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Page last updated at 19:56 GMT, Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year's Day football as it happened


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By Chris Bevan

1948: And that's all we've got time for, I'm afraid. Don't forget to watch Match of the Day on BBC One (and this website in the UK) at 2230 GMT and the Football League Show immediately afterwards at 2350 (ditto). I hope you're enjoying 2011 so far - join me for more fun and games (Chelsea-Villa and Wigan-Newcastle) tomorrow.

Alistair Magowan reports: "A very convincing win for Arsene Wenger's side as they glide seamlessly into the New Year. That might have been a game they would have struggled with a couple of years back. Birmingham did not hold back."

rodedra6 on Twitter: "Fantastic Arsenal performance. Very strong and resolute in all areas. Cesc Fabregas lucky to escape serious injury from that Roger Johnson tackle (at 1740)."

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on his side's 3-0 victory at Birmingham: "I'm delighted. We have shown physical qualities and mentally we kept calm too - we kept playing our game, by getting the ball down on the floor. In the end we deserved to win."

1936: Arsenal Robin van Persie says he "cannot remember" the incident that led to Birmingham's unsuccessful penalty appeal in the first-half (if you've forgotten, it was a blatant handball by him)... although he does have a dirty great smile on his face when he says it so let's take it with a pinch of salt. Here's RVP on that game with Man City too: "It's a big game and they have a great side. But we have a great side too, so game on."

1929: You cannot take your eyes off this title race, can you? The top three at the turn of the year all won today - Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal, while Tottenham leapfrog Chelsea (who play Aston Villa on Sunday) to go fourth after beating Fulham. Arsenal are now two points off the top, having played a game less than City and one more than United. The Gunners' next game? Only against City at the Emirates on Wednesday.

From 6foot8cdngooner on 606: "Very good win today for the Arsenal. Since September 2009, Birmingham had only lost once at home in the league. Arsenal rode some luck, a call or two their way, but full value for the victory. sometimes you've got to be lucky to be good and good to be lucky. Arsenal's quality shone through in their finishing, Robin van Persie aside."

Full time
1925: FULL-TIME Birmingham 0-3 Arsenal

Someone has struck the woodwork
1923: Almost a consolation for the Blues. Almost. Nikola Zigic sends a header looping goalwards and, when it drops down off the bar, Liam Ridgewell cannot react quickly enough to turn it in.

1922: It's almost over at St Andrew's too. We're into injury time, and have about two minutes of that left. Birmingham are still trying to come forward but there is no way through for them tonight.

1920: It's all over at Vicarage Road, and a 3-0 win for Watford over Portsmouth means the Hornets have their fourth win on the bounce, and move up into the Championship play-off places.

1919: What's happening? Well, Arsenal have possession. Birmingham cannot get the ball back. It's been like this for the last 10 minutes or so... and it takes a double challenge from Scott Dann and Roger Johnson to stop Robin van Persie from running on to a precise through-ball from Samir Nasri and possibly making it 4-0.

1915: Portmouth's night just got even worse. Greg Halford gets in a tangle with Andrew Taylor, there's a flare-up and Halford appears to head-butt Taylor, or at least try to. A straight red from referee Andy D'Urso and Pompey are down to 10 men.

1913: Andrey Arshavin doesn't take long to make an impact, picking up the ball on the right and firing in a rasping low shot that Ben Foster does well to tip round his post. The Gunners are toying with their hosts now.

1911: Time for a few substitutions. For Arsenal, Theo Walcott and Jack 'don't call me Luke' Wilshere are coming off, Andrey Arshavin and Denilson are on. For Birmingham, veteran marksman Kevin Phillips replaces Cameron Jerome.

1909: So, can Birmingham get a consolation? No, not yet anyway. Nikola Zigic makes a nuisance of himself in the box but he is already offside when he beats Lukasz Fabianski to the ball and heads goalwards.

1906: Back at St Andrew's, the game is over as a contest. Arsenal are playing keep-ball, the home fans are getting frustrated... and we have about 15 minutes to go. It looks like Blues are staying in the relegation zone, for now at least.

1905: Ah, so that's who I was thinking of at 1846. Former Bristol City midfielder Luke Wilkshire, now of Dynamo Moscow. I spoke to him once, top bloke.

OptaJoe on Twitter: "3 - Birmingham's central defence has scored three own goals this season (Johnson 2, Dann 1). Bungle."

1901: Hot-headed Birmingham midfielder Lee Bowyer takes another rather needless dig at Bacary Sagna and Alex McLeish wisely decides to haul him off before he is sent off. Giant striker Nikola Zigic is on instead.

Arsenal goal: Another superb move, with Samir Nasri heavily involved, ends with a rather lucky goal. Nasri weaves into the area and tees up Cesc Fabregas and, although Ben Foster saves his fierce shot at his near post, the ball takes a couple of deflections off Birmingham defenders and drops over the line with Roger Johnson the unfortunate man to get the final touch.

1856: GOALFLASH Birmingham 0-3 Arsenal (Johnson og)

1855: Here's a fact for you. No-one scored more goals than Danny Graham in the Championship in 2010. He's just opened his account for 2011 too, breaking through the Portsmouth defence and side-footing past a despairing Ashdown. His fifteenth of the season, and Watford are 3-0 up and home and dry.

1852: Time for a change by Birmingham - ex-Gunner Alex Hleb is on for Jean Beausejour, and they have got just under half-an-hour to salvage something from this game. We're having a break in play while JACK Wilshere gets treatment. And no, I don't know who Luke is either.

Arsenal goal: You've seen this before. A fluid passing build-up ends when Samir Nasri picks up the ball on the edge of the area, and picks his spot in the bottom corner with an incisive finish. A top-quality finish for his 13th goal of the season.

1848: GOALFLASH Birmingham 0-2 Arsenal (Nasri)

Sir Alex Ferguson speaking about Wayne Rooney's ankle injury on the Manchester United website: "Our doctor thought, 'That's him - he'll be out for a couple of weeks.' But he came back on and he should be OK for Tuesday (a home game against Stoke)."

1846: The Gunners have just seen two golden chances go begging. First Jack Wilshere, 19 today, scoops his volley over after a lovely build-up that saw Robin van Persie lay off a Theo Walcott cross into his path. Then Samir Nasri raced clear but did not get his shot away before big Ben Foster came out to dive at his feet and push the ball to safety. Birmingham are living a bit dangerously here.

1843: Ouch, forget handbags - that was just plain nasty. In between the two incidents below, Lee Bowyer seemed to deliberately stamp on Bacary Sagna's thigh. Referee Peter Walton missed it but the TV cameras didn't... and Mr Bowyer might find that incident comes back to haunt him later.

Yellow card
1841: Scott Dann is the latest Birmingham player to be booked for fouling Theo Walcott out on the right, and the Blues huff and puff before clearing the resulting free-kick.

It's raining
1839: It's a rotten night at St Andrew's by the way - non-stop rain. Anyway, back on the pitch, Stephen Carr and Cesc Fabregas have just had a bit of a tete-a-tete. Fabregas caught Carr with an accidental boot in the face, and Carr hit back with a body-check a moment or two later. All harmless enough.

1838: More news from Vicarage Road. It's good news if you are a Hornets fan. In-form Watford have just gone 2-0 up and are halfway to their fourth consecutive win. Danny Graham plays in strike-partner Marvin Sordell behind the Portsmouth defence and the nineteen year-old keeps his cool and slots home past Ashdown. Buzzing.

1836: Birmingham get the second half started. No sign of Arsene Wenger yet, though.

1835: Give this page a manual refresh, and a couple of coding issues* will disappear. * = mistakes by me. Done it? Good. The second half at St Andrew's is just moments away.

Navin1414 on Twitter: "Arsenal really need to put this game to bed, if we get 2-0 up I can't see Birmingham making a comeback."

ayaj12 on Twitter: "Arsenal can't just finish teams off, can we? As long as this game remains 1-0, we are giving Birmingham hope."

1830: Need a reminder of what has happened in the Premier League so far this year? Look no further...

Saj Chowdhury reports: "West Brom can consider themselves very unlucky not to come away with at least a point. United, on the other hand, escape again - unbeaten, but they do make it hard for themselves."

David Ornstein reports: "Offside or not, Joe Cole's first league goal for Liverpool seals a victory that may prove critical for Reds boss Roy Hodgson. Harsh on Bolton? Perhaps. But Anfield won't care a jot."

Jonathan Stevenson reports: "Don't be fooled by the score. Open game, chances everywhere you looked and two teams who went for the jugular. If this is football in 2011, maybe I won't invent that time machine just yet."

Kevin Darling reports: "After spending virtually all of 2010 propping up the Premier League table - first at Portsmouth and then West Ham - it's a Happy New Year for Avram Grant, whose Hammers side ride their luck and climb to the lofty heights of 15th place thanks to Ronald Zubar's own goal and a match-winning display from reborn youngster Freddie Sears."

Les Roopanarine reports: "Having spent so much of this season in search of a killer touch in the box, Everton will be dismayed that, when it came, it was at the wrong end. But forget Phil Jagielka's own goal - this was a richly deserved victory for Stoke, who worked hard and took their one real chance with aplomb."

Mike Henson reports: "The striking trio of Welbeck, Bent and Gyan extract a goal apiece from a shaky Blackbrun rearguard as Sunderland dare to set their sights."

Phil Dawkes reports: "Tottenham weren't at their best but took the points - like all good sides are supposed to. Fulham gained no reward, but the manner of their performance will give them heart in their battle against the drop."

From ghost_of_cygan - for lack of a better name on 606: "Awful refereeing all round. Robin van Persie's touch has been unusually awful, really bad."

Half time
HALF-TIME Birmingham 0-1 Arsenal
Alistair Magowan's HT snapshot: "Arsenal dominating possession and Robin van Persie is involved all over the shop, but Birmingham are still posing a threat. An open game with a bit of acceptable rough stuff."

1817: One other game going on at the moment, between Watford and Portsmouth in the Championship, and it is the Hornets who have just broken the deadlock with a stunning goal from Andrew Taylor on the stroke of half-time. Pompey keeper Jamie Ashdown punched out a corner, and it fell to the left-back, who hit it on the volley into the roof of the net.

1815: There will be two added minutes at the end of the first half. Arsenal will be pleased with their night's work so far, even if they are a tad fortunate to be ahead.

1810: Blimey, Robin van Persie is everywhere at the moment. At the other end of the field, he latches on to Samir Nasri's dinked pass and has only Ben Foster to beat... but he tries to be far too clever for the keeper and in the end makes a real hash of his shot. Still, Birmingham are just as bad: Roger Johnson latches on to Cameron Jerome's flick from another hoisted free-kick but smashes his volley over from point-blank range. Poor finishing from both teams.

1807: Birmingham should have a penalty. They really should. Robin van Persie stretches to meet Roger Johnson's knockdown from a free-kick inside the area but the ball comes off his arm. It's pretty clear-cut, from the TV replays anyway, but Peter Walton says no.

Yellow card
1805: Another booking, this time for an Arsenal player. Johan Djourou collides with Cameron Jerome as Birmingham look to break quickly.

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce, a close friend of Sam Allardyce who was sacked by Blackburn last month, on his side's 3-0 win over Rovers: "I would like to dedicate the win ot Sam. I know he won't like us beating his former team, but after what has happened to him over the past couple of weeks I am delighted and I will have a few glasses of wine for him tonight."

Yellow card
1801: Birmingham's Liam Ridgewell goes in the book for holding back Theo Walcott - which means he will have to be very careful when the England winger runs at him over the next hour or so... because that is exactly what he is going to do. From the resulting free-kick, Robin van Persie whips the ball in and Johan Djourou is not far away from getting a vital touch in front of goal.

Happy New Year? Not if you are Barnet manager Mark Stimson. He's been given the boot after the second-bottom Bees lost 2-1 at home to Aldershot in League Two. It seems 2011 is the year of the boot: George Burley and Stimson have already gone... who will be next? Liverpool fans need not reply to that one...

1755: Birmingham are awarded a free-kick after a spot of handbags between Seb Larsson and Samir Nasri which was actually quite amusing to watch. I've seen six-year-old with more muscle than those two mustered. The set-piece came to nothing by the way.

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp on his side's 1-0 win over Fulham that means they have collected three wins out of three over the festive period: "It was a tough game and credit to Fulham, they played very well and put us under pressure. You could see an equaliser coming. But there are no easy games. We looked like one of two were running on empty. We played with 10 men Sunday and Tuesday but nine points from the week is fantastic."

OptaJoe on Twitter: "1 - Robin Van Persie has scored his first direct free-kick goal in the Premier League since October 2007 v Sunderland. Disputed."

1750: My New Year's resolution? Don't make weak puns about the referee's name (1740) when you have accidentally just typed it in incorrectly. It's Peter Walton in charge of this one, not Peter Wright. I was wrong, alright?

1748: Almost an instant response by Birmingham, with a free-kick of their own. Former Gunner Seb Larsson curls his effort goalwards - no deflections this time, but Lukasz Fabianski flings himself to his right to push the ball around the post. A cracking stop.

Arsenal goal: The Gunners are given a rather soft free-kick on the edge of the area when Robin van Persie runs across Scott Dann and tumbles under the slightest of touches. Arsene Wenger's men get an even bigger portion of luck when Van Persie steps up to take it, because his shot cannons off Lee Bowyer in the wall and flies past Ben Foster.

1744: GOALFLASH Birmingham 0-1 Arsenal (Van Persie)

From Riz, a realistic Gunner, via text: "Re 1718. 23 games and only one defeat at St Andrews. Gotta say as lush as that Arsenal line up is, I fancy Birmingham getting something from this."

1742: Arsenal have an indirect free-kick on the edge of the area because Ben Foster picks up what was adjudged to be a backpass. Robin van Persie is teed up to take the shot, and forces a smart save from Foster, who gets down quickly to his right to keep it out.

Yellow card
1740: A full-blooded challenge by Roger Johnson on Cesc Fabregas leaves the Spaniard writhing in pain and earns him the first yellow card of the game. Johnson is wild, and high so, although he gets a bit of the ball, the fact he got a lot of man too means that Peter Walton is right to caution him. That could have been a lot worse.

Football League Macca: "League Two leaders Chesterfield were comfortable 4-1 winners at home to Stockport but the performance of the day was Rotherham for their 5-0 win at home to Port Vale - a result that sees the hosts replace the Valiants in second. Wycombe's win at Cheltenham edges them up to third."

From redboychris on 606: "Well Roy looks like he has bought himself more time but one match does not mean his job is secure, after all Liverpool have had a lot of false starts before."

Under-fire Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson on his future after his side's dramatic late win over Bolton: "My job is to try and produce good and winning performances from the team. It's not about me, it's about the players. Speculation is rife all over, no one is immune these days. The higher the level, the greater the speculation will be. The fans have been treated to disappointing performances, not just in last six months but further back."

Football League Macca: "In League One, Brighton move six points clear after a 5-0 win over Leyton Orient and Southampton are up to second courtesy of a 4-0 victory at home to Exeter. Bournemouth slip into fourth after winning at Swindon but Huddersfield threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at Carlisle."

1734: Theo Walcott runs at Liam Ridgwell down the right and has the legs to get past him, and fire in a shot. It's off target, though, and does not trouble Blues keeper Ben Foster.

1732: Cesc Fabregas goes down under a challenge on the edge of the Birmingham box. He wants a free-kick but referee Peter Walton is unimpressed. It looks very cold in the Midlands by the way... if you're at this game, I hope you wrapped up warm - it's snood weather.

1731: Here we go. Arsenal get us started.

Football League Macca: "Swansea and Norwich are the big movers in the Championship after wins over Reading and leaders QPR respectively. Cardiff drop to fifth after losing at Bristol City and Millwall move into the play-off slots, although they could be replaced by Watford, who face Pompey in the late game. Caretaker boss Stuart Gray leads Burnley to a 4-2 win over Sheff Utd that sees them leap from 10th to seventh."

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish, whose side held leaders Manchester United on Tuesday: "The players have got a lot of evidence that they can perform against the bigger clubs and this is another one. Arsenal are going for the title but we fancy ourselves against anybody at St Andrew's. It's alright talking about it, though, we've got to show it out on the pitch."

1727: Right then. The Arsenal and Birmingham players emerge from the tunnel at St Andrew's and kick-off is just a couple of minutes away.

1725: Birmingham have dropped into the bottom three after today's games, but they have got three games in hand on West Ham, who are just one point ahead of them. Arsenal? They are still third, five points behind Manchester United and Manchester City, but have two games in hand on the side who play in sky blue.

From Stuart C, via text: "Well done Spurs. We did not play well but got three points, a great result."

From Farrell, Fulham fan coming away from the Lane, via text: "Even though we didn't pick any points picked up, that was the best I've seen Fulham all season. For once we defended properly."

From Amar, a hopeful Gunner, via text: "Arsenal must remain focused to win this fixture. With Cesc and Nasri on the field, one can be optimistic."

1718: There is something about late games on New Year's Day that always takes me back to the start of 1992, before the Premier League began. Televised games were few and far between so most of the nation tuned in to watch title-chasing Manchester United take on QPR at Old Trafford, where they were still unbeaten. I don't think anyone anticipated what would happen next - I definitely didn't - but Dennis Bailey's hat-trick gave Rangers a stunning 4-1 victory. If tonight's game is half as eventful as that one was, you should not miss it.

Alistair Magowan reports: "Birmingham stick by naming an unchanged team to the one that snatched a late 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Tuesday, which means former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb is on the bench. Arsenal twist by making eight changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Wigan, although it's the same side that beat Chelsea. Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri both start. "

Birmingham v Arsenal line-ups
Birmingham: Foster, Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell, Larsson, Ferguson, Gardner, Bowyer, Beausejour, Jerome. Subs: Taylor, Phillips, Derbyshire, Fahey, Zigic, Hleb, Jiranek.
Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Walcott, Song, Wilshere, Nasri, Fabregas, van Persie. Subs: Szczesny, Rosicky, Denilson, Squillaci, Arshavin, Eboue, Bendtner.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)

1707: OK. It's been a happy New Year, so far, for Roy Hodgson, Liverpool, Wayne Rooney, Manchester United, Manchester City, Stoke, Sunderland, Tottenham and the Hammers of course. Just one top-flight match left today, between Birmingham and Arsenal... starting in about 25 minutes.

mannysanny on Twitter: "West Ham 15th! Are my eyes deceiving me?"

Nope. The team that started the day (and the year) bottom of the Premier League are now three places above the drop zone. Avram Grant is not quite dreaming of a Champions League spot yet, but he has picked up points when it has mattered over the last couple of weeks.

Alistair Magowan reports: "Birmingham and Arsenal were on contrasting ends of late draws earlier this week and fitness will play a part again here. Arsenal play their third match in six days and will call upon Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri from the start. Birmingham look set to name an unchanged team, and they have only lost once at home in the league this season, but goals are what they struggle with most - only nine at St Andrew's this term."

Football League Macca: "In the dying stages around the grounds and Forest have clawed themselves back to 2-2 against Barnsley to protect their unbeaten home run. No such joy for Preston as they trail 2-0 against Derby. Coming up to HT in the delayed Doncaster-Scunny game but the hosts win 3-0 now. Lower down it's Colchester 3-3 Charlton, Carlisle 2-2 Huddersfield, Swindon 1-2 Bournemouth and Rotherham 4-0 Port Vale."

1657: FULL-TIME Sunderland 3-0 Blackburn

Sunderland goal: An emphatic win for Sunderland is sealed on the break by Asamoah Gyan. He runs on to Jordan Henderson's through-ball and curls home a delicious finish.

Full time
1655: FULL-TIME West Ham 2-0 Wolves

1655: FULL-TIME Stoke 2-0 Everton

1654: Jubilant celebrations by Roy Hodgson at the final whistle at Anfield and who can blame him: He is still alive, and kicking, for now. It might have been different if Ivan Klasnic had found the target with a late drive for Bolton, but it whistled wide.

Full time
1653: FULL-TIME Liverpool 2-1 Bolton

1653: FULL-TIME Man City 1-0 Blackpool

Liverpool goal: Hello. Is this the change of luck Roy Hodgson was waiting for? It certainly looks like the three points he desperately needed. Steven Gerrard's cross is knocked back across goal by Maxi Rodriguez and substitute Joe Cole is in the right place to bundle it over the line.

1650: GOALFLASH Sunderland 3-0 Blackburn (Gyan)

Full time
1649: FULL-TIME Tottenham 1-0 Fulham

1649: GOALFLASH Liverpool 2-1 Bolton (Cole)

1648: A nervy finish in store at White Hart Lane, where Fulham are pressing for a late equaliser against Spurs. Only some desperate defending from the home side has preserved their lead, with Michael Dawson in particular standing tall.

George Burley has left Crystal Palace after their 3-0 defeat by Millwall earlier today.

Arsenal have made eight changes from the side that drew at Wigan for their trip to Birmingham. Basically, it's their first team back again.

tstrachanedit on Twitter: "Happy New Sears for West Ham?"

Infostrada Sports on Twitter: "Phil Jagielka has scored six own goals in the Premier League. Only Richard Dunne (8) and Jamie Carragher (7) have scored more own goals in the PL era."

1641: I am not exaggerating when I say that Carlos Tevez could have scored six today... but he hasn't - and City are now hanging on a little. Neal Eardley hits a screaming 25-yard drive for Blackpool that forces Joe Hart to tip over the bar and these are nervous times for the home fans at Eastlands.

1640: Spurs have a great chance to take control against Fulham, but for once Gareth Bale gets it wrong, blazing over from 12 yards following Vedran Corluka's cut-back.

West Ham goal: Breathing space for the Hammers, courtesy of a neat finish by Freddie Sears for his first goal since his debut in March 2008. Tal Ben Haim got forward down the right and his low cross was expertly steered home by Sears from near the penalty spot. Wolves have given everything but they have got an awful lot of work to do now.

1637: GOALFLASH West Ham 2-0 Wolves (Sears)

Someone has struck the woodwork
1635: Wolves are pressing for an equaliser at Upton Park and Sylvain Ebanks-Blake almost supplied precisely that when he headed against the bar. A chance at Anfield to tell you about too - it goes to Bolton, with Mark Davies smashing a shot straight at Pepe Reina. Either side of the keeper and that would have been interesting.

1635: Another miss by Carlos Tevez at Manchester City, this time when he meets a low James Milner pull-back but sends his first-time shot wide.

Football League Macca: "Goal at Doncaster, where the game was delayed because of a lack of ambulances at the Keepmoat. It is Billy Sharp who has proved the man for an emergency in putting them ahead against Scunny. Preston's misery continues under David Unsworth as Derby lead 1-0. Forest grab one back at home to Barnsley, but trial 2-1. Colchester lead Charlton 3-2, Southampton are 3-0 against Exeter, Jack Lester has popped in a hat-trick as Chesterfield lead Stockport 3-1 and Huddersfield are 2-0 up at Carlisle."

1633: Liverpool go close when Steven Gerrard's cross is volleyed wide at the near post by Fernando Torres. Gerrard forced a save from Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen a couple of minutes ago too but, with about 20 minutes left, Wanderers are hardly under the cosh and Anfield is still very, very quiet.

1631: Manchester City are pressing for a second and almost get it when Carlos Tevez rounds Blackpool keeper Richard Kingson but slips as he looks to slot home and is crowded out. The home side don't half look vulnerable on the break, though, and Matt Phillips has caused them a few problems with his pace since coming on at the break.

Stoke goal: Everton are in real trouble now. Kenwyne Jones leaps to reach a deep ball into the area and, under pressure from Ricardo Fuller, Phil Jagielka can only divert the dropping ball into his own net from close range.

1626: GOALFLASH Stoke 2-0 Everton (Jagielka og)

1625: A great chance for Fulham to level at the Lane. Andy Johnson's close range shot from an angle is palmed in front of goal by Heurelho Gomez but, before Clint Dempsey can capitalise, Michael Dawson is able to scramble the ball clear. Fulham are having their best spell of the game.

1624: It should be game over at the Stadium of Light. A neat move down the left ends when Kieran Richardson pulls the ball back for Darren Bent, but he somehow misses the target with the goal completely at his mercy. It means Blackburn still trail Sunderland by two goals.

1621: The great Roy Hodgson 'debate' rumbles on via Twitter, text and 606 despite that Fernando Torres equaliser. When I say 'debate', I mean 'calls for his head'. Hundreds of them. Anyway, on the pitch, Bolton have come back into things at Anfield - fair to say that game is in the balance.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1620: Almost a second goal for West Ham. Matthew Upson climbs to meet Scott Parker's corner but Wayne Hennessey somehow gets a hand to his powerful header and claws it on to the bar and to safety. That was some save by the Welsh international.

1619: Spurs are looking far more comfortable with a lead to hold on to, but while it remains only 1-0 Fulham are still right in this game. Well, sort of. So far the visitors have failed to register an effort on goal in the second half, while Tottenham are looking increasingly more threatening.

Football League Macca: "Bristol City are rocking and rolling as they go 3-0 up against Cardiff. Nottm Forest's home formbook has just gone out the window as they trail to Barnsley, Cov have levelled against Ipswich, it's now Burnley 3-2 Sheff Utd and QPR are down to 10 men at Norwich, who lead 1-0 still. In L1, Southampton are now 2-0 up against Exeter and in L2, Rotherham are beating Port Vale 3-0 now."

1617: Man City are still creating chances too, with Carlos Tevez curling a shot just over, although Blackpool have just brought another save out of Joe Hart - it was substitute Matt Phillips who let fly.

1616: Oops, I forgot to tell you that they are back under way at Sunderland. At Stoke, Everton are having lots of possession but with no cutting edge - same old story for the Toffees, I'm afraid.

1614: Life almost gets a whole lot better for Roy Hodgson. Steven Gerrard releases Fernando Torres, who cuts in from the left and fires in a low shot that whizzes just wide of the far post. Liverpool are dominating now.

garystringer78 on Twitter: "Great goal by Torres, a bit of the old Gerrard and Torres magic, much needed"

West Ham goal: How's your luck? Pretty darn good if you are a West Ham fan. The Hammers survive a flurry of Wolves chances, thanks to a couple of superb saves by Robert Green, then break down the other end where Frederic Piquionne's cross is somehow missed in front of goal by Carlton Cole, but hits Wolves defender Roland Zubar on the knee and bounces in.

1610: GOALFLASH West Ham 1-0 Wolves (Zubar og)

Liverpool goal: A superb chipped pass by Steven Gerrard is smashed home on the run, and on the volley, inside the area by Fernando Torres. Liverpool level with a goal of real quality. It's enough to put a smile back on Roy Hodgson's face, will it help him avoid the sack too?

1607: GOALFLASH Liverpool 1-1 Bolton (Torres)

1604: The second half starts at Eastlands and Upton Park. The only top-flight game we are waiting for now is Sunderland-Blackburn.

1603: And at Anfield too.

1601: We are back under way at White Hart Lane, and the Britannia Stadium.

1600: The feeling before kick-off at Anfield was that a win might not even be enough to keep Roy Hodgson in his job... but a defeat today will surely only hasten his departure. Liverpool have 45 minutes to try to save their manager, if they want to, that is.

From angry Liverpool fan via text: "It's not even that we're losing with dignity and a bit of fight. We are rolling over for teams and making it easy for the opposition week in week out. I was all for the appointment of Roy Hodgson and he is a great man and a good coach but he is unable to motivate and control a club of Liverpool's size. Rant over."

Football League Macca: "Cardiff's recent rubbish run continues as they slip 2-0 down at Bristol City through Lee Johnson's goal. Coventry have been on a mini-slump and they trail at home to Ipswich. Burnley have really turned things around at home to Sheff Utd, going from 1-0 down to 3-1 up courtesy of two late first-half goals. It's been a busy half at Colchester where it's 2-2 between the hosts, who are down to 10 men, and Charlton. And Doncaster v Scunthorpe is still yet to kick off because of health and safety reasons. It seems the ambulance due to be at the ground has not arrived as it broke down. We'll give you details when we get them."

HALF-TIME Man City 1-0 Blackpool
Jonathan Stevenson's HT snapshot:
"Super lively at both ends. City will hope they don't live to rue Tevez's miss - he's been otherwise brilliant. 8/10 for entertainment."

HALF-TIME West Ham 0-0 Wolves
Kevin Darling's HT snapshot: "West Ham wouldn't have wanted the whistle to go there… they end the first half well on top after a nervy start in a tense match."

HALF-TIME: Stoke 1-0 Everton
Les Roopanarine's HT snapshot: "It's a familiar story for Everton, who have created the lion's share of the chances only for Stoke to produce the game's one truly incisive moment, which came when Kenwyne Jones headed home an excellent cross from Matthew Etherington."

HALF-TIME: Liverpool 0-1 Bolton
David Ornstein's HT snapshot: "Liverpool huffed and puffed but a distinct lack of quality and belief prevented them from creating clear-cut chances. Forward came Bolton and if they can hold on to the lead given to them by Kevin Davies shortly before half-time, it could be curtains for Reds boss Roy Hodgson."

HALF-TIME Tottenham 1-0 Fulham
Phil Dawkes' HT snapshot: "Tottenham have been far from their best but they lead courtesy of Gareth Bale's header. Fulham will feel somewhat aggrieved as they have matched the home side, but they can take heart that they have looked capable of scoring and remain well in the game."

HALF-TIME Sunderland 2-0 Blackburn
Mike Henson's HT snapshot: "After the profligacy in defeat to Blackpool, Sunderland rediscover their scoring touch with their first two efforts on goal. The Egyptian midfielder Ahmed Elmohamady is doing his best to live up to those David Beckham comparisons with a couple of fine crosses for both goals."

1553: One last incident at Anfield to tell you about, which happened seconds before half-time. After being challenged by Gary Cahill, Fernando Torres pushed the Bolton defender in the face. Referee Kevin Friend called the Spaniard over but no action was taken.

1552: It's half-time at the Stadium of Light now too.

JimNero9 on Twitter: "Hodgson being sacked is not going to change the fact that the team is just not as good as it has been previously!"

shanedelahunty on Twitter: "What are the chances of Owen Coyle switching dugouts at half time?"

Redstar102 on Twitter: "Time to go Hodgson, hey I'll even pay for your taxi fare, just do us a favour and resign now!"

1550: OK, let's make this easier. Are there any Liverpool fans who don't want to see Roy Hodgson sacked immediately?

1549: Half-time at all the Premier League games, apart from Sunderland-Blackburn.

1547: Almost an instant response by Liverpool. Instead it is an absolutely horrific miss by Lucas after he meets a Dirk Kuyt cross at the far post but, despite being completely unmarked, completely misses the target.

Bolton goal: Trouble for Liverpool, and big trouble for Roy Hodgson. Matty Taylor bends in a dangerous free-kick and Kevin Davies leaps to nod home at the far post.

Tottenham goal: Not your typical Gareth Bale goal, this. Rafael van der Vaart whips in a free-kick and Bale's flicked header is enough to wrongfoot Mark Schwarzer.

1544: I'm worried Roy Hodgson might get sacked before the end of the game if that score stays the same...

1543: GOALFLASH Liverpool 0-1 Bolton (Davies)

Football League Macca: "It's finished at Millwall and the hosts have ended 3-0 winners against south London rivals Palace thanks to Jason Puncheon's hat-trick. Burnley have equalised in their game against Sheff Utd through a Chris Eagles wonder strike. In L1, Huddersfield are leading at Carlisle and Southampton are in front at home to Exeter. In L2, leaders Chesterfield are being held 1-1 by Stockport, Rotherham are up to second as they lead Port Vale 2-0."

1542: GOALFLASH Tottenham 1-0 Fulham (Bale)

1541: West Ham have stepped things up against Wolves too and only a brilliant goalline clearance from Richard Stearman stopped them from going ahead after Freddie Sears' low shot beat Wayne Hennessey.

1539: Despite that missed penalty, Man City remain well on top against Blackpool. At Anfield, the crowd is finally making some noise - sadly for Roy Hodgson they are groaning because Liverpool are struggling to break Bolton down.

1538: It's not quite as bad as Peter Odemwingie's fluffed spot-kick for West Brom earlier on today, but Carlos Tevez still makes a bit of a mess of his penalty. It was a definite spot-kick too, because Luke Varney was all over Yaya Toure.

Someone has won a penalty
1537: MISSED PENALTY by Man City's Carlos Tevez. His low shot rolls wide, and he didn't get much behind it either.

1536: PENALTY to Man City

Man City goal: Another deflection, another goal... and City are ahead. A corner is cleared as far as Adam Johnson on the edge of the area and his shot hits Stephen Crainey and flies in.

1534: GOALFLASH Man City 1-0 Blackpool (Adam Johnson)

Someone has struck the woodwork
1532: Liverpool go close again, and they are a bit unlucky. Dirk Kuyt's cross from the right is met by Maxi Rodriguez at the far post but his looping header bounces off the top of the bar.

1530: Carlton Cole should do a lot, lot better here. Scott Parker's through-ball is cut out by George Elokobi, but his slip lets the West Ham striker in. He has to react quickly to reach the ball before Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey - and does... but his shot bounces the wrong side of the post.

Football League Macca: "It's gone goalflash crazy in the opening minutes. At least 14 of them already before we hit the 15-minute mark. In the Champo, Norwich lead leaders QPR, Micky Adams gets off to a wonder start with Sheff Utd as they are in front at Burnley, Cardiff trail at Bristol C and Leicester are winning at Hull. Jason Puncheon has helped himself to a hat-trick at the New Den as Millwall lead Palace 3-0, while Barnsley are 1-0 up at Forest."

1528: Still no goals or red cards at White Hart Lane. Tottenham are trying but they are really struggling to get going. The home side have fashioned nothing of any value yet and Fulham, whose manager Mark Hughes is still badly in need of points, look relatively comfortable.

1526: Man City are upping the tempo. David Silva plays a super long-range one-two with Carlos Tevez before firing into the side-netting from 12 yards, while moments later the Argentine striker goes himself and hammers a shot from 20 yards straight down the throat of Richard Kingson.

1525: Lots of empty seats at Anfield, where Reds fans seem to be voting on Roy Hodgson's future with their feet. Anyway, finally some good news for Liverpool fans - Steven Gerrard is off the bench and on for Raul Meireles.

Stoke goal: Kenwyne Jones scores it, but Matty Etherington makes it with some wing wizardry out on the left. When he sends over the cross, Jones leaps highest and directs his header into the corner of the net.

1523: GOALFLASH Stoke 1-0 Everton (Jones)

Sunderland goal: No stopping the Black Cats today, so far anyway. Ahmed Elmohamady sends over a wicked cross from the right and Darren Bent, who had gone five games without a goal before today, gets in front of his man to find the net with a glancing header.

1521: GOALFLASH Sunderland 2-0 Blackburn (Bent)

KopMaestro on Twitter: "Under Megson, Bolton were terrible. Same players under Coyle are terrific. Point is; Roy, it's not the squad, it's YOU!"

1519: A decent chance for Liverpool, after David Ngog's cross finds Fernando Torres on the edge of the six-yard box. His shot is blocked but it loops up for Maxi Rodriguez at the far post and his volley flies across the face of goal.

1517: Everton have made a solid start at the Britannia Stadium, where returning front man Louis Saha might have won an early penalty had referee Andre Marriner spotted a sly clip on the Frenchman by defender Ryan Shawcross. At the other end, Ricardo Fuller has just gone close for Stoke, pulling a shot wide from a Kenwyne Jones knockdown.

1514: Man City and Blackpool aren't holding much back but the hosts feel they might have had a penalty there after Nigel de Jong's shot from the edge of the box appears to strike the arm of Ian Evatt. It's open and entertaining at Eastlands and, at the other end, Gary Taylor-Fletcher has had a curling shot stopped by Joe Hart.

Sunderland goal: It comes courtesy of a huge deflection, but Danny Welbeck won't care. He latches on to a loose ball on the edge of the area after Rovers can only half-clear a cross from the right and slams in a shot that hits Ryan Nelsen and bobbles into the opposite corner of the net.

1512: GOALFLASH Sunderland 1-0 Blackburn (Welbeck)

1511: Frederic Piquionne blazes over from the edge of the area for West Ham, who are enjoying a decent spell of pressure themselves. A big three points up for grabs in that game.

1509: A nervy start for West Ham, who cannot clear their lines as Wolves fire a succession of balls into their area. Sylvain Ebanks-Blake half-hits a shot on the turn and George Elokobi has a swipe at the ball too, but the Hammers survive.

1507: It's quite quiet at White Hart Lane too. No sendings off yet, anyway.

Zain_Patel on Twitter: "You'll never walk alone was being played round Anfield but not many fans singing it! I think Roy Hodgson is walking alone!"

1505: A very subdued atmosphere at Anfield, where Bolton and Liverpool have made a scrappy start. Neither side can hold on to the ball... will Roy Hodgson hold on to his job for much longer?

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson on his side's win at West Brom: "Wayne Rooney was exceptional. He drove us on and he was out of this world. He's off the mark and hopefully he'll be on a run now. I thought it was a penalty when Gary Neville clashed with Graham Dorrans in the first half."

1504: Full-time at Elland Road but not before a late Leeds leveller through Luciano Becchio. It came 38 seconds into injury-time, a shot from about 12 yards and the Yorkshire side could have even won it but Ross McCormack missed a golden headed chance. It finishes Leeds 1-1 Boro and the hosts edge ahead of Cardiff and Swansea into second.

1503: In the Championship, Millwall double their lead and again it is Jason Puncheon who grabs the goal. The Lions lead Palace 2-0 with 20 minutes or so to go and have poked their heads into the as-it-stands promotion spots.

1503: Sunderland v Blackburn has just started. That Tevez chance is the only opening to speak of so far.

1502: Almost a dream start for Manchester City. Charlie Adam's backpass only finds Carlos Tevez, who runs into the area but can only fire his shot across the face of goal. A bit of a waste to be honest.

1501: And at Anfield, Eastlands, Upton Park and the Britannia Stadium too.

1500: We are under way at White Hart Lane.

1459: So, after what seemed at times an unlikely win over West Brom, Manchester United are three points clear of neighbours Manchester City at the top of the table, with a game in hand. City take on Blackpool in one of six 1500 GMT games starting in the next couple of minutes or so. Third placed Arsenal play at Birmingham in our 1730 GMT kick-off.

1456: Er, I think that's all the team news done. Hope so, anyway.

Phil Dawkes reports: "Tottenham make one change from the team that beat Newcastle last Tuesday and it is enforced as centre-back Younes Kaboul is suspended following his red card in that match and is replaced by William Gallas. Unsurprisingly, Fulham are unchanged from the team that recorded an impressive away win at Stoke last time out. Danny Murphy and Simon Davies play against their former club."

Tottenham v Fulham line-ups
Tottenham: Gomes, Hutton, Gallas, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Palacios, Modric, Bale, Pavlyuchenko, Van der Vaart. Subs: Pletikosa, Jenas, Crouch, Bassong, Kranjcar, Corluka, Sandro.
Fulham: Schwarzer, Baird, Hangeland, Hughes, Pantsil, Murphy, Duff, Etuhu, Davies, Dempsey, Andrew Johnson. Subs: Stockdale, Salcido, Gera, Kamara, Dikgacoi, Greening, Halliche.
Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

Kevin Darling reports: "West Ham manager Avram Grant reverts to the same starting line-up that beat Fulham on Boxing Day. That means Carlton Cole, Junior Stanislas, Tal Ben Haim and Danny Gabbidon are recalled after being rested against Everton in midweek. There's also a place on the bench for fit-again Mark Noble but Valon Behrami is still missing. Wolves boss Mick McCarthy keeps faith with the same XI that won so impressively at Liverpool on Wednesday, and who can blame him?"

West Ham v Wolverhampton line-ups
West Ham: Green, Ben-Haim, Tomkins, Upson, Gabbidon, Sears, Parker, Kovac, Stanislas, Cole, Piquionne. Subs: Boffin, Reid, Barrera, Boa Morte, Noble, Hines, Obinna.
Wolverhampton: Hennessey, Zubar, Stearman, Berra, Elokobi, Jarvis, Foley, Milijas, Hunt, Ward, Ebanks-Blake. Subs: Hahnemann, Edwards, Fletcher, David Jones, Bent, Mujangi Bia, Batth.
Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

Les Roopanarine reports: "Stoke boss Tony Pulis makes two changes to the side beaten 2-0 at home by Fulham last time out. Danny Higginbotham slots into defence as cover for the suspended Robert Huth, while in attack Ricardo Fuller replaces Jonathan Walters, who is named as a substitute. Everton's manager David Moyes likewise opts to freshen things up at either end of the pitch, restoring Phil Jagielka at the back and Louis Saha up front. Tony Hibbert and Jack Rodwell, who both featured in the midweek draw at West Ham, drop to the bench."

Mike Henson reports: "Midfielder Lee Cattermole and defender Nedum Onouha are out for Sunderland with hamstring problems, allowing Titus Bramble and Kieran Richardson the chance to impress from the start. Another hamstring victim, Asamoah Gyan, drops to the bench with Steed Malbranque ushered in. With Paul Robinson injured, former Northampton Town goalkeeper Mark Bunn gets his first Premier League start for Blackburn. Unsettled defender Christopher Samba is still absent with an ankle injury while Gael Givet and David Hoilett come in for suspended duo Nikola Kalinic and Michel Salgado."

Sunderland v Blackburn line-ups
Sunderland: Gordon, Elmohamady, Bramble, Ferdinand, Bardsley, Henderson, Richardson, Meyler, Malbranque, Bent, Welbeck. Subs: Mignolet, Zenden, Angeleri, Da Silva, Riveros, Cook, Gyan.
Blackburn: Bunn, Givet, Hanley, Nelsen, Olsson, El-Hadji Diouf, Emerton, Dunn, Pedersen, Mame Diouf, Hoilett. Subs: Fielding, Linganzi, Doran, Mwaruwari, Goulon, Morris, Lowe.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

Stoke v Everton line-ups
Stoke: Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Higginbotham, Collins, Pennant, Whitehead, Delap, Etherington, Fuller, Jones. Subs: Sorensen, Whelan, Gudjohnsen, Wilson, Walters, Sanli, Faye.
Everton: Howard, Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Coleman, Fellaini, Cahill, Arteta, Pienaar, Saha. Subs: Mucha, Hibbert, Bilyaletdinov, Beckford, Osman, Rodwell, Anichebe.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)

Football League Macca: "Leaders Chesterfield are at home to Stockport, while it's 4th (Rotherham) v 2nd (Port Vale) and 7th (Cheltenham) v 5th (Wycombe). Some interesting ties involving those flirting with the drop zone, where 11 teams are separated by just five points."

Jonathan Stevenson reports:
"Four changes for Man City after their 4-0 win over Villa with Jerome Boateng, Aleksandar Kolarov and Gareth Barry back in and captain Carlos Tevez fit-again to replace hat-trick hero Mario Balotelli, who has a knee problem. Blackpool similarly restore their captain Charlie Adam to the starting XI after a suspension, with hamstring victim Elliot Grandin making way."

Man City v Blackpool
Man City: Hart, Boateng, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, De Jong, Barry, Adam Johnson, Toure Yaya, Silva, Tevez. Subs: Given, Richards, Zabaleta, Milner, Wright-Phillips, Vieira, Jo.
Blackpool: Kingson, Eardley, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey, Sylvestre, Vaughan, Adam, Varney, Campbell, Taylor-Fletcher. Subs: Halstead, Southern, Ormerod, Baptiste, Phillips, Edwards, Carney.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

David Ornstein reports: "Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson makes three changes from Wednesday's defeat by Wolves, the most prominent seeing captain Steven Gerrard - described by his manager as "extremely tired" after returning from injury in midweek - drop to the bench. Elsewhere, Daniel Agger comes in for Sotirios Kyrgiakos at centre-back and Fabio Aurelio gets his first league start of the season in place of left-back Paul Konchesky. For Bolton there are two alterations from Wednesday's loss at Chelsea - Mark Davies deputising for Stuart Holden in central midfield and Marcos Alonso replacing suspended left-back Paul Robinson. Meanwhile, Trotters boss Owen Coyle travelled with a squad of 15 players - so names only four of a possible seven substitutes. "

Football League Macca: "In League One, Brighton look set to open up a seven-point lead, second-placed Sheff Wed are not in action but nine teams within four points of the Owls are playing today. So there is plenty of potential for movement. Six of them face each other with Charlton at Colchester, Huddersfield visiting Carlisle and Southampton hosting Exeter."

Liverpool v Bolton line-ups
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Aurelio, Kuyt, Lucas, Meireles, Maxi, Torres, Ngog. Subs: Jones, Gerrard, Cole, Kyrgiakos, Babel, Poulsen, Kelly.
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Ricketts, Cahill, Knight, Alonso, Moreno, Mark Davies, Muamba, Taylor, Elmander, Kevin Davies. Subs: Bogdan, Petrov, Klasnic, Blake.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

Les Roopanarine reports: "With one win in five Premier League games, successive home defeats against Blackpool and Fulham, and manager Tony Pulis threatening a January cull of his squad in this month's transfer window, Stoke are likely to be more committed and pugnacious than ever this afternoon. They will need to be. Everton are unbeaten in eight league games on the road, but six of those have been draws and the Merseysiders are determined to do better. Not one for the faint-hearted."

Football League Macca: "In the Championship, Leeds are losing 1-0 to Middlesbrough and look like missing the chance to move up to second. Of the teams around them, leaders QPR travel up to fifth-place Norwich, Swansea, in third, host Reading, who started the day in sixth, and Cardiff are at lowly Bristol City. At the other end Burnley and Sheff Utd both have new men in charge and face off, while David Unsworth takes charge of Preston for the first time when they entertain Derby."

>1440: FULL-TIME West Brom 1-2 Man Utd

1439: A last chance for the Baggies too. James Morrison flashes a bouncing shot wide from 30 yards out.

1439: A last roll of the dice for West Brom. Marc-Antoine Fortune is on for Youssuf Mulumbu.

1438: Leyton Orient are suffering a bit of a New Year's Day hangover as they slump to 5-0 down at Brighton. Ashley Barnes is the scorer with just over 15 minutes remaining.

Yellow card
1437: Nemanja Vidic dives in on Somen Tchoyi in the right-hand corner, and that's a yellow card for the United defender - there has been a flurry of bookings in the last few minutes. But United survive the subsequent free-kick, after the ball bounces around their area, and there are now just two minutes left.

1434: There will be FIVE extra minutes at The Hawthorns... and here comes Wayne Rooney, jogging back on. United have got 11 players again - they might just need them to hang on to their lead.

1432: Ouch. Wayne Rooney limps off with a painful-looking ankle injury, after being caught by Chris Brunt. United will play the last couple of minutes with 10 men.

1430: Tomasz Kuszczak does really well to deal with a deep cross from the impressive Chris Brunt, getting a hand to the ball at the back post with a couple of Baggies players queuing up.

1428: Jerome Thomas has been a real livewire today for West Brom, and he has just had another sight of goal. He plays a quick one-two and bursts into the area, but he has to improvise with his finish from a tight angle and the ball flies harmlessly over.

nanaloa2001 on Twitter: "Hernadez is the new Solskjaer."

1426: Is it too late to get Glenn Murray included in the New Year's Honours list? The Brighton hot-shot has earned the first Football League hat-trick of 2011 as he makes it Brighton 4-0 Leyton Orient.

1425: He wasn't on the goal-line, but United defender Nemanja Vidic has just prevented an almost certain goal. Jermaine Thomas looks to sidefoot his shot into the bottom corner after cutting into the box, but Vidic is in the right place to block. Seconds later, Chris Brunt fires a rasping shot a yard or so over the bar - still hope for the Baggies here.

1423: West Brom have got just over 10 minutes left to salvage a point... they will probably feel they have done enough to deserve all three. The Baggies are pressing forward again now. United, meanwhile, are looking very dangerous on the counter-attack.

Man Utd goal: Hmmm, who saw this one coming then? Yep, after being lethargic at best for most of the 75 minutes so far, United are ahead again. Wayne Rooney sends in a corner from the left and Javier Hernandez, who is completely unmarked, heads home from inside the six-yard box.

1419: GOALFLASH West Brom 1-2 Man Utd (Hernandez)

1418: Another big penalty decision for Chris Foy, this time in the Baggies box... and again he gets it wrong. Fabio's cross hits Jerome Thomas's arm on the edge of the box, but Foy says no.

Mike Henson reports: "After consecutive defeats to Manchester United and Blackpool, Steve Bruce's bright young Sunderland side could climb back up to the heady heights of sixth place with a win today. Darren Bent could do with a goal after a dry run of five games. Meanwhile Rovers' temporary boss Steve Kean has until the end of the season to convince the club's new owners to give him the gig full-time. The team's first back-to-back Premier League wins since March 2009 would go some way to doing that. That Venky's target of "fourth or fifth in the league" would still be some way off though."

David Ornstein reports: "Liverpool will be desperate to banish the memory of Wednesday's humiliating defeat by Wolves - but reports suggest boss Roy Hodgson is set to lose his job regardless of today's result. While the Reds have won 10 of their 11 home Premier League meetings with Bolton, they enter the new year on their lowest points tally since the 1953/54 season, which ended in relegation. The Trotters' last league win at Anfield also came in 1954, but they sit six places above their opponents and will be confident of heaping further misery on Hodgson."

1416: A bit of League One news for you. Brighton look like picking up a first league win since 2 November as they make it 3-0 at home to Leyton Orient, who have not lost a game in any competition since the same date. Glenn Murray gets his second of the game and ninth of the season.

1415: Somen Tchoyi finally comes on for the Baggies, and United have also made a change. Gary Neville's eventful afternoon is over - he has just been replaced by Fabio.

Carlos Tevez starts for Manchester City against Blackpool, but Mario Balotelli misses out because of a knee injury.

1413: Time to bring you up to speed on a Baggies substitution, and they have got some reshuffling to do at the back. Steven Reid was injured a couple of minutes ago, and replaced by Gianni Zuiverloon... now another defender, Ibanez Pablo, has been forced off. West Brom are down to 10 men for now.

adek1991 on Twitter: "That was possibly the worst penalty I have ever seen taken..."

1409: After all that, a chance for United. Wayne Rooney is through on goal and inside the area, but Scott Carson is off his line quickly to bravely dive at his feet.

1407: Firstly, Chris Foy got that one right - it was a spot-kick because Rio Ferdinand clipped Jerome Thomas's ankle inside the box. Sadly for West Brom, Peter Odemwingie got his penalty horribly wrong. That was not even close. United fans can breathe again.

Someone has won a penalty
1406: MISSED PENALTY (Peter Odemwingie) He scuffed it horribly, and dragged it well wide.

1405: PENALTY to West Brom

1404: Yep, here they come. Gabriel Obertan and Dimitar Berbatov are the men coming off. About 30 of the 90 minutes left for them to try to make a difference.

1402: It looks like Sir Alex Ferguson has seen enough. Darron Gibson and Javier Hernandez are about to come on for United.

1358: You have to feel that United are going to wake up sooner or later, surely? West Brom are still looking by far the most dangerous side, but you know what that usually means, don't you?

1357: The Baggies are unlucky again. Chris Brunt whips in a corner and Paul Scharner finds the space for a header that whistles a whisker wide of the near post with Tomasz Kuszczak beaten.

redruairi on Twitter: "Re 1343. Actually, I thought it was a fair challenge. On an unrelated note, I lost my glasses at a party last night."

1354: Better by United, well briefly anyway. Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney link up on the left, and Rooney strides into the area... but his low cross is easily cleared.

1351: The Baggies pick up where they left off - by going on the attack. Chris Brunt works space for a shot on the edge of the area, but it curls a couple of yards wide.

1349: Manchester United get the second half started. I'm sure Sir Alex Ferguson made sure their dressing room was a pleasant place at the interval to be after their first-half display.

From Adam, via text: "United fan here, that was a blatant penalty! We need find four more gears. Beckham on loan please."

Kevin Darling reports: "West Ham manager Avram Grant's alleged three-game deadline to save his job has elapsed, with an impressive five points garnered, but relegation six-pointers don't come much bigger than this one. Defeat would leave either side bottom and desperate, yet a win could propel them to the lofty heights of 15th place. Worryingly for Grant, the Hammers have lost their last six New Year's Day fixtures, while Wolves will be buoyant after their famous win at Liverpool in midweek."

OptaJoe on Twitter: "68% - Man Utd's passing accuracy in the opposing half v WBA is their 2nd lowest of any 2010-11 Premier League game (lowest was v Arsenal 64%). Astray."

Phil Dawkes reports: "Apparently, Tottenham only need 10 men to win games of football these days, so imagine what they could do if they kept all 11 on the pitch for the first time in three matches today, especially as opponents Fulham have won only once at their London rivals in 63 years. However, last time out the Cottagers belied their lowly league place with a superb win at Stoke - their first away victory in 27 attempts - and will be keen to throw a spanner in all this Spurs title-challenge chat."

1345: It's been a great start to the year goal-wise and Millwall have not wasted much time in adding their name to the 2011 scoresheet. Jason Puncheon gets the goal as he smashes in a fine volley to give them an eighth-minute lead at home to neighbours Crystal Palace.

Jonathan Stevenson reports:
"Man City assistant Brian Kidd worked with Sir Alex Ferguson for long enough to know that the master manager rarely succumbs to mind games, but that didn't stop him telling the Red Devils it is their title to lose. City know they can ill afford slip-ups and Carlos Tevez should return to offer them an embarrassment of attacking riches even before £30m striker Edin Dzeko signs from Wolfsburg. Blackpool might be poor in comparison, but they don't do inferiority complex."

1343: United, the Premier League leaders, have not been anywhere near their best today have they? I have also been unable to find a comment from anyone (including United fans) who doesn't think that Gary Neville's foul on Graeme Dorrans wasn't a penalty. Is there anyone out there who thinks otherwise?

From Philathlos_UK on 606: "Great half for West Brom. They should be up 3-1, in my book. United need to sort out the midfield in the second half - they are second best in most (if not all) 50-50 balls. Plus, poor old Gary Neville needs replacing - he's a liability."

1336: While we ponder events at The Hawthorns, I can tell you that things have burst into life in the early League One game with two goals in the space of two minutes. Both have gone to hosts Brighton as Chris Wood sets up Glenn Murray to break the deadlock and then an own goal by Leyton Orient's Jamie Jones makes it 2-0 to the league leaders.

From Warren in Loughton, via text: "Re Seb at 1316. United get decisions for and against them, remember Birmingham's equaliser? You just see it as bias because you are jealous."

Half time
1333: West Brom 1-1 Man Utd
Saj Chowdhury's HT snapshot:
"West Brom will be aggrieved they aren't 2-1 up against United, who also should be down to 10 men. Baggies boss Roberto di Matteo has probably picked his subject for the post-match interview? Any guesses? [Clue: Chris Foy]"

1332: Another Baggies opening. Graeme Dorrans ghosts into the area on the right to latch on to a clipped pass but he can only shoot into the side netting. A bit of a waste, although the angle was quite tight.

1328: United, who have created little of note since the first couple of minutes, win a fortunate corner thanks to a deflection. Can they capitalise? No. The delivery is too deep and West Brom clear their lines.

1326: One Championship game is also under way, and Middlesbrough are beating Leeds at Elland Road thanks to David Wheater's near-post header from an inswinging Julio Arca corner. Boro had made a decent start but the goal comes slightly against the run of play.

1324: West Brom come forward again. Peter Odemwingie has a pop from distance but scuffs his shot and it rolls harmlessly wide. Around five minutes of the first half left.

1323: Two West Brom players collide into each other, leaving Dimitar Berbatov to pick up the loose ball. Chris Foy, who is definitely not having his best day as a referee, decides that is a free-kick to the Baggies.

It's raining
1320: It's pouring at The Hawthorns, and the pitch is looking very heavy too. It's not stopping West Brom's neat passing style, though. They are just missing the final ball at the moment.

From Seb in Haywards Heath, via text: "Referee Chris Foy had a clear view of that penalty appeal and has bottled that decision. Another example of Man Utd getting the rub of the green."

1316: You certainly couldn't say this game has been dull so far. In fact, I'd say it's been a bit of a thriller. United's turn to attack sees Gabriel Obertan feed Wayne Rooney, who is clear of the Baggies defence, but is also clearly offside. He sends the ball rolling across the face of goal in any case.

HenryWhitfield on Twitter: "Gary Neville just got away with a HUGE one there, a penalty shot and quite possibly a red card for a clear scoring chance."

1312: Big, big shouts for a West Brom penalty as Graeme Dorrans latches on to a long ball over the top. He is shaping to shoot inside the area when Gary Neville slides in. Does he get the ball? No. Does get the man? Yes. It should be a spot-kick but referee Chris Foy says no.

1308: West Brom continue to build from the back, but United have settled down a bit now too and this game is being played at a decent pace. They have just had another sniff of goal too, with Gabriel Obertan getting behind the Baggies defence after he runs down the right, before he is eventually hustled out of it by two defenders on the by-line inside the box.

1303: That goal has got West Brom's heads up and they are playing some nice passing football now. All of a sudden United are looking a bit shaky at the back, and don't help their cause when they leave James Morrison completely unmarked on the right of the box. His cross is a bit too deep to cause any real danger, though, and the visitors clear.

West Brom goal: Wow. WOW. What a strike by James Morrison to bring the Baggies level. Chris Brunt's long ball is half-cleared by Nemanja Vidic, but only as far as Morrison... who, from 25 yards out, runs on to the bouncing ball to crash an unstoppable shot into the top corner. Tomasz Kuszczak had absolutely no chance.

1259: GOALFLASH West Brom 1-1 Man Utd (Morrison)

Asif_football on Twitter: "Mark me down for a Wayne Rooney hat-trick today. 2011: its Rooney's year."

1256: Great work from Wayne Rooney, who muscles Youssuf Mulumbu off the ball before feeding Darren Fletcher on the right. United have a few men up here, but what should be a promising break ends with an extremely poor and over-hit cross from Fletcher. Chance gone.

1253: West Brom respond well, with James Morrison firing in a dangerous cross from the right that comes all the way across to Gary Neville at the back post. He should clear easily enough, but is caught napping by Jerome Thomas who bursts in to steal the ball, and is relieved when the ball runs out of play.

Man Utd goal: The perfect way to start the year, for United anyway. Inside the third minute, Patrice Evra swings in a cross from the left and Wayne Rooney stoops to direct a precise header into the bottom corner. That's his first goal in open play for his club since March.

1247: GOALFLASH West Brom 0-1 Man Utd (Rooney)

1246: West Brom get us under way... and James Morrison immediately forces Tomasz Kuszczak into his first save of the afternoon. It was a comfortable stop, after Morrison tried his luck from 30 yards after just 21 seconds.

hazza55555 on Twitter: "Another game with Rooney on the wing, no goals for him then. 2-0 united with a Berbatov brace."

Ignore 1215. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says Edwin van der Sar doesn't have flu after all: "We were always going to give Edwin a break during the holiday period and Tomasz Kuszczak has obviously played for the club before, so that's why the change was made."

1242: The players are out on the pitch at The Hawthorns.

1237: Here's more on the Roy Hodgson situation. Fair to say the Liverpool manager is feeling the heat at the moment, after a pretty miserable start to his time at Anfield. Most Reds fans think it is time to wave goodbye to Roy, but the man they seem to want to replace him, Kenny Dalglish, thinks it is time to pull together: "Let's just press the pause button and throw all our efforts and energies into one basket," he told the Liverpool Echo. "Everyone - whether players, supporters, staff or whatever - has to throw everything towards the one aim and that is to get us three badly needed points from the game against Bolton today."

1235: Re 1212. A few of you think Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney needs a change of luck in 2011 too. A goal in open play would be a start...

craighopper on Twitter: "As a Utd fan I'm not feeling comfortable with Neville at RB. Also hoping it's 4-4-2 rather than Rooney being stuck on the wing!"

West Brom v Man Utd team news
Saj Chowdhury reports: West Brom
make four changes. Steven Reid replaces Gonzalo Jara at right-back, while Pablo Ibanez comes in for the suspended Gabriel Tamas who will partner the fit-again Paul Scharner in central defence. Marek Cech moves to left-back and Chris Brunt returns from suspension. United bring in Tomasz Kuszczak to replace keeper Edwin van der Sar. Gary Neville, Darren Fletcher and Gabriel Obertan also come into the side.

1229: Some of you have probably noticed that the transfer window swung open just over 12 hours ago. I wish someone would shut it, because it's blooming chilly outside (it may be a new year but I've got the same old jokes, sorry). Anyway, nobody seems to have signed anyone yet, which is just lazy as far as I'm concerned. Only 31 days until it closes, so time is already running out.

AdZY16 on Twitter: "Just about managed to drag myself out of bed for this! Hope the new year sees a change in fortune for Man Utd on the road!!"

West Brom v Man Utd line-ups
West Brom: Carson, Reid, Scharner, Pablo, Cech, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Brunt, Morrison, Thomas, Odemwingie. Subs: Myhill, Tchoyi, Miller, Shorey, Zuiverloon, Fortune, Cox.
Man Utd: Kuszczak, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Obertan, Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson, Berbatov, Rooney. Subs: Amos, Owen, Hernandez, Fabio Da Silva, Evans, Gibson, Bebe.
Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)

Saj Chowdhury reports:
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping for a double celebration, having turned 69 on New Year's Eve. Leaders United have won on their last six league visits to the ground, while the Baggies have lost their last three league games over Christmas. It points towards a United win.

1220: So, West Brom versus Manchester United is the first top-flight game of 2011, kicking off at 1245 GMT. Then we've got six Premier League games at 1500 GMT, before Birmingham host Arsenal at 1730. Oh, and there is also a full programme in the Football League. That little lot should guarantee we start the year with a, cough, bang...

From Meerschaum_221B on 606: "Re 1201. My head's killing me. Watching West Brom regain their early season form against Fergie's men would be a lovely distraction."

Man Utd keeper Edwin van der Sar has flu, so he misses his side's trip to The Hawthorns. Tomasz Kuszczak deputises.

1212: Yep, those four men will probably be glad to see the back of 2010, although let's not forget Hodgson was voted manager of the year back in May. That must seem an awful long time ago for Roy now, though, huh?

1204: A new year means a new start, right? Yes, if you are David Beckham, it seems. No, if you are a Premier League manager, I'm afraid. Roy Hodgson, Avram Grant, Gerard Houllier, Mark Hughes - I'm talking to you.

Champagne moment
1201 GMT: Er, welcome to 2011. I hope your head doesn't hurt too much.

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Barclays Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 1 Jan 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 19 23 41
2 Man City 21 17 41
3 Arsenal 20 20 39
4 Tottenham 20 7 36
5 Chelsea 19 18 34
6 Sunderland 21 2 30
7 Bolton 21 5 29
8 Stoke 20 1 27
9 Liverpool 19 -1 25
10 Blackpool 18 -4 25
11 Blackburn 21 -8 25
12 Newcastle 19 -3 22
13 Everton 20 -3 22
14 West Brom 20 -10 22
15 West Ham 21 -11 20
16 Aston Villa 19 -14 20
17 Wigan 19 -14 20
18 Fulham 20 -5 19
19 Birmingham 19 -6 19
20 Wolves 20 -14 18

see also
Premier League photos
01 Jan 11 |  Football

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