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By Jonathan Stevenson
1822: It's always emotional to wave you off after a weekend double header, but it's time for us to part company. After
Stoke 1-2 Man Utd,Liverpool 2-1 Blackburn
Man City 0-3 Arsenal,
we must get on with the meaningless part of our lives. Thankfully not for long, because Match of the Day 2 is on BBC Two and online at 2200 BST and then on Tuesday,
is back for a night of Carling Cup action. You be good now, won't you?
1819: Arsene Wenger on Arsenal's losing run against the 'top four': "It was important to get that off our shoulders because we feel the tension for as long as it takes to break it."
Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner: "It's been difficult for me for the last few months, I was injured during the World Cup too so it's been hard. It was fantastic to come on and score. I think we played really well, but then so did Man City. We took our chances and made them work hard, which is tough with 10 men."
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "In our job there is only one response and that is on the pitch - Lukas Fabianski is now showing us on the pitch what he has shown us in training. I'm confident this will give us even more confidence playing against the best teams."
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini: "Against Arsenal it's the worst thing to have 10 men, but I'm very proud of my players, we were really in the game until the second goal and were always trying to score, we played very well. I have to say after this game, we are one of the best teams in the Premier League. If it had been 11 against 11, we would have won this game."
From Spence on 606:
"I think that's pretty much the top four at the end of the season, given an injury or two to decide 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Good to see Nasri driving on with his progression, Song becoming more of a threat going forward compared to his Mikel-esque role last season and Fabregas not getting injured! A good Gooner day!"
Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas: "I missed a penalty, how can I be man of the match?!"
Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas: "We played some fantastic football at times and when you play at that tempo it's very difficult to stop a team. It's a good victory against a good team, but we don't know what it means for the rest of the season. Even if they had 15 and we had 11 we would still want to go on and win - and the way we played it's difficult to stop us."
Man City 0-3 Arsenal David Ornstein reports: "A victory for self-sustainability over big spending? Arsenal produce a performance combining grit and class to secure a rare win against fellow title contenders. Dedryk Boyata's early sending off undermined City's hopes, while the withdrawal of Carlos Tevez through injury was another blow. But the visitors deserved their triumph and City will be left to lick their wounds."
1757: Man City drop down to fourth after that home defeat, with Arsenal up to second. Look at that top four in the Premier League and tell me how much you think it will change from now until the end of the season.
1754: Full-time Man City 0-3 Arsenal Fair to say the early sending off of Man City's Dedryk Boyata for a professional foul helped in a big way to decided the outcome of this one, but full credit to Arsenal, they still had to produce the goods.
1752: By the way, we are well into a period of three minutes of added time at Eastlands. Arsenal break and work it from left to right, but Bacary Sagna's shot flies wide of the far post from 15 yards.
1751: David Silva's cross goes behind for a corner with Emmanuel Adebayor lurking and when the set-piece comes back out to the edge of the box, Jerome Boateng's fierce shot is tipped over acrobatically by Lukasz Fabianski.
Arsenal goal: It's a bit controversial, but points-wise it wouldn't make any difference. Samir Nasri seems to run the ball out of play on the Gunners left on halfway but is allowed to play on, and slides a ball through for Nicklas Bendtner, who is marginally onside, runs through, opens his body and slots into the corner past Joe Hart.
1749: GOAL Man City 0-3 Arsenal (Bendtner)
1748: Man City aren't going to make any headway here because they just cannot get hold of the ball. I'm not sure Mario Balotelli has had more than a couple of touches so far.
1746: Arsenal make a double substitution, sending on Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott for Marouane Chamakh and Cesc Fabregas. Not much more than five minutes remaining at Eastlands.
From Alan, on text: "In Mendoza drinking wine & watching the game. Argentinean commentary is hilarious... The commentator is singing "el gol, por el Arsenal, el gol, por el Arsenal" during the replay. Almost as good as his "o-o-ooooh, o-o-ooooh" for the first."
1742: Magical stuff from Cesc Fabregas, going on a sublime solo run at the heart of the Man City area and racing past two players before poking it to Marouane Chamakh, the Moroccan wasting the chance by lashing way over Joe Hart's crossbar from 15 yards.
1740: Now Arsenal start to play some keep-ball, and that spells trouble for Man City's tired 10 players. A multi-pass move ends with Tomas Rosicky trying to find one more ball instead of shooting and the interception comes in from a City defender.
1737: Arsenal are trying to get a third goal, but City aren't out of this one yet and with Emmanuel Adebayor and Mario Balotelli on the pitch, frankly anything could still happen. Micah Richards is limping a bit.
1734: Lukasz Fabianski makes a stunning reaction save to deny Emmanuel Adebayor from his close-range header, but the Togolese striker had just wandered offside so it wouldn't have counted.
1732: Vincent Kompany makes absolutely no effort to get out of Bacary Sagna's way and he picks up a booking for blocking the French full-back. Man City haul off the disappointing Gareth Barry and send on fit-again Italian teenager Mario Balotelli.
1731: Arsenal take off Andrey Arshavin and send on Tomas Rosicky.
BBC Radio 5 live's Iain Dowie: "I think when Arsene Wenger looks at this game he will obviously be thrilled with the points, but he will be concerned by how open they have looked defensively at times. Even against 10 men they have conceded four or five very good chances and you have to give City credit too."
Arsenal goal: Surely the points are heading to north London now. Arsenal play it beautifully from left to right as Andrey Arshavin crosses for Samir Nasri, he lays it back to Cesc Fabregas and when his ball to Marouane Chamakh is cut out by Wayne Bridge, it falls 14 yards out for Alex Song to hammer the ball into the top corner of Joe Hart's goal.
1727: GOAL Man City 0-2 Arsenal (Song)
1725: It remains Man City 0-1 Arsenal. Micah Richards skins Gael Clichy down the City right but falls over inside the box and cannot win a corner. Moments later James Milner takes on Cesc Fabregas and the Arsenal captain gets his tackle spot-on just outside the box. If he hadn't, he might have been in trouble.
1723: The pace of this game is quite remarkable.
From Henry in Leeds, on text: "This for me is further proof of how overrated Gareth Barry is. He's given the ball away almost every time he's got it, plus got his mandatory booking. I don't see what Capello sees in him."
1720: Man City crank up the intensity and a corner finds its way to ex-Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who heads over from a promising position with Lukasz Fabianski in no-man's land.
1719: Man City work the ball beautifully in a tight situation down their right and James Milner squeezes a path through to David Silva, the Spaniard seeing his right-foot toe-punt from an angle brilliantly deflected behind by the gloves of Lukasz Fabianski.
1717: Fabulous sliding challenge from Jerome Boateng on Cesc Fabregas when it looked like a chance for Arsenal. Great tackle.
1716: You know Arsenal like to try and walk the ball in sometimes? Exhibit A, right there. Samir Nasri's glorious, sweeping pass from right to left opens up the pitch for Andrey Arshavin and Arsenal have numbers in attack - but Arshavin and then Nasri don't want to shoot and the chance goes begging.
1713: Carlos Tevez passes the armband to Nigel de Jong and Emmanuel Adebayor comes on in his place.
1712: Gael Clichy whips over a brilliant cross from the Arsenal left and his cross is excellently punched away by a diving Joe Hart, just getting there ahead of Cesc Fabregas, You have to think that if the Gunners score again it's game over.
1710: Carlos Tevez is hobbling badly, he's coming off soon.
1709: Marouane Chamakh does brilliantly to pick Jerome Boateng's pocket down the Arsenal left and he finds Samir Nasri, but when he rolls it back to Cesc Fabregas his 12-yard shot lacks power and Joe Hart saves comfortably.
1706: Nice to see - Alex Song is having a cheeky chat with Emmanuel Adebayor, takes his ex-colleague's woolly hat off and throws it on the floor, with beaming smiles all round. Man City take Yaya Toure off at the break and send on Wayne Bridge.
Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson: "It was a very deserved victory and one that was really needed. If we had come in at half-time several goals up no-one could have said a word, so I told them at the break they were going the right way and if they carried on they would be fine, which they were. It's the three points that count and I'm very happy with that."
Liverpool 2-1 Blackburn Alistair Magowan reports: "Fernando Torres ends his goal drought and earns Liverpool a huge win during a game they dominated for long periods against a Blackburn side which showed a lack of attacking intent. Torres, Steven Gerrard and Raul Meireles all looked refreshed after their midweek break and their first half-display will give Roy Hodgson some belief. They still managed to make the Anfield crowd sweat, though, when letting in a goal minutes after their opener. Tough times ahead, still, but a step in the right direction."
From Chris, on text: "Three points separating 7th and 18th... some light at the end of this tunnel perhaps."
Man City 0-1 Arsenal David Ornstein reports: "A half to be remembered as much for the poisonous on-field atmosphere as the quality of football. City down to 10 men, Arsenal leading - the second period should be tasty."
1651: Full-time Liverpool 2-1 Blackburn It doesn't matter how they come, it just matters for Liverpool that they won today. It doesn't lift them out of the drop zone, but it is a very big three points.
1650: Half-time Man City 0-1 Arsenal
1648: Fabulous block from Vincent Kompany at Man City, throwing his body in the way of Denilson's 18-yard drive, looked like that might have been going in, too. It's entertaining, no doubt about that.
1647: There will be three minutes of added time at Liverpool.
1646: Into the final minute at Anfield, wonder if Blackburn have got anything left? They don't look like it at the moment.
1644: That's the third penalty Arsenal have missed this season, Cesc Fabregas following Andrey Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky. It's almost costly, as Vincent Kompany heads a David Silva corner over for Man City.
Penalty save: That might have just kept Man City in the contest. Cesc Fabregas touches a Bacary Sagna pass first inside the City box and Vincent Kompany brings him down, it's a definite penalty. Fabregas steps up himself, but Joe Hart dives away to his left to pull off a very good save. Arsene Wenger reels on the Gunners bench.
1642: PENALTY SAVED (Joe Hart from Cesc Fabregas)
1642: PENALTY TO ARSENAL
1641: It's all a bit flat at Anfield, on the pitch and in the crowd, strangely. Liverpool have stopped looking dangerous and Blackburn aren't really doing anything.
1639: Now Johan Djourou is booked at Eastlands after a foul on Carlos Tevez. So we've had one sending off already and five players have been cautioned.
1635: Liverpool bring young French striker David Ngog on for Joe Cole. At Man City, Alex Song picks up a booking for a late challenge on David Silva. That's four central midfielders in the book at Eastlands.
1632: Got about 15 minutes left at Anfield, where it remains Liverpool 2-1 Blackburn. Rovers have started to pump balls into the Reds box, but they haven't created anything yet.
1631: Man City try to break with pace and Cesc Fabregas, nailed himself twice in the early stages, takes Nigel de Jong out, picking up a booking in the process. I'm not sure I can see this ending 10 v 11, if I'm honest. James Milner plays a lovely pass to the marauding Micah Richards and from 12 yards the full-back curls a left-foot shot just past the angle of post and crossbar.
1626: Morten Gamst Pedersen lashes in a left-foot shot from 25 yards for Blackburn, but it's miles over Pepe Reina's crossbar. They haven't offered much since Liverpool re-took the lead.
BBC Radio 5 live's Jan Molby: "Liverpool are playing some good stuff at the moment, they are getting it wide and getting everyone involved, they are well on top at the moment."
Arsenal goal: First blood to the Gunners. Bacary Sagna finds Samir Nasri just outside the City area, and he conjures up a fine goal, playing a lovely one-two with Andrey Arshavin and firing past the advancing Joe Hart from eight yards. Though why Gareth Barry just let Nasri run around him, God only knows. Seven in seven for the Frenchman now.
1623: GOAL Man City 0-1 Arsenal (Nasri)
From Ross, London, on text: "Stonewall red for Boyata, but how does Fabregas continue to get away with waving imaginary cards and trying to get other players sent off?"
1620: What a chance for Arsenal. Bacary Sagna whips over a cross from the Gunners right after being fed by Cesc Fabregas and Johan Djourou, rising above Micah Richards, powers a header over from eight yards. Should have hit the target at least.
1618: Man City almost create a real chance for Carlos Tevez, but after David Silva's clever flick on the edge of the Arsenal box the Argentine is on the stretch and his weak effort is easily saved by Lukasz Fabianski.
From Robsoninho on 606:
"There's more red cards to come at Eastlands I'm sure of it. Boyata had to go, but since then, the tackles have flown in, and Clattenburg's been a bit card happy."
1615: There are some rubbish challenges at Eastlands right now - Gareth Barry takes Cesc Fabregas out and he is booked for his troubles.
1614: If you refresh, you'll see a goal graphic appear instead of a red card for the Blackburn equaliser. Lots going on.
1613: Arsenal receive their first booking of the afternoon as Denilson denies City the chance to counter-attack from a Gunners corner with a late slide on Carlos Tevez. Moments later, Nigel de Jong seems to take Cesc Fabregas out, but the referee doesn't even give a free-kick.
Reds goal: That's exactly what the hosts wanted, and Roy Hodgson is off the bench pumping his fist in celebration. Steven Gerrard tees up Joe Cole to cross from the left and there stealing in seven yards out is Fernando Torres to side-foot past Paul Robinson. Anfield erupts.
1611: GOAL Liverpool 2-1 Blackburn (Torres)
Rovers goal: Moments after Paul Robinson makes a blinding save from Maxi, Rovers level. The ball is cut back to El Hadji Diouf inside the box, and he sees his shot cleared off the line by Paul Konchesky only for it to hit Jamie Carragher and rebound into his own net.
1609: GOAL Liverpool 1-1 Blackburn (Carragher og)
Man City red: After incessant Man City pressure, they are down to 10 men. Cesc Fabregas slides a lovely pass through to Marouane Chamakh and Dedryck Boyata fouls him - the ref has got no choice but to send him off and it's 10 v 11.
1607: SENDING OFF (Dedryck Boyata, Manchester City)
Reds goal: What relief all around Anfield as Roy Hodgson's side take the lead. Steven Gerrard sends over another expertly taken corner from the left and Sotirios Kyrgiakos meets it with a thumping header, Martin Olsson failing to get enough power on his header on the line to stop it going in.
1605: GOAL Liverpool 1-0 Blackburn (Kyrgiakos)
1604: Not good early signs for Arsenal, there. Carlos Tevez skins Johan Djourou down the City right and sends over a low cross that David Silva brilliantly flicks through his legs and goalwards, Lukasz Fabianski getting down really smartly to make a fine save.
1602: Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard get us back under way at Liverpool, and we've started in the Man City v Arsenal game too.
1601: There is a tribute to the late, great Malcolm Allison at Manchester City, with a minute's applause for the former City gaffer and lots of old boys on the pitch to honour his memory.
From ChrisMurphy38 on Twitter:
"Predicting City to win 3-1, Tevez getting two of them and Johnson off the bench to wrap it up. Tevez will terrorise Djourou."
1558: The teams are out at Eastlands, led by their captains Carlos Tevez and Cesc Fabregas. Very close to getting under way there.
1557: Courtesy of
here is a brilliant Arsenal stat: "The Gunners finished in the top two of the Premier League in eight of Patrick Vieira's nine seasons at the club. They failed to finish in the top two of the league in the PL era either before he arrived in 1996 or after he departed in 2005."
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "We'll play our game and try to be very mobile and faithful to our technical skills. Physically they cannot suffocate us because we can run. Then it's about who wins the duels. It's important that it [Arsenal's poor record against title rivals] doesn't become a blockage. It's surprising because two years ago we won all the big games. Sometimes it's a coincidence. We have the quality to put things right, we want to march forward and to do that we need to win here."
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini: "When we play a game every three days, players who start on the bench can be important, it's very important we have a good bench. Mario Balotelli is not ready to play a whole game or 45 minutes but it's important that he's now available and he can maybe play 10 or 15 minutes."
From Dan the Norwich fan, on text: "That PSV-Feyenoord result is something akin to Chelsea doing that to Liverpool. So things could be worse."
1549: Man City v Arsenal team news David Ornstein reports: "There is no place in Manchester City's starting XI for former Arsenal player Emmanuel Adebayor - the Togolese striker dropping to the bench as Carlos Tevez returns from his Europa League rest. Dedryck Boyata comes into defence but otherwise the hosts are at full strength, with Mario Balotelli among the substitutes. Arsenal make three changes from Wednesday's Champions League outing - Bacary Sagna, Denilson and Andrey Arshavin starting in place of Emmanuel Eboue, the suspended Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky. Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner are among the subs."
1547: Half-time Liverpool 0-0 Blackburn
1545: Maxi should score. Steven Gerrard plays another fabulous cross into the Blackburn box and the Argentine doesn't really attack it, sticking a foot out and watching as if drifts behind. You've got to want it more than that.
BBC Radio 5 live's Jan Molby: "I think every single Liverpool attack has come from the right. The fans at the moment are unsure about what the team are going to produce, so the longer it goes on when they aren't winning, it will have an effect on them."
1542: How did that not go in? Sotirios Kyrgiakos flicks on a Steven Gerrard corner from the right and inside the six-yard box a stooping Lucas can only head over the Blackburn bar. Liverpool really should be winning.
1541: Here's Man United's Gary Neville, after escaping being sent off for a tackle on Matthew Etherington: "I was relieved not to be sent off but I didn't think the first one was a booking - the referee's gone easy on me." And on his 600th game: "It means a lot to stay at this club a long time - I was bit rusty in the first half but it was a great result."
1540: Steven Gerrard's corner falls for Raul Meireles 22 yards out and he hits a superbly sweet right-foot volley that Michel Salgado gets his head in the way of to clear. He needs a bit of treatment, the former Real Madrid man.
1539: Liverpool are doing most of the pressing at Anfield but it's very quiet on Merseyside, save for the odd "attack, attack, attack attack attack" from the home fans. Blackburn aren't offering anything much.
Man United hero Javier Hernandez: "We are very happy with the result. We are very delighted. [And on his headed opening goal: "The ball was behind me and I thank God it went in. But there are no heroes - just the effort by the team."
1535: Incredible news from the Netherlands, isn't it? PSV 10-0 Feyenoord. Wow. The last time a team in the Dutch league reached double figures was in 1998 when PSV beat Volendam 10-0. They also did for Go Ahead Eagles 10-0 in 1973. It's only the seventh time in the league's history a team has scored 10 goals,
tell us. It was 2-0 at half-time.
1533: Enforced change for Blackburn, with the injured Steven Nzonzi coming off and Vince Grella on in his place.
From iSpartacus on 606:
"Little pea was the difference but let's not kid ourselves - Scholes is showing his age, O'Shea not good enough, Neville has seen better days. At times we were very good and kept the ball well but lapses in concentration like the one or two Scholes made could've been costly. First away win, let's build on this. Still unbeaten as well."
1530: Man City v Arsenal line-ups: Man City: Hart, Richards, Boyata, Kompany, Boateng, Silva, Toure Yaya, De Jong, Barry, Milner, Tevez. Subs: Given, Bridge, Adebayor, Adam Johnson, Lescott, Vieira, Balotelli. Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Djourou, Squillaci, Clichy, Nasri, Fabregas, Song, Denilson, Arshavin, Chamakh. Subs: Szczesny, Koscielny, Rosicky, Walcott, Eboue, Gibbs, Bendtner. Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)
Stoke 1-2 Man Utd Phil McNulty reports: "Javier Hernandez filled the gap left behind by Wayne Rooney in style after Manchester United threatened to squander the lead once more. Bitter disappointment for Stoke after Tuncay's wonderful leveller, but United the better side."
1526: Liverpool counter after a Blackburn corner and Raul Meireles plays the ball along the box to Steven Gerrard, who sees his 18-yard drive again superbly saved by Paul Robinson.
1525: Full-time Stoke 1-2 Man United After the week they have had and after being pegged back so late in the game, that's a massive three points for Sir Alex Ferguson and his men. It almost got better in the dying stages as Thomas Sorensen saved brilliantly from Nani, but that'll do for the Old Trafford side.
1522: Breaking news: In the Dutch Eredivisie, PSV Eindhoven have beaten Feyenoord 10-0.
1521: Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen goes up for a Stoke corner, but one of his team-mates heads it over the crossbar.
1520: We are into four minutes of stoppage time at Stoke. Can the hosts come from behind once more to snatch a point?
1519: Breaking news: Emmanuel Adebayor is on the bench for Man City at home against Arsenal.
1517: Paul Robinson is keeping Blackburn in it right now at Anfield - he's pulled off another super one-handed save to keep out Sotirios Kyrgiakos's header from a Steven Gerrard cross.
Man Utd goal: That's how to respond, you have to pay tribute to the visitors for that. They up the tempo immediately and get their noses back in front. Dimitar Berbatov clips a cross into the box and they've got a man over - Paul Scholes flicks it on and Patrice Evra fires an acrobatic volley goalwards. Look who's in the right place at the right time, it's Javier Hernandez six yards out to poke into the net.
1515: GOAL Stoke 1-2 Man United (Hernandez)
1512: Nani cuts in from the Man United left and fires a low shot towards the near post, but Thomas Sorensen gets down well to make the save.
Stoke goal: That's just sensational. It's a wonder goal from the superbly talented Tuncay, but Paul Scholes has his hands on his head in self-disgust. He gives the ball away and Stoke get it quickly down the right to the Turkish star. He cuts into the box, easily seeing off Patrice Evra and curling a glorious left-foot shot into the far, top corner of Edwin van der Sar's net. Brilliant.
1510: GOAL Stoke 1-1 Man United (Tuncay)
1509: Stoke have just brought on Eidur Gudjohnsen for Jermaine Pennant. Now, can they conjure up an equaliser against Man United?
1508: How do Liverpool not lead? Amazing stuff at Anfield as Fernando Torres plays Maxi in down the right and when he pulls it back Joe Cole's effort is brilliantly saved by the foot of Paul Robinson, before Raul Meireles boots the rebound wide on the slide.
From Ben, on text: "It could be optimism or massive lack of sleep before work, but I believe today we could see a turn in Liverpool's fortune."
1505: You know as well as I do that Tuncay didn't have 245 minutes to make an impact. I mean, you knew that, didn't you? About 15 minutes left at Stoke and the hosts are struggling to make any headway.
1504: Man City v Arsenal David Ornstein reports: "The latest test of City's championship credentials pits them against an Arsenal side with their eyes on the same prize. But that's where the similarities end. In a potentially-explosive collision of football ideologies, the big-spending Manchester powerhouses face the self-sustaining London artisans - and City will hope to emerge triumphant at Eastlands for a third season running. Can Arsenal stop the rot? Their away-day troubles and title-rival struggles do not bode well. Foil Carlos Tevez and it could be their day, although you wouldn't bet against Mr Adebayor having a say."
1501: Almost game over at Stoke. United break down their left and Dimitar Berbatov plays a lovely cross to the far post for Javier Hernandez, who stretches and gets away a brilliant volley from the corner of the six-yard box, only to see it fly inches past the far post. Unlucky.
1500: And they get under way at Anfield where it's also sunny, you might like to know.
1459: At Anfield, there is a theatrical rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone to get the locals in the mood. At Stoke, Michael Carrick comes on for John O'Shea.
1457: Man United break quickly and Dimitar Berbatov tees up Patrice Evra inside the Stoke box on the left - he fires in a shot that might hit Robert Huth's hand, but it's not a penalty and Evra stands there appealing to the referee instead of playing on. Silly boy.
1455: Stoke make a change, with Turkey striker Tuncay coming on in place of Jonathan Walters. He's got about 25 minutes to make an impact. Rio Ferdinand is down for Man United for the moment, but he wants to continue.
From LEGIN99M on 606:
"Well thanks for that selection Roy Hodgson, I was waiting for that and I've just put £10 on the draw @ 11/4. Had to be done, you'll never get a result with that team and your tactics."
1449: There are some handbags inside the Man United area, as Nemanja Vidic appears to shove Robert Huth into Edwin van der Sar, but the referee rules in favour of United. Stoke are trying to have a go, but their lack of quality in the final third is letting them down.
From anku_thakur on Twitter:
"Hodgson 'won't hesitate' playing Shelvey and Spearing in the Premier League. But he'll waste them by playing Maxi and Lucas!"
1446: Danny Collins is off for Stoke, with Danny Higginbotham on for the injured defender.
1444: Patrice Evra goes surging through the middle, chasing on to a pass from the United midfield, and he goes to ground theatrically inside the Stoke box. In our office it's 2 v 2, penalty or not penalty. I think he's made a meal of a slight push, the Frenchman.
1443: I won't lie to you - since I published the Liverpool line-up there has been a phenomenal reaction to Roy's selection. I reckon about 100% of it is negative, so we'll have to see what happens. Big day for the ex-Blackburn boss.
1441: Breaking news: Craig Short has been sacked as manager of League One outfit Notts County.
1438: Jermaine Pennant whips in another free-kick from the Stoke right and after a flick-on, Ryan Shawcross's attempted overhead kick is blocked by a defender. Inside the Stoke half, Danny Collins picks up a booking for a crunching challenge on Nani. Fergie fumes.
From Jak, on text: "Maxi again? Why? It's like the worse you play the more chance you have of getting in the side. Where is Shelvey? Oh yeh, he played well on Thursday."
1435: Gary Neville comes out for the second half, lines up in his right-back position and looks on with amazement at the touchline as Wes Brown strips off and gets ready to come on in his place before the half even starts. Fergie smiles at his full-back, and Neville looks at him like he cannot believe it. We are under way again.
NESV owner John W Henry, who has not travelled to the UK due to illness: "Sunday promises to be a special day at Anfield in more ways than one. I'll be watching the game from home and although I have only been here for a few days, I already miss Anfield. We are hard at work setting a course for the future including the search for a chief executive officer. I wish the club and the fans all the best for the match against Blackburn."
1431: Liverpool v Blackburn team news Alistair Magowan reports: "As expected, Liverpool ring the changes after their midweek Europa League draw with captain Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Raul Meireles, Lucas Leiva and Joe Cole all coming into the side. Glen Johnson has failed to recover from his ankle injury. Blackburn recall David Dunn to the midfield and he is the one change to the side that drew with Sunderland last Monday. Defender Chris Samba is suspended after his red card in that game, with Phil Jones moving back into defence."
From kaufman39 on 606:
"Main thing Pulis will be telling his players now is to use Etherington as much as they can. Whether he deserved to go or not I think Neville needs subbing. Like him as a player still, he's just second best today."
1423: Liverpool v Blackburn scene-setter: Alistair Magowan reports: "It is too early to say that Roy Hodgson's future hangs on this game against his former club, but he is well aware of its importance after Liverpool's last home display saw them lose to Blackpool. The 63-year-old manager was encouraged by the Europa League draw against Napoli in midweek with a second-string side, and is hoping the performance can "throw down a gauntlet" to the star men who were rested. Blackburn will not be easy opponents, however, and have already shown their resolve away from home this season with a point at Manchester City last month."
1422: Breaking news: Portsmouth have confirmed the completion of the sale of the club to Balram Chainrai, Levi Kushnir and Deepak Chainrai, following the approval of the Football League.
Stoke 0-1 Man Utd Phil McNulty reports: "Manchester United the more dangerous side and deserve their lead - but Stoke City not out of this by any means. Answers on a postcard explaining how Gary Neville is still on the pitch please."
1419: Half-time Stoke 0-1 Man United
1418: Man United take a free-kick quickly and so nearly catch Stoke out as Patrice Evra cushions it across the six-yard box, but the Potters get back in to clear their lines. Nemanja Vidic fires over moments later and that's probably that for now.
1417: Into first-half stoppage time. Very good 45 minutes of football.
1415: The Stoke fans are absolutely seething and you feel the players are affected too. Man United win a corner and Patrice Evra gets up to win his header, glancing narrowly over the bar.
1413: He's got away with one there, and boy does he know it. Matthew Etherington runs around Gary Neville down the Stoke left again and Neville takes him out - it's a stonewall booking, everyone in the crowd knows it and Neville holds his hands up, but referee Andre Marriner keeps his cards in his pocket. Massive call.
1412: Thomas Sorensen is furious - Stoke could have been 2-0 down. Abdoulaye Faye's back-pass sells him a little bit short and his clearance smacks into Javier Hernandez, ricocheting over the crossbar.
1411: That was probably coming - Paul Scholes gets there a little bit late and catches Jermaine Pennant, who he sends up in the air. The referee hands out a yellow card to the veteran midfielder.
From Hodgey on 606:
"You just can't stop loving Gary Neville. What a servant to the club, he may not be the fastest or the best option we have these days but the passion is still there."
1409: After a spell on the touchline, Matthew Etherington does come back on to the pitch for Stoke. They need to get him running at Gary Neville now, if they can.
1406: Gary Neville is getting the biggest boos every time he touches the ball and he goes through Matthew Etherington, taking the Stoke man out in the process. He's booked, and Etherington needs some treatment. Don't think it was worse than Abdoulaye Faye's challenge earlier, though.
From MathsJedi on Twitter:
"I had to see that replay several times to believe that he actually did it with the back of his head! Classic!"
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at the Britannia: "Manchester United will be delighted by the natural goalscorer's instinct displayed by Javier Hernandez as he headed them in front, but Stoke City boss Tony Pulis will be furious. United made Stoke pay for switching off at a corner - a mistake guaranteed to infuriate Pulis. Hernandez is looking a real find by Sir Alex Ferguson."
1400: Stoke respond as Stoke do, with a quick towelling down of the football and then a massive throw into the United penalty area courtesy of Rory Delap. The visitors deal with more pinball inside their area very well indeed, under big pressure.
Man Utd goal: He just finds ways of scoring goals, this boy. You can't teach it - it's just what he does. Nani swings over a cross from the right and after Nemanja Vidic does superbly to head it back across goal, Javier Hernandez - with his back to goal - heads it with the back of his bonce into the Stoke net from five yards. Stunning finish.
1358: GOAL Stoke 0-1 Man United (Hernandez)
1356: It's an open contest at the moment, both sides taking it in turns to attack. Jermaine Pennant has a run at the Man United defence, but Gary Neville heads his cross nonchalantly back into the arms of Edwin van der Sar.
1354: Javier Hernandez lays the ball off for Dimitar Berbatov 25 yards out and Abdoulaye Faye goes crunching through the back of the Mexican, dumping him to the floor. He's not booked, which is a ridiculous decision.
1352: Stoke, as ever, look dangerous from set-pieces. Jermaine Pennant whips a free-kick in from the right and Darren Fletcher has to get back inside his own six-yard box to head clear. From the corner mayhem ensues inside the United box, but it's eventually cleared.
From Paul, Manchester, on text: "Is it just me or is Evra playing on the left wing, with O'Shea at left-back?" I don't think it is just you, no.
1348: Rory Delap launches a long throw in from the right and Robert Huth gets there first, with no-one marking him, only to head wide of the left-hand post. Stoke coming into it a little bit more now.
1343: Edwin van der Sar races to the right of his box to keep the ball in and prevent a corner - but his clearance only goes as far as Rory Delap, 40 yards out. The midfielder has to hit it first time and it's quite a bit wide in the end. Risky, though, from the Dutchman.
1341: Dimitar Berbatov has been accused of not caring before, but he seems furious about everything so far today. It's like he's had an anger transplant. United are playing some lovely stuff and they are plenty on top at the moment.
1339: Stoke have a corner, it's cleared and Man United break three-on-two. Nani clips a cross to the back post, but Javier Hernandez cannot head it back into the path of Dimitar Berbatov, who throws his arms up in disgust.
1335: Darren Fletcher slips a pass through for Dimitar Berbatov, but Thomas Sorensen races quickly off his line to thwart the Bulgarian. Look lively up front early on, the visitors.
1333: Bit of early possession for Man United, but their every touch is greeted by boos from the Stoke fans, who cheer every time one of their own players gets on the ball. A long ball from the back just evades Javier Hernandez, racing through.
1331: In glorious autumnal sunshine, Stoke City and Manchester United get us under way at the Britannia Stadium. It's noisy, you won't be surprised to learn.
From TheycallmeAchu on Twitter:
"I am looking for a glimpse of Wayne Rooney in the 7-star Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai, where he landed for a five-day holiday. Local media reports that he cancelled a scheduled birthday bash in Cheshire and rushed to Dubai with Coleen. Hope I can catch him."
1328: The teams are led out by captains Ryan Shawcross and Nemanja Vidic and we're not far off getting under way at the Britannia Stadium. Gary Neville emerges in the Man Utd pack, all ready to make his 600th appearance for the club.
1326: Stoke v Man United team news Phil McNulty reports: "The man of the moment is not on Manchester United's team-sheet, but this is a much stronger line-up than the one that faced Bursaspor in the Champions League in midweek. In Wayne Rooney's absence, Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez get another chance to show what life might have been like without him. Stoke City will rely on the width of Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington to provide ammunition for Kenwyne Jones to trouble Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic."
1324: Hey, you know the
Euro Club Index?
What do you mean, no? Right, it's a list of top-flight teams in Europe, ranked scientifically by analysing hundreds of thousands of matches and updated every week. Well, thanks to
here are the ECI-based stats on today's games, with each team's chances of winning in percentage form and their ECI ranking in brackets: Stoke City (90) 14% v Man United (3) 60% Liverpool (16) 62% v Blackburn (71) 14% Man City (18) 39% v Arsenal (7) 30%
From Kristian, Denmark, on text: "Wayne Rooney has put the knife to the throat of the Glazers and forced them to make transfer money available. After the initial rage and disappointment, I have come to the conclusion that he is a hero. A greedy one, though."
Man United boss Sir Alex Ferguson: "They are like your family, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville. This might be their last year, but you just don't know, they keep going on and on. If you look after yourself and use the advances in sports science, it can be done. As for us, we've lost enough points to know we have to get the show on the road now."
From Scalamunger on Twitter:
"O'Shea playing in midfield when Obertan, Carrick and Gibson on the bench?? Oh dear dear. No Owen on the bench again? 0-0." Owen's injured, mate.
1308: Manchester United could set an unwanted record for their manager today. After celebrating his 2,000th game as a professional football boss on Tuesday, Sir Alex Ferguson will be desperate to get three points at Stoke this afternoon. If United don't win, it will be the first time under Fergie that they have ever failed to win any of their first five away league matches of the season.
From Desolation_row on 606:
"Surprised at the United line-up, no width in the midfield aside from Nani and Neville's hardly going to be bombing up the wings. Stoke will flood the midfield and United will struggle to make chances unless they can get the ball out wide."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at the Britannia Stadium: "Wayne Rooney may have flown to Dubai to celebrate his 25th birthday - but he is still the main topic of conversation here at the Britannia after a turbulent week off the field ended with him signing a new five-year contract after telling Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson he wanted to leave. Ferguson hopes United's season can really kick into gear as the uncertainty over Rooney ends. He is out with an ankle injury, while Stoke City and their thunderous support will relish testing the new-found harmony in United's camp to the full."
1257: Great news for all football fans to wake up to, meanwhile, with the story that
Portsmouth have come out of administration
after a deal was agreed with former owner Alexander Gaydamak to safeguard the club's future. Sighs of relief all round, I expect.
From sdfiske on 606:
"As a United fan, I'm angry with Wayne Rooney. Nobody should be able to show such disrespect to a club in order to secure a more lucrative contract, whether he's the star player or not. I'm not sure if I will ever have the admiration for him again I did before this whole episode, he has a lot of work to do to win over the fans. As for the game today at Stoke, this a must win. Berbatov and Nani will step up and get a goal each, 2-0 United."
1233: On the other hand,
he's upset an awful lot of people this week with his behaviour.
So, I have two questions to kick off what should be a magnificent day of football: What do you really think about Wayne Rooney right now? And also, can Manchester United prove without him at Stoke that they do have the strength in depth required to win the league?
1230: He's 25 years old today, is arguably the biggest English footballing talent in a generation and he plays for one of the greatest clubs in the world. He has a glamorous wife and baby boy, has already amassed a fortune of more than £30m and,
thanks to a new contract he signed on Thursday,
in the next 24 hours he will earn more than most recession-hit Brits will in the next year. I make that a pretty happy birthday for Wayne Mark Rooney, all in all.
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