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Page last updated at 19:47 GMT, Saturday, 15 January 2011

Saturday football as it happened

GOALFLASHES AND MAJOR INCIDENTS (all times GMT)

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By Jonathan Stevenson

1945: I hope Avram Grant doesn't come out and talk to the press, I think he deserves the dignity of being able to walk away without having to explain that defeat. So, that's us done for today - watch this space for the latest developments in the ridiculous West Ham manager saga. Match of the Day is on BBC One and online at 2230 GMT and The Football League Show follows at 2350 GMT. I'd be surprised if I didn't see you on Sunday, for demolition derby day and a bit of Spurs-Man Utd too. Have a belting evening.

West Ham 0-3 Arsenal
Kevin Darling reports: "Upton Park has rarely been more subdued for such a big game in what almost resembled a funeral procession for Avram Grant. West Ham's owners can't feel proud about that but take nothing away from the Gunners - they were electric and Robin van Persie looks back to his brilliant best."

From dominic on 606: "Good manager or bad manager let's put it aside for a moment. Grant is a class act and the Hammers should be proud to have had the man at their helm."

1936: Arsenal are third in the Premier League, two points behind Man City with a game in hand. They play Leeds at Elland Road in an FA Cup third round replay on Wednesday, followed by Wigan at home in the league next Saturday. West Ham, presumably with a new manager, meet Everton at Goodison Park a week today.

Arsenal's Theo Walcott: "We're not really thinking about anyone else, we're just thinking about ourselves. We're happy to be where we are, but we'll keep plugging away in the background and keep enjoying our football."

Arsenal's Robin van Persie: "It was a very good win because we know how difficult a place this is to come. At half-time we told each other we did not want what happened last year to happen again. I think West Ham are lower than their qualities suggest."

From Northern_Si on Twitter: "An absolutely heroic effort from Wayne Bridge today to try and deflect some of the attention away from Avram Grant."

From Chris in Reading, on text: "If Wayne Bridge IS Avram Grant's singing, do you think Martin O'Neill has enough time to sell him before the transfer window closes? Shocking display!"

1925: Avram Grant claps the West Ham fans, takes off his claret-and-blue scarf and throws it into the supporters. And with that, he was gone.

1924: Avram Grant stands on the touchline, shaking hands with his players as they leave the pitch and looking utterly disconsolate. Football is a cruel game at times, but this must feel like a personal nightmare for the Israeli.

Full time
1923: Full-time West Ham 0-3 Arsenal
A perhaps predictable finale for Avram Grant given what he's had to go through since becoming West Ham manager, but take nothing away from Arsenal - that was a very, very impressive return to form for Arsene Wenger's side.

1920: Into injury time as Upton Park. The fat lady's got about three pointless minutes to clear her throat and then we're done.

1918: Magnificent save. Jack Wilshere has acres of time and space on the edge of the box and hits a low sizzler that Rob Green does superbly well to get down to and tip behind with his left hand.

1917: Avram Grant makes his last change as West Ham boss, with Wayne Bridge off and Frank Nouble on.

1916: Samir Nasri jinks his way through a couple of half-hearted tackles and gets into the West Ham box, but his shot is deflected behind by Matthew Upson. Nasri and Theo Walcott are taken off, with Kieran Gibbs and Andrey Arshavin on in their places.

1914: Despite our live scores suggesting this game is already full-time, it isn't, we've got about five more minutes of normal time. I mean, it's effectively over, just not officially.

From arturpetrosyan on Twitter: "Hat-trick on his debut for Wayne Bridge. He's at fault for all three goals conceded by West Ham tonight."

1910: Carlton Cole is flagged offside and Arsenal make a change, with Cesc Fabregas making way for the Brazilian midfielder Denilson.

1908: Karren Brady, up in the directors' box, is on her phone. Please, Karren, please as least fire Avram Grant face-to-face! I'm joking, by the way. It's the British thing to do.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Arsenal goal: Wayne Bridge has had a debut all sorts of people will want to forget today. Arsenal attack with pace and Cesc Fabregas finds Theo Walcott - the winger is running away from goal but Bridge haplessly brings him down just inside the penalty area, and it's a stonewall spot-kick. Robin van Persie steps up and crashes home the penalty.

1906: GOAL West Ham 0-3 Arsenal (Van Persie)

1905: PENALTY TO ARSENAL

1904: The television cameras pan to about four different West Ham fans at Upton Park who have one thing in common - they are asleep.

1903: Arsenal are toying with West Ham and it's a shame, because there doesn't seem to be any fight left in the Hammers players. Can you blame them after the events of the past few hours, or should footballers be able to perform whatever the circumstances?

From TeleKemis on 606: "All this moaning about Avram Grant, whilst my club just lost, in Eddie Howe, one of the greatest manager's in our history, two days after he said he was staying. The latest in a long line of things that happen to clubs that are fortunate enough to be in a much more realistic league."

1858: Samir Nasri collects a Robin van Persie pass down the right and fizzes over a fine cross for Theo Walcott, but the England winger cannot quite direct it on target. West Ham are the story today, but Arsenal have played some cracking stuff and their title challenge, as with Man City, is very much alive.

1856: Avram Grant has one more sub to make, but it won't matter - West Ham are not getting anything out of this game. The Israeli's spell at Upton Park will end with the Hammers bottom of the table and with a defeat.

From SputnikHilton on Twitter: "I would be happier seeing Carlton Cole sacked. If profligacy was a crime he'd be doing a life sentence."

1853: West Ham take young Freddie Sears off and send on Mexican Pablo Barrera. More than an hour gone and it remains West Ham 0-2 Arsenal.

1851: West Ham almost get lucky - not something anyone's said much during Avram Grant's reign. Jonathan Spector feeds Freddie Sears down the right and his attempted cross miscues off the outside of his right foot and is looping in, forcing Wojciech Szczesny to tip behind for a corner.

1849: ... Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Robin van Persie's effort slams into Matthew Upson in the West Ham wall and flies behind for a corner. I just want to see a good free-kick goal. Is that too much to ask?

1848: It's Robin van Persie time. Free-kick for a Luis Boa Morte foul on Jack Wilshere, about 23 yards out, slightly right of centre, it's got the Dutchman's hammer left foot written all over it...

From Ben, Durham, on text: "The wife knows exactly how Avram feels, I gave her until the end of the day to sort herself out or else I bring in a younger, yet more experienced replacement."

1844: Pam, pam, pam, pam, pam... West Ham are struggling to get within five yards of the ball at times, and one marvellous move ends with a Theo Walcott shot that Rob Green saves low down.

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy on their 4-3 defeat at Man City: "I know everyone wants me to criticise defenders. But he runs at you, he gets in the box, he has quick feet. At some stage you have to say it was a great goal. I thought we played really well. But we lost because they have that little Argentine with great feet who has waltzed through our back four."

1841: ... Wayne Bridge takes the free-kick and it's not too far away - it takes a touch off Robin van Persie and flies behind for a corner, which comes to nothing.

1840: Now, this is a chance for West Ham. Laurent Koscielny goes through the back of Jonathan Spector and the Hammers have a free-kick, centrally, about 25 yards out...

1839: Arsenal are playing it coolly and calmly, just knocking the ball around like a training game. Gael Clichy overhits one cross, before Robin van Persie hammers a right-foot shot from 30 yards that flies marginally over Rob Green's bar. Men against boys.

Blackpool boss Ian Holloway on their 3-2 defeat at West Brom: "West Brom scored three goals, we scored two. They won three points we got nil. It was two good teams having a go at each other and it could have been 6-5. Unfortunately we came out on the wrong end of it. Unfortunately we didn't capitalise on great start we made and well done to them for climbing back into the game. It changed on what looked a blatant penalty [when DJ Campbell went down in the box] when we were leading 1-0. I think it was a blatant penalty. I haven't had hindsight of seeing it again, but I'm saying it as I saw it."

1836: Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere create some space to get the ball to Robin van Persie inside the West Ham box on the right and at a very tight angle he thumps in a shot that Rob Green parries behind. I fear this is only about how many Arsenal will score.

1835: West Ham need a miracle. Avram Grant has just given his last teamtalk as Hammers boss, and Carlton Cole and Luis Boa Morte get us under way in the second half.

1833: I'll remind you later of course, but please don't forget to tune in to Match of the Day on BBC One and online at 2230 GMT, with The Football League Show following on at 2350 GMT. I might be in bed by then, but I've already seen every goal today about 37 times, know what I mean?

From jon8oy86 on Twitter: "Wayne Bridge is trending... not for the right reasons I'm afraid. Horribly over-rated."

Wigan 1-1 Fulham
Nabil Hassan: "A poor first-half and decent second. Wigan climb out of the bottom three despite Fulham's late goal and a draw is a fair result."

West Brom 3-2 Blackpool
Peter Scrivener: "Don't miss this one on Match of the Day tonight. A tremendous game of open, attacking football, punctuated by some wonderful goals and a deserved win for Albion, who on another day could have scored seven or eight. The Baggies were almost made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal when Gary Taylor-Fletcher scored an equaliser for Blackpool late on. But Peter Odemwingie underlined his importance to the side, volleying the winner even later. A belter."

Stoke 2-0 Bolton
Phil Dawkes reports: "Stoke were simply better than Bolton, and fully deserve a victory that takes them into eighth place and level on 30 points with today's opponents. The Trotters' point-less away streak stretches to five matches."

Man City 4-3 Wolves
Saj Chowdhury reports: "Easily one of the matches of the season. City behind, Tevez leads fightback then Wolves stage late show. Brilliant."

Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn Rovers
Sam Sheringham reports from Stamford Bridge: "Palpable relief at Stamford Bridge after a hard-earned victory - is Chelsea's title challenge alive again?"

1824: Now, back to our A-team from earlier (see 1335). Here's a wrap up of the 1500 GMT kick-offs...

From TheSportsDirector on 606: "What a shambles Gold and Sullivan have become. Great chairmen at Birmingham turned into financial fools at West Ham. I think if anyone should be sacked, it's them. But obviously they can't so Grant will do."

Half time
West Ham 0-2 Arsenal
Kevin Darling reports: "If this proves to be Avram Grant's last match as West Ham manager, he's going out with a whimper against a red-hot Gunners side that look as if they could score at will."

1817: Arsenal go for the kill and Alex Song plays in Johan Djourou, who is denied a goal for the Gunners by brave, excellent keeping from Rob Green, who is off his line quick as a flash. He needs some treatment, but he'll be OK to continue.

1815: "You're getting sacked in the morning" becomes "You're getting sacked in an hour" from the Arsenal fans at Upton Park. Whether you agree or disagree with the decision to get rid of Avram Grant, the West Ham owners have presided over a very poor sequence of events.

1814: What a chance that is for Carlton Cole. Freddie Sears gets a bit of time to whip over a perfect cross from the Hammers right and the striker gets there first, but Cole's contact is poor and his header flicks off Johan Djourou and flies behind for a corner, which comes to nothing.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Arsenal goal: That could be the nail in the coffin, for this game anyway. Wayne Bridge has had a shocker so far and he plays Robin van Persie onside down the Gunners left - Van Persie's cross gets Bridge into a muddle and Theo Walcott takes advantage of his hesitancy to nip in and thunder a left-foot shot into the roof of the net. Lethal finishing.

1812: GOAL West Ham 0-2 Arsenal (Walcott)

1810: Arsenal look like they could score every time they go forward, but they are only winning 1-0. Samir Nasri plays a quickfire one-two with Cesc Fabregas and takes the return, slotting just over Rob Green's bar from an angle on the left. If the Hammers can get to half-time 1-0 down, they've got a chance.

1807: Arsenal are dominating and West Ham are relying on the ball over the top to catch them out and hit them on the break. It worked well for Ipswich on Tuesday, but they just cannot get hold of the ball enough to make it work, Avram Grant's side.

From Sam, York, on text: "As a Newcastle fan I have the upmost sympathy for West Ham fans at the moment. Two clubs with owners that really have no idea."

Someone has struck the woodwork
1803: Arsenal are carving West Ham open at times - but this is about how good they are, rather than the Hammers' deficiencies. Samir Nasri's stunning ball finds Robin van Persie, and the Dutchman's ferocious first-time left-foot rocket shot cannons back off the base of Rob Green's left-hand post.

1802: Sir Trevor Brooking looks on at the Boleyn Ground, presumably as bemused as any of us about the goings on at West Ham. Arsenal, and Cesc Fabregas in particular, are running this game at the moment.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis on their 2-0 win over Bolton: "I thought there was some tremendous amounts of ability and skill shown today. You can't always expect anything but the players best, especially in windy conditions like that. It's always a difficult game against Bolton. But I'm very pleased for the team, they've shown great character today."

1758: Avram Grant is prowling around his technical area, giving his players the occasional clap to try and get them going. Arsenal break with pace again and after Robin van Persie brilliantly cushions Cesc Fabregas's pass into Alex Song's path, the midfielder's shot is deflected into the arms of Rob Green.

From Rio Ferdinand on Twitter: "West Ham with a bit of belief could get back in this game... bully up some people Carlton!"

1754: West Ham's best moment. Johan Djourou, who looked shaky against Ipswich on Tuesday, leaves a backpass short and Carlton Cole is in - Wojciech Szczesny makes himself big and it's a super save to deny the striker, with Zavon Hines crashing the rebound just past the angle of post and bar with his left foot from an angle.

From Richie, on text: "As a West Ham fan I'm shocked, saddened and disgusted at the treatment of Avram Grant. There is a lot more wrong with the club than what we are seeing on the pitch."

1751: Mark Noble is struggling with injury and he goes off, replaced by Luis Boa Morte. Jeez, that Avram Grant gets all the luck, doesn't he?

1750: Should be 0-2. Alex Song breaks up a West Ham attack and gives it to Cesc Fabregas and his first-time pass over the top is perfectly into Theo Walcott's path - James Tomkins gets in a superb tackle, but the balls falls kindly for Walcott again, only for him to panic and rush his shot at Rob Green.

1749: Meanwhile, Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean confirmed they are close to signing Schalke's United States international midfielder Jermaine Jones. "Hopefully we can push that through," Kean told BBC Sport after the 2-0 defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti: "The physical condition is good and the players are getting more confidence in their play. It is getting better. We could have scored in the first 10 minutes; the middle of the first half was not so good but we came back in the game and maintained good confidence to win."

Yellow card
1746: I'm officially worried about West Ham today, they could be in serious trouble based on what we've seen so far. Julien Faubert is booked for a horrible tackle on Cesc Fabregas, the Spaniard requiring some treatment.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Arsenal goal: The already muted atmosphere just got even worse. Arsenal work the ball to Theo Walcott down the right, Wayne Bridge stands off him and allows him to cross and after Samir Nasri steps over it, Robin van Persie smashes it into the corner of Rob Green's net from 15 yards. Clinical.

1744: GOAL West Ham 0-1 Arsenal (Van Persie)

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini on the 4-3 win over Wolves: "Carlos Tevez's two goals were excellent - he was fantastic. Edin Dzeko needs to get to know his team-mates, he needs more time. We were at the top of the table for three hours at Christmas and now we will be top of the table for a day."

1742: West Ham are spending most of their time trying to stop Arsenal playing, which they are doing very well at the moment. What a strange game this must be to be at if you're a Hammers fan.

From TheClapperBored on Twitter: "Speaking as a Hammers fan, Grant has my sympathy as a human being but not as a manager. We're last and need some change."

1738: Samir Nasri lets fly with a free-kick from about 35 yards and it takes a little deflection off James Tomkins before sailing into the arms of Robert Green. Arsenal the livelier side so far.

1736: Decent start from Arsenal and the word from Upton Park is that it is very subdued in the stadium. A last-ditch foot in from Julien Faubert prevents Cesc Fabregas from getting in a shot after Robin Van Persie headed on a cross in the Hammers box.

Football League Macca: "Late goals - fans love 'em, journalists hate 'em. Just to catch up, Norwich clawed a point against Cardiff (so Swansea stay second), Forest (you may have heard) turned things around to beat Pompey 2-1 and preserve their unbeaten home run (don't mention the play-offs), Preston scraped a draw with Leicester, Ipswich slipped up 2-1 at Millwall and there were fine wins for Leeds, Boro, Reading and Watford. QPR are still winless this year. The teams top and bottom of L1 (Brighton and Daggers) and L2 (Chesterfield and Hereford) all won."

West Brom manager Roberto di Matteo on beating Blackpool 3-2: "It was an exciting game for the supporters and neutrals. There were so many chances at both end and we are just pleased we got the win. Every win is a big win and because we have not won for a few weeks, it is even better. It was a rollercoaster of emotions on the bench - there were two teams playing fantastic football and credit to Blackpool who never gave up."

1732: There will be plenty of camera shots of the three people at West Ham who appear to be in the process of changing their club's manager - David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady. Tell me, is anyone backing how they are running one of England's great old clubs at the moment?

1731: Avram Grant walks out at West Ham deep in conversation with Arsene Wenger and they firmly shake hands before the Gunners get us under way in east London.

From Robsoninho on 606: "Avram Grant's treatment has been appalling, no matter how badly a manager has done, he at least has the right to know whether he's being backed or sacked. To ask a manager to lead a team out in this situation is incredibly harsh on the owner's part."

1727: "I'm forever blowing bubbles" blares out from the stands at Upton Park as Matthew Upson and Cesc Fabregas lead out West Ham and Arsenal. Very close to kick-off in our final Premier League game of the day.

1725: Photographers are out in force at Upton Park, all wanting that crucial shot of West Ham manager Avram Grant. Just to clarify, we are not expecting an announcement from the Hammers today, but we are expecting this to be the Israeli's last match in charge. Which is harsh, if you want my opinion. I know I want yours. Text to 81111, tweet @Stevo_football and join in the fun on 606.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "We are up for the game and our main priority this season is to win the Premier League. I think Theo Walcott has made a big improvement this season, he's much more consistent."

Bolton boss Owen Coyle: "The conditions weren't ideal but it was the same for both teams. Stoke adapted better to them in the first half. It is fair to say there have been better performances this season from Bolton. What we do know is we have a group of players who can earn us points and they'll be striving to do that."

1717: I've been meaning to mention this all day, so it's better late than never. Calling all formation fans - there's a new blog in town. Courtesy of BBC Sport's very own Uefa B licence coach Alistair Magowan, there will now be a weekly blog on tactics - starting this week with a look ahead to the Gareth Bale v Rafael battle when Spurs meet Man Utd on Sunday.

From InfostradaLive on Twitter: "Man City go to top of table, the 14th change in PL leader 2010-11 and the 2nd they have gone top - spending few hours in 1st place on Dec 28."

West Ham v Arsenal team news:
Kevin Darling reports:
"It's a depleted West Ham side that lines up in what is rumoured to be Avram Grant's last match as Hammers boss. The inspirational Scott Parker is missing with an ankle injury, while strikers Frederic Piquionne and Victor Obinna are also out. Wayne Bridge makes his debut at left-back, while Zavon Hines supports Carlton Cole up front. There are no new injury worries for Arsenal, who retain Wojciech Szczesny in goal and Emmanuel Eboue at right-back."

1709: West Ham v Arsenal line-ups:
West Ham:
Green, Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Bridge, Spector, Kovac, Noble, Sears, Cole, Hines.
Subs: Boffin, Reid, Gabbidon, Barrera, Boa Morte, McCarthy, Nouble.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Eboue, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Wilshere, Walcott, Fabregas, Nasri, van Persie.
Subs: Shea, Vela, Denilson, Arshavin, Gibbs, Chamakh, Bendtner.
Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands)

From Andreas, York, on text: "I'm a United fan and I hate to say it but you cannot doubt the prowess of City's attacking options. However, it's got to be said that for all the money they've spent on defenders, they do occasionally look weak at the back. Could it cost them?"

From THFC_Jake on 606: "That West Brom v Blackpool was hands down the best match I've watched this season. I was genuinely upset when it was finished."

West Ham v Arsenal scene-setter:
Kevin Darling reports:
"Rarely has a manager led a team in more awkward circumstances… but despite the fevered Martin O'Neill speculation, Avram Grant is still the man in charge of bottom-of-the-table West Ham for this evening's massive London derby against title-chasing Arsenal. A win would take the Hammers out of the drop zone, but will their players be motivated to fight for a boss tipped to be sacked after the match? Grant is unlikely to get any favours from a Gunners side desperate to bounce back from a wobbly week in the cups."

1700: Plenty of match reaction to come, plus build-up to West Ham v Arsenal, which gets under way at 1730 GMT. I love football. I love it so much.

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Ashton Gate: "Entirely forgettable afternoon for Bristol City. Lost 4-0, heaviest defeat of the season and David James red carded late on. Predictable boos."

1656: It'd be fair to say I just almost fell off my chair as news filtered through of a late, late Nott'm Forest winner at home to Portsmouth. Marcus Tudgay - I love you. There, I said it. Back in my box.

1654: Full-time Stoke 2-0 Bolton

1653: Full-time Wigan 1-1 Fulham

1653: Full-time Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn

1652: Full-time Man City 4-3 Wolves

1651: Full-time West Brom 3-2 Blackpool

1650: Heart in mouth. Geoffrey Mujangi Bia has a shot deflected off target as Wolves continue to pile forward. I don't even support either of these teams and I'm struggling...

1649: My word, Nenad Milijas flashes over a cross from the left and it only just evades about four Wolves players inside the Man City six-yard box. I think this is a bit closer than some people at City were expecting. Me too. Brilliant spirit from Wolves today.

1647: The board goes up at Eastlands... we'll have five minutes of injury time. Can Wolves snatch a late, dramatic equaliser and deny Man City top spot?

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
West Brom goal: Unbelievable, Jeff. Blackpool defender Craig Cathcart makes a meal of a long ball under pressure from Peter Odemwingie and the Nigerian striker volleys in to make it 3-2. Immediately up the other end, DJ Campbell misses a third chance of the afternoon as the ball pings around the West Brom six-yard box. What a game.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Fulham goal: That's an enormous goal right there as Fulham get back on level terms at the DW Stadium. Andrew Johnson equalises for Fulham with his deflected shot beating Ali Al Habsi from 12 yards out.

1644: GOAL Wigan 1-1 Fulham (Johnson)

1644: GOAL West Brom 3-2 Blackpool (Odemwingie)

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Wolves goal: Good grief. Man City have been dominating for the last 10 minutes, but Wolves are now within a second of a leveller, a corner from the left headed goalwards by Ronald Zubar, and though it seemed to be hacked off the line, it has been given.

1642: GOAL Man City 4-3 Wolves (Zubar)

1641: According to BBC Radio 5 live, there will be no announcement about the West Ham manager position before or after the game against Arsenal this evening. Don't even say during.

Football League Macca: "Bury are spoiling Dean Holdsworth's first game as Aldershot boss (it's turning into a mostly disappointing day for the new bosses). 1-1 now. MK Dons have a second against Tranmere and Oldham likewise at Plymouth. Carlisle have gone one better as they go 3-0 against lowly Bristol Rovers and Reading pop in a third at Doncaster. Huddersfield now 3-2 up at Wycombe. Less than 10 minutes to go all round."

1638: Disallowed goal for Fulham at Wigan. Clint Dempsey puts the ball into the net from close range but his effort is ruled out because he handled to control the ball.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Blackpool goal: The team that never give up are level again. It's a cracking one too, with David Vaughan playing a cute pass to Matt Phillips down the right and his ball across the penalty area dispatched into the net ruthlessly by Gary Taylor-Fletcher.

1637: GOAL West Brom 2-2 Blackpool (Taylor-Fletcher)

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Chelsea goal: A lot of that is down to Rovers defender Chris Samba, unfortunately. He plays a backpass blind and Didier Drogba is through, foiled by a brilliant Paul Robinson save. But from Florent Malouda's corner, Branislav Ivanovic heads it goalwards and Nicolas Anelka flicks out a foot to divert it in.

1635: GOAL Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn (Anelka)

From Alex, Manchester, on text: "Dzeko looks like a fantastic player, one assist already, work rate is good and I think Tevez has found a perfect strike partner, they are linking up beautifully, amazing football."

Someone has struck the woodwork
1630: Fulham are still dominating possession, but Wigan look dangerous on the break - and counter they do as Charles N'Zogbia races down the left and crosses, with Hugo Rodallega's goalbound shot expertly deflected on to the post by Fulham keeper David Stockdale.

1629: Nearly 2-0 at Stamford Bridge but John Terry's cute, cushioned header goes narrowly wide after Frank Lampard's mis-kicked strike from the edge of the area. Still Chelsea lead Blackburn 1-0.

Football League Macca: "The deadlock is broken at Hull and Preston. Leicester are winning at basement boys Preston through Yakubu and Matt Fryatt has scored for Hull against Barnsley through a controversial penalty. In L2 Rotherham pull one back at home to Southend."

1627: James Morrison is substituted immediately after missing a simple chance to put West Brom 3-1 up. He was played in by fellow Baggies goalscorer Peter Odemwinge but with just Richard Kingson in the Blackpool goal to beat, he scooped his shot over the bar.

1626: Fulham go close to equalising at Wigan through Clint Dempsey, the American seeing his low prodded effort from close range well saved by Ali Al Habsi.

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Ashton Gate: "More bad Bristol City defending, this time allowing a cross from Tony McMahon to reach Leroy Lita, who heads home from six yards. I think the ex-City striker enjoyed that as he tore his shirt off in celebration, much to the disgust of the home fans."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Someone has won a penalty
Wolves goal: Are they back in it? Hmm. It's a crazy penalty to concede as Joleon Lescott, on for Kolo Toure, bundles into the back of Kevin Doyle, and the striker picks himself up to send Joe Hart the wrong way from the penalty spot.

1624: GOAL Man City 4-2 Wolves (Doyle)

1624: PENALTY TO WOLVES

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Man City goal: Edin who? Nah come on, it's only a joke! Carlos Tevez proves he is the crucial man at Manchester City still, heading in off the underside of the Wolves bar after Pablo Zabaleta's cross into the box.

1622: GOAL Man City 4-1 Wolves (Tevez)

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Someone has won a penalty
Stoke goal: The hosts have doubled their lead and that might be that at the Britannia. Matthew Etherington wins a penalty by speeding past Zat Knight and being brought down by the defender, picking himself up and squeezing the ball into the corner, though Jussi Jaaskelainen got a hand to it and was furious he couldn't keep it out.

1620: GOAL Stoke 2-0 Bolton

1620: PENALTY TO STOKE

1619: Bolton are looking a bit better in the second half at Stoke, but apart from a free-kick from Stuart Holden that Asmir Begovic saved, they haven't created a whole lot. At West Brom, Peter Odemwingie is played through and Richard Kingson saves superbly.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Wigan goal: Talking of big goals... Hugo Rodallega lifts the ball over David Stockdale from 10 yards or so after latching onto Ali Al Habsi's long clearance and the Latics have the lead as they try to move out of the drop zone.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Chelsea goal: Massive relief for the home supporters at Stamford Bridge. A Florent Malouda corner is flicked on by John Terry and with Rovers failing to clear Branislav Ivanovic, from about five yards, just manages to control the ball and fire it low into the Blackburn net. Huge goal for Carlo Ancelotti.

1615: GOAL Wigan 1-0 Fulham (Rodallega)

1615: GOAL Chelsea 1-0 Blackburn (Ivanovic)

Someone has struck the woodwork
1614: Oof, Wolves are perilously close to getting back into it at Eastlands as Matt Jarvis floats over a corner and Ronald Zubar thumps a header against Joe Hart's crossbar.

Football League Macca: "Welcome to management life Chris Powell. His soon-to-be Charlton side led 2-0 at HT but he will now know what a dangerous scoreline it is as Sheff Wed level it up at 2-2. MK Dons ahead against Tranmere and it's Walsall 2-2 Huddersfield."

From The Kid on 606: Irresistible stuff from City. Brilliant goals."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Man City goal: Glorious goal and Manchester City are going top of the Premier League. Yaya Toure starts the move on the edge of his own box, he finds Carlos Tevez, Tevez plays it to Edin Dzeko and the Bosnian's pass is inch-perfect for the marauding Toure, who has continued his run and slots low past Wayne Hennessey. It's a family affair for the Toures today.

1610: GOAL Man City 3-1 Wolves (Yaya Toure)

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
West Brom goal: How costly is that DJ Campbell miss? Very. Jerome Thomas does his man down the left and fizzes a cross into the six-yard box - Richard Kingson can only flick the ball into the path of James Morrison, who pokes intro the Blackpool net from close range.

1608: GOAL West Brom 2-1 Blackpool (Morrison)

1607: Nicolas Anelka flashes a cross-shot agonisingly wide as Chelsea break on Blackburn at the start of the second half.

1607: Oh, DJ Campbell. Charlie Adam plays a super pass in for the Blackpool striker and he is 12 yards out with only the West Brom keeper to beat, only to roll it past the right-hand post.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Man City goal: It's a brilliant goal, and City lead. There doesn't look to be any danger when Carlos Tevez picks the ball up out on the right, well outside the Wolves box, but the Argentine has only one thought in his mind and dribbles through the visitors' defence, beating three players and slotting past Wayne Hennessey. Magnificent.

1605: GOAL Man City 2-1 Wolves (Tevez)

1604: Roque Santa Cruz is on for Nikola Kalinic at the Bridge, where it is Chelsea 0-0 Blackburn and they are under way, as are Wigan 0-0 Fulham.

1603: Started again at Stoke 1-0 Bolton too.

1602: Back under way at Man City 1-1 Wolves and West Brom 1-1 Blackpool.

Football League Macca: "Remarkable end to the half for Derby as they concede three goals in the last nine minutes of the half at Watford. One win in seven, knocked out the Cup by Crawley and slumping in the league. Not great for Rams fans at present."

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Ashton Gate: "Boro lead at Bristol City thanks to an own goal from Kalifa Cisse, who was under no pressure at all but managed to divert a low cross from former City striker Leroy Lita into his own net. The error rather sums up a poor match so far."

1600: There's some chat on Twitter (courtesy of BBC Radio 5 live regular Ian McGarry that Martin O'Neill will not be the new manager of West Ham, but that it'll be Martin Jol instead. Plots are thickening left, right and centre. West Ham v Arsenal still to come at 1730 GMT, forget ye not.

From PotterPete down south, on text: "Just had a bet with my friend here, would the description of the Stoke goal start with 'inspired' or 'scrappy', I lost!"

From ashulpatel on Twitter: "Right I think some fresh faces needed for Chelsea in the 2nd half. Sturridge on for Malouda, and McEachran for Essien."

Football League Macca: "Middlesbrough are in front at Bristol City, while further up the table Watford lead Derby 2-0 after two goals just before the break. Paul Jewell's start at Ipswich is not all going to plan as Millwall equalise. In L2 the leaders Chesterfield are 1-0 up against Stevenage as they chase their 10th league win at home this season."

Half time
Chelsea 0-0 Blackburn Rovers
Sam Sheringham reports from Stamford Bridge: "Nervy times at Stamford Bridge - a hesitant Drogba, and the woodwork keeping Blackburn in the game."

Half time
Stoke 1-0 Bolton
Phil Dawkes: "Stoke lead through Danny Higginbotham's bundled goal - a reward for a dominant, physical home performance from the Potters. If Bolton are to get a foothold in this match, Owen Coyle may need to abandon his passing principles and fight fire with fire."

Half time
Wigan 0-0 Fulham
Nabil Hassan reports: "Both sides had glorious chances to take the lead but neither team deserves to be in front. A poor half, littered with errant passing and inaccurate shooting played on a bad pitch in a near-empty stadium. This is not Premier League football."

Half time
Man City 1-1 Wolves
Saj Chowdhury reports: "Wolves should be ahead after dominating most of the half but City are somehow level. Edin Dzeko? His blocked shot led to the corner which led to the goal."

Half time
West Brom 1-1 Blackpool
Peter Scrivener reports: "A thoroughly entertaining first 45 minutes at The Hawthorns. West Brom dominated large chunks of the first half, after David Vaughan's delightful curler put Blackpool in front after 10 minutes. The home side deservedly levelled through top scorer Peter Odemwingie. Chances galore for both sides and I can't see this staying 1-1 for much longer."

1545: Yep, it's 1-1 at Man City.

1544: Alexsandar Kolarov lets fly from 30 yards at Man City, a decent thing to try in treacherously wet conditions, and he forces a low save from Wayne Hennessey, who manages to get enough on the ball to bundle it behind.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1543: Chelsea won't come closer to a goal without getting on the scoresheet - Didier Drogba whips over an almost undefendable ball from the right and Nicolas Anelka gets across his defender and pokes the ball goalwards, looking on as it comes back off a combination of post and crossbar.

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Ashton Gate: "Maybe I have just picked the wrong day, but here at Ashton Gate it is very easy to see why Bristol City and Middlesbrough are at the wrong end of the table. Poor passing, disjointed play, agitated supporters. So far only Leroy Lita's orange boots are standing out from the gloom."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Man City goal: They don't deserve it on the balance of play, but Man City are level. Edin Dzeko has a shot deflected behind by Ronald Zubar and from the corner, Vincent Kompany flicks it on and at the far post Kolo Toure rifles it through some Wolves bodies to equalise.

1540: GOAL Man City 1-1 Wolves (Kolo Toure)

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
West Brom goal: Leveller. Graham Dorrans' clipped pass from the left finds Peter Odemwingie in acres of space inside the box with Blackpool appealing for offside and the Baggies top scorer coolly slides the ball home for his seventh of the season.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Stoke goal: Advantage hosts - and it's the scrappiest goal of the day award all wrapped up. A Tuncay corner from the left is flicked on inadvertently by Johan Elmander and there at the back post - together with about four Bolton players - is Danny Higginbotham to force the ball over the line.

1537: GOAL West Brom 1-1 Blackpool (Odemwingie)

1537: GOAL Stoke 1-0 Bolton (Higginbotham)

1535: Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez smashes in a vicious effort from 20 yards which brushes the top netting of the Wolves goal. The potential leaders still trail by a goal to nil.

1535: Chance for Blackburn at Chelsea, Martin Olsson cutting in from the left, going past a couple of players and forcing a really good, low save from Petr Cech from the edge of the area. At the other end, Nicolas Anelka fires just wide with his left foot from 22 yards.

1534: Didier Drogba is played onside at Chelsea and he's through on the Blackburn goal, but Gael Givet gets in a fabulous sliding challenge just as the Ivorian is about to pull the trigger.

Football League Macca: "Hereford started the day propping up the Football League but are leading 2-0 at home to Stockport and have nipped in front of Lincoln as it stands. L1 leaders Brighton lead Peterboro 2-0, Huddersfield leading 2-1 now at Walsall. In the Championship, Paul Jewell's Ipswich are in front at Millwall, invincible-at-home Forest trail at home to Pompey courtesy of a Kanu effort, Leeds have a third against Scunny and Reading are 1-0 up at Doncaster."

1532: Glorious chance for Fulham, but they don't take it. Clint Dempsey slips Damien Duff through and he's one-on-one, but, inside the Wigan box, the Irishman can only fire at Ali Al Habsi's legs. Good save, but should have scored.

1531: Better from Man City as Adam Johnson cuts in from the right and fires in a left-foot shot that Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey gets down well to save with his legs and then he catches a cross from the left with Carlos Tevez putting pressure on inside the six-yard box.

1530: Stoke come close to opening the scoring against Bolton. A superb swinging cross from Dean Whitehead on the right finds Kenwyne Jones unmarked 10 yards out but he is unable to get full purchase on his side-foot volley and Jussi Jaaskelainen is able to tip the shot over the bar.

1528: A West Brom ball into the Blackpool box almost produces an own goal as Stephen Crainey's touch forces a good save from Richard Kingson. Moments later, James Morrison chips just over Kingson's bar from 20 yards.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1526: Against the run of play, Wigan nearly take the lead at the DW Stadium as Ronnie Stam crosses from the right and Hugo Rodallega heads against the right-hand post from inside the six-yard box.

1525: Luke Varney cuts in from the Blackpool right and hits a left-foot shot just over the West Brom bar from 18 yards. At Chelsea, Blackburn have taken off the injured David Dunn and sent on 19-year-old Jason Lowe for a Premier League debut, and at Stoke Matty Etherington is struggling with a knock too, though he is trying to play on.

From Ade_sheffoo on Twitter: "Wolves are incredible at the moment. Continuous spirited effort might win this game for them."

1522: It's remarkably one-sided at Man City - in Wolves's favour. Honestly, I can't believe what I'm seeing. When City do get the ball, Edin Dzeko has done pretty well so far, but it's mostly just the visitors attacking.

Football League Macca: "Leeds go in front as Sanchez Watt lights up Elland Road with the opener against Scunny. Oh and there's a second as Max Gradel pops up to make it 2-0 to Leeds, who have not won in six. Crewe are beating Port Vale, Huddersfield have levelled at Walsall, as have Wycombe at Lincoln."

Sam Sheringham reports from Stamford Bridge: "After that sharp start, Chelsea starting to rush things a bit now, looking every inch a team who have forgotten the art of winning. Carlo Ancelotti already appears anxious as he patrols his technical area."

1519: What a block for Man City. Wolves work it brilliantly from the left and it appears as though Matt Jarvis is certain to score, 12 yards out, only for Aleksandar Kolarov to throw his body in the way and stop Wolves from doubling their lead. Wolves are much the better team at Eastlands.

1517: Chelsea are still bossing it at the Bridge, but they are being a little too intricate around the penalty area if I may be a touch critical. Michael Essien heads a corner wide and they are still 0-0 with Blackburn.

1514: Blackpool are unbeaten when scoring the first goal of the game in the Premier League this season. At Man City, Nenad Milijas gets to another cross from the Wolves right first, heading into the arms of Joe Hart.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Wolves goal: Madness - and the visitors lead. A cross from Matt Jarvis leads to pinball in the City box - Nenad Milijas has a shot from inside the six-yard box brilliantly saved by Joe Hart, but the Serbian reacts well to stab in the rebound.

1512: GOAL Man City 0-1 Wolves (Milijas)

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Blackpool goal: Charlie Adam has had all the plaudits this season, but this guy's doing pretty well too you know. A Blackpool corner is half-cleared to outside the box, where David Vaughan takes a touch, moves it on to his left foot and rifles a screamer of a shot into the top corner past Boaz Myhill. Wonderful.

1511: GOAL West Brom 0-1 Blackpool (Vaughan)

Football League Macca: "Not a bad start for Charlton boss Chris Powell (although officially not taking over until Monday). The Addicks are 2-0 after just six minutes at Sheff Wed. Cardiff are also off to a flyer at Norwich, where they have lost six out of their last seven visits. Jon Parkin the scorer."

1510: Stoke have started better at the Britannia. And Tuncay in particular has begun brightly. He skips away from Zat Knight down the right and into a shooting position but miscues his effort wide.

1510: Fulham have started the better of the teams at Wigan and Chris Baird has a 25-yard shot saved by Ali Al Habsi in the Latics goal.

From Rob, at Stamford Bridge, on text: "Carlo goes for our strongest, most experienced 11 in a must win game and gets slated for it. Yes we need youth and investment but today is about three points. Cannot stand these negative armchair pundits braying nonsense from their lounge."

Sam Sheringham reports from Stamford Bridge: "Electric start from Chelsea. Ashley Cole is playing like an out and out left-winger and causing veteran Spanish full-back Michel Salgado all manner of problems."

1507: ... Carlos Tevez disappoints his kids in the crowd by firing the free-kick into the wall. I've said it before this season and I will say it again - the standard of free-kick taking in the Premier League is at an all-time low. They should get people like David Beckham to give master classes.

1505: Lovely stuff from Edin Dzeko. He flicks on a goalkick to Carlos Tevez and collects the return, being fouled about 20 yards out from the Wolves goal. I think Carlos Tevez might fancy this one...

1504: Carlos Tevez already looks a little isolated out on the left for Man City. Edin Dzeko hasn't really had a important early touch to tell you about. At West Brom, Chris Brunt slams a volley wide from about six yards. Entertaining stuff so far.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1502: Very decent start by Chelsea and as Blackburn fail to clear a corner, Ramires capitalises, gets ahead of a defender and crashes a shot against the crossbar from eight yards. Unlucky.

1501: Those Blackpool boys... DJ Campbell takes advantage of some hesitant defending inside the West Brom box to turn smartly and flash a shot wide of Boaz Myhill's right-hand post. Desperately close.

1500: Three o'clock on Saturday: the most magical time of the footballing week. Under way first in the Premier League at West Brom, then Wigan, Manchester City, Stoke City and finally Chelsea.

From Renzo_23 on 606: "Dzeko will make a decent impact but I feel he won't be given chance. And at 27mil City will expect magic within weeks. And Dzeko isn't that kind of player. He will need time to settle and make that position his. And that's when you'll see best out of him."

1456: Carlos Tevez is cuddling his two children in the tunnel at Eastlands - looks like they'll be walking out on the pitch with the Argentine Man City skipper today. Edin Dzeko has some banter with Wolves' Serbian midfielder Nenad Milijas, and they're ready to go.

From doswillrule on Twitter: "The abuse that O'Neill is getting is ridiculous. If you're job hunting and a PL club phones, you'd want to stake a claim."

It's raining
1451: I hope Edin Dzeko isn't a fan of nice weather... it's absolutely battering it down with the wet stuff in Manchester, as the Bosnian prepares to make his City debut at home against Wolves. Slick, on-the-floor passing alert.

1449: One deal already done today is a cracking one for Aston Villa - they have completed the £6m signing of Lyon midfielder Jean Makoun, though the Cameroon international will not be able to play immediately as he attempts to get a work permit.

1447: Anytime in January is always a good time to look in our daily gossip column with a round-up of newspaper and website transfer stories, I'd have thought. Today, we've got Inter wanting Gareth Barry, Man United eyeing up Fabio Coentrao, Spurs to win Steven Pienaar chase, Real Madrid targeting Emmanuel Adebayor/Ruud van Nistelrooy, Barca eyeing Cesc Fabregas, Blackburn getting Jermaine Jones and Celtic/Rangers chasing Kris Commons, among plenty of others. Feast away.

From William, London, on text: "Carlo has totally bottled it. Where is the youth in our team?? We need to go for broke and he is sticking with the same old players that got us into this mess."

Football League Macca: "Swansea comprehensively beat Palace 3-0 to go second, although Norwich and Cardiff behind them have played two games less. Palace stay 22nd and in real, real trouble. Work to be done for Dougie Freedman and his men."

1441: Deep breath, not much build-up time left now.

Wigan v Fulham team news:
Nabil Hassan reports:
"Keeper Chris Kirkland failed a late fitness test for Wigan so his place in goal is taken by Ali Al Habsi. Charles N'Zogbia returns from a three-match ban but midfielder Tom Cleverly is out with a hamstring injury. Franco Di Santo is among the Wigan substitutes. Fulham are also without their number one keeper with Australian Mark Schwarzer away on international duty so David Stockdale starts in goal. The Cottagers hoped to have had forward Andy Johnson back from a hamstring injury and Moussa Dembele from an ankle complaint but the pair are only fit enough for the bench. They are joined by new loan signing Steve Sidwell who signed from Aston Villa on loan this month."

West Brom v Blackpool team news:
Peter Scrivener reports:
"As expected, goalkeeper Boaz Myhill makes his Premier League debut for West Brom, with Scott Carson dropping to the bench - Chris Brunt takes the captain's armband in his place. Gabriel Tamas returns from a three-match suspension to the heart of the Baggies' defence. Blackpool boss Ian Holloway feels no need to change a winning side and goes with the same team that beat Liverpool on Wednesday."

Stoke v Bolton team news:
Phil Dawkes reports:
"Having made a number of changes for the FA Cup draw with Cardiff last weekend, Stoke return to their more favoured first XI. The only change from their previous league game - the 2-1 away defeat at Man Utd - sees Danny Higginbotham come into defence in place of Danny Collins. Bolton also revert to a stronger line-up following their FA Cup win over York. They also make just one change from their previous league encounter, where they drew 1-1 at home with Wigan, with Stuart Holden returning to midfield in place of Rodrigo Moreno. They are also able to name two more substitutes than the four selected for that match."

Man City v Wolves team news:
Saj Chowdhury reports: "Man City's £27m signing Edin Dzeko starts up front, with Carlos Tevez likely to play off the big striker. Spanish midfielder David Silva begins from the bench having overcome a knee problem. Wolves defender Stephen Ward returns to the left-back slot while David Jones comes into the centre of midfield. Sam Vokes starts on the bench having recovered from a hamstring injury."

Chelsea v Blackburn team news:
Sam Sheringham reports from Stamford Bridge: "Looks like Carlo Ancelotti was calling our bluff with hints that he would keep faith with the youngsters who thrashed Ipswich. Didier Drogba and Michael Essien both start for Chelsea, with Nicolas Anelka recalled in place of Salomon Kalou. Blackburn welcome back goalkeeper Paul Robinson after a calf injury and striker Nikola Kalinic following a three-match suspension. Benjani, who scored twice in the 3-1 win over Liverpool, drops to the bench, alongside loan signing Roque Santa Cruz."

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Ashton Gate: "Bristol City and Middlesbrough going through their pre-match warm-up routines at Ashton Gate - an atmospheric old stadium, rickety wooden seats and all. I'm not sure pulling away from relegation was the aim for these two before the season kicked off but mid-table security must seem like a very warm and welcoming place right now."

1433: Wigan v Fulham line-ups:
Wigan:
Al Habsi, Stam, Gary Caldwell, Alcaraz, Gohouri, Watson, N'Zogbia, Thomas, Diame, Figueroa, Rodallega.
Subs: Pollitt, Di Santo, Steven Caldwell, Gomez, McArthur, Boyce, McManaman.
Fulham: Stockdale, Pantsil, Hangeland, Baird, Hughes, Davies, Etuhu, Murphy, Duff, Dempsey, Kamara.
Subs: Etheridge, Salcido, Sidwell, Andrew Johnson, Gera, Greening, Dembele.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)

From AndyBulman on Twitter: "Managers can't complain about getting sacked when they are prepared to discuss taking over each other's jobs MO'N [Martin O'Neill]."

1429: Breaking news: BBC Radio 5 live is reporting that Senegalese striker Demba Ba has failed his medical at Stoke.

1427: Stoke v Bolton line-ups:
Stoke:
Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Higginbotham, Delap, Whitehead, Wilson, Etherington, Jones, Sanli.
Subs: Sorensen, Collins, Whelan, Pugh, Pennant, Walters, Faye.
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Ricketts, Cahill, Knight, Robinson, Mark Davies, Muamba, Holden, Taylor, Kevin Davies, Elmander.
Subs: Bogdan, Petrov, Moreno, Blake, Cohen, Alonso.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

1426: Manchester City v Wolves line-ups:
Man City:
Hart, Zabaleta, Toure, Kompany, Kolarov, De Jong, Barry, Adam Johnson, Toure Yaya, Tevez, Dzeko.
Subs: Given, Milner, Boateng, Lescott, Silva, Vieira, Jo.
Wolverhampton: Hennessey, Zubar, Stearman, Berra, Ward, Hunt, Milijas, David Jones, Jarvis, Doyle, Fletcher.
Subs: Hahnemann, Henry, Vokes, Mouyokolo, Mujangi Bia, Davis, Doherty.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

1425: West Brom v Blackpool line-ups:
West Brom:
Myhill, Jara, Tamas, Scharner, Cech, Mulumbu, Morrison, Brunt, Dorrans, Thomas, Odemwingie.
Subs: Carson, Tchoyi, Pablo, Bednar, Shorey, Zuiverloon, Cox.
Blackpool: Kingson, Eardley, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey, Vaughan, Adam, Grandin, Taylor-Fletcher, Campbell, Varney.
Subs: Rachubka, Southern, Ormerod, Baptiste, Euell, Sylvestre, Phillips.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)

Football League Macca: "League Two leaders Chesterfield are at home to Stevenage, recently seen slaying the giants of Newcastle in the FA Cup. Crewe, in fifth, host fourth-placed Port Vale in a local derby with plenty at stake."

Football League Macca: "In League One, leaders Brighton face a tricky one at home to Peterborough, who have not lost in the league since November. Charlton face Sheff Wed under new manager Chris Powell, who played in this fixture when it was a Premier League affair back in 1999."

Football League Macca: "With Swansea moving into second place in the Championship, all eyes (or a lot of eyes) will be on Carrow Road today where Norwich host Cardiff. Leaders QPR go to Burnley, who will be keen to impress incoming and watching boss Eddie Howe. The battle to get into the play-offs is warming nicely with 10 teams within six points of sixth-placed Watford."

1421: Before the rest of the teams come in, here's some Football League chat...

1420: Chelsea v Blackburn line-ups:
Chelsea:
Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Essien, Ramires, Lampard, Anelka, Drogba, Malouda.
Subs: Turnbull, Mikel, Ferreira, Kalou, Sturridge, Bruma, McEachran.
Blackburn: Robinson, Salgado, Nelsen, Samba, Givet, Dunn, Olsson, Pedersen, Hoilett, Kalinic, Mame Diouf.
Subs: El-Hadji Diouf, Bunn, Santa Cruz, Mwaruwari, Roberts, Hanley, Lowe.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)

From The Legend Of Zola on 606: "Ancelotti has copped out a bit. Apart from the fact that Sturridge and Josh have been in brilliant form, Essien and Drogba have come back from illness and injury and clearly need a breather. Shame."

From Dave in Sutton, on text: "I'm surprised that O'Neill has spoken to West Ham about taking over. I thought he was more honourable, and there's no chance of him keeping them up."

From Leo in London, on text: "It almost feels like destiny that West Ham will win tonight. How can they can not after all this media attention?"

1410: Didier Drogba and Michael Essien both start today for Chelsea, contrary to some chat that was flying around earlier. Blackburn have Roque Santa Cruz on the bench.

Football League Macca: "Swansea have scored a third and it's another penalty clinically despatched by Scott Sinclair after Steffen Iversen handballed in the area. Not a great start for new Eagles boss Dougie Freedman."

From gowerhuggett on Twitter: "Dzeko and Tevez: potentially an awesome combination. I don't envy the Wolves defenders."

Football League Macca: "Ten minutes gone after the break at Swansea and the hosts are 2-0 up against Palace. Eagles old boy Scott Sinclair scores from the spot after Nathan Dyer slaloms his way through the visitors' defence and is upended by David Wright."

1402: Line-ups from the three o'clock kick-offs on the way shortly, along with team news. Don't forget, the circus that West Ham v Arsenal is turning into doesn't get under way until 1730 GMT.

From Ben, London, on text: "Jonathan, I must defend Cesc as you seem to have joined the masses. He was asked 'did Ipswich play long ball tactics or rugby football?' To which he replied 'I don't know if they played long ball or rugby style but they did what they had to'. Got to love the English media!"
And we love you too.

1354: That early Man City team news is courtesy of coach David Platt, speaking to BBC Radio 5 live. He says Carlos Tevez will have to filter out to the left-hand side as a result of Edin Dzeko's arrival in the team. Upon being asked whether City would sign anyone else in January, Platt replied: "You're asking the wrong person. If we ended the month with the squad we've got now, we'd be very happy."

1352: By the way, that last 606 message was courtesy of artillery_john-TW14. It wasn't the quickest back-tracking in history.

From artillery_john-TW14 on 606: "Of course Avram Grant is a good manager! He took over from Mourinho in September, so very early in the season, and guided his team to the CL final. He took a rag-tag Pompey to an FA Cup final. And he has had an extremely good Xmas with a relegation side showing signs of an upturn in form, and putting one foot into yet another cup final. The man is an expert at working under pressure and hugely under-rated."

Breaking news: Edin Dzeko starts for Manchester City against Wolves this afternoon. He'll partner Carlos Tevez up front.

From Blaffert on 606: "Grant is a joke and should be sacked. Somehow everyone seems to be running this hype of that coaches get sacked too fast. Grant has had plenty of time and achieved nothing with Portsmouth and now with West Ham. Bottom of the table speaks volumes."

1345: Told you they were crack...

Wigan v Fulham scene-setter:
Nabil Hassan reports: "Wigan occupy one of the unwanted bottom-three places but that could all change if they beat Fulham who have only one point more. Both sides have won four games each and both sides have found it hard to find the back of the net. The pair have drawn the last four at the DW Stadium, so another one may prove to be the likely outcome."

West Brom v Blackpool scene-setter:
Peter Scrivener reports:
"We could be in for a cracker at The Hawthorns. When West Brom lost 2-1 at Blackpool in November they were sixth in the table. Two months later, they are 16th and looking to halt a run of six successive defeats, five of which have been in the league. The Baggies now have the most porous defence in the top flight, having conceded 39 goals. Blackpool meanwhile, continue to delight with their attacking brand of football. They beat Liverpool 2-1 last time out and have kept five clean sheets away from home, more than any other side. They will go seventh if they win today."

Stoke v Bolton scene-setter:
Phil Dawkes reports: "This fixture is almost as old as the cardigan, dating back to the very first football league season in 1888/89. Since then, matches between the two have spanned the top three divisions, encapsulating an overall record that slightly favours today's visitors. However, with Bolton having taken just one point from the last nine and having lost their last four away matches, Stoke will start as narrow favourites today. The Potters have a score to settle as well, having lost to the Trotters courtesy of late goals in the two meetings prior to this."

Man City v Wolves scene-setter:
Saj Chowdhury reports:
"Bankers' bonuses? Manchester City? They laugh at these times of austerity. Today we're likely to see City's new £27m signing Edin Dzeko get a run out against Wolves. Stoke goalkeeper and Bosnia team-mate Asmir Begovic told BBC Sport: "He's good in the air and can finish with both feet." For £27m, I'd also expect him to be able to play in goal then serve the burgers at half-time. Victory would see City go above neighbours United, but they've already been beaten by Wolves this season, who themselves have beaten Liverpool and Chelsea recently. City to win by a nose."

Chelsea v Blackburn scene-setter:
Sam Sheringham reports from Stamford Bridge: "In their programme notes for the visit of Rovers, Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti and captain John Terry both call for last weekend's 7-0 FA Cup thrashing of Ipswich to act as a springboard for a dramatic improvement in the club's league form. Nothing less than a win will do for the Blues as they look to reignite their title defence after a dismal run of one win in their last nine games. All eyes will be on Ancelotti's team-sheet after the Italian hinted he may leave out established stars Didier Drogba and Michael Essien after youngsters Daniel Sturridge and Josh McEachran impressed against Ipswich. Blackburn have lost four of their last five away matches, conceding 17 goals in the process, but Steve Kean's men will be buoyed by victories over Liverpool and QPR in their last two games."

1335: In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The (BBC Sport website match reporting) A-Team...*
* To my knowledge, none of this is true of any of them

Football League Macca: "Half-time at Swansea and the Swans have their necks in front against Palace. It's a very tidy side-foot finish from Darren Pratley after smart work by the lively Scott Sinclair down the left. Swansea 1-0 Crystal Palace."

From shinydh on Twitter: "Yet again, Avram Grant leaves a club, and we still don't really know how good a manager he is, do we?"

From Jack, on text: "One day Arsenal will once again play football at 3pm on a Saturday. I agree not the most egregious of complaints, but a man can dream."

1327: At home to Arsenal, obviously. See how confusing it is?

1326: This West Ham story, it's an absolute minefield. I watched the Hammers beat Birmingham in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday, with reports swirling around Upton Park that on Wednesday, boss Avram Grant was going to get sacked. I wrote a blog on the subject, for which I received some tap. Anyway, Wednesday came and went with Grant still in a job, but this morning it was being widely reported that Martin O'Neill was going to take over from Grant after their game at home to Arsenal this evening. Not so, say The Guardian, who claim a senior West Ham source has rubbished those reports. So, where on Earth does that leave us?

From jon8oy86 on Twitter: "Even tho I'm a Gooner, I find myself almost wishing for a West Ham victory today - they surely couldn't sack Avram then?"

Football League Macca: "Half an hour gone in the early Championship and it remains Swansea 0-0 Crystal Palace. A point will be enough to take the Swans into second before the 1500 GMT kick-offs, while Palace need a win to climb out of the drop zone."

From SAFC - Keep The Red Flag Flying High on 606: "Great set of fixtures that will serve as the first course salad for tomorrow's derby day main course. It's a salad covered in honey mustard dressing and olives, though. Beautiful."

From Anon, on text: "Re: 1305, Sullivan and Gold are disgusting. They are so deluded that they cannot recognise that the problem with the club is them. Surprised they didn't appoint themselves as managers to be honest, such is their insistence on interfering with how the team operates."

1315: I'm Jonathan Stevenson, and I'll be your guide for this weekend's football. Feel free to get in touch with me, using any of these well-trodden paths: I'm on Twitter @Stevo_football (no FA charge for me, yet); I'm on text at 81111; and I've set up a 606 page for you to while the time away.

1311: Lots of lower division games too today. Swansea and Palace have already kicked off in the Championship, and Football League Macca will keep us across all the big goings-on throughout the afternoon.

1305: Oh, and there's the pandemonium currently ensuing at West Ham as well. I think we've got a nice bubbling cauldron of stuff/things to be going at already.

1300: I know what you're thinking: That this weekend, Saturday's football is nothing more than a pre-cursor to Sunday's extravaganza. Right? Wrong. We've got six Premier League games, which include three of the top five - one of whom is belief-stricken, one of whom is railing against teams it loses (fairly and squarely) to and one of whom could - should? - end the day top of the table. I'm right, aren't I?



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Barclays Premier League results

15 Jan 2011 23:59 UK


Barclays Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 15 Jan 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man City 23 18 45
2 Man Utd 20 24 44
3 Arsenal 22 23 43
4 Chelsea 22 19 38
5 Tottenham 21 6 36
6 Sunderland 22 3 33
7 Bolton 23 3 30
8 Stoke 22 2 30
9 Newcastle 21 3 28
10 Blackpool 21 -5 28
11 Blackburn 23 -8 28
12 Everton 21 -2 25
13 Liverpool 21 -4 25
14 West Brom 22 -12 25
15 Fulham 22 -2 23
16 Birmingham 20 -5 22
17 Wigan 22 -15 22
18 Wolves 22 -14 21
19 Aston Villa 21 -15 21
20 West Ham 23 -19 20

see also
West Ham say no announcement due
15 Jan 11 |  West Ham
Saturday's football photos
15 Jan 11 |  Football


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