fires over a cross from the left and Craig Fagan does really well at the back post, nodding a looping header over Mark Schwarzer and into the far corner. Not sure if he 100% meant it, but it's done the job for the Tigers.

1609: GOAL Hull City 2-0 Fulham

1609: Leon Osman's cross at Wolves is headed over from six yards by Louis Saha.

1608: Villa plough the ball into the Chelsea box and it falls for Stephen Warnock 16 yards out, the left-back slicing his shot well over Petr Cech's crossbar.

1606: And they're back under way at Hull 1-0 Fulham as well.

1605: Kicked off again in the Tottenham 2-0 Portsmouth and West Ham 0-0 Stoke matches too. At Upton Park, the visitors have sent on Tuncay for Dave Kitson.

1604: Under way in the Birmingham 0-0 Arsenal game and Cesc Fabregas is playing for the Gunners.

1603: Good work from Joe Cole down the Chelsea right and Nicolas Anelka heads wide under pressure from Brad Friedel at the near post. Meanwhile, Kieron Dyer is off injured for West Ham, with Alessandro Diamanti on. Who had half-time?

1602: And they've started in the Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa game too.

1601: Back under way at Wolves 0-0 Everton.

From ytgunner on Twitter: "Arsenal have got to perform much better, and that was a good penalty by Lampard if I have to admit."

1558: A half-time wrap from Football League Macca: "Still 0-0 between Norwich and Leeds, but Millwall go into the break 3-0 up. Mark Hughes levelled for Barnet against Burton, probably with an acrobatic volley. Grimsby have pulled one back at Rochdale but still trail, 3-1. Brentford are up at home to Leyton Orient. MK Dons have sneaked in front at Gills through Jermaine Easter. Luton look like they declared on seven."

From Isleoflillywight, via text to 81111: "Stevo, may seem routine for Spurs so far but Gomes has made two fantastic saves at absolutely crucial times."

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge: "Vital blow struck by Chelsea just moments before the interval as Frank Lampard slams home a penalty to restore their lead against Aston Villa. Chelsea not fluent in a scrappy first half, but all that matters today is three points ahead of that trip to Old Trafford."

1552: More drama off the field that on it in that first half at St Andrews. Plenty of verbals between Arsene Wenger and Alex McLeish, with the Arsenal manager and his No.2 Pat Rice both involved in lengthy exchanges with the fourth official. Meanwhile, Cesc Fabregas looked off the pace after that injury and it remains to seen whether he emerges for the second half. For the record the booking count is Arsenal 2-0 Birmingham.

1550: More Football League Macca. I don't like Saturdays when my team doesn't play. I don't feel sick, and that's just wrong: "Southend have thrown away a 2-0 lead at Bristol Rovers, who are back on level terms now. James Coppinger has put Doncaster up at Barnsley and Billy Jones has done likewise for Preston against QPR. L1 runaway train Rochdale are 3-0 against Grimsby. All gone quiet at Luton."

1550: Half-time Tottenham 2-0 Portsmouth

1549: Half-time Hull City 1-0 Fulham

1548: Half-time Birmingham 0-0 Arsenal

1548: Half-time West Ham 0-0 Stoke City

1547: Half-time Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa

1546: Half-time Wolves 0-0 Everton

1544: Golden chance for Portsmouth to reduce arrears as Kanu's header falls to Michael Brown unmarked six yards out, but the former Spur scuffs his effort and it is cleared.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Chelsea goal: We'll have some of that in a World Cup quarter-final shootout Frankie, no danger. The Blues win a penalty as James Collins trips Yuri Zhirkov in the Villa box and Frank Lampard steps up and fairly leathers it into the top corner. The goal is still shaking.

1543: GOAL Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa

1543: PENALTY TO CHELSEA

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Spurs goal: More problems for Pompey. Kyle Walker's clever pull-back from the right is fired goalwards by Luka Modric and after it hits Hayden Mullins, another former Pompey player in Niko Kranjcar flicks the ball impudently with the outside of his right foot.

1541: GOAL Tottenham 2-0 Portsmouth

Someone has struck the woodwork
1540: Everton striker Louis Saha goes close to giving them the lead with a stunning shot from 25 yards that rattles the Wolves crossbar.

1539: Steven Mouyokolo clears off the Hull line from Zoltan Gera as Fulham search for a leveller at the KC Stadium. At Birmingham, Cesc Fabregas has picked up an injury after a clash with Craig Gardner. Keep you posted on that, with the Barcelona game on Wednesday.

1538: Football League Macca (look away Hayes & Yeading fans): "Millwall are absolutely rampaging up the League One table and they are leading Stockport through a Danny Swailes og. Nothing doing in the Norwich-Leeds match - the Lions are a point behind the Yorkshire side in the as-it-stands. Aldershot winning at Bury and Brighton are two-up against Tranmere. Luton 7-0 now. On course for 18-0."

Someone has struck the woodwork
Someone has struck the woodwork
1536: Double woodwork!! Tom Huddlestone slams in a ferocious left-foot shot that crashes against the post, before Peter Crouch hits the post with a volley 20 seconds later. About 10 seconds later, a Crouch overhead kick flies into the arms of David James. Phew.

1534: Hull's Jimmy Bullard's 20-yard free-kick is saved by Mark Schwarzer. At West Ham, Mido has a cracking chance to score for West Ham but the Egyptian cannot sort out his feet and falls over as he sends the ball wide.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge: "It's not as if Aston Villa striker John Carew is easy to miss, but Chelsea defender Yuri Zhrikov clearly didn't notice the big man stealing in on the end of Ashley Young's cross at the far post for a simple equaliser. Frustration sweeps around Stamford Bridge."

1532: Cameron Jerome forces Manuel Almunia to tip behind with a 25-yard right-foot shot for Birmingham against Arsenal. It's pretty even at St Andrews so far.

1531: Hull's George Boateng clears off the line from Zoltan Gera after the Hungarian rifles in a low shot from six yards out, following Brede Hangelaand's header.

1531: Football League Macca: "Relegation-troubled Watford's John Eustace has volleyed them in front against promotion-hopefuls Middlesbrough. Just dipping my toes outside of the Footy League, Luton are 5-0 up against Hayes & Yeading after 26 minutes. If they continue at that rate they will win 17-0."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Villa goal: John Carew levels for Villa with his ninth goal in his last eight games. Ashley Young is the provider, cutting in from the left and angling a low ball with his right foot diagonally across the box for the big Norwegian to tuck in at the back post. Echoes of Lampard's earlier goal and a deserved equaliser for the midlanders.

1529: GOAL Chelsea 1-1 Aston Villa

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Spurs goal: Had to be a former player, didn't it? Gareth Bale makes hay down the Spurs left and his beautifully floated cross falls perfectly for Peter Crouch, who almost messes it up but heads/shoulders past David James from six yards.

1527: GOAL Tottenham 1-0 Portsmouth

1526: Football League Macca: "A terrible start for Bristol Rovers, who have found themselves 2-0 down after only 12 minutes at home to struggling Southend. No such worries for League Two flyers Rochdale, who are 2-0 up already against Grimsby. Bournemouth are also in front, leading Accrington, and Swindon are beating Hartlepool. MK Dons and Gillingham have traded early goals and, in the East Mids derby, Derby lead after Leicester's Andy King put through his own goal. Whoops."

1524: Kyle Walker swings over a cross from the Spurs right and just as Niko Kranjcar is set to slam home, Hermann Hreidarsson throws himself in the way and deflects it back to David James. At Stoke, Abdoulaye Faye is injured and Andy Wilkinson comes on.

From orlenschlink on Twitter: "Is it just me or has Smalling given away a goal in almost every appearance he's made? Don't see the fuss."

1520: It's been something like a non-event at White Hart Lane so far… until Anthony Vanden Borre finds himself with just Heurelho Gomes to beat inside the area, but the Brazilian spreads himself well to deny the midfielder. Moments later and Gareth Bale lashes a volley wide for Tottenham from 25 yards. It's starting to liven up a touch now.

1519: Arsenal's Theo Walcott wastes a great chance at St Andrews. The Gunners winger chases down a long ball and capitalises on a stumble by Scott Dann, but can only stab a weak shot straight at the advancing Joe Hart.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge: "Frank Lampard's goal for Chelsea has come somewhat against the run of play. Aston Villa had made a lively start, forcing a succession of corners and looking sharper than Chelsea in the early stages. Lampard loves arriving late on the end of those opportunities and he made no mistake."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Hull City goal: Iain Dowie's side take the lead at the KC and the ground erupts. Definite penalty - Jozy Altidore tries to turn inside the Fulham box but Chris Smalling is all over him and hauls him down. Jimmy Bullard steps up, ignore the boos and slams the spot-kick into the top corner.

1517: GOAL Hull City 1-0 Fulham

1516: PENALTY TO HULL CITY

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Chelsea goal: That's harsh on Villa, who have been the better team just about so far. But Florent Malouda fashions himself a couple of yards of space just outside the box on the left and his fizzing low cross evades every Villa defender but not Frank Lampard, who slides home the opener at the back post.

1515: GOAL Chelsea 1-0 Aston Villa

1513: Jimmy Bullard is being booed by the Fulham fans at Hull. Chelsea's Frank Lampard tries an ambitious drive from 30 yards but it's an easy save for Brad Friedel.

1512: England manager Fabio Capello is at Wolves v Everton today, in case you were wondering.

1510: Football League Macca: "The fastest goal of the day goes to Bradford's James Hanson, who pounced after less than two minutes of their game at home to play-off chasing Dagenham and Redbridge. Most significant goal so far goes to Reading's Gylfi Sigurdsson. They're beating second-placed West Brom already."

1509: It's all Stoke at Upton Park and Abdoulaye Faye's shot from inside the six-yard box is cleared almost off the line by Mido. Nervous times for the Hammers.

1506: Zoltan Gera fires in from the edge of the Hull box and Boaz Myhill does well to get down and tip it behind for a Fulham corner, which comes to nothing. At West Ham, Stoke's Liam Lawrence blazes wide after being allowed to play on when it appeared he had handled.

1505: Brilliant save from Marcus Hahnemann at Wolves to deny Leon Osman from close range after great approach play from the wonderful Steven Pienaar.

1503: Arsenal almost take the lead at Birmingham as Tomas Rosicky crosses low from the left and Abou Diaby's instinctive finish is deflected wide by Lee Bowyer.

1502: I love football. I'm never going on holiday during the season again (until 2010/11, anyway).

1501: Under way at Birmingham, Tottenham (where Portsmouth have only named six subs) and Hull City now too.

1500: Under way at Chelsea, West Ham and Wolves.

From Jamie, Bobby Moore Upper, via text to 81111: "In my usual seat at the Boleyn and it appears we've installed some extra advertising boardings right by the touchline. Hmmm... wonder why?! Come on you Irons!"

1458: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is roundly booed by Birmingham fans as he steps out on to the pitch at St Andrews. The Frenchman isn't flavour of the month in the Midlands for his comments about Martin Taylor's tackle on Eduardo.

From hkthetruth8 on Twitter: "Re 1433, Dyer returning from injury - heard that so many times. He's gonna come off injured today. PS Stevo, where you really been?"
Skegness.

1454: I've just been told that Iain Dowie's official title at Hull is Football Management Consultant. Haha. I mean, haha. Seriously though.

1453: Wolves v Everton: What a time Everton are having of it. They've won eight of their last 11, including a presumably thoroughly enjoyable away day success at Man City, a team they don't much like at Goodison. Wolves are the only side in the league who have picked up more points away from home (16) than on their own path (15). Can they give the Molineux regulars something to cheer today?

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge: "Chelsea captain John Terry's programme notes are - in his own words - "short and sweet" today. Blackburn not good enough. Portsmouth better. "We can still be champions." And that's about it. Didier Drogba is carrying a knock sustained in the win at Pompey so he stays on the bench. Big chance for Joe Cole to make an impact from the start in a game Chelsea must win to maintain momentum ahead of their visit to Manchester United next Saturday."

From optajoe on Twitter: "In the five league games that Didier Drogba hasn't started for Chelsea this season, the Blues have scored 18 goals. Options."

1445: That's the team news done and dusted, then. About 15 minutes to go until we're under way in six Premier League matches, with Bolton v Man Utd to come at 1730 GMT too. And for you Chelsea fans who are fuming at the absence of Didier Drogba...

1443: Hull City boss Iain Dowie makes four changes, with Andy Dawson and Stephen Hunt missing out through injuries. Ibrahima Sonko comes in for his first action since October and George Boateng returns after suspension but Caleb Folan is sidelined through illness so Jozy Altidore comes back in. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink is dropped to the bench. Bobby Zamora misses out for Fulham with stomach cramps as Roy Hodgson makes six changes from the side beaten by Spurs in midweek. Damien Duff and skipper Danny Murphy have also been left out of the squad and there are starts for Chris Baird, Nicky Shorey, Bjorn Riise, Clint Dempsey, Chris Smalling and Kagisho Dikgacoi.

1441: All over in the first game today, over to Football League Macca: "Five minutes of injury-time at Selhurst, but not enough time for Palace to grab a leveller. Shaun Derry is agonisingly close, but Cardiff seal a 2-1 win. The Welsh club are sitting pretty in fourth, but the league table is looking increasingly unattractive for Paul Hart's side. If results go against them they could be five points adrift this evening."

From Farslayer on 606: "That is the strangest Chelsea starting line-up I have seen for a long time. I can't imagine how gleeful Martin O'Neill must be at this moment!"

From Dan P at St Andrews, via text to 81111: "Eduardo just went and thanked the emergency aid staff at the side of the pitch. Nice touch."

1433: West Ham welcome back Manuel da Costa following his suspension, plus Danny Gabbidon and Kieron Dyer, both returning from injury for the visit of Stoke to Upton Park. Their opponents are without Ryan Shawcross, who is unable to recover from an ankle injury, and the suspended Dean Whitehead.

1432: Chelsea make three changes to the starting line-up that demolished Portsmouth 5-0. Alex and Joe Cole, who came on as substitutes at Fratton Park start, while Nicolas Anelka is promoted from the bench in favour of Didier Drogba. Gabby Agbonlahor has recovered from a toe injury and returns to the Aston Villa line-up, but Emile Heskey, who hobbled out of the 1-1 draw with Sunderland, misses out. Richard Dunne and James Milner have overcome Achilles problems and start.

1431: Birmingham, unbeaten at home since September, are unchanged from the side that lost 2-1 to Blackburn on Wednesday. Arsenal, who have won their last six games, are without the suspended Thomas Vermaelen, while Andre Arshavin, Samir Nasri and Emmanuel Eboue are all rested. Alex Song is likely to slot into defence alongside Sol Campbell, with Abou Diaby taking his place in midfield and Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky on the flanks. Croatia striker Eduardo is on the bench.

From HonestFrank on Twitter: "'Shambolic. Pathetic. Disorganised' and that David Sullivan rant is reproduced in full in West Ham programme for Stoke game."

1428: Hull City v Fulham line-ups:
Hull:
Myhill, McShane, Mouyokolo, Sonko, Kilbane, Garcia, Boateng, Bullard, Marney, Fagan, Altidore.
Subs: Duke, Barmby, Geovanni, Mendy, Vennegoor of Hesselink, Olofinjana, Cairney.
Fulham: Schwarzer, Shorey, Hangeland, Baird, Konchesky, Riise, Smalling, Dikgacoi, Davies, Gera, Dempsey.
Subs: Zuberbuhler, Okaka, Nevland, Hughes, Etuhu, Stoor, Greening.
Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)

1426: Wolves boss Mick McCarthy names the same starting XI that won at West Ham in midweek. Everton's Mikel Arteta misses the game after failing to recover from the injury he sustained in the win against Manchester City. Jack Rodwell replaces the midfielder.

1424: Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp hands a club debut to young right-back Kyle Walker in the absence of the injured Vedran Corluka, while David Bentley and Tom Huddlestone are restored to the line-up at the expense of Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Wilson Palacios. Portsmouth, with Jamie O'Hara ineligible to face his parent club, make four changes with Angelos Basinas, Michael Brown, Anthony Vanden Borre and Kanu recalled to the side.

1421: West Ham v Stoke City line-ups:
West Ham:
Green, Faubert, Da Costa, Upson, Spector, Dyer, Parker, Noble, Behrami, Mido, Cole.
Subs: Kurucz, Gabbidon, Ilan, Kovac, McCarthy, Diamanti, Daprela.
Stoke: Sorensen, Huth, Abdoulaye Faye, Collins, Higginbotham, Lawrence, Delap, Whelan, Etherington, Sidibe, Kitson.
Subs: Begovic, Fuller, Pugh, Amdy Faye, Sanli, Wilkinson, Moult.
Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands)

1419: Chelsea v Aston Villa line-ups:
Chelsea:
Cech, Paulo Ferreira, Alex, Terry, Zhirkov, Deco, Mikel, Lampard, Joe Cole, Anelka, Malouda.
Subs: Turnbull, Drogba, Ballack, Kalou, Sturridge, Bruma, Van Aanholt.
Aston Villa: Friedel, Luke Young, Collins, Dunne, Warnock, Milner, Petrov, Sidwell, Ashley Young, Carew, Agbonlahor.
Subs: Guzan, Downing, Delfouneso, Davies, Salifou, Beye, Cuellar.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)

1418: Wolves v Everton line-ups:
Wolves:
Hahnemann, Zubar, Craddock, Berra, Elokobi, Foley, Mancienne, Henry, David Jones, Jarvis, Doyle.
Subs: Hennessey, Ebanks-Blake, Keogh, Ward, Iwelumo, Milijas, Guedioura.
Everton: Howard, Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Osman, Rodwell, Heitinga, Cahill, Pienaar, Saha.
Subs: Nash, Hibbert, Yobo, Bilyaletdinov, Gosling, Yakubu, Senderos.
Referee: Michael Jones (Cheshire)

1417: Birmingham v Arsenal line-ups:
Birmingham:
Hart, Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell, Gardner, Ferguson, Bowyer, Fahey, Jerome, McFadden.
Subs: Taylor, Larsson, Phillips, Benitez, Michel, Parnaby, Vignal.
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Campbell, Diaby, Clichy, Denilson, Song, Walcott, Fabregas, Rosicky, Bendtner.
Subs: Fabianski, Nasri, Eduardo, Vela, Arshavin, Eboue, Traore.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

1416: Tottenham v Portsmouth line-ups:
Tottenham:
Gomes, Kyle Walker, Bassong, Dawson, Bale, Bentley, Huddlestone, Modric, Kranjcar, Crouch, Gudjohnsen.
Subs: Alnwick, Kaboul, Pavlyuchenko, Palacios, Rose, Livermore, Assou-Ekotto.
Portsmouth: James, Finnan, Hreidarsson, Mokoena, Basinas, Brown, Mullins, Hughes, Vanden Borre, Piquionne, Kanu.
Subs: Ashdown, Owusu-Abeyie, Webber, Ward, Ritchie, Sowah.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

1415: Eduardo will be on the bench for Arsenal at Birmingham today on his first return to St Andrews since his horrific injury two years ago.

1414: Lively stuff from the Champo. Here's Football League Macca again: "Cardiff are back in front and it's a cracker of a goal from Chris Burke. Palace fail to deal with a long free-kick into the box and the ball falls for Burke, who chests it down before smashing a shot past Palace keeper Julian Speroni."

From The President™² on 606: "I agree Stevo. Just done the BBC Predictor for the rest of the season and Everton just pip Liverpool to fourth by one point. Man City, Spurs and Villa all fall away a bit."

1409: West Ham v Stoke City: Where to even begin. You'd think West Ham were 10 points adrift at the bottom, such was the fallout from their 3-1 defeat at home to Wolves on Tuesday. They aren't - and by this evening, the Hammers could be six points clear of the drop zone. They better not fall behind, though - West Ham's last win having conceded the first goal came in December 2008. It was against Stoke, though.

1407: I'm hearing news that young defender Kyle Walker is set to make his Spurs debut at home against Portsmouth today. More to follow.

1406: Football League Macca: "It's been coming. Palace are level at 1-1 as Darren Ambrose floats a corner in and Cardiff opt not mark Clint Hill, who nods in from a few yards out. Paul Hart's side have not won a home league game at Selhurst since January and lie in the relegation zone. A win here would be big. Really big, I'd say."

1404: Line-ups and team news from the six Premier League games kicking off at 1500 GMT on the way shortly, I reckon. Hit you with the news as soon as we have it.

From Chris, Billericay, via text to 81111: "An hour before kick-off and I've never been so nervous. Sullivan has destroyed morale at West Ham since he came in. He needs to be more professional. Let's hope they turn up today and play like we know they can."

1400: An unwelcome return for Stevo's Predos:
Birmingham 1-1 Arsenal
Chelsea 2-0 Aston Villa
Hull City 2-2 Fulham
Tottenham 3-1 Portsmouth
West Ham 2-1 Stoke
Wolves 1-2 Everton
Bolton 0-2 Man United
Lawro's predictions

From Jingles_123 on Twitter: "Who do you think will get fourth Stevo?
Er, Everton? What a story that would be.

1353: Tottenham v Portsmouth: It's curtain-raiser o'clock - not only Chelsea-Villa, but these two are also meeting next month in the FA Cup semi-finals. Spurs might have a tricky run-in, but surely they must rack up a fifth successive league win today against doomed Pompey? If the visitors do leave White Hart Lane pointless and results go against them, they could be relegated as early as next weekend.

1350: Hull v Fulham: These are the games Hull simply must win if they are to have any hope of staying up. Five defeats in a row, the Tigers have only won one of their last 16 league matches. Fulham might be there for the taking, though - they have gone 14 games without an away league win since beating Pompey on the opening day. I wonder how different their seasons might have been had Bobby Zamora decided to move to the KC Stadium last summer.

From pitroddieloon on 606: "It's like link city on the main page. Someone got a bit carried away..."
Sorry. Had a bottle of pop and some jelly babies at lunch :)

1343: Hola, Football League Macca: "The early game in the Champ has reached half-time. Cardiff lead Crystal Palace through Gabor Gyepes's fourth-minute goal. A win would take the Bluebirds above Leicester and Swansea and into fourth place, for the time being at least."

From James, Uxbridge, via text to 81111: "So Torres is basically saying the club needs Rooney, Messi, Iniesta and Ronaldo... good luck with that!"

1338: Chelsea v Aston Villa: With Man United not playing until later, the Blues can put some pressure on Fergie's boys by beating a Villa team whose run of seven draws in 10 games is threatening to derail their top four hopes. Chelsea might be out of Europe, but Carlo Ancelotti reckons that could just help them win the title come May.

From goonhunter on Twitter: "I'm regretting not putting a big red balloon into my fantasy football squad for this weekend."

1333: Bubbling under the Premier League, Football League Macca casts his eye over proceedings (he's watching telly with the other one): "As well as some top-drawer top-flight action today, we have some potential ding-dongers in the Football League today. I'm not even sure where to start, but how about League One and Carrow Road? Top-of-the-table Norwich host previously good Leeds, who have won only twice in 10 league games since going out of the Cup. In the Championship, red-hot Reading host West Brom as leaders Newcastle have the weekend off. In League Two, second-placed Notts County face third-placed Rotherham. That's just the very tip of the iceberg."

1330: Great news for Liverpool fans today: Spanish striker Fernando Torres has dismissed rumours he might leave the club in the summer: "My place is here at Liverpool, and in England. But we need four more top players to be really competitive, players who are better than all of us who are here at the moment." That'll cost you.

1327: Birmingham v Arsenal: When the Gunners lost 2-0 at Chelsea last month, some people decided to write off their title hopes. But six wins in a row have catapulted them to within touching distance of a first championship for six years. Today, they go back to St Andrews for the first time since Eduardo's horrific leg break two years ago - the day their title challenge began to fall apart that season. Can they lay to rest the ghost of that campaign?

From ameypv on Twitter: "Just woke up from my rare afternoon nap and I dreamt that Chelsea lost to Villa and Arsenal drew. Of course Utd won."

From Dave, via text to 81111: "Jonathan, you missed Everton showing all the money in the world can't buy you team spirit, and under a blue-and-white scarf you can bet someone was feeling hot under the collar."

From Fergusons_Ghost on 606: "Using the Premier League predictor link earlier this week, I've got Birmingham 1-1 Arsenal (Lawro copied me) and Chelsea 2-2 Aston Villa. Man United to win 2-1 against Bolton."
Magical plug. Thanks.

1313: Here's the plan for today, folks:
1500 GMT: Birmingham v Arsenal
1500 GMT: Chelsea v Aston Villa
1500 GMT: Hull v Fulham
1500 GMT: Tottenham v Portsmouth
1500 GMT: West Ham v Stoke City
1500 GMT: Wolves v Everton
1730 GMT: Bolton v Man Utd

1309: How've you been keeping, then? Do drop me a line, I've missed you (honest). The Times may be a-changing (see what I did there?), but the ways of getting in touch remain the same: via text to 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide); on Twitter @Stevo_football; and the kids with all the chat are doing their thing on 606 as I type these words. At your convenience.

1305: Yep. I went away for a month and in that time managed to watch nine minutes of football. I hope you've all had more success. Anyway, back to the Premier League and a warm welcome to the business end of proceedings.

1300: Apparently, while I was busy soaking up the showers in the Bombonera, some interesting things happened in the wonderful world of football. Let me know if I've missed anything out:
1. Arsenal hauled themselves back into the title race.
2. Lionel Messi became so good people have started calling the previously untouchable Diego Maradona 'the old Lionel Messi'.*
3. Certain people at West Ham completely lost the plot.
4. Iain Dowie followed Brian Laws into the 'how the hell did he get that job?' category of top-flight gaffers.
5. Fulham (led heroically by England's Bobby Zamora) produced one of the great English European performances of recent years.
6. Jose Mourinho slapped his old Chelsea charges in the face.
7. England signalled their intentions to give winning the World Cup a pharaoh chance. (Unless you're still in denial, that is)
8. Sunday, 14 March: the day the music died for David Beckham.

* This may not be 100% true.



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Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 27 Mar 2010 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 32 51 72
2 Chelsea 32 53 71
3 Arsenal 32 40 68
4 Tottenham 31 28 58
5 Man City 30 16 53
6 Liverpool 31 18 51
7 Aston Villa 31 11 51
8 Everton 32 8 49
9 Birmingham 32 -4 45
10 Stoke 31 -5 39
11 Fulham 31 -3 38
12 Blackburn 31 -16 38
13 Sunderland 31 -6 35
14 Wolves 32 -22 32
15 Bolton 32 -24 32
16 Wigan 31 -30 31
17 West Ham 32 -17 27
18 Hull 31 -33 27
19 Burnley 31 -33 24
20 Portsmouth 32 -32 13

see also
Saturday's football photos
27 Mar 10 |  Football
Football on the BBC
11 Aug 10 |  Football


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