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Page last updated at 19:32 GMT, Sunday, 26 December 2010

Boxing Day football as it happened


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By Sam Lyon

1930: And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what Boxing Day football is all about. Plenty of goals, plenty of incident and plenty of excitement. If you've missed anything, don't forget Match of the Day at 2215 on BBC One and online, followed by the Football League Show at 2345. Paul Fletcher is your man for Chelsea-Arsenal tomorrow so make sure you join him then - if it's anything like today it'll be an absolute stonker. Well... I did promise you it would be didn't I? Merry Christmas folks, thanks for all your chat. I'll catch you again in the new year. See ya.

1927: A cracking win for Tottenham, then, and one earned despite playing for more than an hour with 10 men. They move back up to fifth and are now just a point behind London rivals Chelsea. The Spurs players are celebrating wildly at Villa Park - I think they enjoyed that win and then some.

Full time
1925: FULL-TIME Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham

1925: We're into the sixth minute of stoppage time.

1923: As Tottenham keeper Heurelho Gomes is booked for time-wasting, Vedran Corluka comes on to replace Luka Modric.

1922: He's had a terrific night at right-back and Eric Lichaj has almost levelled for Villa in stoppage time, only for his low shot to crash into the side-netting at the near post with Heurelho Gomes apparently beaten.

1921: Panic! A long ball into the box causes hearts flutters in the Spurs defence but Gabriel Agbonlahor can't get enough purchase on his shot and Heurelho Gomes gratefully collects.

1919: Villa's aerial bombardment continues and we'll have four minutes of added time.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1917:'s so close to a sealer from Gareth Bale, the Welshman's whipped free-kick grazing the post and away. Jermaine Jenas comes on to replace Aaron Lennon.

1916: A bit of respite for Tottenham as an Aaron Lennon break is ended illegally by Gabriel Agbonlahor, and Gareth Bale may fancy his chances from 25 yards out here...

1913: Spurs have not now kept a clean sheet in the league since the opening day of the season. And Villa really have their tails up now. This should be a fascinating finale to what's been an absorbing match.

Aston Villa goal: It's been coming and it's game on. Marc Albrighton might not have meant it but his wicked cross curls over the Spurs defence, past a flying James Collins, and straight into the corner. Eight minutes of normal time remaining.

1911: GOALFLASH Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham (Albrighton)

1909: Here comes the late Villa rally... it's all them at the moment...

1907: We'll have a delay here as Heurelho Gomes receives some treatment on a hand - it looks like he might have dislocated a finger. Ouch. He'll play on, though.

1906: Fine effort from Gabriel Agbonlahor from range, but Heurelho Gomes gets down brilliantly to tip the swerving 20-yarder around the post.

1905: Aston Villa starting to throw balls into the box with more regularity now - but so far Younes Kaboul and Michael Dawson have dealt with them admirably. Pressure mounting on the visitors, though.

1903: Last roll of the dice for Aston Villa now, then, as Robert Pires replaces Fabian Delph. Pires has a terrific record against Tottenham I think I'm right in saying so it has to be worth a gamble. Peter Crouch, meanwhile, replaces two-goal hero Rafael van der Vaart for the visitors with 15 minutes left.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Villa Park: "Rafael Van der Vaart has proved again today what a bargain buy he is at £8m - but both Spurs goals have had the mark of true class. Gareth Bale provided the thrust, Aaron Lennon played in the pass and Van der Vaart was precision itself once again. Magnificent goal."

1859: So, not settling for 1-0 then. Credit to Gareth Bale, who has not had the best of games, too for a key role in that goal.

Tottenham goal: Fabulous counter-attack, fabulous goal. Rafael van der Vaart's flick sets Gareth Bale running from inside his own half, he bursts into the box and feeds Aaron Lennon, who cuts it back to Van der Vaart to fire low into the corner.

1856: GOALFLASH Aston Villa 0-2 Tottenham (Van der Vaart)

1855: A rare foray deep into Villa's half by Tottenham, and Aaron Lennon does well to force a corner. Only three men are sent up for it, though, and James Collins easily clears. Is Harry Redknapp looking to see out a 1-0 here?

1852: He's tested there, though, the Spurs keeper. Well, a bit anyway. Nathan Delfouneso works a yard and slams in a shot from the angle, Heurelho Gomes pushing the shot around the post.

1849: There's been a lot of huff and puff from Villa in this half, but 15 minutes in and Heurelho Gomes has yet to be really tested which won't please Gerard Houllier one little bit.

1847: Close. Stewart Downing leaves Alan Hutton standing with a nice touch on the left and his cross finds Carlos Cuellar - but the Spaniard's header drifts narrowly wide.

Yellow card
1845: Fabian Delph goes into the book for a clumsy challenge on Rafael van der Vaart - though in the Villa midfielder's defence it was a bit of skill from the Dutchman that would have bamboozled far more experienced players than him.

1842: Villa looking to work the ball a bit better in this half and they are keeping possession a lot better since the break. Spurs starting to invite pressure now, too, which could lead to a long 40 minutes or so.

1839: And a chance now for Nathan Delfouneso as he is released by Stewart Downing, the youngster's shot saved by Heurelho Gomes quite comfortably, however.

1837: Encouraging start to the half from Villa as they earn themselves a corner - that falls perfectly for an unmarked Stiliyan Petrov eight yards out, but the Bulgarian can get no power on his header and Spurs breathe again.

1834: Villa restart proceedings.

1833: Aston Villa will be making a half-time change here, with Stiliyan Petrov back from a three-month injury absence to replace young midfielder Jonathan Hogg.

Mushy, Basingstoke, via text: "Bale having a bit of a stinker. Can see harry taking him off for Pavlyuchenko (who can hold the ball up much better than Crouch) and moving Rafael van der Vaart out wide."

Half time
1820: HALF-TIME Aston Villa 0-1 Tottenham
Chief football writer Phil McNulty's HT snap-shot:
"Entertaining stuff and Aston Villa might consider themselves unfortunate to be behind. Luka Modric provided a moment of realy en route to Rafael van der Vaart's opener, but Villa responded with spirit and will hope to make their numerical advantage count soon."

1818: And that's the half-time whistle.

1817: Tottenham just won't let Aston Villa have the ball right now. Not what the Villa fans want to see.

1815: Tottenham keeping the ball nicely at the moment despite their numerical disadvantage and Villa have yet to really make their man extra count as yet.

1811: Bright start to proceedings for Nathan Delfouneso as the Villa striker dances around Michael Dawson to create half a yard on the edge of the Tottenham box, but the youngster's shot flies over.

1810: Forced change for Aston Villa as Emile Heskey limps from the field to be replaced by Nathan Delfouneso. The hosts' young side just got a little bit younger...

1807: They're a man down but that's a terrific break from Tottenham, Wilson Palacios striding through Villa's midfield, exchanging passes with Rafael van der Vaart and then smashing a shot goalwards that Brad Friedel excellently tips round the post. Martin Atkinson misses the keeper's touch and a goal-kick is given.

1804: Younes Kaboul has a thwack at goal from a free-kick 25 yards out and his effort almost troubles the net courtesy of a deflection, but Brad Friedel recovers to save comfortably.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Villa Park: "You can't take your eyes off this for a moment. Gerard Houllier will ask why the left side of Aston Villa's defence went missing in action for the goal, but what world-class vision and delivery from Luka Modric in the creation of Rafael van der Vaart's goal. Jermain Defoe's red card has taken some of the gloss off that, and some Spurs players were clearly unhappy at the speed with which James Collins was back on his feet after being caught by the striker's elbow. Was there intent?"

1801: No personnel changes yet from Tottenham, which means Rafael van der Vaart is leading the line at present. Villa looking bang up for this again now, and who can blame them?

You can drink on 606: "Fantastic call. You don't shove your elbow into someone's face 'without intent.'"

lucasbenni on 606: "Pathetic refereeing, how can you jump without using your arms?"

Red card
Tottenham red card: Big decision and Spurs are down to 10 men. Jermain Defoe goes up for a header with James Collins and the Villa defender comes off worse after being caught by the striker's elbow. Referee Martin Atkinson consults his linesman and brandishes a straight red. Was there intent there? I'm not sure. Did he lead with the elbow a touch? Yes. Tough one to call, that.


1756: It wasn't the greatest of crosses that from Alan Hutton and James Collins might kick himself a touch for failing to cut it out. And Villa fans won't want to hear this either - they've not come from behind to earn a single point this season apparently. Ouch.

Tottenham goal: Lovely goal. Spurs work it well again and Alan Hutton strides down the right before crossing low into the box for the onrushing Rafael van der Vaart to side-foot home.

1754: GOALFLASH Aston Villa 0-1 Tottenham (Van der Vaart)

1750: Terrific defensive play from Younes Kaboul, the Tottenham defender heading away crucially with James Collins threatening inside the Spurs six-yard area.

1748: This game is crashing along at a right royal pace. Gabriel Agbonlahor strides through on goal on the back of an Emile Heskey flick, outpacing the Spurs backline, but Heurelho Gomes gets down to shovel the Villa striker's shot away. Nearly 20 minutes and somehow we're still goalless.

1746: Goal disallowed. And this is close too. A long ball from deep is prodded back in play by Alan Hutton by the touchline and Younes Kaboul slams home what he thinks is Tottenham's opener - but the linesman rules the ball had gone out of play. Replays, much like the penalty, are not hugely conclusive so maybe that's 1-1 in decisions.

1745: A fine Aston Villa break sees Stewart Downing beat Alan Hutton on the left and cut inside, but his right-footed shot is a touch tame and Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes saves.

1741: Jermain Defoe has looked dangerous on the shoulder of the defence so far and it takes a fine block from Stephen Warnock to prevent his shot getting at goal from Rafael van der Vaart's pass.

1740: Penalty shout for Aston Villa as Heurelho Gomes flies in at Emile Heskey inside the box by the touchline but referee Martin Atkinson is having none of it. Replays suggest the Brazilian just got a touch on the ball so I make that a good decision. It was mighty mighty close, though.

1738: There's been a couple of heavy tackles flying in early in this match and Villa midfielder Jonathan Hogg gets a talking to for the manner in which he went in on Rafael van der Vaart there. No card handed out, though.

1735: What a save that is and what an open start to the match. Tottenham work it brilliantly to the edge of the Villa area and Aaron Lennon's sublime flick from Luka Modric's pass finds Jermain Defoe in behind the Villa defence - but Brad Friedel gets out well to smother the diminutive striker's attempted clip home.

1733: Gabriel Agbonlahor this time goes close with a header from around the penalty spot, and Tottenham's vulnerability under the high ball and with crosses has been exposed 90 seconds into this match. They are a small outfit today, the Londoners.

1732: A minute gone and Villa could already be one up, James Collins's knock-down from a deep free-kick falling to Marc Albrighton - but the youngster's initial shot is tame and his second blocked by Gareth Bale.

1731: Tottenham get us up and running.

1730: So the players are out and about at a very chilly Villa Park, are you ready?

1729: Right then, with kick-off fast approaching and the need for a wedge of cheese and a glass of port increasing, why don't we hear from the managers? Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier: "This game is very important - it's been practically two weeks without a game and their legs are aching and they want to play." Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp: "We've got to play football and start passing - we can't start humping it around. We've got to play through midfield - we're a tiny team and we have to play with lots of movement."

Sportsfan87 on 606: "Get the feeling there will be goals in this."

Chief football writer Phil McNulty reports:
"With Ashley Young missing out with a knee injury, Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier is forced to alter his midfield, handing a surprise start to Fabian Delph. More predictably Gabriel Agbonlahor returns to the starting line-up after a spell out through injury and will partner Emile Heskey. For Tottenham, Rafael van der Vaart returns for the first time since going off injured against Liverpool in November and Younes Kaboul also comes in, Sebastian Bassong and Roman Pavlyuchenko the players dropped to the bench."

1724: Blackburn manager Steve Kean: "(On being booed by fans towards the end of the game) Anytime you lose at home the fans are going to show their frustrations. I'm disappointed because we spoke about Stoke's threat from set plays and then we were a bit too open when chasing the game."

Andy, MK via text: "That's a mighty sturdy bench for Spurs! Most of our injury worries behind us now I hope!"

1720: Bolton manager Owen Coyle: "I knew it would be difficult as West Brom are a terrific footballing side and they had their chances but for us the three points are all important. We weren't at our maximum today but we had a goal threat and could have scored more. It's very pleasing to have won knowing we can play better."

Chief football writer Phil McNulty reports:
"Tottenham hope to continue their assault on the top four against a side boss Harry Redknapp enjoys facing, as he has not lost in nine league matches against Aston Villa since Portsmouth lost 1-0 at Villa Park in March 2006. Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier has already been out inspecting conditions on a freezing Birmingham night, hoping they can build on the confidence gained from the 2-1 victory against West Bromwich Albion in their last game, only their second league win in 11 games."

SuperSamirNasri8 on 606: "That Villa team looks really poor. I expect Spurs to destroy them. Not been a good day for us Gooners."

1713: Wigan manager Roberto Martinez: "We knew we had to start well - if you watch Wolves at home they create momentum and if they get in front they are very difficult to beat."

1711: Sunderland boss Steve Bruce: "It could have been a beating today. United were magnificent in the first half - some of their football was breathtaking."

Matt_Utd_FC on 606: "Manchester rules the world tonight!"

Aston Villa:
Friedel, Warnock, Collins, Cuellar, Lichaj, Downing, Delph, Hogg, Albrighton, Heskey, Agbonlahor. Subs: Guzan, Pires, Delfouneso, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Clark, Bannan.
Tottenham: Gomes, Hutton, Kaboul, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Palacios, Modric, Bale, Van der Vaart, Defoe. Subs: Cudicini, Jenas, Pavlyuchenko, Crouch, Bassong, Kranjcar, Corluka.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)

VillaFour on 606: "Good to see Delph back. We're desperately in need of someone who can bring a bit of unpredictability to the team. A win and we're back in the top half. C'mon the Villa!"

1701: So both halves of Manchester will end the day smiling as United and City occupy the top two spots in the Premier League this evening, with Chelsea-Arsenal due to face off tomorrow. Bolton, meanwhile, leap up to fifth - temporarily at least - Stoke continue to push up the table and Wigan pull away from the relegation zone. What will Aston Villa-Tottenham offer us to round off a cracking day?

Ramshere on 606: "That's 17 goals so far and the main event still to come!"

ACMilandrew on Twitter: "That's a lot of away wins for one weekend."

Young midfielder Fabian Delph starts for Aston Villa in place of Nigel Reo-Coker, while Dutch playmaker Rafael van der Vaart returns for Tottenham alongside Jermain Defoe in attack.

Full time
1653: FULL-TIME Bolton 2-0 West Brom

1653: FULL-TIME Wolves 1-2 Wigan

Full time
1653: FULL-TIME Newcastle 1-3 Man City

Berbas_Magic_Touch on 606: "Real pressure for Arsenal and Chelsea to win on Monday now."

Full time
1650: FULL-TIME Blackburn 0-2 Stoke

1650: FULL-TIME Man Utd 2-0 Sunderland

Stoke goal: It's his first goal for Stoke and it wraps up the three points, Marc Wilson taking a touch and slamming low into the net from Ricardo Fuller's cross. Deserved.

1649: GOALFLASH Blackburn 0-2 Stoke (Wilson)

Wolves goal: Is this too little, too late? Steven Fletcher ensures Wigan will endure a nervy last few minutes with a poked finish with the ball bobbling around the Latics area - but is there time for a late leveller?

1646: GOALFLASH Wolves 1-2 Wigan (Fletcher)

Bolton goal: West Brom will wonder how they lost this tonight, but lose it they will. Johan Elmander bursts through the Baggies defence and follows up his own blocked cross to slam home.

1644: GOALFLASH Bolton 2-0 West Brom (Elmander)

Football League Nathan: "Two goals inside five minutes gives Leicester the most unlikely of turnarounds against Leeds. Paul Gallacher's penalty and Andy King's effort 15 minutes from time completes a stunning comeback, can they go on to win it? Talking of comebacks, Sheffield United are on one themselves. From two goals down at home to Hull, they're right back in it at 2-2."

Man City goal: Game over. Carlos Tevez and Adam Johnson combine to work an opening for the former, who fires goalwards and home - via a big deflection off Fabricio Coloccini. Not sure who the dubious goals panel will award that to, but for now I'll give Tevez the benefit of the doubt.

1640: GOALFLASH Newcastle 1-3 Man City (Tevez)

1638: And now Newcastle should be level, Kevin Nolan prodding inches wide from Nile Ranger's knock-down from all of six yards out.

1637: Blistering break from Adam Johnson as Man City look to restore their two-goal lead at Newcastle, but Carlos Tevez can't get his shot off from the winger's lay-off and the hosts scramble clear. End to end stuff there.

1635: Less than 15 minutes to go at Old Trafford and Sunderland finally get a shot on target, Bolo Zenden's long-range effort comfortably saved low down by Edwin van der Sar.

1632: Give this page a refresh folks if you fancy a bit of Final Score video action at the top. Lovely.

Newcastle goal: Game on. Andy Carroll powers a header home from Joey Barton's corner and all of a sudden the three points look anything but a certainty for Man City. On the balance of play since the visitors' second, the Toon deserve that too.

1630: GOALFLASH Newcastle 1-2 Man City (Carroll)

1629: Paul Robinson is keeping Blackburn in it against Stoke, this time getting out well to save at Kenwyne Jones's feet.

1627: Dimitar Berbatov looks to be hitting form at just the right time for Man Utd, and he's sniffing out a hat-trick at Old Trafford today, flicking up Michael Carrick's wayward shot and slamming goalwards on the volley - Craig Gordon instinctively beating the effort away above his head.

1626: He could have had a hat-trick today, but once again Peter Odemwingie is off target. Chris Brunt is the creator, his clever flick setting his West Brom team-mate through on goal, only for Odemwingie to drag his shot one-on-one past the far post. How West Brom are not level in this match I don't know.

1623: Fine save at Ewood Park as Paul Robinson tips Stoke frontman Kenwyne Jones' header from a pin-point Matthew Etherington cross over the bar.

1622: Matt Jarvis is back for Wolves after a spell on the sidelines, and the second half substitute has already breathed new life into the hosts with a couple of mazy runs. Mick McCarthy's men not necessarily out of this one.

Football League Nathan: "Burnley come from a goal down to take the lead against Barnsley. Andre Bikey puts the visitors 2-1 ahead shortly after the break and are now looking good value for their lead. Leeds meanwhile are going great guns in the midlands. Surely another victory for the Yorkshire side who lead 2-0 now thanks to Robert Snodgrass's effort."

1619: It should be 2-0 Stoke at Ewood Park, Dean Whitehead's header from Matthew Etherington's cross flying straight at Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson.

1618: Nile Ranger is on for Newcastle in place of Wayne Routledge with Man City still looking fairly comfortable sitting on their two-goal lead. Can the youngster come up with something special for the hosts?

1616: West Brom will surely live to regret these missed chances won't they? James Morrison is set through on goal by Peter Odemwingie, but with just the keeper to beat the midfielder's first touch is woeful and Jussi Jaaskelainen is able to get out and save.

Man Utd goal: There's the cushion Man Utd's pressure deserves. Some nice build-up play, involving an outrageous flick from Anderson, ends with Dimitar Berbatov firing home via a massive deflection off Anton Ferdinand from inside the area.

1613: GOALFLASH Man Utd 2-0 Sunderland (Berbatov)

1611: Another chance bites the dust for Man Utd as Anderson, running on to Wayne Rooney's square pass, sees his goalbound effort from 18 yards well blocked by Sunderland defender Anton Ferdinand.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1608: West Brom so close to a leveller, Chris Brunt's near-post header from Somen Tchoyi's cross crashing back off Jussi Jaaskelainen's post. The Baggies deserve to be on terms.

Stoke goal: Simple. Matthew Etherington's corner is flicked home by the head of Robert Huth. That is the first away goal in games between these sides in the Premier League. Seriously.

1606: GOALFLASH Blackburn 0-1 Stoke (Huth)

1605: It's all been very scrappy since the restart at St James', with neither side really able to get the ball down and play. Still extremely competitive, though.

1602: And we're back playing at Old Trafford, too, where Sunderland have just mustered their first shot on goal, Asamoah Gyan blasting well over from the angle after Steed Malbranque's long-ranger had been blocked.

1601: Blackburn-Stoke gets back under way.

Zippy_George and Bungle on 606: "Yet another superb display by Anderson today."

doodle dandy on 606: "If the Magpies get the next goal they'll go on to win this; but if City get another heads will drop and the Toon will be demolished in double figures."

Mr_MEJ on Twitter: "Cleverley has looked a cut above at Wigan over the past few months. Out of depth at Utd possibly though."

shivamLM on Twitter: "As an Indian can I urge Bolton to keep CY Lee at the club for the Asian Cup? I do not want him terrorising us!"

Football League Nathan: "We now have goals in all the divisions. Leon McSweeney slides in to finish from two yards out to give Hartlepool the lead against Huddersfield in League One, while in League Two's only fixture, Wycombe lead Hereford thanks to Gareth Ainsworth's effort shortly before the break."

Half time
1553: HALF-TIME Wolves 0-2 Wigan
Jamie Lillywhite reports:
"Plain-speaking Mick McCarthy will have some choice words for his defenders, who have been destroyed by Hugo Rodallega. The striker has enlivened a bitterly cold afternoon at Molineux and it's a comfortable HT cushion for Wigan."

Half time
1552: HALF-TIME Manchester United 1-0 Sunderland
Ian Hughes's' HT snap-shot:
"United should have gone into the break with all three points wrapped up. The post, the bar and some lazy finishing has prevented a goal rush."

Half time
1551: HALF-TIME Newcastle 0-2 Manchester City
Paul Fletcher's HT snap-shot:
"Man City's early double left Newcastle reeling - but the Toon have had most of the game since then and might not quite be out of this just yet."

Half time
1549: HALF-TIME Bolton 1-0 West Brom
Owen Phillips's HT snap-shot:
"Bolton lead courtesy of some fantastic work by Chung-Yong Lee and a tidy finish from Matt Taylor - but the Baggies have had the better of an entertaining game and Peter Odemwingie has wasted two glorious openings."

Half time
1548: HALF-TIME Blackburn 0-0 Stoke
Peter Scrivener HT snap-shot:
"Matt Etherington's contender for miss of the season denied Stoke's fans a chance to warm their hands, while the only way Blackburn fans will be heating theirs is round a cup of bovril as they contemplate a first-half at a frosty Ewood Park that was severely lacking in quality, of any sort. "

1547: The half-time whistles ring out around the country.

1545: We're 45 minutes in at Old Trafford and Sunderland earn their first corner. It comes to nothing, but Sunderland have done well to ride that early Man Utd storm to settle right into this game now.

Richard, optimistic Toon fan, via text: "Newcastle will win this one today 3-2 - watch this space."

1542: West Brom, who might consider themselves rather unlucky to be behind, are almost level immediately - Gonzalo Jara's long-range effort tipped over the bar well by Trotters keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Bolton goal: He's waited a long time for it but Matt Taylor finally breaks his goal duck for the season. He started the move too, releasing Chung Yong Lee and then following up to tap in after the South Korean, having rounded the keeper, laid the ball back to the edge of the six-yard area.

1540: GOALFLASH Bolton 1-0 West Brom (Taylor)

1539: Sunderland have tightened up considerably at Old Trafford and are limiting Man Utd to possession football, with the hosts now finding it much harder to create chances.

1537: He's left his shooting boots at home today. Peter Odemwingie makes a terrible hash of another great opening for the visitors, this time failing to find an unmarked Graham Dorrans after breaking clear on the right flank. One simple pass and the Baggies are one up.

1535: Wolves go so close to pulling a goal back at Molineux, Stephen Ward's free-kick taking a wicked deflection and looking odds-on to drift in, only for Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi to stick a foot and save.

Football League Nathan: "Leeds's fine form continues as Max Gradel puts the visitors 1-0 up against Leicester. Adam Hammill at the second attempt slots in Barnsley's opener against Burnley and Cardiff lead Coventry thanks to Seyi Olofinjana's effort. Oh, and Reading pull one back against Bristol City - Jobi McAnuff on the scoresheet. Goals in all the Championship 1500 kick-offs now."

1532: Newcastle's best hope of a goal has been Andy Carroll all afternoon and, having headed a decent chance off-target a moment ago, he curls another shot narrowly past Joe Hart's upright this time.

1530: Some of you might not be surprised to hear that it's hardly an epic at Ewood Park, Blackburn and Stoke playing out an absolute stinker at the moment.

1528: He's prompted a huge amount of headlines in the past few weeks, but 'Controversial' Carlos Tevez is absolutely bang on the money today, throwing himself into tackles and causing the Newcastle backline no shortage of problems with his movement, pace and positioning. That can only be good news for Man City fans.

Northern_Si on Twitter: "Looks like [Wolves boss] Mick McCarthy could be taking the long walk before the new year if things get much worse."

Goal Machine on 606: "Man Utd will live to regret these missed opportunities."

1526: Big penalty appeal at Molineux, Wigan's Steve Gohouri appearing to haul Stephen Ward down under a cross in the box, but referee Mike Dean waving Wolves's claims for a spot-kick away.

1525: West Brom's Peter Odemwingie makes a terrible mess of a great chance at The Reebok, needlessly rushing and then shooting hopelessly wide from eight yards.

1524: It's still nice and open at St James' and the tackles are flying in, but Manchester City look ever so dangerous in attack. There are more goals in that one, I'd wager.

Wigan goal: It's been a super start from Wigan at Molineux and they deservedly double their lead as Tom Cleverley is found well by Hugo Rodallega, the midfielder - on loan from Man Utd - sliding an excellent finish under the keeper for 2-0.

1521: GOALFLASH Wolves 0-2 Wigan (Cleverley)

1520: Like a hot knife through butter and it would appear a second for Man Utd is only a matter of time away. Craig Gordon is Sunderland's latest saviour, getting down low to beat Ryan Giggs's 16-yard snap-shot round the post after more good work from Wayne Rooney.

Football League Nathan: "Couple of early goals in the Championship with Jonathan Stead grabbing one for Bristol City away at Reading and Jay Simpson getting Hull off the mark away at Sheffield United."

1518: Big big chance at the Reebok and it falls to Johan Elmander, the Swede dashing on to Fabrice Muamba's pass to stride clean through on goal, only to blaze his attempted blast finish well over the top.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1515: Man Utd could already be out of sight against Sunderland, Anderson this time working himself some space on the edge of the area and curling a fine effort that crashes off the underside of the bar and away.

1514: There's plenty of attacking intent at The Reebok but so far not a sniff of goal at either end. West Brom's hopes look as though are about to be hit as top scorer Peter Odemwingie looks injured.

1513: It's been a dull start at Ewood Park, but Stoke should be ahead. Rory Delap's long throw is flicked on by Ryan Shawcross and Matthew Etherington - all of three yards from goal - contrives to guide his volley wide of the far post. Big miss.

Wigan goal: Advantage Wigan in the basement battle as the hosts fail to clear a corner, the ball flicked back into the area and Hugo Rodallega turning smartly to volley into the corner.

1510: GOALFLASH Wolves 0-1 Wigan (Rodallega)

Someone has struck the woodwork
1509: Moments after Wayne Rooney drifts a fine attempted lob just over the bar, Dimitar Berbatov goes even closer to a second, lashing a drive against the foot of the post from just inside the box. Sunderland all over the place.

1507: It's all happening at St James' - and Newcastle should be back in it, only for Andy Carroll to direct a free header from Wayne Routledge's cross straight at City keeper Joe Hart from six yards. Carlos Tevez, by the way, celebrated that goal by pulling a dummy out of his sock. Message sent to the fans or Roberto Mancini?

Man City goal: Another Newcastle mistake, another Man City goal. Cheik Tiote this time gives the ball away and Carlos Tevez is on to it like a flash, playing it out to James Milner and then getting on the end of the midfielder's cross to slam home.

Man Utd goal: They're not feeling each other out now. Ryan Giggs rolls back the years with a fine run and he feeds Wayne Rooney to cross for Dimitar Berbatov to head home at the far post unmarked.

1505: GOALFLASH Newcastle 0-2 Man City (Tevez)

1504: GOALFLASH Man Utd 1-0 Sunderland (Berbatov)

1503: Meanwhile, it's very much a case of feeling-each-other-out at Old Trafford, with Man Utd and Sunderland pushing and probing early on. Same at the Reebok.

Man City goal: Barely a minute on the clock and City lead - Carlos Tevez cutting out Newcastle keeper Tim Krul's rubbish clearance and feeding Gareth Barry inside the area to slide into the far corner with aplomb. Nice finish.

1501: GOALFLASH Newcastle 0-1 Man City (Barry)

1500: And we are up and running around the country folks...

MrHenderson89 on Twitter: "RE: 1454 - If you cant make Amir Khan puns on Boxing day, then when can you?!"

1455: Ergh... coding error below, horrid. Please refresh this page.

1454: By the way, famous faces a-go-go today if you can people. I'll kick you all off - boxer Amir Khan is at the Reebok Stadium to watch his beloved Bolton against West Brom. Will the Trotters land a knockout blow today, though? Erm... sorry.

1452: Now, I'm not one to laugh at other people's misfortune obviously, but my feed of the Blackburn-Stoke game has been focused for fully 10 minutes on a hill behind Ewood Park that is currently home to dozens of people slipping, sliding and stacking it on their way to the match. At least half a dozen of gone right over on their backsides, fortunately with a soft snow landing, and it's bleeding hilarious. I know. Karma is going to bite me right on the backside...

Ben in Wolverhampton via text: "I'm currently sat in my seat at the wolves game and there are about 30 Wigan supporters dressed as bananas! Needless to say, they are going, err, bananas ! What's that all about?"

atyauristen on Twitter: "Taarabt is Premier League class! Hope you're all watching..."

Ian Hughes reports:
"Manchester United line-up with Dimitar Berbatov and Ryan Giggs back in the starting XI but there is no place in the squad for fit-again striker Michael Owen. Sunderland are without seven first-team players including Danny Welbeck, who is on loan from United."

John T via text: "SAFC without seven of their usual squad, so a tough game at Old Trafford ahead. But h'away the lads!"

Owen Phillips reports:
"Bolton make two changes from the team that were beaten by Sunderland with Sam Ricketts and Martin Petrov dropping down to the bench and Gretar Steinsson and Chung-Yong Lee starting. West Brom also make a double change from their last fixture, with top scorer Peter Odemwingie fit to lead the line and Youssouf Mulumbu named in a five-man midfield. Marc-Antoine Fortune and Jerome Thomas are the men to miss out."

Peter Scrivener reports:
"Blackburn make three changes to the side that drew 1-1 against West Ham a week ago. Unsettled captain Chris Samba and striker Jason Roberts are out injured, while El-Hadj Diouf drops to the bench. Grant Hanley and Martin Olsson come in at the back while Nikola Kalinic is preferred up front. Jonathan Walters, who scored for Stoke in the 1-0 win over Blackburn in October, has recovered from a bout of flu and returns to lead the front line in place of Ricardo Fuller, who is named as a substitute."

Zain_Patel on Twitter: "The two teams up north, Newcastle and Sunderland could cause real upsets for both the red and blue half of Manchester!"

Man Utd:
Van der Sar, Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Park, Carrick, Anderson, Giggs, Rooney, Berbatov. Subs: Kuszczak, Neville, Smalling, Hernandez, Macheda, Gibson, Bebe.
Sunderland: Gordon, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Elmohamady, Bardsley, Malbranque, Henderson, Riveros, Zenden, Bent, Gyan. Subs: Mignolet, Angeleri, Da Silva, Meyler, Cook, Adams, Reed.
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

Football League Nathan: "Pompey back in it against Millwall as David Nugent pulls one back for the hosts. QPR out of sight at 3-0 against Swansea and heading six points clear at the top of the Championship. Ideal Christmas gift to the Rangers fans, you'd think."

Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, Knight, Robinson, Lee, Muamba, Holden, Taylor, Elmander, Kevin Davies. Subs: Bogdan, Petrov, Mark Davies, Klasnic, Ricketts, Moreno, Blake.
West Brom: Carson, Jara, Tamas, Scharner, Cech, Mulumbu, Tchoyi, Dorrans, Brunt, Morrison, Odemwingie. Subs: Myhill, Shorey, Miller, Pablo, Reid, Barnes, Cox.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

Jamie Lillywhite reports:
"Charles N'Zobgia and James McArthur return to the Wigan starting line-up, with Gary Caldwell also in the XI and his brother Steven switching to the bench, while Wolves are unchanged from the side that started their match against Birmingham two weeks ago."

Paul Fletcher reports:
"Newcastle make two changes from the team that defeated Liverpool in their last outing, with Fabricio Coloccini and Wayne Routledge in for Sol Campbell and Shola Ameobi. There are three changes to the Man City side from the XI that lost against Everton, as Jerome Boateng, Joleon Lescott and Nigel de Jong replace Pablo Zabaleta, Kolo Toure and Mario Balotelli."

1435: And what about some thoughts from arguably the most relieved man in England right now? Here's West Ham boss Avram Grant... "It was a good game for us - we came back which was amazing - Fulham had a lot of possession and they were controlling it without creating chances. They were better than us. I didn't like the goal we conceded but we scored three in the second half and we could have scored more so I'm happy. The players are happy with the win and they want to taste it again. I'm very pleased and I'm sure it won't be the last we win this season."

Football League Nathan: "League leaders QPR coming out on top in the Boxing Day battle. Heidar Helguson's penalty on 62 minutes has put Rangers in command of not only that match but the division, too. Meanwhile, on the south coast, Liam Trotter's first-half goal for Millwall is the difference between the Lions and Portsmouth."

rrengland3 on Twitter: "I'm feeling hat-tricks today..."

TheMeteorStrikesAgain-Mikylz on 606: "NO!!!!!! Super Mario on the bench :("

Hennessey, Zubar, Stearman, Berra, Elokobi,Foley, Edwards, Milijas, Hunt, Ward, Ebanks-Blake. Subs: Hahnemann, Fletcher, David Jones, Jarvis, Bent, Mujangi Bia, Doherty.
Wigan: Al Habsi, Gohouri, Gary Caldwell, Alcaraz, Stam, McArthur, Diame, Cleverley, Watson, N'Zogbia, Rodallega. Subs: Pollitt, Boselli, Steven Caldwell, Gomez, De Ridder, Robinson, McManaman.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

Robinson, Salgado, Nelsen, Givet, Olsson, Emerton, Hanley, Dunn, Pedersen, Mame Diouf, Kalinic. Subs: Bunn, El-Hadji Diouf, Linganzi, Doran, Mwaruwari, Hoilett, Morris.
Stoke: Begovic, Huth, Shawcross, Collins, Wilkinson, Pennant, Whitehead, Delap, Etherington, Jones, Walters. Subs: Sorensen, Higginbotham, Whelan, Gudjohnsen, Fuller, Wilson, Sanli.
Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

Dan Aggers Missing Tooth on 606: "Blackpool will go down this year and they have only their pitch to blame - surely their (or anyone's, except City's) squad cannot cope with the inevitable backlog of fixtures which they will end up with as a result of potentially two month's worth of home games being postponed."

Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Routledge, Barton, Tiote, Gutierrez, Nolan, Carroll. Subs: Harper, Williamson, Guthrie, Perch, Smith, Best, Ranger.
Man City: Hart, Boateng, Lescott, Kompany, Kolarov, Milner, De Jong, Barry, Silva, Toure Yaya, Tevez. Subs: Given, Richards, Zabaleta, Adam Johnson, Vieira, Jo, Balotelli.
Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)

JimmyVonWeeks on Twitter: "Are you aware that ahead of the 1500 kick-offs, the bottom three in the Premiership are alphabetically the bottom three. Wow!"

sirianblog on 606: "Forty points will not be needed to avoid relegation this year. Seven teams are on 21 or 22 points so three wins could make a team effectively safe by New Year."

Dimitar Berbatov and Ryan Giggs return to the Man Utd starting line-up against Sunderland but striker Michael Owen - despite claiming to be fully fit - does not even make the bench.

Peter Scrivener reports:
"Blackburn fans will be keen to put off-field activities to one side and concentrate on the fact that they have only ever seen their side lose one of their 15 Boxing Day games in the Premier League - and that was nine years ago at home to Sunderland. Stoke on the other hand will be looking for a hat-trick of Premier League wins over Rovers. However, history is against the Potters who are yet to win a Boxing Day game in the Premier League and have not won at Ewood Park for 24 years."

Owen Phillips reports:
"Owen Coyle could conceivably be celebrating a remarkable 12 months in charge of Bolton with a place in the Champions Leagues places come the end of December. To stand a chance they must beat an unpredictable West Brom side - who are capable of winning at Arsenal but who have lost five of their last eight games. Both sides attack and entertain so goals are on; the Baggies have conceded in their 15 league games and Bolton have one clean sheet in 26 Premier League outings. Enjoy."

Jamie Lillywhite reports:
"Burst pipes at Molineux mean temporary toilets for today's basement fixture, so it is likely to be messy on and off the pitch as the two struggling sides seek a key three points. Wigan have won three of their last four against Wolves but only one of their last 10 league games, while Mick McCarthy's side are bidding for a third successive home win."

Ian Hughes reports:
"Manchester United will want to start the busy festive period with a victory to increase the pressure on rivals Arsenal and Chelsea - the only teams who can stop United winning the title according to boss Sir Alex Ferguson. The Londoners face each other on Monday and will be five points behind by then if Sunderland cannot get something from their visit to Old Trafford - and the Black Cats have not won there since 1968."

Paul Fletcher reports:
"Man City might not have been on top for Christmas but they will finish Boxing Day leading the Premier League if they win and Manchester United lose. Alan Pardew is looking to make it two wins in as many games as manager of Newcastle."

1407: Righto - why don't we hear from our 1500 match reporters?

1405: A massive win for West Ham, then, that takes them off the bottom of the Premier League table. And if you're wondering what the players make of it, a couple have been speaking to Sky Sports... Freddie Sears: "I was buzzing to be out there and we did well to win. In the second half we had to keep going and we showed it through to the end." Matthew Upson: "This is a major boost - we need to go through this period with two massive games coming up and go out there with the same attitude. All we can control is our commitment and if we keep going and give 100%, I'll be happy."

RKW - White Eagle on 606: "Now that Avram Grant is "safe" (he's done what was asked, win one of the next three games), does that mean he can afford defeat in the next two? I think not."

ayaj12 on Twitter: "Apart from the top six in the Premier League, any team can still be relegated... what a season."

Dan in Birkenhead via text: "As a Tranmere Rovers fan, that result is exactly what myself and other Premier League neutrals wanted. There's now just seven points between 8th and 20th coming up to the new year. Mad."

Jon Barbuti reports:
"Carlton Cole and Avram Grant will be the happiest men at Craven Cottage, the former having scored his first league brace, the latter perhaps saving his job with a win. As for Fulham, now level on points with their visitors, the problems mount - it is now eight games without a win and counting."

FFC via text: "Re: 1344 chant - it was from West Ham fans, singing 'We want our football back' after the ref took one from the stands. On the other hand, Hughes has to go."

Harry WHOA on 606: "Two-man sack race at the Cottage, Hughes taking a surprise lead."

Full time
1353: FULL-TIME Fulham 1-3 West Ham

1351: We'll have three minutes of stoppage time.

1350: Late change for West Ham, Frank Nouble replacing Frederic Piquionne.

Nath via text: "Are West Ham actually winning 3-1 or am I still drunk?"
Possibly both mate?

1347: There's half a sniff for Andy Johnson there, but the striker can't get enough on his shot from Damien Duff's cross and Rob Green easily collects low down. Less than five minutes left in this one.

1346: Ipswich v Watford OFF

1344: Some muted chants of "We Want Our Fulham Back" starting to whistle around Craven Cottage. Few signs of a late home rally either.

The Adventures on 606: "This is the first time Carlton Cole has ever scored two League goals in one game."
Is that right? Blimey. If only he could play Fulham every week huh?

1340: He should do better there Danny Murphy, the midfielder spooning Damien Duff's cross over the bar unmarked on the edge of the area.

1338: Just over 10 minutes for Fulham to get back into this, then, but West Ham are holding firm well in the face of some increasing home pressure.

1334: What a save that is. Fulham look certain to pull a goal back immediately but Rob Green protects the Hammers's two-goal advantage with a fabulous point-blank save from Eddie Johnson's snap-shot. Wonderful save.

West Ham goal: And the confidence will be flooding back now you would think. Danny Gabbidon's long ball is flicked on and Carlton Cole is in, driving into the far corner from the angle.

1333: GOALFLASH Fulham 1-3 West Ham (Cole)

1332: Credit to West Ham, confidence appears to slowly but surely be working its way through the team in this match and Freddie Sears's pass releases Junior Stanislas, only for the midfielder's shot to be blocked inside the area.

1327: This match is opening up again now and Fulham substitute Damien Duff fires just a few feet wide with a swinging effort from the edge of the area.

1325: And now there's a good chance for Fulham, Brede Hangeland playing Andy Johnson through on goal but the striker's early snap-shot smothered well by Rob Green.

Football League Nathan: "Not a lot of festive cheer at Loftus Road and some genuine Boxing Day action where two players are sent off in a nasty altercation. Shortly after Jamie Mackie gives QPR the lead, Swansea's Alan Tate is shown a straight red and Rangers' Clint Hill follows him down the tunnel for his part in the bust-up. Kicking off."

1324: Chance. Radoslav Kovac's looped pass releases Scott Parker in behind the Fulham defence but - from the touchline - the midfielder's cross towards Carlton Cole is cleared at the last moment by Aaron Hughes. Moments later, Freddie Sears fires narrowly wide.

1323: Matthew Upson been patched up and is back on, West Ham back to their full compliment of 11.

1321: West Ham are temporarily down to 10 men here as Matthew Upson receives treatment on a cut eye. He'll be back on shortly, though.

1320: Cheeky. Andy Johnson looks to have worked himself a shooting chance on the edge of the area, but he clearly did so with the use of a hand and referee Mark Halsey has no hesitation in awarding the free-kick. Probably fortunate not to receive a yellow card for that.

1317: Derby v Doncaster OFF

1315: That double substitution has not affected a change as yet, though, and West Ham continue to look dangerous on the counter. This time Junior Stanislas's cross causes problems for the Fulham backline, keeper Mark Schwarzer just about able to scramble the midfielder's cross away.

1313: Double change for Fulham as Mark Hughes looks to change things up, Eddie Johnson and Damien Duff on for Dickson Etuhu and Clint Dempsey.

1311: That's a good break from West Ham as Frederic Piquionne picks Danny Murphy's pocket in midfield and sets Freddie Sears clear on the right, the youngster finding Carlton Cole with a squared pass only for the Hammers goalscorer's first touch to go astray and the Fulham defence are able to get back and clear.

1308: ...but Danny Murphy's effort curls well over Rob Green's crossbar.

Yellow card
1307: Fulham back in possession early on in this half and only a Matthew Upson foul halts Clint Dempsey's progress towards the Hammers box, earning himself a booking in the process. Decent position for a free-kick, this...

1305: Back under way.

1304: Here come the players, second half imminent. Here's hoping for more of the same.

Meerschaum_221B on 606: "Suddenly Mark Hughes finds himself under real pressure. Welcome to a not very exclusive club Sparky."

Archie at the cottage via text: "For 35 minutes we saw the Fulham that played so well in the Europa League last year, in the last 10 we saw Mark Hughes's Fulham self destructing. We're in trouble."

K_McConville on Twitter: "Stonking start indeed, deffo didn't see that coming. Got to love Boxing Day football - and this is just the first game."

InfostradaLive on Twitter: "West Ham are unbeaten in their last five Premier League away London derby matches when leading at half time - since a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal in May 2000."

Half time
1254: HALF-TIME Fulham 1-2 West Ham
Jon Barbuti's' HT snap-shot:
"As things stand West Ham will move level on points with their hosts, a scenario I would have scoffed at had anyone suggested it 35 minutes into this game."

1252: The half-time whistle goes.

James_Heneghan_ on Twitter: "Steve on 606 @ 1155 - Not bad."

West Ham goal: Unbelievable. Fulham have been almost totally dominant and yet they'll head into the break behind. It's a lovely volleyed finish from Frederic Piquionne too, the Frenchman guiding Scott Parker's cross home eight yards out.

1246: GOALFLASH Fulham 1-2 West Ham (Piquionne)

AndySzpuk on Twitter: "What a stonking start!"

1242: It's hard to say West Ham completely deserve to be back on level terms here, but credit Carlton Cole with a good finish there - he was given half a sniff and he grabbed his chance with both hands. That's five goals in his last five starts against Fulham.

West Ham goal: He just loves playing against Fulham. Freddie Sears's right-wing cross is inadvertantly deflected goalwards from the edge of the area by Dickson Etuhu, and Carlton Cole is on hand to swivel and poke home from six yards.

1238: GOALFLASH Fulham 1-1 West Ham (Cole)

1234: West Ham just showing signs of settling back into this match now and Radoslav Kovac's 20-yard shot looks on target before its deflected behind for a corner. The set-piece is easily cleared.

Football League Nathan: "Sad day for Football League supporters up and down the country today as the big freeze wipes out all but one fixture each in leagues One and Two. The Championship fares better, however, where all but three games are still alive. QPR, wobbling at the moment, face fourth-placed Swansea, while an entertaining tie is likely at the Walkers Stadium where in-form Leeds take on improving Leicester. The Foxes have beaten their opponents twice already this season but Leeds are bagging goals for fun right now. None of the bottom four are in action so Sheffield United, who play Hull, can pull well away from the drop zone today."

1227: A rare West Ham attack is broken up by Danny Murphy and Fulham's counter ends with a decent effort from Simon Davies, slapped narrowly over the bar from outside the area.

sxp123 on 606: "I have it on good authority that Chris Hughton will be the next West Ham manager... sooner rather than later too."

1223: West Ham's bright start to this match is nothing but a distant memory at the moment, with Fulham completely dominant at present. Danny Murphy is the string-puller-in-chief.

1219: That's a fine chance, and dare I say had he had a bit more match practice under his belt Andy Johnson would've snapped that up. Simon Davies's cross falls at the feet of the Fulham striker eight yards out, but he swipes almost at clean air and the ball ricochets well off-target.

nedccfc on Twitter: "Charlton v Southampton was delayed originally but referee said pitch was unplayable."
Nice work fella, cheers.

1217: Charlton v Southampton OFF (This time I mean it)

1215: The Fulham tails are up now and Andy Johnson brings another save out of Rob Green with a 22-yard effort that just looked like it was creeping inside the post.

Fulham goal: It's a collectors item goal, folks, from Aaron Hughes. He hasn't scored for eons but he is given the freedom of the West Ham penalty area to do so here, nodding home from Simon Davies's pin-point cross.

1212: GOALFLASH Fulham 1-0 West Ham (Hughes)

1211: Fulham are always going to fancy their chances of breaching what has been a fragile West Ham defence this season, though, and Carlos Salcido forces a smart save low at his near post from Rob Green with a dipping long-ranger from 20 yards. Corner...

1209: CORRECTION - Charlton v Southampton DELAYED

1209: Charlton v Southampton OFF

1208: This is a bright start for West Ham and Carlton Cole, who has scored in his last four matches against Fulham, turns Aaron Hughes before driving his shot across goal and wide. Close.

1207: ...which Frederic Piquionne slams straight into the wall.

1206: Fulham caught a touch short in attack and West Ham counter - a foul on Carlton Cole by Carlos Salcido means the Hammers have a free-kick 22 yards out...

1203: Nice early touch and movement from Freddie Sears - on his first Premier League start since March 2009 - the West Ham striker finding space down the right and crossing towards Carlton Cole, but John Pantsil is back to clear for Fulham.

1201: Right then, Boxing Day football is up and running folks - Fulham kick us off at Craven Cottage...

1159: Aldershot v Gillingham OFF

1158: I can tell you, by the way, that according to John Motson - in situ at Craven Cottage for commentary duties - Steve Sidwell looks certain to join West Ham from Aston Villa when the transfer window opens next month. Thoughts Hammers fans? Does this mean Scott Parker will finally join Tottenham do we think?

Steve on 606: "I'm going for a 2-1 Win for West Ham with both Cole and Piquionne scoring. Fulham will get one goal from Gera."

1155: Plenty of chat around the later matches to come, people, as well as your good friend and mine Football League Nathan, but as the Fulham-West Ham kick-off draws ever nearer why don't you take this opportunity to have a scan of Lawro's Premier League predictions? That man knows his onions, I tell you...

1151: Fulham v West Ham
Jon Barbuti reports:
"You know what they say about statistics… On the face of it bottom-club West Ham should have their hands full as they make the short trip to face Fulham. The Hammers have yet to win away this season while Fulham have lost at home once less than second-placed Arsenal. However the Cottagers are quietly slipping into a crisis of their own - without a win in seven, a loss would see them joined on 16 points by Avram Grant's visitors. If - and admittedly it's a big if - the Hammers were to win it might just save Grant's job as well. Earlier in December BBC Sport was led to understand that he had to win one of his next three matches to avoid the sack. He has two of those matches left."

steersb on Twitter: "No Benni McCarthy on the bench for West Ham - do we read into that he's moving on??? Please."

Wazza v3 on 606: "BEST DAY OF THE YEAR!!!"

1146: Error! Error! I've got Fulham-West Ham listed twice below haven't I? Rest assured, it's a 1200 kick-off, believe me. Refresh this page and all will become clear(er). Thanks.

1144: Fulham v West Ham
Jon Barbuti reports:
"Fulham boss Mark Hughes is not a man to make sweeping changes to alter a struggling team, with only Andrew Johnson brought in to the side that drew at home against Sunderland last time out, Diomansy Kamara dropping to the bench. For West Ham, Robert Green returns having missed the draw at Blackburn to undergo a minor hip operation. There are three other changes with Carlton Cole, Radoslav Kovac and, most surprisingly, Freddie Sears coming in having finished a loan spell with Scunthorpe in which he failed to score from nine outings."

harmminhas on Twitter: "Blackpool might win the league with all these games in hand! One big run..."

thomasmcilroy on Twitter: "At Craven Cottage - it's freezing! Come on you whites - we could really do with three points today!"

1141: Confirmation, then, that we've already lost Blackpool-Liverpool and Everton-Birmingham because of the weather - and, I may have misled you I do apologise, an array of lower league matches too. But, it's still an absolute stonker. Honest. So what have we got in store today then I hear you ask? Feast your eyes upon these bad boys...
Fulham v West Ham (1200)
Blackburn v Stoke (1500)
Bolton v West Brom (1500)
Man Utd v Sunderland (1500)
Newcastle v Man City (1500)
Wolves v Wigan (1500)
Aston Villa v Tottenham (1730)

Like I said not a moment ago... absolute stonker.

Rich, London via text: "Am I the only one who thinks Fulham-West Ham is going to be an absolute belter?"

Football_UK on 606: "Boy, did we miss football? With the danger of postponements visible, it's nice to see only the Blackbool and Everton matches falling under the weather."

Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Salcido, Dempsey, Murphy, Etuhu, Davies, Gera, Andrew Johnson. Subs: Stockdale, Baird, Kamara, Duff, Eddie Johnson, Greening, Halliche.
West Ham: Green, Ben-Haim, Upson, Tomkins, Gabbidon, Sears, Parker, Kovac, Stanislas, Cole, Piquionne. Subs: Boffin, Reid, Barrera, Spector, Ilunga, Nouble, Obinna.
Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)

1133: Same drill as always then folks - I want your chat and I want it big. Tweet me @sampatricklyon, text me via 81111 or get yourselves on over to 606. You don't even need to leave the sofa.

Rob Green returns from a hip injury to start in goal for West Ham against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

1130: And listen, when I say an absolutely stonking day of football, I mean an absolute stonker. Seven Premier League matches, a feast of Championship and lower league games... and a partridge in a pear tree. Obviously. Full top-flight fixtures to follow, but in the mean time - anyone sick of leftovers yet? Our office is starting to resemble the cold meat counter at your local delicatessen. Turkey sarnie anyone?

1128: What do you mean all you got was a Christmas jumper, a pair of socks and a satsuma? Not even a bag of nuts to accompany your Christmas evening Port? Heartbreak. But fear not good people, for I have something to cheer your souls by way of recompense. No, not a play doh fun bucket - an absolutely stonking day of football. Jubbly.

1125: So, did Santa bring you all your heart's desires?

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Barclays Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 26 Dec 2010 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 17 22 37
2 Man City 19 12 35
3 Arsenal 17 15 32
4 Chelsea 17 19 31
5 Tottenham 18 4 30
6 Bolton 19 7 29
7 Sunderland 19 1 27
8 Stoke 18 1 24
9 Newcastle 18 -1 22
10 Liverpool 17 -1 22
11 Blackpool 16 -5 22
12 West Brom 18 -7 22
13 Blackburn 19 -7 22
14 Everton 18 -1 21
15 Aston Villa 18 -10 20
16 Wigan 18 -14 19
17 Birmingham 17 -3 18
18 Fulham 18 -6 16
19 West Ham 19 -13 16
20 Wolves 18 -13 15

see also
Boxing Day football photos
26 Dec 10 |  Football

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