From Anon, on text: "Dover Athletic in the FA Cup third round! The fantastic result of the day! I remember the days of just about surviving relegation to pub leagues. Now a chance of facing United, Chelsea or Arsenal - footballing dreams right there. Come on you Whites!"
From Gallacticos87 on Twitter:
"If you don't take risks, you never get rewarded. Blackpool/Bolton and Holloway/Coyle are testament to the truth of that!"
From DeadRevel on 606:
"Has anyone else noticed how CLOSE the league is this year? I mean between every team, not just the top four. It's incredible. The wins for West Ham and Wolves have sealed it. Brilliant stuff."
West Ham gaffer Avram Grant: "The points are very important, but it was important for us to continue the performances we showed before Liverpool. Today it was more efficient. The reaction to Liverpool was very good, we are trying to build some mentality so we hope this is just the beginning."
Stoke boss Tony Pulis: "We'd have been distraught if we'd lost the game after the first half. I thought we murdered them. It's always disappointing when you have that much play in the final third and come away with nothing. We've got good spirit and we play as a team and that goes a long way."
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy: "We earned it. The players deserve all the credit they get. It shows the spirit at the club."
1753: The italics, below, are my musings, incidentally - I wasn't going all playwright on you.
Bolton boss Owen Coyle: "At 2-0 down we found ourselves with a mountain to climb, but we finished the game with six attack-minded players and I was prepared to lose 3-0 or 4-0 to get back into the game." The exact opposite of what Man City said a couple of weeks ago when they took Carlos Tevez off and sent on a midfielder when 0-0 at home to Birmingham. So, who's right?
West Brom gaffer Roberto di Matteo: "The way we played was incredible. We played with no fear, scored some very good goals and we never looked back. We're a newly-promoted side so anything we get is a bonus, but our performances haven't been far off, and we've been a little unfortunate [in the past]. We rode our luck a bit today at 2-1 but we deserved it."
Football League and FA Cup Macca: "Goal at Burnley and it's gone to the visitors. Derby's Luke Moore tries his luck from outside the area, it's a decent hit but takes a deflection and flies in the top corner. Burnley 0-1 Derby. Probably against the run of play. By the way, it sounds like Brighton v FC United of Manchester was a cracker and it turns out the non-leaguers' keeper Sam Ashton saved a penalty almost six minutes into stoppage time to prevent a cruel exit. Magic scenes and the dream draw is alive - Man Utd v FC United/Brighton."
From Lewis, Norwich, on text: "Seeing United win like that has made my broken leg feel so much better :)"
1741: Haha. If I had a pound for every tweet/text I've read from people saying they got rid of Dimitar Berbatov from their Fantasy Football team this week...
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson: "The rhythm and tempo were not good enough in the last few weeks, but it was today. It was a fantastic achievement by Berbatov and in my time I've only seen Andy Cole achieve that here. It was important he got off the mark early because he hadn't scored in 10 games. He combined with Wayne well and they interchanged brilliantly today. Wayne was fantastic."
From dodgywheel on Twitter:
"(See 1720) And in the four or five years of reading your text commentaries, I don't think you have ever said 'Bolton, like watching Real Madrid.'"
Everton manager David Moyes: "I don't want to talk about the red card. I want to talk about the challenge on the edge of the box just before that which the referee didn't give a free-kick for. At that time we had a couple of chances, were 2-1 down, made some changes and started to create chances. If we'd got the second goal with 11 men we would have had a good chance of winning it. Our set-pieces were really poor."
Blackpool boss Ian Holloway: "We were brilliant, a little bit naïve, but to play like we did against Bolton in the form they were in. I believe that playing like that will get us more points than it loses us."
1729: I knew Andy Murray would lose as soon as I mentioned it. Ah well... Anyway, there is a late game in England this evening, it has kicked off at Turf Moor in the Championship and it is currently
Burnley 0-0 Derby.
The Rams will go third if they win.
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce: "I'm very frustrated. If we're going to defend like that... you just can't get away with it at this level. To give away those goals was awful."
Football League and FA Cup Macca: "Late heartache for FC United as Brighton claw a draw with an 83rd-minute goal. Still, they get to replay at home. Not so for Tamworth as they are denied another go by Carlisle's 90th-minute winner. Swindon Supermarine lost 1-0 at Colchester, but Dover go through to the third round with a 2-0 win over Aldershot. Well done to the Blue Square South side. Blue Sq Prem side York are also safely through after beating Darlington. Luton get a replay after a 2-2 draw at Charlton. In the Championship, QPR beat Cardiff to go five points clear. Reports on all the games coming soon."
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini: "We deserved to win and I'm disappointed for the guys. We tried to play football. If we continue to play like this we will win games. In the second half we played very well and had the most of the ball."
From The Peers, on text: "Absolutely disgusted Everton fan here - its about time Moyes took the rap for these continual poor performances. Saha, Heitinga, Yakubu, Jagielka were all dreadful. Can't imagine what's going to happen when Cahill leaves in January... Moyes out?"
1720: I can safely say that in about four or five years of doing text commentaries, I have never, ever seen a text with the following message in it...
1718: Next up, I'll bring you the best of the managers' post-match reactions and we'll have some more of your chat too, readers. Keep the texts to 81111,
coming in. I'm going absolutely nowhere.
Wolves 3-2 Sunderland Mark Ashenden reports: "Astonishing. Second win in 14 league games for Wolves. They led, they trailed and then Sylvan Ebanks-Blake comes off the bench to burst the net from 25 yards in the last minute for the win. I'm breathless. Mick McCarthy must be dancing."
Stoke City 1-1 Man City Phil Dawkes reports: "With a minute to go, Manchester City seemingly had it won, but come full-time it was two points lost and Roberto Mancini has a much tougher job papering over the cracks evident in his side's performance. Stoke's reward matches their input into what was a bland encounter."
Fulham 1-1 Birmingham Les Roopanarine reports: "It might have taken a midweek rebuke from club owner Mohamed Al Fayed and a half-time dressing down from their own supporters, but after a slow start Fulham recovered well from Birmingham's opener to earn a deserved point."
Everton 1-4 West Brom Aimee Lewis reports: "West Brom secure first away league win since September without being at their best. Jermaine Beckford misses host of chances. Everton will rue Arteta red. Good game."
Bolton 2-2 Blackpool Catherine Etoe reports: "A thrilling Lancashire derby ends with a Bolton comeback, but don't be fooled by the scoreline - either side could have bagged a hat-full."
West Ham 3-1 Wigan Phil McNulty reports: "West Ham manager Avram Grant - not to mention David Gold and David Sullivan - will be mightily relieved by this win. Comfortable in the end but not without anxiety. Hardly a "Save Our Season" triumph but something to build on at last."
1707: First reaction comes from your team of BBC journos...
1705: That was, truly, incredible. That endless stream of goals has left me sweating, so have that for a horrific mental image. There's no late game in the Premier League tonight, but I'm going to carry this live text on for a bit because I want some reaction to the mayhem we have just witnessed.
From Andy, Bolton, on text: "What's the record for the most amount of shots in a Premier League match? There must have been about 50 at the Reebok today."
From InfostradaLive on Twitter:
"There have been 36 goals scored in the PL today, equal-fourth most ever on a single day in the division and the most since a 20 team league."
From anamanaguchi on 606:
"Wow, well done Wolves... that was quite a special comeback. They played so well against the big teams, I'm pleased they won today."
1656: In all those second-half goals, I neglected to put this Football League Macca, about 15 minutes ago. I can only apologise, to him and to you: "Where to start? How about at the Loft where a third goal has gone in and it's gone to the hosts. Adel Taarabt puts QPR, who trailed 1-0, in front 2-1 against Cardiff. Cupset cupdate: Tamworth have poked their noses in front for a second time at Carlisle. Dover are also ahead at home to Aldershot. Still half an hour or so to go there because of that delayed kick off. FC United of Manchester still lead at Brighton but they're down to 10 men after defender Scott McManus is red-carded for a bad tackle. Wycombe beating Chelmsford 2-1, Huddersfield, who are hitting Macclesfield for six."
1655: Even for this season, I think this lot can be considered a pretty special afternoon of Premier League football, don't you?
1654: Full-time Wolves 3-2 Sunderland
1654: Full-time Fulham 1-1 Birmingham
1654: Full-time Stoke 1-1 Man City
1653: Full-time West Ham 3-1 Wigan
1652: Full-time Everton 1-4 West Brom
1652: Full-time Bolton 2-2 Blackpool
1652: Full-time Man United 7-1 Blackburn
Stoke goal: You know, they probably deserve that. Lovely goal too, with Kenwyne Jones' flick-on then brilliantly backheeled into the path of Matthew Etherington, who drills across Joe Hart into the far corner.
1651: GOAL Stoke 1-1 Man City (Etherington)
1650: You know, maybe we should give our goal graphic a bonus after today...
Wolves goal: What a league this is. Molineux erupts. Kevin Doyle does brilliantly on the left to cross in for substitute Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, who pulls the ball down and rifles in his fourth of the season past Craig Gordon. Stunning fightback.
1648: GOAL Wolves 3-2 Sunderland (Ebanks-Blake)
WBA goal: Youssouf Mulumbu scores with a little help from Sylvain Distin's chest. The French defender plays a nice one-two inside the box with Chris Brunt and his shot is deflected in via the back-pedalling Distin. Moments later, Mulumbu picks up his second booking and is sent off.
Bolton goal: They don't know when they are beaten, Bolton. A splendid passing move with Kevin Davies, Johan Elmander and Ivan Klasnic ends with Mark Davies firing in. It's like watching Real Madrid. Seriously.
1646: RED CARD Youssouf Mulumbu (West Brom)
1645: GOAL Bolton 2-2 Blackpool (Davies)
Wigan goal: Time may be running out at Upton Park, but Wigan pull back a deserved goal. Charles N'Zogbia weaves his way through the right-hand side of the West Ham defence and lays the ball off to Tom Cleverley, who sidefoots a fine shot into the top corner.
Blackburn goal: Consolation, obviously. Rovers pull one back towards the finish when Chris Samba heads in from Josh Morris's left-wing cross.
1644: GOAL Everton 1-4 West Brom (Mulumbu)
1643: GOAL West Ham 3-1 Wigan (Cleverley)
Man City goal: Just after Kenwyne Jones has an effort cleared off the line, City look to have nicked this. Micah Richards turns Robert Huth superbly and his shot from the edge of the area is too powerful for Asmir Begovic. The only moment of attacking quality in the entire second half.
1642: GOAL Man United 7-1 Blackburn (Samba)
1641: GOAL Stoke 0-1 Man City (Richards)
Wolves goal: Pat on the back for Wolves - great response to going behind. Matt Jarvis skins his man down the left and after his cross is headed goalwards by George Elokobi and saved by Craig Gordon, Stephen Hunt taps in to level matters.
1639: GOAL Wolves 2-2 Sunderland (Hunt)
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Upton Park: "West Ham United's fans can relax - and no more deserving scorer of their third goal than Scott Parker. Can't help but think Wigan played into their hands by letting Mauro Boselli take what could have been a crucial penalty only seconds after coming on. Ridiculous."
1638: Scott Dann shudders the bar from a Birmingham corner as the visitors, having weathered growing Fulham pressure for most of the half, fight desperately for their first away win of the season.
Sunderland goal: The visitors have turned it around completely. Phil Bardsley curls in from the left and Danny Welbeck arrows his header inside the post. Manager Steve Bruce is delirious. Wolves boss Mick McCarthy not so.
1636: GOAL Wolves 1-2 Sunderland (Welbeck)
WBA goal: A brilliant goal from Somen Tchoyi. The Cameroon midfielder receives the ball on the left wing, cuts inside, bamboozles Everton's defence and curls the ball beyond Tim Howard into the far corner. Impressive stuff and surely that has secured West Brom's first league win at Goodison since 1979.
Bolton goal: That makes for a tense finale, in all sorts of ways. Super sub Martin Petrov pulls a goal back for Bolton, scoring with a delightful volley on the edge of the box to set up a tense finale at the Reebok.
Hammers goal: They'll be painting the town claret-and-blue in east London tonight. Scott Parker plays a brilliant give-and-go with Victor Obinna and the midfielder arrives to smash home West Ham's third. Game over.
1633: GOAL Everton 1-3 West Brom (Tchoyi)
1633: GOAL Bolton 1-2 Blackpool (Petrov)
1632: GOAL West Ham 3-0 Wigan (Parker)
Dimitar Berbatov becomes only the fourth player in Premier League history to net five goals in a match after Andrew Cole (1995), Alan Shearer (1999) and Jermain Defoe (2009).
1630: Wigan have made all three replacements now and with 20 minutes to go are really going for it. The introduction of Victor Moses has certainly given them more threat and imagination. The first half was a tentative affair but the gloves are off now for both sides.
Man Utd goal: This is quite extraordinary. Dimitar Berbatov has scored five goals for Manchester United this afternoon. No-one has ever scored six in a Premier League match. Anderson sets him away on the right, the Bulgarian's cross to Wayne Rooney is blocked by Ryan Nelsen and when it comes back out to him Paul Robinson is beaten at his near post. Remarkable.
1628: GOAL Man United 7-0 Blackburn (Berbatov, five goals)
1628: Blackpool may be two goals to the good but they are chasing a third and it is a gloriously open game. Johan Elmander almost beats Richard Kingson one-on-one but the keeper gathers the shot, while at the other end, DJ Campbell forces a fine save from Jussi Jaaskelainen. Moments later Campbell should score after collecting a fine pass from Elliott Grandin, but he shoots wide. Owen Coyle responds by sending on a third striker, Ivan Klasnic, for midfielder Fabrice Muamba.
Football League and FA Cup Macca: "Big Cup drama. It turns out that Wycombe's second goal was disallowed and Chelmsford have now levelled. It's 1-1 and Sam Higgins was the scorer for the Blue Sq South side. No such worries for Bristol City, who lead Sheff Utd 3-0 after Jamie McAllister's corner goes straight in."
Sunderland goal: Put them together permanently and anything's possible for the Black Cats. Asamoah Gyan has just come off the bench and he wins a header to flick Darren Bent through - the striker still has much to do, but gets into the box and shoots left-footed into the far corner. All square.
1625: GOAL Wolves 1-1 Sunderland (Bent)
1624: Lively at Everton - Steven Pienaar puts substitute Jermaine Beckford through, but West Brom keeper Scott Carson brilliantly saves with his feet. Everyone having fun? On we go...
1623: Manchester City have slightly more intent about them early in the second half, but it is not much of an improvement. Long range efforts the order of the day, and none of them so far causing Asmir Begovic in the Stoke goal any problems.
Man Utd goal: Wow. Rafael da Silva makes a fantastic burst into the area, Ji-Sung Park's initial shot is blocked by Chris Samba but it falls for man of the moment Dimitar Berbatov to follow up and lash in United's sixth from four yards. Wayne who?
Wigan penalty: It's a definite spot-kick as Danny Gabbidon brings down Tom Cleverly, but striker Mauro Boselli, who has just come on, clearly hasn't warmed up properly - he shoots low and tamely to Rob Green's left and the keeper makes a good save to keep the Hammers 2-0 up.
1620: WIGAN PENALTY SAVED (Mauro Boselli)
1620: GOAL Man United 6-0 Blackburn (Berbatov)
1619: PENALTY TO WIGAN
1617: Dimitar Berbatov sends Manchester United team-mate Nani clear on the right who speeds into the six-yard area but his attempt to square the ball for Wayne Rooney fails when keeper Paul Robinson blocks the cross.
Blackpool goal: Who on Earth writes Ian Holloway's scripts? I want that job, though I'm clearly not creative enough. Blackpool are two-up and it is almost a repeat of the first goal, Elliot Grandin again sending over a teasing corner which on-loan Luke Varney heads beyond Jussi Jaaskelainen and into the net.
1615: RED CARD Mikel Arteta (Everton) That's just idiocy. Gonzalo Jara goes in a bit recklessly on Arteta, but the Spaniard doesn't like it and responds by not once but twice trying to stamp on Jara. He is shown a straight red card, unsurprisingly.
1615: GOAL Bolton 0-2 Blackpool (Varney)
Hammers goal: Is this season saved, then? The hosts double their lead and it's a fine goal, with Frederic Piquionne teeing up Victor Obinna and the forward slamming in a shot from 14 yards into the far corner of Ali Al Habsi's net from an angle on the left.
1613: GOAL West Ham 2-0 Wigan (Obinna)
Football League and FA Cup Macca: "Carlisle are proving Cupset spoilsports as they make it 1-1 at home to Tamworth. In the Champo, Boro have levelled in what sounds a lively encounter at home to Hull. Back to the Cup and Huddersfield have five at home to Macclesfield, Southampton have a second against Cheltenham, as do Wycombe against Chelmsford so it looks like no Cupset there either."
1612: Two potentially significant moments at Upton Park - Frederic Piquionne misses an absolute sitter from close range when he gets on the end of Matthew Upson's long ball, and then West Ham defender Lars Jacobsen, the man marking Charles N'Zogbia, limps off to be replaced by Winston Reid.
Fulham goal: With so many strikers injured, boy do Fulham need goals from players like Clint Dempsey. A Fulham corner from the left is headed back across goal by Zoltan Gera and the American Dempsey bundles it in at the far post.
1610: GOAL Fulham 1-1 Birmingham (Dempsey)
Wolves goal: Advantage hosts. Matt Jarvis sees his shot punched away by Craig Gordon but Kevin Foley follows up and buries the ball inside the far post. Top finish. That will also warm up boss Mick McCarthy.
Man Utd goal: Five-star - and we've still got about 40 minutes left. Anderson plays in Nani, who cuts inside Pascal Chimbonda to fire in United's fifth from 12 yards. It's child's play for a rampant United.
1608: GOAL Wolves 1-0 Sunderland (Foley)
1607: GOAL Man United 5-0 Blackburn (Nani)
Man Utd goal: Stand up Dimitar Berbatov, the Bulgarian who only seems to deal in Premier League hat-tricks this season. He completes another treble, starting this move deep inside his own half and sending Nani away, before collecting the Portuguese's cross and slotting past Paul Robinson. Men against boys.
1605: GOAL Man United 4-0 Blackburn (Berbatov, hat-trick)
1604: At Bolton, West Ham, Everton, Fulham, Wolves, Manchester United and finally Stoke, we are under way for the second halves.
From Isle of Manc on 606:
"Hopefully Anderson has finally regained some of his first-season form and can get a decent run in the team. He was brilliant in the first half."
From Chris, Nottingham, on text: "Fantastic first half from Man United. And from FC United of Manchester... Could we get the dream draw tomorrow?" Find out here with me, at 1800 GMT. Mouth-watering.
Football League and FA Cup Macca: "The Cupset alarm just went off again. FC United of the Evo-Stik Premier Division are leading at L1 leaders Brighton through Nicky Platt. L2 Torquay beating L1 Walsall. In the all-Blue Sq tie, York are beating Darlo. Other games largely going with form in the Cup. In the FL, Hull are back in front at Boro, it's all square between Rochdale-Oldham and Crewe 2-0 up at Morecambe."
Half-time Wolves 0-0 Sunderland Mark Ashenden reports: "Frosty and lively but goalless. Sunderland start brightly with Darren Bent and Boudewijn Zenden going close. Wolves hit back as Kevin Doyle blazes over. Closest to a goal? Kieran Richardson hits the post with a free-kick for the visitors. Wolves boss Mick McCarthy keeping warm by getting increasingly angry and agitated."
Half-time Everton 1-2 West Brom Aimee Lewis reports: "Intriguing stuff at Goodison. West Brom had two attempts on target in the first half and scored from both and just when Everton seemed to be struggling to recover from the shock of it all, up pops Tim Cahill with a goal. Everton could have levelled just before the whistle but there was no-one on the end of Leighton Baines's menacing corner."
Half-time Stoke 0-0 Man City Phil Dawkes reports: "It's goalless but the home side are dominating the battle of Britannia, creating by far the greater number of chances - chiefly from the missile chucking of Rory Delap. This is the disjointed Manchester City 11 who drew 0-0 with Birmingham, not the free-flowing unit who hit four at Fulham."
Half-time Fulham 0-1 Birmingham Les Roopanarine reports: "Birmingham's shades-of-Arsenal opener was a beauty, but Fulham have shown enough to suggest there's plenty of life left in this one - despite the half-time boos from the home supporters."
Half-time Man Utd 3-0 Blackburn Saj Chowdhury
reports: "United fans have been desperate for a 'United' performance this season - they've had one and there's still another 45 minutes left."
Half-time Bolton 0-1 Blackpool Catherine Etoe reports: "They have had the under-soil heating on at the Reebok for most of the week but it is the visitors who are the hot-shots at half-time thanks to Blackpool defender Ian Evatt's goal."
Half-time West Ham 1-0 Wigan Phil McNulty reports: "West Ham deserve their first-half advantage after a nervous first half-hour - now they must make sure they break the habit of losing leads at Upton Park. Huge 45 minutes coming up for Avram Grant."
1545: Everton's Leighton Baines, from the other side, the right, whips over a devilish inswinging corner that somehow evades everyone inside the six-yard box and misses the far post by a couple of inches. Wow.
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Upton Park: "Valon Behrami's goal has lifted Upton Park - and of course West Ham United. Suddenly playing with a confidence that was not on show in the first half-hour. Wigan's main source of threat is the lively Charles N'Zogbia."
Everton goal: If I told you it was a Tim Cahill header, would you believe me? Course you would. Leighton Baines swings over a corner and that man gets up highest again to power a header into the Baggies net. Everton right back in it now.
1541: GOAL Everton 1-2 West Brom (Cahill)
From Tom, Greenville, SC, on text: "Arsenal and Man Utd have played great today, unfortunately for a Toon fan like me, this might spur Chelsea on tomorrow."
Football League and FA Cup Macca: "Ooh Cupset alert. Tamworth ahead at Carlisle through Tom Marshall. Luton also putting up a good fight but Charlton are back in front after the Hatters had equalised. Elsewhere, Lincoln are winning at Hereford. Huddersfield 2-0 against Macclesfield. Wycombe beating Blue Sq South side Chelmsford. Middlesbrough level with Hull now in the Champo, where Bristol City are 2-0 up against Sheff Utd. Cov beating Scunny and struggling Palace in front against Doncaster."
1537: Two moments of brilliance from Ali Al Habsi at West Ham, the Wigan keeper stretching and tipping away a stinging Junior Stanislas drive from 20 yards before, from the corner, the keeper makes another fabulous reflex stop to keep out Frederic Piquionne's header.
1536: It could end up a cricket score at Old Trafford (English, not Australian). Nemanja Vidic's flick-on header from Nani's in-swinging free-kick brushes Paul Robinson's left-hand upright and Blackburn, for once, survive.
Hammers goal: Avram Grant gives that goal the thumbs up - as well he might do, could keep him in a job. Lars Jacobsen punts a ball into the box and after Frederic Piquionne heads it down, Valon Behrami takes advantage of some static Latics defending to shoot into the corner. You can almost touch the relief.
1534: GOAL West Ham 1-0 Wigan (Behrami)
1534: Still as nervy as you'd expect from a game featuring two teams in the bottom three at Upton Park. Both West Ham and Wigan have had periods of possession and opportunities but neither team has shown sufficient cutting edge to bother one another's goalkeeper yet.
1533: Sunderland one inch away from the opener. George Elokobi gives away a handball on the edge of the box. Kieran Richardson steps up and curls the free-kick against the inside of the left-post. Very very unlucky.
Football League and FA Cup Macca: "QPR have acted quickly after falling behind. Cardiff's lead lasts barely five minutes as Tommy Smith provides the assist for a header by defender Kaspars Gorkss. Hull are leading at a very cold and icy Middlesbrough. In the Cup Colchester are beating Zamaretto League Premier Division side Swindon Supermarine. In L1 it's Rochdale 0-1 Oldham."
Blackpool goal: They do like to put the cat amongst the pigeons, don't they? A corner is flung in from the Blackpool left and Ian Evatt gets there before Johan Elmander to flick it goalwards, Jussi Jaaskelainen's fingertips helping it in.
Man Utd goal: This is getting a bit embarrassing for the visitors. Pascal Chimbonda plays a terrible backpass back to Paul Robinson and Dimitar Berbatov pounces, before smashing the ball past the keeper.
1528: GOAL Bolton 0-1 Blackpool (Evatt)
1527: GOAL Man United 3-0 Blackburn (Berbatov)
WBA goal: What a goal that is, absolute cracker. Chris Brunt takes a free-kick from about 30 yards and curls it gorgeously into the postage stamp top corner of Tim Howard's net. Stunning.
1526: GOAL Everton 0-2 West Brom (Brunt)
1525: Slightly more promising for West Ham - Scott Parker charges from midfield and lays the ball off to Victor Obina, whose neat pass into the Wigan penalty area just eludes Junior Stanislas. Slowly but surely the home side are settling.
Man Utd goal: Anderson breaks on the United left and when he feeds Ji-Sung Park, he plays a one-two with Wayne Rooney and fires home from about six yards.
1523: GOAL Man United 2-0 Blackburn (Park)
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Upton Park: "Nervous inside Upton Park. West Ham United lacking in confidence and the crowd on edge - these great supporters are desperate for something to cheer and the Hammers are struggling to give it to them. Scott Parker has already demonstrated that, once again, he will be West Ham's main source of inspiration today."
1521: Wolves' Richard Stearman has the ball in the Sunderland net from a corner, but the assistant referee gets that spot-on - he was in an offside position.
Blues goal: It's just like watching Arsenal... Birmingham break with real pace and Alex Hleb leads the charge, getting into the Fulham box and playing a well-timed pass into the path of Sebastian Larsson, who drills low into the far corner.
1519: GOAL Fulham 0-1 Birmingham (Larsson)
1519: Manchester City's pondering in possession is exploited by Stoke, who dispossess them and launch an attack that almost yields them rich reward. Ricardo Fuller feeds Kenwyne Jones, who steers a return pass to his strike partner in the box. But Fuller fluffs his shot past the far post.
1518: Diomansy Kamara slides a pass to Clint Dempsey on the edge of the area, and the US international delivers a shot on the turn which whistles just wide of Ben Foster's right-hand upright. At the other end, Cameron Jerome finds himself through on goal, only to be squeezed out by rapidly retreating Fulham rearguard.
Football League and FA Cup Macca: "Big goal at Loftus Road and it's gone to the visitors. QPR have a penalty appeal turned down and it's a double whammy as Cardiff break with Craig Bellamy scoring. In the Cup in-form Southampton lead Cheltenham, Burton are beating Chesterfield and Peterborough are winning at Bury."
WBA goal: Against the run of play, the Baggies have the lead. A corner is drifted in from their left and Paul Scharner climbs highest, thumping in a header from six yards.
1516: GOAL Everton 0-1 West Brom (Scharner)
1515: My word, West Ham. The Hammers appeal for a penalty one minute as they think the ball hit Ronnie Stam on the arm, but nothing doing there, and straight up the other end and Stam's dangerous cross is somehow cleared by the hosts. So nervy.
1514: First incident of note at a nervy Upton Park as Wigan's Mohamed Diame breaks clear on the left and lays the ball back for Tom Cleverley to have a shot which is safely gathered by goalkeeper Robert Green. West Ham's defenders are unhappy, saying Diame had clearly put the ball out of play before his drag back.
1513: It is still goalless at the Reebok but Bolton striker Kevin Davies almost puts the home side ahead, stinging the palms of Richard Kingson after beating the offside trap and unleashing a vicious volley which the Blackpool keeper pushes out for a corner.
1512: With half of the Molineux pitch covered in frost, Sunderland are moving the ball around sweetly and Darren Bent picks up a Jordan Henderson through-ball and shoots straight at Wayne Hennessey. Wasteful. A minute later Bolo Zenden's shot kisses the outside of the post. A very lively start from the visitors.
From Logos on 606:
"Some of the crowd start chanting Rooney, some of them start to boo... interesting. I definitely think Rooney looks a lot sharper than he has done over the last few months, it's a good sign."
1509: Another long-throw from Rory Delap, and another good chance for Stoke. Robert Huth flicks Delap's missile into the centre of the box to Ricardo Fuller, but his volley flies wide of the target. City yet to register a meaningful attempt at goal.
Football League and FA Cup Macca: "Charlton have gone in front at home to Luton in the Cup through Joe Anyinsah. Mixed news for Sheffield folk as Bristol City lead United in the Champo while Wednesday are in front in the Cup against Northampton. By the way, there's a late kick off at Dover, which has been delayed by 15 minutes because of crowd congestion. Seriously. The Blue Square South side host League Two side Aldershot."
From OJ, Newcastle, on text: "Yet to see a proper vintage United performance this season, Blackburn at home is a good opportunity for goals. Wouldn't be surprised if it gets to four or five."
1506: First chance in the Stoke-Man City game at the Britannia goes to the home side. Rory Delap's long throw falls to Jermaine Pennant at the far post but he blazes his shot on the turn over the bar.
1505: Fulham go desperately close to an opener, but Aaron Hughes's shot from a corner is cleared off the line by Sebastian Larsson. Lively starts around the grounds.
1504: Everton are out of the blocks quickly and Sylvain Distin, lurking in the six-yard box, is just inches away from making contact with Leighton Baines's curling free kick.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "This time we managed to keep the resources to keep scoring goals. Overall, I think it was a good performance."
Man Utd goal: You've got to feel a bit for Blackburn there. Keeper Paul Robinson races off his line to thwart Anderson and he seems to pick up a knock, hobbling back into his goal while Nani is crossing from the left, Wayne Rooney is glancing it on and Dimitar Berbatov is sticking it into the net from six yards.
1502: GOAL Man United 1-0 Blackburn (Berbatov)
1501: Within about 30 seconds of each other, the seven afternoon games in the Premier League get under way.
Football League and FA Cup Macca: "Eight games in the Championship, including a potential Clasico at Loftus Road. Leaders QPR, the only unbeaten side in the Footy League, host a Cardiff side who have won more away games than any other team in English (and Welsh) league football not called Bury. By the end of the day we could have a five-point gap at the top or we could have new leaders. Or it could be a draw. Just the one game in L1 as Oldham will look to move up to third with a win at Rochdale, who will fancy a home win that would see them put some daylight between them and the dropzone. Only one game in L2 with lowly Morecambe hosting middle-of-the-road Crewe."
From Heneghj on Twitter:
"Anderson is a good shout, holds the ball up well and can completely control a midfield. Perfect against B'burn. 3-0 United."
Everton v West Brom line-ups: Aimee Lewis reports: "Everton captain Phil Neville is a surprise omission from David Moyes's team. There is no place even on the bench for the Merseysiders' influential leader but whether he is rested, dropped or injured we don't know yet. Victor Anichebe returns to the starting line-up after four months out with a knee injury as Moyes makes three changes to the team which drew with Sunderland, with Tony Hibbert coming in for Neville, Yakubu replacing Louis Saha and Seamus Coleman being the other player to make way. West Brom call on Graham Dorrans and the fit again Chris Brunt in place of Giles Barnes and Pablo Ibanez."
Bolton v Blackpool team news: Catherine Etoe reports: "Bolton manager Owen Coyle makes one enforced change from the side that thrashed Newcastle 5-1 in their last outing. Mark Davies comes in for midfielder Stuart Holden, who picked up a thigh strain in training. There are two changes for Blackpool, manager Ian Holloway bringing in Elliot Grandin and Gary Taylor-Fletcher for Matt Phillips and leading striker Marlon Harewood, who is out until the new year with a hamstring strain."
Arsenal's Andrey Arshavin: "I hope we'll be at the top for more than two hours! It's important to be close for as long a time as we can. In April we will see. Normally I don't play in winter but here I have to - I don't like it."
Arsenal's Jack Wilshere: "We showed we've got good character. I'm happy to get my first goal. We need to improve our home form and we'll see where we are at the end of the season."
Football League and FA Cup Macca: "It's finished AFC Wimbledon 0-2 Stevenage. Stevenage see off the Blue Square Premier side thanks to a goal in each half. AFC Wimbledon can concentrate on getting into the Football League, while Stevenage can pray for a big fish in tomorrow's draw."
Stoke v Man City team news: Phil Dawkes reports: "Winger Jermaine Pennant has recovered from a hamstring injury to start and so Stoke boss Tony Pulis has the luxury of naming an unchanged side from the one that won 3-0 at West Brom, as they go in search of a fourth successive win. Manchester City make three changes to the side that hammered Fulham 4-1 last weekend. Micah Richards replaces the suspended Pablo Zabaleta in defence, while James Milner and Mario Balotelli come in for Yaya Toure and Jo."
Man Utd v Blackburn team news: Saj Chowdhury
reports: "Manchester United hand Wayne Rooney his first Premier League start since the beginning of October. He again partners Dimitar Berbatov in attack, while Anderson is in the first XI for the first time in six weeks. Blackburn are without Morten Gamst Pedersen (hamstring) and United loanee Mame Biram Diouf, while Herold Goulon is given his first start."
Fulham v Birmingham team news: Les Roopanarine reports: "With Andrew Johnson the latest Fulham striker sidelined by injury, Diomansy Kamara makes just his third start of the season. In one further change to the side beaten 4-1 by Manchester City last Sunday, Zoltan Gera comes in for Damien Duff, who drops to the bench. Alexander Hleb starts ahead of Nikola Zigic for Birmingham, the only change made by manager Alex McLeish to the side that accounted for Chelsea last time out."
Wolves v Sunderland team news: Mark Ashenden reports: "With no clean sheet in the league all season, Wolves are desperate for points and they drop goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann with Wayne Hennessey handed the gloves. Defender Stephen Ward and fit-again Ronald Zubar start. Sunderland make one change since the draw with Everton, with John Mensah coming in for the injured Michael Turner. Record signing striker Asamoah Gyan keeps the bench warm."
West Ham v Wigan team news: Phil McNulty reports: "West Ham manager Avram Grant has rewarded Carlton Cole for his midweek moan about the club's current plight by dropping him to the bench. Junior Stanislas comes in and Scott Parker is fit for the "Save Our Season" game after illness ruled him out of the 3-0 defeat at Liverpool. Wigan's two ever-presents, Hugo Rodallega and Antolin Alcaraz, are suspended after being sent off at Manchester United. Tom Cleverley and Franco di Santo come in."
1444: So, seven games kicking off at three of your English o'clocks in the Premier League. Here's the headline team news, courtesy of our intrepid reporters...
From darkanddom on 606:
"Three points! Nice work. Job well done. Excellent. Onwards to the next game. Good work lads. Chamakh has been a good buy. Resting Arshavin was a good move - he was on fire. Defence held and little Jack was awesome. We look better without fab Fab IMO. Nice. Very happy."
1440: Full-time Aston Villa 2-4 Arsenal Cracking performance from Arsenal, they looked very, very strong for most of this afternoon, though their defensive vulnerabilities are still there. Samir Nasri shares a joke with Gerard Houllier as they walk off down the tunnel.
Arsenal goal: Game, set, match. Villa commit players forward and Arsenal have spaces to play in - after Denilson's shot is blocked, Marouane Chamakh crosses to the far post, where a stooping Jack Wilshere heads in.
1438: GOAL Aston Villa 2-4 Arsenal (Wilshere)
From Tom in London, on text: "(See 1428) Decide Arsenal's season? Are you nuts? Why are the media so sensationalist. They're two points off the top with over half the season left."
Football League and FA Cup Macca: "Looks like Stevenage will be in the third round pot as they make it 2-0 at non-league side AFC Wimbledon. Yemi Odubade is the scorer and AFC Wimbledon are reduced to 10 men after Ed Harris gets a second yellow."
1436: Into injury time at Villa Park, we're going to have four minutes and there's a flicker of hope for the home fans once more towards the end of this thrilling football match. Villa 2-3 Arsenal.
1434: Couple of minutes left of normal time at Villa Park and Kieran Gibbs keeps the ball in the corner - you don't see Arsenal do that very often (apart from about the last 20 minutes of the 2003 FA Cup final). The visitors are so desperate for these three points. What have we got left?
1432: Wolves v Sunderland line-ups: Wolverhampton: Hennessey, Zubar, Stearman, Elokobi, Ward, Foley, Mancienne, David Jones, Milijas, Jarvis, Doyle. Subs: Hahnemann, Van Damme, Ebanks-Blake, Fletcher, Hunt, Bent, Davis. Sunderland: Gordon, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Mensah, Bardsley, Richardson, Henderson, Cattermole, Zenden, Bent, Welbeck. Subs: Mignolet, Malbranque, Angeleri, Da Silva, Riveros, Elmohamady, Gyan. Referee: Michael Jones (Cheshire)
1430: Andrey Arshavin does wonderfully well to get away down the left and hit the byeline, only to see his drag-back blazed over by Jack Wilshere. Arsenal take off Andrey Arshavin and Samir Nasri and send on Kieran Gibbs and Denilson. That might give Villa encouragement. Villa send on Chris Herd for Barry Bannan.
1428: Good pressure from Villa - get it wide and get crosses in, because that is Arsenal's weakness. Stewart Downing's centre is flicked out for a corner by Laurent Koscielny, and from the corner Richard Dunne's header is saved by Lukasz Fabianski. Am I alone in feeling like these few minutes could define Arsenal's season?
1427: Stoke v Manchester City line-ups: Stoke: Begovic, Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Collins, Pennant, Whitehead, Delap, Etherington, Jones, Fuller. Subs: Sorensen, Higginbotham, Whelan, Gudjohnsen, Wilson, Walters, Sanli. Man City: Hart, Richards, Toure, Kompany, Kolarov, De Jong, Milner, Barry, Silva, Balotelli, Tevez. Subs: Given, Wright-Phillips, Adam Johnson, Boateng, Lescott, Vieira, Jo. Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)
1425: Arsenal still looking to open Villa up and Brad Friedel has to be very alert to deny Marouane Chamakh on this occasion, while the hosts will be hoping to bombard the Gunners for the final 10 minutes. Still Aston Villa 2-3 Arsenal, what a game to start the weekend.
1423: West Ham v Wigan line-ups: West Ham: Green, Jacobsen, Tomkins, Upson, Gabbidon, Behrami, Barrera, Parker, Stanislas, Piquionne, Obinna. Subs: Boffin, Reid, Cole, Boa Morte, Kovac, McCarthy, Hines. Wigan: Al Habsi, Stam, Gohouri, Steven Caldwell, Figueroa, Gomez, Diame, Thomas, Cleverley, N'Zogbia, Di Santo. Subs: Pollitt, Watson, Boselli, Moses, McArthur, McManaman, Mustoe. Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)
1422: Stephen Warnock floats over a free-kick and Richard Dunne's header is easily collected by Lukas Fabianski. Wonder if Arsenal are going to make any changes.
1420: I'd put good money on there being another goal here. Samir Nasri does wonderfully well down the right to get past Richard Dunne and whips over a cross that is begging to be put in, but Marouane Chamakh waits on the edge of the six-yard box instead of really going for it and another chance is gone.
Villa goal: No matter how well they play and how dominant they are, Arsenal just cannot put teams away. A corner from the Villa right is ploughed into the box and it's too easy for Richard Dunne to nod into the six-yard box and Ciaran Clark to help it into the net via the crossbar with his head.
1415: GOAL Aston Villa 2-3 Arsenal (Clark)
1414: Manchester United v Blackburn line-ups: Man Utd: Van der Sar, Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Anderson, Park, Berbatov, Rooney. Subs: Kuszczak, Giggs, Hernandez, O'Shea, Evans, Fletcher, Obertan. Blackburn: Robinson, Salgado, Samba, Nelsen, Chimbonda, Jones, Emerton, Dunn, Goulon, El-Hadji Diouf, Roberts. Subs: Bunn, Givet, Linganzi, Mwaruwari, Hoilett, Hanley, Morris. Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)
1413: What a chance for Ciaran Clark. A cross from the Villa right is not properly cleared by Bacary Sagna and it falls to Clark eight yards out, the goalscorer dragging off target.
1412: Breaking team news: Wayne Rooney starts for Manchester United against Blackburn. More to come from the 1500 kick-offs, all in good time. At Villa, Stewart Downing's cross forces Lukasz Fabianski to make a sprawling punch clear.
1411: Villa make another change, with Stephen Ireland coming on for John Carew.
1409: Arsenal are playing a bit of keep-ball at the moment - this could get very frustrating for the Villa players and fans. Remember, as it stands, the Gunners will go top of the Premier League.
From Kartikey, on text: "(See 1404) It will matter if the title race goes down to goals conceded."
1406: Arsenal have got their zip back. Samir Nasri finds acres down the right and his cross finds its way to Andrey Arshavin, the Russian hitting a right-foot half-volley over the Villa crossbar.
1404: I've only seen the Villa goal once and wasn't paying much attention to John Carew, but apparently he was standing right in front of Lukasz Fabianski in an offside position and the goal possibly should have been ruled out. Anyway, now it's 3-1, it doesn't matter anymore. Does it?
1402: Another postponement in the FA Cup, this time the Notts County-Bournemouth game. My word that's a bit late notice, got to feel for the away fans there.
Arsenal goal: That's the class of Tomas Rosicky, and that is an enormous goal for the Gunners, you can tell what it means to them. Rosicky collects the ball 40 yards out, looks up and plays a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of Marouane Chamakh - the Moroccan doesn't need to break stride, only poke it past Brad Friedel to restore the two-goal advantage.
1400: GOAL Aston Villa 1-3 Arsenal (Chamakh)
Wolves v Sunderland scene-setter: Mark Ashenden reports: "No save our season chat at Molineux but Wolves need a win every bit as much as West Ham do. Mick McCarthy's men have only tasted victory once in 13 games and have slumped to five points adrift of safety as a result. McCarthy faces a former side in Sunderland who are a bit Jekyll & Hyde away from home. Capable of capitulation (West Brom and Newcastle) sprinkled with breathtaking brilliance (Chelsea)."
Villa goal: They deserve it - Arsenal just cannot seem to soak up any pressure, can they? Barry Bannan crosses from the left and when Sebastien Squillaci heads it to the edge of the area, it falls for Ciaran Clark. With no Arsenal players bothering to close him down, the youngster shows composure and class to take a touch and lash his second on the volley into the corner of Lukasz Fabianski's net. Top finish, game on.
1356: GOAL Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal (Clark)
Everton v West Brom scene-setter: Aimee Lewis reports: "David Moyes may have spent his Friday afternoon urging David Beckham and Landon Donovan to pick up the phone and give him a ring, but nothing will be more warmly received by the Everton boss than victory over West Brom to end the Merseysiders' four-match winless run. The omens look good for the hosts as West Brom's last league win at Goodison came in 1979. West Brom could be pushed into the relegation zone if results go against them today."
1354: Villa have come out determined to put Arsenal under some pressure and they look livelier than they did in the entire first 45 minutes already. A couple of crosses give Arsenal a problem, but they deal with them OK.
Man Utd v Blackburn scene setter: Saj Chowdhury
reports: "How on earth have Sir Alex Ferguson's United managed go 28 matches unbeaten? By not getting beaten, of course. But seriously, they have not been at their best this season and could stumble against Sam "Big Sam" Allardyce's Blackburn who have won three of their last four. It will be a gum-chewing frenzy at Old Trafford. Prediction: Energy-sapping."
Stoke v Manchester City scene-setter: Phil Dawkes reports: "The reports of Roberto Mancini's demise at Manchester City are greatly exaggerated. Glaringly goal-less two weeks ago, but cut-throat at the Cottage last weekend, City are clearing out the Eastlands treatment room and have the scent of the league leaders in their nostrils. But the Britannia has claimed many a high-flying victim in it's time and Stoke are on a three-game winning run. Reputation and riches matter not to Tony Pulis' men. Apparently, there is nothing that cannot happen today."
1352: Top chat from
by the way: Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 30 Premier League matches away from home when they have at least a two-goal lead at half-time (28 wins and 2 draws). Their last PL defeat from this position was 3-2 at Aston Villa on December 13, 1998."
1350: Nathan Delfouneso has come on for Villa at the break, replacing Robert Pires. Back under way at a still sunny Villa Park.
Bolton v Blackpool scene-setter: Catherine Etoe reports: "Bolton and Blackpool are the two North West sides credited with adding a dash of style to the Premier League this season. Both have fooled the doubters, with Bolton currently in Champions League contention and Blackpool already bettering the points tally predicted when they won promotion in the summer. It is their first top flight meeting since 1964 and with the Trotters failing to keep a clean sheet in the league since August and the Seasiders holding the worst defensive record, expect goals galore."
West Ham v Wigan scene-setter: Phil McNulty reports: "West Ham United have played down the significance of today's meeting with Wigan Athletic by only officially labelling it the "Save Our Season" game. Avram Grant has a new right-hand man in Wally Downes, but the pressure will be firmly on the manager if the Hammers' season is not "saved" by victory today. Wigan are notoriously unpredictable, so expect a tense afternoon at Upton Park."
Fulham v Birmingham scene-setter: Les Roopanarine reports: "These are testing times for Fulham. Mark Hughes's side have gone four Premier League outings without a win, are above the relegation zone only on goal difference, and were so poor against Manchester City last Sunday that they received a personal rebuke from club owner Mohamed Al Fayed. Birmingham have not won on their travels since March, but after taking four points from recent games against Manchester City and Chelsea, will hope to mark Alex McLeish's third anniversary as manager with at least a point."
Football League and FA Cup Macca: "Half-time in the FA Cup tie between AFC Wimbledon and Stevenage. Stevenage lead through Josh Walker's debut goal, a 25-yard curling free-kick. Walker, who won the FA Youth Cup with Middlesbrough, nearly added a second. Not much sign of a Cupset so far."
From Rob, London, on text: "Good, now that they've scored two, Arsenal can get on with the business of capitulating completely in the second half."
1334: Half-time Aston Villa 0-2 Arsenal: Mandeep Sanghera's
HT snap-shot: "A dominant Arsenal go in 2-0 up but, unlike last week when they let a similar advantage slip in a 3-2 defeat by Spurs, you feel the Gunners will have a lot easier task in holding on to their lead this time around."
1333: We are well into first-half stoppage time now and we've probably got the score the game deserves.
Arsenal goal: Fabulous, fabulous goal. There aren't 30 passes in this one - Arsenal have a corner, Andrey Arshavin floats it to the edge of the box where Samir Nasri is waiting and the Gunners' current French hero slaps in a beautifully-executed volley that takes a deflection off Luke Young and nestles in the Villa net.
1331: GOAL Aston Villa 0-2 Arsenal (Nasri)
1330: That's a sensational save from Brad Friedel. Bacary Sagna curls over a brilliant cross from the byeline on the Arsenal right and Marouane Chamakh gets up high to thump a header goalwards, only for Friedel to stick out a reactionary right hand and pull off a screamer.
1329: The Arsenal fans are singing in the sunshine at Villa Park, while injured home players Stiliyan Petrov and Nigel Reo-Coker watch on forlorn from a box. If this was a boxing contest...
1326: It really should be 2-0. Samir Nasri is played clean through and he rounds Villa keeper Brad Friedel with ease, only to put his left-foot shot into the side-netting with the goal absolutely gaping. Good Lord.
Arsenal goal: Not sure even a politician could argue they don't deserve to be ahead. It's a bit easy as Villa are caught high up the pitch and Andrey Arshavin has acres of space down the left to scamper away, cut into the box and drive a shot low into the far corner via the fingertips of Brad Friedel. They've really earned that goal.
1325: GOAL Aston Villa 0-1 Arsenal (Arshavin)
1322: That was too easy for Arsenal, but they cannot find a way through. Andrey Arshavin's trickery dumps Robert Pires on his backside on the right and when the ball comes into the box, Marouane Chamakh lays it off for Samir Nasri - the Frenchman puts his foot through it, but it hits the Moroccan and Villa are spared once more.
1320: Samir Nasri whacks a volleyed cross over from the Arsenal right and Richard Dunne sticks a foot out, for once the defender sending the ball out for a corner instead of into his own net. The set-piece comes to nothing, but how are the Gunners not ahead yet? Villa 0-0 Arsenal.
BBC Radio 5 live's Jimmy Armfield: "The only satisfaction for the Villa fans is that it is still 0-0 and things can only get better from their point of view."
1317: Not sure I agree with that - Arsenal are giving it everything, they just look toothless in and around the Villa penalty box. They remain mostly camped in the Villa half.
From redDB10 on 606:
"Another explosive start to a game by Arsenal and then it's all over. Complacency, lazy passes and no running off the ball. These lot are not Arsenal."
1313: We have a postponement: Hartlepool v Yeovil in the FA Cup is off due to snow. Snow joke for the Yeovil fans who are probably already in the north-east. Heartbreak.
1311: Wouldn't you just know it? Villa get into the Arsenal half and when Stewart Downing clips in a cross from the right it is flicked on by Ciaran Clark to the back post, where a suspiciously offside-looking Ashley Young shoots over from four yards. It would have counted, too. Not sure that's £80m worth of finishing.
1309: Villa simply cannot get hold of this football. The Arsenal full-backs are playing as wingers and it seems only a matter of time before they go in front. From 20 yards, Samir Nasri's shot is blocked by a Villa defender. Moments later Andrey Arshavin goes down theatrically in the box and that's not a penalty.
1307: More decent approach play from Arsenal, but their shooting from range has been so rubbish so far, none of them even bother having a pop this time. They need Nottingham Forest's goalscoring-from-range-genius Lewis McGugan, then they'd have a chance of winning the Premier League, he said with tongue firmly in cheek.
From Mike, London, on text: "Arsenal need to get a goal from this good start, one decent cross from either Young or Downing to Carew will do it for Villa, especially with our defence."
1303: More profligacy from the visitors. Andrey Arshavin collects the ball outside the area, gets into the box and instead of shooting tries to find Marouane Chamakh, but it gets away from the Moroccan and Villa clear. Arsenal are soon back, though, with Samir Nasri dragging wide from 20 yards after a corner is half-cleared.
1300: That is another real chance for Arsenal, and another wasted effort. Marouane Chamakh flicks the ball on and from 16 yards Tomas Rosicky shoots tamely with the outside of his right foot, easily saved by Brad Friedel. Needed to thump that one, the Czech.
From Heneghj on Twitter:
"I'm feeling a Robert Pires dive, and an Aston Villa penalty to decide this one. Oh the irony."
1256: Villa have a bit of possession for the first time in the match, but Arsenal are working incredibly hard to close space down and it ends when Barry Bannan whacks the ball aimlessly out of play. Arsenal have a problem with Laurent Koscielny after an aerial challenge with John Carew.
1253: Sebastien Squillaci tries to shepherd the ball out of play and is caught from behind by Stephen Warnock, bit of a naughty challenge and the Gunners defender needs a bit of treatment before coming back on.
1252: More Arsenal pressure - it's a bit like a training session at the moment. Marouane Chamakh is given time and space 20 yards out to shoot, but his left-foot effort flies wide of Brad Friedel's left-hand post.
BBC Radio 5 live's Jimmy Armfield: "Villa need to get themselves sorted out and quickly - their midfield is getting bypassed far too easily right now and if I was Gerard Houllier I'd want to reassess already."
1249: It's all Arsenal, they aren't letting Villa have a kick. Robert Pires loses out to Alex Song and the pressure is already relentless as Tomas Rosicky drives low across goal and wide from 15 yards after a wonderful pass from the visionary Jack Wilshere.
1247: Only 23 seconds in and we nearly get a goal. Stephen Warnock carelessly gives the ball away and suddenly Andrey Arshavin has found Marouane Chamakh in the area - only for Brad Friedel to make a fine save racing off his line. What a start.
1246: Under way at Villa Park - and if you want to know how likely these teams are to win the game, the
Euro Club Index,
should do you a job. Villa, ranked 38th, have a 32% chance of winning, with Arsenal, seventh, 37% likely to win the game.
1243: I know it's cold, but there are way too many scarves and gloves on show. Bobby Pires shakes hands with some of the Arsenal boys in the tunnel and kisses fellow Frenchman Gael Clichy on both cheeks - but we can forgive him, because the 37-year-old is in short sleeves and gloveless. Hero.
From GoonerGal, London, on text: "So excited to see Invincible Robert Pires back against Arsenal today. A true Gooner legend and gorgeous. He'll be cheered by both sets of fans throughout."
Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier: "His [Pires] presence is that he leads by example. He is a very cheerful person and his style of play will help."
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "I expect a good performance from him [Robert Pires] but most importantly is that we are focused and the players are prepared well."
From GunnerGoose102 on 606:
"WHY does Wenger persist with Arshavin?? He has unbelievable ability for two mins and goes missing for the other 88."
1233: Aston Villa v Arsenal team news: Mandeep Sanghera reports:
"Former Arsenal star Robert Pires makes his first Aston Villa start against his former club as he replaces midfielder Stephen Ireland. Centre-back James Collins and striker John Carew return to the side as Jonathan Hogg and Gabriel Agbonlahor - who is ill - make way. Arsenal are without injured captain Cesc Fabregas but midfielder Jack Wilshere starts and centre-back Laurent Koscielny comes back into the side, with Johan Djourou dropping to a bench also including Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott."
Football League and FA Cup Macca: "It's FA Cup today with a place in the prestigious third round draw (at 1800 GMT on Sunday) at stake. There's some cracking ties going on, not least the 1250 GMT kick off at AFC Wimbledon. We didn't get the tie that everyone but AFC Wimbledon fans wanted (against MK Dons), but they will look to earn a tie against the big boys by beating Stevenage. Later on we'll have Brighton v FC United of Manchester - a sort of repeat of the 1983 FA Cup final - Colchester v Swindon Supermarine and Charlton v Luton, plus another 13 ties. Magic."
From Allan in Chester, on text: "OK Uncle Jonty, this is my new thing for today. Never been in touch before. I can see another bad result for Chelsea and I have bet with my boss that Liverpool will beat Tottenham. The loser runs in town on Xmas party wearing just boxers."
1218: Yep, the legendary figure of Robert Pires starts for Aston Villa today - trust me, he can still play, that boy. More team news to follow.
1218: Aston Villa v Arsenal scene-setter: Mandeep Sanghera reports:
"There is somewhat of a French reunion going on in the Midlands with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger's side taking on an Aston Villa side managed by his friend Gerard Houllier and containing former Gunners star Robert Pires. But there will be little room for niceties with both sides needing wins for different reasons. Villa are just three points off the drop zone and play an Arsenal side who can go top of the Premier League with victory as they aim to avoid a third defeat in a week."
From arsenalynch on 606:
"So unfair to leave out Gibbs and Djourou for today, thought they'd earned it being the only bright sparks against Braga."
1212: Do something new every day and life gets a whole lot more interesting. If you've never been in touch before, why not have a go? I'm Jonathan/Stevo/Uncle Jonty*/whatever you want to call me, it's lovely to meet you. I'm here if you'd like to chat: On Twitter @Stevo_football; On text at 81111 (UK) and +44 7786200666; And on the 606 page I've set up for you heroes. * This works only if you're my nephew Nathan, obviously
1210: Aston Villa v Arsenal line-ups: Aston Villa: Friedel, Luke Young, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Ashley Young, Clark, Bannan, Downing, Pires, Carew. Subs: Guzan, Ireland, Delfouneso, Beye, Hogg, Lichaj, Herd. Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Rosicky, Song, Wilshere, Nasri, Chamakh, Arshavin. Subs: Szczesny, van Persie, Walcott, Denilson, Djourou, Gibbs, Bendtner. Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)
1205: It's the
'Save our Season' extravaganza at the Boleyn Ground today,
as West Ham - five points adrift of safety - take on Wigan. The Hammers board have made it crystal clear that they believe their whole campaign could hinge on the outcome and a 35,000 sell-out is expected in east London. The pressure on boss Avram Grant and the players is sky-high, but can they deliver the goods in such fraught circumstances?
1203: Breaking news: (Adjusts earpiece) I've just been told that West Ham cannot actually get relegated today. More to follow.
1200: So, if West Ham lose at home against Wigan this afternoon, they will become the first team in the long, proud history of English football to be relegated in November.
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