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By Chris Bevan
1947: And this is where I have to bid you farewell. It's been a long day but a great day. Thanks for your company, and for putting up with my, er, occasional mistake. I blame fatigue, and fat fingers. Don't forget you can see all 23 of today's Premier League goals in Match of the Day on BBC One (and this website in the UK) at 2230 GMT and all the goals from the Championship, League One and League Two on the Football League Show immediately afterwards at 2350 (ditto). Join
for Blackburn v West Brom on Sunday - I'm going for a lie-down.
From lethalwill on 606:
"Villa never looked like scoring again after Bent's opener but the defence was incredible to repel the waves of City attacks."
Villa boss Gerard Houllier after his side's 1-0 victory over Manchester City, courtesy of new signing Darren Bent's winner: "I am pleased for Darren but I thought the whole team were fantastic. All the players worked very hard for each other and their spirit of sacrifice was tremendous. I must congratulate them for that, because we have beaten a great side."
FULL-TIME Aston Villa 1-0 Man City Phil McNulty reports: "The dream start for Darren Bent and Gerard Houllier will feel his new £24m striker has finally injected some impetus into what has been a troubled reign so far. Manchester City, given their attacking resources, simply did not so enough at Villa Park."
1930: So, looking at the top of the Premier League table, it has been a very good day for Manchester United and Arsenal, and a very bad day for Manchester City. Tottenham will be happy enough after snatching a draw, and Chelsea don't play until Monday (at Bolton). City are still third but have played more games than all the teams around them and are three points behind leaders United and a point off the Gunners.
Not anymore they're not. Must be Mancini's turn again soon, surely!?!
From mYmindseYe on 606:
"That's the second winning goal Bent has scored against City this season. He had very little service, but did what he's paid to do."
Yep, Bent also netted for Sunderland in their last-gasp 1-0 win over City back in August. Maybe they will sign him next, just to stop him from scoring against them?
1924: FULL-TIME Aston Villa 1-0 Man City
1923: Joe Hart goes forward for a City free-kick... but it's cleared. No way through the Villa defence tonight.
1922: Villa have a free-kick on the left-hand side of the area but they are just going to keep possession down by the corner flag.
1921: Three minutes of added time to be played. Villa are playing keep-ball.
1919: With two minutes of the 90 to go, Villa make their first change. Stiliyan Petrov is off, Nigel Reo-Coker is on.
1917: Despite Villa doing more defending than anything else in the second half, Marc Albrighton has impressed for Gerard Houllier's men. This time, he runs at the City defence and sends in a low cross that Ashley Young slides wide at the near post.
1917: Another deflection, another near-miss for City. This time Aleksandar Kolarov's shot hit Carlos Cuellar and loops wide. That could have gone anywhere. Edin Dzeko had just headed wide for the visitors too - this is real pressure from Roberto Mancini's men but Villa are hanging on.
1913: So close for City - but Villa survive. Aleksandar Kolarov's corner comes out to Nigel de Jong about 30-yards out and his shot comes off Ciaran Clark, hits the post and spins to safety.
1910: Better by City who, for once, get behind the Villa defence through Adam Johnson. He picks out Carlos Tevez with his pull-back but James Collins puts his body in the way to block the Argentine striker's shot. Just over 10 minutes left for City to find an equaliser.
1907: Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko have not exactly sparkled tonight for City - Tevez just kicked the ball straight out of play as he tried to feed Jerome Boateng down the right. I've not seen much of Darren Bent for Villa recently either but he has already made a significant contribution to this game, hasn't he?
1903: Villa are very well organised at the back and City just don't seem to know how to break them down. They are reduced to shooting from distance, and Aleksandar Kolarov fires wide before Edin Dzeko sees his shot blocked. The resulting corner is cleared to Adam Johnson, who promptly blazes over.
Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Villa Park:
"Manchester City need to go through the gears here. They are simply not posing enough of a threat to Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel, especially given the attacking riches at Roberto Mancini's disposal."
1859: The key thing missing from that stat I was given at 1837 was 'away from home'. Not that City look like coming from behind to win now either. Villa have come out of their shell a bit in the last few minutes and Marc Albrighton should have done a lot better after finding space on the right, instead his first-time cross flew straight out of play.
From Mike in Nottingham, via text: "These have to be the games that will define Manchester City's season."
1856: Better by City keeper Joe Hart this time, and he has to be. he plunges to his right to push Ashley Young's 30-yarder round the post - that was heading for the bottom corner.
1855: Hmmm, Joe Hart is not having the best of times - he's made almost as many mistakes as me today. This time, Jerome Boateng hustles Darren Bent off a ball over the top and rolls it back to his keeper... who promptly kicks it straight to Marc Albrighton. City have enough men back to clear the danger but that was a scare they could have done without.
1851: Jerome Boateng tries his luck with a thunderous strike from the edge of the area but Villa keeper Brad Friedel gets a firm hand to it to keep it out.
1849: Villa haven't done much attacking in this half, but then they are ahead so they don't have to. David Silva remains City's best hope of trying to break down the home side but they are defending in numbers and snuffing out pretty much every attack before it reaches their area.
1846: Here's a change for City. Adam Johnson is on for Gareth Barry. Just over 30 of the 90 minutes to go.
1842: Apologies, it's been a long old day. City have signed a fair few players in recent months but NOT David Villa. It's Mr Silva who is currently trying to unlock the Villa defence (see 1837).
1840: Hmmm, Edin Dzeko looks a tiny bit ponderous as he latches on to David Silva's ball over the top. He checks inside one Villa defender but his shot on the turn lacks power and is easily blocked by James Collins. Dzeko does a bit better from an Aleksandar Kolarov corner soon afterwards, but still sends his header over the bar.
1837: David Silva goes to ground as he tries to get round Richard Dunne on the bye-line - not easy at the best of times, because the Dunney Monster is a big old unit. Replays show he may have given Silva the slightest of shoves to help him on his way but he was outside the box and Howard Webb is unimpressed in any case.
1837: Here's a stat for you. It is 16 years since City came back from being a goal down at half-time to win an away Premier League game. Back on the pitch, Carlos Tevez has just had a shot for the visitors, from a ridiculously tight angle, and managed to skew it away from goal.
1835: Villa get us back under way.
1834: Right, here come the players at Villa Park. That means the second half is, oooh, seconds away. Or maybe a couple of minutes.
FULL-TIME Blackpool 1-2 Sunderland Owen Phillips reports: "Once again, endless entertainment at Bloomfield Road but Blackpool's boundless enthusiasm is undone by Kieran Richardson's brilliant brace for a Darren Bent-less Black Cats side."
FULL-TIME Newcastle 1-1 Tottenham Sam Lyon reports: "Newcastle are left to rue an injury-time leveller once again as Aaron Lennon rescues a point for Tottenham in a match that no-one wanted to end by the final whistle."
FULL-TIME Fulham 2-0 Stoke Stephan Shemilt reports: "Inspired by the artistry of Danny Murphy, Fulham claim a win that puts daylight between them and the bottom three. For all their tireless effort, Stoke simply lacked the guile to unlock the home defence."
FULL-TIME Everton 2-2 West Ham Kevin Darling reports: "It was a cruel end for the Hammers, succumbing at the death after Frederic Piquionne had been sent off for celebrating his goal, but Avram Grant can take plenty of heart from his side's determined display after a crazy week."
FULL-TIME Arsenal 3-0 Wigan Ian Hughes reports: "Arsenal's title challenge could come down to three words - Robin van Persie. More of what he produced today and the Gunners must have a great chance."
1825: As you have no doubt seen or heard, we had quite an exciting afternoon of action in the Premier League before this match started, with plenty of goals, some appalling misses, and a smattering of penalties and red cards too. Here's a little reminder of what happened...
joebmusic on Twitter:
"City will still win this, Bent will win points for Villa in games to come, but Tevez and Dzeko will perform in the 2nd half."
1820: Aston Villa 1-0 Man City Phil McNulty's
half-time snapshot: "Darren Bent loves a debut so no surprise he has given Aston Villa the advantage - but Manchester City getting enough possession to provide encouragement for the second half."
1819: Just time for one last effort by Villa before the half-time whistle blows, a 25-yard free-kick by Stewart Downing that Joe Hart gets his body behind.
1816: Villa have not done much attacking recently but they still look dangerous when they do come forward. Marc Albrighton bends in a dangerous cross from the right and it is cleared only as far as Ashley Young, who fires a first-time shot goalwards. It has got plenty of power behind it but is low and straight at Joe Hart.
1813: Yaya Toure has a shot blocked after David Silva weaves through the Villa defence. Plenty of possession by City at the moment, but only three minutes of the first half left for them to make it count.
1809: The visitors' best effort so far. Gareth Barry goes extremely close to levelling with a diving, glancing header at the near post from Jerome Boateng's centre, that bounces inches wide of the opposite stick.
1805: City come forward with purpose for once, when Yaya Toure picks up the ball in midfield and feeds Aleksandar Kolarov in space out on the left. He's got time to pick out a man in the middle but elects for power and the ball swerves straight out of play. A bit of a waste, to be honest.
1802: Half an hour gone at Villa Park. When these two sides met at Eastlands last month, City were 3-0 up by this stage and the game was done and dusted. A very different story here so far...
West Ham manager Avram Grant on seeing Hammers striker Frederic Piquionne sent off for celebrating after putting his side 2-1 up against Everton in a game the Hammers drew 2-2: "It's a joke. What is football about? It's about emotion. We are not computers. Freddie did the right thing, he went to celebrate with the fans. I need to check who created this law, I don't like it. Emotion is part of the game and we should encourage it."
Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Villa Park:
"Gerard Houllier is smiling. Fabio Capello is smiling. And Darren Bent is certainly smiling as he reacts first to Joe Hart's save to score his first goal for Aston Villa. His first serious contribution to the game - but isn't that what Darren Bent is all about?"
1756: A first yellow card of the evening from Howard Webb, who books Villa defender Ciaran Clark after he up-ends Edin Dzeko.
1754: How will City respond? Quite well actually. Aleksandar Kolarov sends in another corner and Vincent Kompany finds space for a header that Brad Friedel has to tip over.
1752: As a former Birmingham (on loan) keeper, Joe Hart has being getting a bit of stick from the home fans already, and he might get a bit more now...
Villa goal: He loves a debut goal, doesn't he? He did it for Sunderland and Charlton, now Darren Bent has done it for Villa too. Joe Hart makes a bit of a hash of Ashley Young's bouncing shot and can only push it into the path of Villa's new striker, who gratefully slots home from six yards out.
1750: GOALFLASH Aston Villa 1-0 Man City (Bent)
1747: City should be ahead. Aleksandar Kolarov whips in a corner that Villa cannot deal with, but it also eludes Carlos Tevez, who misses his kick from two yards out.
1747: Another effort on goal by City, but it is even further away than Aleksandar Kolarov's effort. A corner comes out to Kolo Toure on the edge of the area but he leans back and sees his first-time shot loop high over the bar.
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson on his side's thumping win over Birmingham after Dimitar Berbatov opened the scoring inside 95 seconds: "It was a great start. It means the other team have to change their plan immediately. We kept going for their throats and it's a good scoreline. Our game in hand is only on paper [at the moment]. We still have to play that game."
1743: Aleksandar Kolarov bends the resulting free-kick in for City, with plenty of his team-mates waiting in the area, but it is high and wide of goal. Harmless.
1742: Here's Carlos Tevez now. Being sent flying by a lunge from Ciaran Clark in the right-hand corner of the pitch. Referee Howard Webb thinks about a booking but decides against it.
1739: Villa are looking bright coming forward and City have to scramble to put a Carlos Cuellar cross behind. We have not seen much of Carlos Tevez at the other end yet.
1737: Ashley Young bends in an inviting free-kick and Villa defender Richard Dunne, City's former captain, meets it at the back post. It looks like a defender got the final touch to deflect the ball over but referee Howard Webb says goal-kick.
1736: The lights did come back on at Fratton Park in the end. It finished Portsmouth 2-2 Leeds.
1734: Quite a cagey opening. City have had plenty of possession but mostly in their own half.
From Nick O'Siris, Sunderland fan, via text: "Re 1717. You're exactly right Chris, Bent doesn't shoot during the warm-up, fearing that he'll use up his luck quota. By The way, I'm not too despondent about his departure after today's win."
1730: The teams are out at Villa Park, where Darren Bent applauds the home fans when they cheer his name. He's brought the feelgood factor back by the looks of things...
1728: Here's more on the Charlie Adam situation. Blackpool have rejected a £4 million pound bid from Liverpool for the Scotland international Charlie Adam. Chairman Karl Oyston told BBC radio Lancashire: "We received a verbal bid of £4m for Charlie on Friday but it doesn't change the situation... he's still a player who is under contract with Blackpool and Liverpool's offer only matches previous offers we have recently turned down from Aston Villa."
MrEasy1 on Twitter:
"Charlie Adam applauded all four stands of Bloomfield Road on his own... a farewell it seems."
Blackpool boss Ian Holloway on his in-demand midfielder Charlie Adam: "There are three teams in and around us in the league who have all offered unbelievably little amounts of money for him (Liverpool, Aston Villa Birmingham). I am disappointed by that - £2.5m, £3.5m and £4m. Any chance of putting a one in front of that and you might have a chance. If he's only worth £4m then I'm a Scotsman called McTavish."
1722: The other Villa connection in the City set-up is their first-team coach David Platt, a former Villa midfielder of course. Platt's gran used to live at the bottom of my road in the early 90s - she told me who she was because I delivered papers to her house. I used to spend ages kicking the ball against her wall hoping that she would recommend me to David, and thus get me a move to Juventus (where he was playing at the time). Can't think why that didn't work out?
1718: So Gareth Barry starts for Manchester City but their other Villa old-boy James Milner is on the bench. There is a big banner at the ground saying "We still love you Milner" but do all of their fans feel the same way?
1717: Aston Villa's new £18m (rising to £24m) striker Darren Bent is actively avoiding shooting practice in the warm-up at Villa Park. Maybe he is saving himself for the game?
1716: Right, I've just about got my breath back now. The goals were flying in at the end there... just a normal Saturday in the Premier League then.
More from Football League Danny: "The big League Two match ended Wycombe 1-0 Rotherham. The Chairboys are now five points clear of the Millers and three points behind leaders Chesterfield, held by Shrewsbury today. Excitement fans should look towards the foot of the table, where rock-bottom Lincoln won 4-3 at Stockport. The Imps might still be bottom, but they're just two points behind the hatters - with five games in hand. Nervous north-west times for Stocko."
Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish on beating Wolves 3-0 for his first win since his return as Reds boss this month: "It feels good to me and is nothing short of what the players deserve. They had to earn the right to play after competing against a very determined side and they did that."
Football League Danny: "League One drama. Bournemouth beat Brighton 1-0 - the cherries are up to second, two points behind the Seagulls. Huddersfield are third after a 0-0 draw against Colchester, Southampton slipped up 2-0 at tranmere, while it was a great day for Peterborough who are fourth after a 4-0 thumping of Hartlepool. At the bottom, Bristol Rovers beat relegation rivals Swindon 3-1 for Dave Penney's first win as boss, while performance of the day? How about Leyton Orient's 4-0 thumping of Sheffield Wednesday?"
From anon via text: "What is it with Piquonne? He gets a yellow then dives into the crowd when he knows that's an automatic second yellow. Cornflakes for brains."
StanSP on Twitter:
"Re Piquionne red card. How stupid is it that you get booked/sent off for celebrating with your fans? Rules need to be sorted out!"
ASTON VILLA v MAN CITY TEAM NEWS Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Villa Park
reports: "Darren Bent makes his Aston Villa debut following his £24m arrival from Sunderland in an attacking line-up fielded by Gerard Houllier. Gabriel Agbonlahor and Marc Albrighton provide support in attack and with Stewart Downing and Ashley Young also included Villa are primed to cause Manchester City problems in defence. Manchester City boss Robert Mancini is also on the attack as £27m Edin Dzeko partners Carlos Tevez up front. James Milner is on the bench on his return to Villa Park."
Aston Villa v Man City line-ups Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Collins, Dunne, Clark, Albrighton, Petrov, Downing, Agbonlahor, Ashley Young, Bent. Subs: Marshall, Pires, Delfouneso, Reo-Coker, Bannan, Herd, Baker. Man City: Hart, Boateng, Toure, Kompany, Kolarov, De Jong, Barry, Silva, Toure Yaya, Tevez, Dzeko. Subs: Given, Zabaleta, Milner, Adam Johnson, Lescott, Vieira, Jo. Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)
garrethhawkins on Twitter:
"As a Newcastle fan it's infuriating to see us throw away 4 points in the last 2 games, because we can't defend 'til the end!"
Football League Danny: "In the Championship - Cardiff ended up 4-2 winners over Watford, while Scott Sinclair scored a late penalty to earn Swansea a 1-1 draw at Barnsley. Norwich moved third with a 2-1 win at Sheffield United, but second, third and fourth are all level on points. Tight. At the bottom, Preston salvaged a late draw at Boro, while Crystal Palace held Bristol City in a 0-0 draw. Scunthorpe host Burnley in the evening kick-off."
1701: What is it with Portsmouth and power cuts? The lights went out at Pompey earlier on today in their game against Leeds because of a power cut, and they've gone off again during the eight minutes of added on time. The players are waiting to see if they will get back on the Fratton Park pitch with the score at 2-2.
ASTON VILLA v MAN CITY (1730 GMT) Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Villa Park
reports: "Villa Park is the scene of the £51m battle of the strikers and the two marquee buys of the January transfer window. Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier looks set to give a debut to £24m Darren Bent after his arrival from Sunderland while Manchester City counterpart Roberto Mancini will want £27m Edin Dzeko to prove his worth as they attempt to show they are serious title contenders. Big day for Bent and Houllier in particular as the arrival of the England striker is the first sign of Villa's boss attempting to put his own stamp on the team he inherited from Martin O'Neill."
1658: So, two hat-tricks so far in the Premier League today, courtesy of Robin van Persie and Dimitar Berbatov. Do Darren Bent or Edin Dzeko fancy a treble as well? We will find out when Aston Villa take on Manchester City in today's final top-flight game at 1730 GMT.
1657: Well, that was pretty dull wasn't it?
1656: FULL-TIME Newcastle 1-1 Tottenham
1656: FULL-TIME Arsenal 3-0 Wigan
1656: FULL-TIME Everton 2-2 West Ham
1655: FULL-TIME Blackpool 1-2 Sunderland
Everton goal: Heartbreak for the Hammers. Marouane Fellaini shrugs off Matthew Upson and Jonathan Spector and swivels to fire past Rob Green and deny West Ham what would have been a vital victory.
Tottenham goal: They have left it very late, but it looks like Spurs have nicked a point. They break forward quickly through Jermain Defoe and he finds Aaron Lennon, who cuts in from the left and buries his shot past Steve Harper.
1652: FULL-TIME Fulham 2-0 Stoke
1652: FULL-TIME Man Utd 5-0 Birmingham
1651: GOALFLASH Everton 2-2 West Ham (Fellaini)
1651: GOALFLASH Newcastle 1-1 Tottenham (Lennon)
1650: Rob Green produces a brilliant diving save to keep out Louis Saha's 25-yard strike. West Ham are hanging on.
West Ham goal/red card: Incredible scenes at Goodison Park. Frederic Piquionne puts West Ham back in front with a towering header from Wayne Bridge's cross. He is then promptly sent off for a second yellow card after jumping in to celebrate the strike with the jubilant Hammers fans. Moments earlier, Seamus Coleman had missed an absolutely gilt-edged chance to put the Toffees 2-1 ahead. What a finish to this match... and it is not over yet.
Blackpool goal: Hope for the Seasiders but it is a soft penalty to be honest because Nedum Onuoha makes very little contact with David Vaughan. Still, it's a spot-kick, which Charlie Adam steps up to fire home.
1645: I'm playing catch-up here, so bear with me...
1644: RED CARD West Ham's Frederic Piquionne
1644: GOALFLASH Everton 1-2 West Ham (Piquionne)
Arsenal goal: He had to wait a while, but Robin van Persie does get his hat-trick, making it two in the Premier League today. He runs into smash home after Theo Walcott holds the ball up for him inside the box, releasing it at exactly the right time.
1641: GOALFLASH Arsenal 3-0 Wigan (Van Persie hat-trick)
Everton goal: Phil Neville's cross is headed down by Marouane Fellaini and, when Frederic Piquionne tries to clear, he only finds the scourge of text commentators, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, who smashes home a superb finish. All-square again at Goodison.
1637: GOALFLASH Everton 1-1 West Ham (Bilyaletdinov)
1635: Newcastle have been much the better side but Tottenham are still in this game, and they almost get an equaliser out of nothing too, with Luka Modric smashing a shot against the bar from 25 yards out. So close.
Man Utd goal: I was just writing that the chances keep coming for Manchester United... so too, it seems, do the goals. Nani had been wasteful a few minutes earlier when he screwed a shot wide but this time he makes no mistake with an angled drive past Ben Foster. It's a bit like shooting practice for the United strikers, and the Blues are being taken to the cleaners.
1633: GOALFLASH Man Utd 5-0 Birmingham (Nani)
1631: It should be 2-0 to Newcastle, Peter Lovenkrands set through on the Spurs goal by Joey Barton's slide-rule pass - but Carlo Cudicini is out well to save at the Dane's feet and keep Tottenham in it. And it could have been 2-0 to West Ham too. Zavon Hines just fired wide when well placed from a Jonathan Spector cross.
Football League Danny: "Snorter down at Portman Road. Doncaster did lead Ipswich 1-0 at half-time. Ipswich fought back to 2-1, Donny equalised, now Carlos Edwards has put Ipswich 3-2 ahead. And Leeds are level at Portsmouth. That one's 2-2."
1630: Ah, it appears Robin van Persie does want that matchball - he has just hit the outside of the post for the Gunners, with a curling shot from the edge of the box.
Arsenal missed pen: Gary Caldwell sees red for bringing down Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie steps up to try to complete his hat-trick from the spot... but gets it horribly wrong and blasts it way, way over the bar. He holds his head in his hands afterwards, and I am not surprised. A terrible effort.
1627: MISSED PENALTY Arsenal's Robin van Persie (he skied it miles over)
1626: RED CARD Wigan's Gary Caldwell
1626: PENALTY to Arsenal
1625: Tottenham are pushing hard for a leveller at St James' Park but Newcastle are holding on. Magpies keeper Steve Harper just made a super low save from Aaron Lennon, who had cut in from the left, but replays show his shot is going wide anyway.
Infostrada Sports on Twitter:
"Dimitar Berbatov becomes the first player to score three Premier League hat-tricks in a season since Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2002/2003."
1623: Everton have now forced eight corners but look no nearer to an equaliser. West Ham have had the best two chances of the second half but Jonathan Spector fired over and Scott Parker, on the break, shot straight at Tim Howard.
Football League Danny: "Goals are starting to flow in League One. Charlton are 1-0 up on Plymouth thanks to Scott Wagstaff's strike. Carlisle lead 1-0 at Notts County thanks to Francois Zoko. Leyton Orient are now 2-0 up on Sheffield Wednesday. And Bristol Rovers lead fellow west country strugglers Swindon 2-0, Jo Kuffour with the second. Rovers with just one win in 12 before today."
1621: Another injury problem for Blackpool. They are forced to replace goalkeeper Richard Kingson with Paul Rachubka after the former gets a nasty looking cut on his head following a challenge with Bolo Zenden. No intent, but that won't offer any consolation to Kingson, who looked in a lot of pain.
Newcastle goal: Deadlock broken at St James' Park. Fabricio Coloccini chests down a Danny Guthrie pass and hammers in his shot from the edge of the box. Carlo Cudicini gets a good hand to the ball, but cannot keep it out. The Tottenham keeper should do better there.
1619: GOALFLASH Newcastle 1-0 Tottenham (Coloccini)
1617: I've changed my mind again about miss-of-the-day and it is going to take a lot to deny Birmingham's Keith Fahey of this accolade. Nemanja Vidic's mistake lets in David Bentley down the right and his low cross finds Fahey running in unmarked and two yards from goal. To be fair the ball is ever so slightly behind him but I am not sure how he managed to miss the target from there.
Arsenal goal: A lovely little goal, this one. Cesc Fabregas clips a ball over the top of the Wigan defence and Robin van Persie, running into the area, diverts it into the net with a first-time finish.
1614: GOALFLASH Arsenal 2-0 Wigan (Van Persie)
Football League Danny: "Very much game on down in Cardiff. Marvin Sordell's got another for Watford who now trail by the merest 3-2 scoreline. Cardiff, who were three goals to the good are now distinctly nervous."
Fulham goal: It just gets worse and worse for Stoke. Ryan Shawcross is sent off for clumsily bringing down Clint Dempsey in the area and Dempsey gets up to fire home the resulting spot-kick.
1613: GOALFLASH Fulham 2-0 Stoke (Dempsey pen)
1612: RED CARD Stoke's Ryan Shawcross
1612: PENALTY to FULHAM
Man Utd goal: United have scored so many goals, I've lost count. That's four not three. Dimitar Berbatov has his hat-trick, though, latching on to a Ryan Giggs cross to fire home. Simple.
1610: GOALFLASH Man Utd 4-0 Birmingham (Berbatov hat-trick)
1608: By the way, here's one for fans of Premier League stalwarts involved in international tournaments in the Middle East right now. A header from striker Harry Kewell three minutes from the end of extra time gave Australia a 1-0 victory over holders Iraq in their Asian Cup quarter-final in Doha on Saturday.
1606: More bad news for Blackpool, where Stephen Crainey has been carried off the pitch with a serious-looking injury. Brett Ormerod is on instead. Over at Goodison, Toffees boss David Moyes has brought on Louis Saha for Jermaine Beckford as Everton try to find an equaliser.
1604: It should really be 4-0 at Old Trafford. Nani cuts in from the right and crosses for Wayne Rooney, who heads wide from two yards out. By the way, the second half has started at Goodison, Craven Cottage and St James' Park too.
1603: And at Old Trafford and Bloomfield too. Ex-Newcastle striker Faustino Asprilla is at St James' Park, where he has had a pop at the crossbar challenge... and failed. No somersaults from him today, then?
OptaJoe on Twitter:
"9 - Wayne Rooney now has nine Premier League assists this season, three times as many as last season. Creationist."
1602: We are back under way at the Emirates.
From Barry, United fam via text: "I thought Birmingham were supposed to have a good defence? Shocking."
Edd Kahn on Twitter:
"I never thought I would by annoyed going into the second half being anything less than 7-0 up! Arsenal have been incredible!"
Everton 0-1 West Ham Kevin Darling's half-time snapshot: "If Martin O'Neill had presided over that Hammers' first-half display they would have called him a miracle worker. Avram Grant's boys full value for their lead but Everton will surely not be that sloppy in the second half."
Football League Danny: "In League One, Bournemouth are 0-0 at home against leaders Brighton. In fact, it's a goal drought in that division. Bristol Rovers, Exeter, Oldham, Tranmere and Rochdale are all 1-0 up - and that's yer lot for the scoring... In League Two, Wycombe lead Rotherham 1-0 and Crewe are 2-1 up at Aldershot. High-fliers flying high."
Fulham 1-0 Stoke Stephan Shemilt's half-time snapshot: "Frenetic, full-bloodied and entertaining. Stoke have had some very good chances but Fulham, led by the guile of Danny Murphy and endeavour of Damien Duff, are good for their lead."
Man Utd 3-0 Birmingham Chris Whyatt's
half-time snapshot: "Who's this Giggs fella? Looks 17, not 37. Outrageously good."
Arsenal 1-0 Wigan Ian Hughes' half-time snapshot: "An utterly dominant Arsenal have been uable to beat Ali Al Habsi more than once - the Wigan keeper has been magnificent. He may not deserve to be on the losing side, but I cannot see how he won't be with Arsenal in this mood.."
Newcastle 0-0 Tottenham Sam Lyon's
half-time snapshot: "Plenty of nip, a fair bit of tuck, but not a huge amount of goalmouth action. Best chance off the bar from Newcastle, Defoe denied late in half for Spurs."
Blackpool 0-2 Sunderland Owen Phillips' half-time snapshot: "Chances at both ends but two tidy Kieran Richardson strikes separate the teams at Bloomfield Road. Open and exciting and more goals likely."
From Matt in Bath, via text: "So that's two goals United have scored after Berbatov has won the ball back. Who says he doesn't work for the team?"
Football League Danny: "A few half-time Championship highlights for you. Cardiff lead Watford 3-1, while Swansea trail 1-0 at Barnsley - a very good day thus far for the Bluebirds, I'll wager. Elsewhere, it's Portsmouth 1-0 Leeds, Ipswich 0-1 Doncaster and Leicester 3-1 Millwall. By the way, apologies to Foxes goalscorer Yakubu (28) for the earlier 'veteran' tag. It's just that it's my birthday soon and I've got all excited about ages and stuff."
1549: Chance for Tottenham. Rafael Van der Vaart's clever flick frees Jermain Defoe but Newcastle keeper Steve Harper is off his line quickly to make a smart save. It's half-time at St James' Park and at the five other 1500 GMT Premier League games.
Man Utd goal: Game over at Old Trafford? It certainly looks that way. Dimitar Berbatov slides in to win back possession for United, and Wayne Rooney sends over a peach of a low cross between Ben Foster and his Birmingham defence, which finds Ryan Giggs waiting at the back post to turn the ball home.
1546: GOALFLASH Man Utd 3-0 Birmingham (Giggs)
1545: It's Arsenal v Ali Al Habsi at the Emirates. The Wigan keeper is having a stormer to prevent the Gunners posting a cricket score. He tips over Samir Nasri's rising drive, then makes an outstanding stop to keep out an another Cesc Fabregas effort before completing a hat-trick of saves when he smothers a cross/shot from Nasri.
1544: Blackpool's Charlie Adam shows why he is so in demand, with a curling free-kick from the edge of the box which is pushed away by Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon. A decent effort and a good save. No joy for the Seasiders so far.
1543: West Ham go so, so close to a second goal. Twice, in fact. Jonathan Spector, who is having a fine game, does well to pick out Frederic Piquionne in the box and the striker heads down and against the inside of the post. Then moments later, Luis Boa Morte does find the net from a Piquionne pass, but the Hammers' celebrations are cut short by an offside flag.
1542: Wow. Another super stop by Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi at the Emirates. He produces another fine stop to beat away Cesc Fabregas's drive from inside the area. It has been all Arsenal so far.
1540: Trouble for Spurs, and the closest we've come to a goal at St James' Park as Newcastle striker Leon Best outmuscles Sebastien Bassong at the back post to prod Jose Enrique's deep cross goalwards, his effort coming back off the underside of the bar and away.
Football League Danny: "Goal frenzy down in Cardiff. Jay Bothroyd puts the Bluebirds 3-0 ahead, but Will Buckley pulls one back almost straight away for Watford, who now trail 3-1. Still an hour to go in that one. Similar chat at the Walkers Stadium, where Leicester lead Millwall 3-1, Souleymane Bamba with the Foxes' third. In League One by the way, it's still Bournemouth 0-0 Brighton in the big match."
Sunderland goal: Steed Malbranque does brilliantly to get down the left flank and composes himself before finding Kieran Richardson, who fires a precise low first-time shot just inside the post. Blackpool pay the price for pushing too many men forward in search of an equaliser.
1536: OK, this really is miss-of-the-day at the Emirates. Well, it would be if the Gunners had managed to shoot. Theo Walcott is clean through with only the Wigan keeper to beat but, bizarrely, he chooses to pass to Cesc Fabregas, who is running in behind him and to his left. Mohamed Diame slides in to clear the danger. A total waste.
Fulham goal: Stoke have had plenty of chances but it is Fulham who find the net first. Andy Johnson gets round the back of their defence and sends in a low cross that Clint Dempsey slides home from point-blank range.
1533: GOALFLASH Fulham 1-0 Stoke (Dempsey)
Man Utd goal: Again, I ask where is the Birmingham defence? Roger Johnson gives the ball away, Wayne Rooney feeds Dimitar Berbatov, and he cuts inside before firing home. The Blues could not have made it much easier for their hosts.
1531: Forgive the slip of my fingers there, it is 2-0 to Man Utd of course...
1531: GOALFLASH Man Utd 2-0 Birmingham (Berbatov)
Football League Danny: "Fabulous start for Cardiff against Watford.Craig Bellamy and Michael Chopra have put the Bluebirds 2-0 up on their high-flying rivals. And Leicester are 2-1 up on Millwall. Yakubu with the Foxes' second goal - the veteran just can't stop scoring."
1528: Looks like I was a bit harsh on Robin van Persie at 1510 because Wigan keeper Ali Al-Habsi actually tipped his shot over. He still should have scored though... but I guess he made up for it just now.
West Ham goal: After surviving a spell of Everton pressure, the Hammers take the lead. Luis Boa Morte powers down the left and crosses for Jonathan Spector to turn the ball home, for his first Premier League goal.
1526: GOALFLASH Everton 0-1 West Ham (Spector)
1525: More woodwork at Craven Cottage, where Kenwyne Jones has hit the post with a right-footed shot from a Stoke free-kick.
Arsenal goal: After a patient build-up by the Gunners, Alex Song slips Robin van Persie clear and he lashes home an unstoppable first-time shot. Wigan are appealing for offside but to no avail.
1522: GOALFLASH Arsenal 1-0 Wigan (Van Persie)
1521: Everton's turn to threaten at Goodison and West Ham defender James Tomkins has to make a vital block to deny Jermaine Beckford.
1520: A lively old start at Crave Cottage. Danny Murphy shoots wide for Fulham, while Tuncay, after being put through by Rory Delap, fires at David Stockdale from a tight angle. Surely this won't stay goalless for long?
1519: Theo Walcott runs at the Wigan defence and his superb ball inside finds Cesc Fabregas, whose shot is brilliantly blocked by a lunge from Gary Caldwell. Wigan just about hanging on. In the stands, Romeo Beckham appears to be wearing an Arsenal scarf.
Sunderland goal: The Black Cats break quickly - and break the deadlock - when Kieran Richardson runs clear and supplies a neat finish. Richardson then celebrates by removing his shinpad - which seems to have a message written on it. Strange. Blackpool defender Neal Eardley was off the pitch and getting treatment, following a kick in the face by Richarson, when the goal is scored.
1513: Not a lot going on at Bloomfield Road yet, although Steed Malbranque has had a pop from distance for Sunderland which was off target. Bad news for Tottenham, though, Gareth Bale has had a recurrence of an old back injury and is going off - to be replaced by Sebastien Bassong.
1512: Fulham's turn to threaten at Craven Cottage. Damien Duff cuts inside Rory Delap and lets fly from all of 25 yards. Asmir Begovic is beaten but Stoke are saved by the bar.
1511: An inauspicious start for Steven Pienaar so far on his Tottenham debut, with the signing from Everton giving the ball away a couple of times early on at St James' Park. Tottenham are just about edging possession in the early stages, though.
1510: A bit of a waste from West Ham's Mark Noble, who blasts over from the edge of the area. Everton's defence was nowhere to be seen. but miss-of-the-day so far goes to Arsenal's Robin van Persie, who blazes over from the edge of the six-yard box from Theo Walcott's pullback.
1507: Stoke have just had a good chance too. Ryan Shawcross climbs highest to meet Matthew Etherington's free-kick, but can only head past the post. Boos for Danny Murphy and Andy Wilkinson because of the bad blood that exists between the two teams from earlier in the season.
1506: No goals for Becks to savour at the Emirates yet, so he can stick to his chocolate. But Arsenal look threatening on the attack already and only a decent low save by Ali Al Habsi stops Samir Nasri scoring from 12 yards. Ominous for Wigan.
1505: All United at the moment. Dimitar Berbatov forces a fine stop from Ben Foster after a Liam Ridgewell mistake before Michael Carrick fires wide. Looks like Foster could be in for a busy afternoon on his return to Old Trafford.
1504: That Dimitar Berbatov goal came after 95 seconds, and arrived before Newcastle and Spurs had even kicked off. That game HAS started now though...
Man Utd goal: The perfect start for United, but a nightmare for Birmingham. Where is their defence? John O'Shea flicks on a Ryan Giggs corner... the ball is going in anyway but Dimitar Berbatov is on the line to make sure, and steal the goal too.
1502: GOALFLASH Man Utd 1-0 Birmingham (Berbatov)
1500: We are under way in five of our six 1500 GMT Premier League games - everywhere apart from St James' Park. And it is full-time at Pride Park where Nottingham Forest have beaten Derby 1-0.
1458: Stoke boss Tony Pulis and his Fulham counterpart Mark Hughes have managed to shake hands before their game at Craven Cottage, which is more than they managed after both their previous meetings this season. Across London, at the Emirates, David Beckham is in the stands munching on chocolate.
1456: Er, that's your lot for team news. Thankfully. Over at Pride Park, Derby are down to 10 men after Dean Moxey picks up his second booking for a lunge on Rob Earnshaw. Forest lead 1-0, and they are into injury time.
ARSENAL v WIGAN TEAM NEWS Ian Hughes reports: "Arsenal make five changes from the side that beat Leeds in the FA Cup in midweek, including the return of skipper Cesc Fabregas and striker Robin van Persie. Wigan make only one change, with Steven Caldwell coming in for Antolin Alcaraz."
Everton v West Ham Everton: Howard, Neville, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Coleman, Arteta, Fellaini, Osman, Anichebe, Beckford. Subs: Mucha, Hibbert, Jagielka, Bilyaletdinov, Saha, Gueye, Rodwell. West Ham: Green, Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Bridge, Hines, Spector, Noble, Parker, Boa Morte, Piquionne. Subs: Boffin, Reid, Gabbidon, McCarthy, Sears, Barrera, Nouble. Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)
FULHAM v STOKE TEAM NEWS Stephan Shemilt reports: "Andrew Johnson's reward for coming off the bench to score Fulham's equaliser in last week's draw with Wigan is a place in the starting line-up at the expense of Simon Davies, while Moussa Dembele comes in for Diomansy Kamara. New signing Steve Sidwell has to make do with a place amongst the substitutes. Stoke boss Tony Pulis, after making 10 changes for the midweek FA Cup win over Cardiff, is forced into one switch from the side that beat Bolton last weekend as Danny Collins replaces the injured Danny Higginbottom. New arrival John Carew sits next to the possibly departing Ricardo Fuller on the bench."
Newcastle v Tottenham line-ups Newcastle: Harper, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Barton, Guthrie, Nolan, Gutierrez, Best, Ameobi. Subs: Krul, Campbell, Lovenkrands, Perch, Xisco, Ranger, Ferguson. Tottenham: Cudicini, Hutton, Dawson, Gallas, Bale, Lennon, Modric, Jenas, Pienaar, Van der Vaart, Defoe. Subs: Pletikosa, Kaboul, Crouch, Bassong, Kranjcar, Corluka, Sandro. Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)
Arsenal v Wigan line-ups Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Wilshere, Walcott, Fabregas, Nasri, van Persie. Subs: Shea, Denilson, Arshavin, Eboue, Gibbs, Chamakh, Bendtner. Wigan: Al Habsi, Gohouri, Gary Caldwell, Steven Caldwell, Figueroa, Thomas, Diame, Stam, Watson, N'Zogbia, Rodallega. Subs: Pollitt, McCarthy, Di Santo, Gomez, McArthur, Boyce, McManaman. Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
1450: Just a reminder of how to get involved today. I know you want to. Join the chat on
text me via 81111 (UK) or, if you want to get in touch via Twitter, you can do so via the hashtag
or ask me a question at
Man Utd v Birmingham line-ups Man Utd: Van der Sar, O'Shea, Vidic, Smalling, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Anderson, Giggs, Berbatov, Rooney. Subs: Kuszczak, Owen, Scholes, Fabio Da Silva, Evans, Obertan, Gibson. Birmingham: Foster, Carr, Johnson, Ridgewell, Murphy, Bentley, Ferguson, Mutch, Fahey, Hleb, Derbyshire. Subs: Doyle, Bowyer, Larsson, Gardner, Jerome, Zigic, Jiranek. Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)
MANCHESTER UNITED v BIRMINGHAM TEAM NEWS Chris Whyatt
reports: "Paul Scholes remains on the bench for United who will be unhappy that Rio Ferdinand unexpectedly misses out with that groin injury. Chris Smalling takes the England captain's place while John O'Shea comes in for suspended Rafael. Ryan Giggs and Nani on the wings as Darren Fletcher takes a day off from central midfield. Birmingham pick new-boy David Bentley on one flank with Alexander Hleb on the other."
EVERTON v WEST HAM TEAM NEWS Kevin Darling reports: "Everton manager David Moyes names the same starting line-up that drew at Liverpool last weekend, with returning duo Phil Jagielka and Louis Saha on the bench. Revived West Ham boss Avram Grant welcomes back Scott Parker and Frederic Piquionne, while Mark Noble is also fit to start. Freddie Sears makes way for Luis Boa Morte, while Carlton Cole is out after failing a late fitness test."
NEWCASTLE v TOTTENHAM TEAM NEWS Sam Lyon
reports: "Newcastle make just one change to the starting XI that
drew with Sunderland
last week, Danny Guthrie in to replace the injured Alan Smith. Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp hands
a first start for the club among four changes, Carlo Cudicini, Jermaine Jenas and Jermain Defoe also coming in, with Heurelho Gomes - who injured a shoulder in Friday training - Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch missing out."
Forest goal: Just as Derby were turning the screw, Forest score with their first meaningful attempt on goal when Rob Earnshaw fizzes a fine low shot into the bottom corner. Just 11 minutes left at Pride Park.
1442: Impressive stuff by Liverpool, who kept Wolves at arms length for most of the afternoon. A rare away win for Reds fans to enjoy, plus revenge for their defeat at Anfield. They are up to 10th place, while Wolves remain 19th
Liverpool goal: Just to make totally sure of the points, Fernando Torres slams in a third goal. Dirk Kuyt bursts into the box and, although he is tackled as he shapes to shoot, the ball breaks for Torres in front of goal, and he can hardly miss. He doesn't.
1437: GOALFLASH Wolves 0-3 Liverpool (Torres)
1435: There will be three minutes of added time at Molineux. Liverpool look extremely comfortable, and Wolves cannot even get the ball off them at the moment.
StanSP on Twitter:
"Wolves seem like they can ping all the crosses they want and they wouldn't get through the Liverpool defence. Solid."
1432: Raul Meireles collects a yellow card to add to his spectacular volley from earlier. Martin Atkinson books him for a foul on Kevin Doyle.
1431: Liverpool's first attack for a while sees Fernando Torres try to curl a shot into the far corner from the edge of the area. The ball hits Christophe Berra on its way through, and Torres thinks it was on his arm. But referee Martin Atkinson says no to his penalty appeals, and Wayne Hennessey is equal to the shot. Replays show a spot-kick there would have been very harsh.
1427: If you give this page a cheeky manual refresh, you will find Final Score sitting at the top of it, ready to give you more info from around the grounds this afternoon.
1426: Here's another Liverpool change, with 10 minutes of the 90 to go. Fabio Aurelio is on for Maxi Rodriguez.
1425: Adam Hammill may not have his shooting boots on but he definitely knows how to cross the ball. His second pin-point delivery since he came off the bench finds Kevin Doyle running into the area, but the Wolves striker cannot control his header and the ball flies over the bar.
1423: Still time for a Wolves comeback and they are knocking on the door. In fact, they should have just scored. Steven Fletcher finds Adam Hammill in front of goal with a pull-back but he scuffs his shot. Liverpool breathe again.
1422: More news from Pride Park. Derby's Robbie Savage leaves the field throwing a mini-tantrum just nine minutes into the second half. The veteran midfielder had already been cautioned and boss Nigel Clough probably feared a red card. But the Welshman is not amused, petulantly throwing his boots down as he takes his place in the dugout.
1421: Oh dear. Jonjo Shelvey should really have scored within seconds of his introduction. Raul Meireles tees him up in front of goal as Liverpool break quickly but Shelvey, who has time to pick his spot, blazes over.
1419: Changes for both sides at Molineux. Adam Hammill, a former Liverpool trainee, replaces Stephen Hunt for Wolves to make his first appearance since his arrival from Barnsley this week. And Jonjo Shelvey is on for Christian Poulsen for Liverpool.
1418: BREAKING TOTTENHAM TEAM NEWS Steven Pienaar will face Newcastle and makes his first start for Spurs since his £2.5m switch from Everton.
1415: BREAKING MAN UTD TEAM NEWS Rio Ferdinand is ruled out with a groin injury so Chris Smalling comes into the United defence to face Birmingham. Full line-ups to follow.
1413: At last, Wolves get a sniff of goal. In dealing with a high ball over the top, Martin Skrtel only succeeds in teeing up Stephen Ward, who smashes in a first-time shot that takes the slightest of deflections and forces a sprawling save by Pepe Reina.
1410: Half-an-hour left of the 90 minutes at Molineux. As things stand, Liverpool are heading for a first win under Kenny Dalglish (this time around), only their second away league win of the season and 10th place in the table (for now). Not a bad day's work...
1406: Wolves are, erm, huffing and puffing, but they cannot blow the Liverpool defence down. Lots of hard work by the home side but clear-cut chances are still hard to find for Mick McCarthy's side.
sparks28 on Twitter:
"I remember seeing Meireles scoring a similar goal for Portugal a few months ago. Great strike."
Football League Danny: "Weather fans, take note. Two League Two matches are off today - Accrington v Hereford and Bradford v Burton."
1402: Liverpool have got a bit of breathing space but they have given away a couple of free-kicks in dangerous positions since scoring that wonderful second goal. Wolves cannot make the most of them, though. Stephen Hunt fires their latest set-piece against the wall before Ronald Zubar blazes the ball high and wide from the rebound. Ambitious, and way off target.
ARSENAL v WIGAN (1500 GMT) Ian Hughes reports: "Visitors Wigan have their work cut out. They've lost on all eight of their top-flight visits to Arsenal and will have to nullify the division's strongest attack (45 goals). They can take some confidence from the 2-2 draw they earned at the DW Stadium in late December, but the Gunners will be in no doubt they have to win these matches if they are to secure a first Premier League title since 2004."
Liverpool goal: Er, pick that one out. Seconds after Dirk Kuyt runs clear and is denied by Wayne Hennessey, Raul Meireles beats the Wolves keeper with an absolute pearler of a volley from 25 yards out that dips into the top corner. Unstoppable.
1356: GOALFLASH Wolves 0-2 Liverpool (Meireles)
MAN UTD v BIRMINGHAM (1500 GMT) Chris Whyatt
reports: "Some Manchester United fans jest that Brazilian full-back Rafael could evade today's one-match ban by donning the kit of identical twin brother Fabio. Canny. But boss Sir Alex Ferguson will be more pressed reminding his unbeaten league leaders that a record-breaking - and bitterest enemy Liverpool-overtaking - 19th title is no mirage. Alex McLeish must rally lowly Birmingham to a first win over the Red Devils since Grange Hill started [yes, 1978] for his former mentor's famous hairdryer to be unleashed."
1354: Chances at both ends already, well half chances anyway. First, Matt Jarvis skins Martin Kelly and sends over a cross that only just eludes Stephen Ward. Then Liverpool charge forward and Raul Meireles sees his shot/cross hit Richard Stearman and bobble goalwards before Wayne Hennessey dives on to it.
1351: Liverpool get the second half under way. Lucas has got a foot injury but is able to continue for now...
NEWCASTLE v TOTTENHAM (1500 GMT) Sam Lyon
Tottenham fans' views
on their club's
possible relocation to Stratford,
today's visit to St James' Park - one of 12 English grounds with a larger capacity than White Hart Lane - could provide a timely example of the benefits of a bumper home crowd. Spurs have not won a league game in Newcastle since 2004 - and if they are to retain hope of a title charge they will want that to change today. The Magpies, steady if unspectacular since
Alan Pardew's appointment,
can move into the top seven with victory."
EVERTON v WEST HAM (1500 GMT) Kevin Darling reports: "A week's been a long time in football for Avram Grant. Just seven days ago, West Ham's board were openly flirting with a hotter, more successful manager and the Israeli looked odds-on to be dumped. Since then, Davids Sullivan and Gold have pledged their "commitment" to the relationship. And Grant, like the last girl picked for a dance at a teenage disco, accompanies his slightly embarrassed sugar daddies to Merseyside for what could well be a dirty weekend. Everton love it when the Hammers come to town, having enjoyed more Premier League wins against the east Londoners than any other opponents, including an unbeaten run in their last seven meetings."
1346: Here's Football League Danny again, to tell us what's happening lower down the divisions:
"Match of the day in League One is surely the visit of leaders Brighton to fourth-place Bournemouth. All kinds of promotion hope knocking around there. There's intrigue almost everywhere with us just beyond the half-way point of the season. It's a tight-knit table and all the teams down to 15th-placed Carlisle will harbour realistic hopes that a good run will push them towards the play-off zone...
"League Two leaders Chesterfield visit a Shrewsbury side which is very much in the play-off mixer. Arguably the eye-catcher of the day though is the visit of third-placed Rotherham to second placed Wycombe. Promotion credentials in the spotlight. At the bottom, 23rd-placed Hereford's match at Accrington is off, so Lincoln could move off the bottom with a win at fellow strugglers Stockport. Tension o'clock."
notscientific on Twitter:
"Is Torres being bullish to invite revenge from the Wolves' defenders? Ploy to get a couple of penalties, maybe?"
Or just a sign that Liverpool's best player is fired up for this one?
1342: Hmm, it seems Fernando Torres had a little dig (verbal) at Richard Stearman after scoring that Liverpool goal... he handed him the ball too, just to rub it in.
1337: Wolves 0-1 Liverpool Mandeep Sanghera's
half-time snapshot: "It's been a battle at Molineux and it is a long way from being over. Liverpool may lead through Fernando Torres, but they have been in front in their last two league games and failed to win either of them."
1335: Yep, Martin Atkinson did warn Fernando Torres... and duly brandishes a yellow card at the Liverpool goalscorer when he lunges in to bring down Stephen Ward.
1334: A real scare for Liverpool as Stephen Hunt's free-kick finds its way to Nenad Milijas, who is unmarked at the back post. Fortunately for the Reds, Pepe Reina is quickly off his line and does enough to put Milihjas off. Chance gone.
From Jack in Nottingham, via text: "Am hoping the female assistant referee escapes the stereotype that no woman understand the offside rule. Unfortunately for Wolves, she does."
1333: More news from the Championship, and a staggering escape for Forest at Pride Park. Miles Addison outmuscles Wes Morgan and with the Reds screaming foul, Addison picks out Chris Porter who is odds-on to score but Luke Chambers somehow clears the ball off the line.
1332: Coming up to the last minute of the first half and Liverpool will be happy with the way things have gone so far. They have taken the sting out of Wolves' up-and-at-em approach and look dangerous every time they break forward.
1329: Fernando Torres is having a real battle with Wolves defender Richard Stearman - they seem to go at it everytime they tussle for possession and Torres has just been told by Martin Atkinson that he will be booked for his next offence. Torres has just had another go at goal too, running on to a Maxi Rodriguez pass, but this time Sian Massey had already put her flag up.
1328: News from Derby-Forest and, as you would expect, it's fast and frantic at Pride Park. Forest have started the better and had a decent shout for a penalty when Dean Leacock clumsily challenged Joel Lynch while Lewis McGugan has just had a rasping free-kick saved by Rams keeper Stephen Bywater.
1327: Wolves go for an instant reply, with Steven Fletcher letting fly from the edge of the area... but Pepe Reina is across to keep the ball out. A decent stop.
Liverpool goal: A big, big decision for our female assistant referee (or lineswoman). Wolves appeal for offside as Raul Meireles runs on to Christian Poulsen's pass down the right but Sian Massey is dead right not to flag because he is definitely on. Meireles advances into the box and, unselfishly, squares for Fernando Torres - giving him the simple task of slotting the ball home.
1324: GOALFLASH Wolves 0-1 Liverpool (Torres)
1323: Good movement from Liverpool again, and another shooting chance. Maxi Rodriguez darts into space to meet a ball into the box and, with team-mates waiting on the edge of the area waiting to be teed-up, he goes for goal himself. Wayne Hennessey is down to save comfortably enough.
1322: There's been a dearth of recent chances but, out of nothing, Raul Meireles latches on to a Fernando Torres flick and has a pop from the edge of the box. His low shot is not far away - well, just inches wide of Wayne Hennessey's right-hand post actually. Liverpool go close again.
1319: Hmmm. Not quite reason to use the handbags graphic yet but referee Martin Atkinson is having to work hard to cool everyone down at Molineux at the moment. Raul Meireles just went down, off the ball, clutching his face for no apparent reason... and the general mood seem a little strained on both sides. Fair to say this has been a bad-tempered game so far.
It's not looking great is it? Might be why both teams are using a more 'direct' approach at the moment...
1313: ... but it isn't. Nenad Milijas curls it over the wall, but also a long way over the bar. A bit of a waste.
1312: Kevin Doyle and Daniel Agger tussle for a long ball on the edge of the Liverpool area... and the result is a Wolves free-kick. This looks dangerous...
1310: Liverpool break forward again, and this time go close to grabbing the opener. Raul Meireles finds Fernando Torres with a clipped ball forward and a lovely touch by Torres takes him past Richard Stearman... but the Spaniard cannot beat Wayne Hennessey with his shot from the edge of the box.
1305: After Liverpool struggle to clear their lines from a corner, Wolves come forward again but, again, nothing doing. Kevin Doyle's attempted cross ends up being a looping shot that Pepe Reina has to pluck from under his crossbar. The Reds seem happy to soak up any attacks from the home side and try to hit back on the break.
1301: Liverpool are living a little bit dangerously as the ball flies around their area but, eventually, they clear their lines. Wolves have started at a very high tempo, but not a lot to show for it so far.
1258: Berra is now back on, and just in time too, as Liverpool create their best chance of the match. Lucas is in acres of space as he runs on to a Glen Johnson pass down the left and finds Christian Poulsen with his pull-back. Berra, however, is in the right place to block his shot at the near post.
1254: Wolves are down to 10 men at the moment because Christophe Berra needs some stitches in a head injury. It looks like he was caught by one of his team-mates, Kevin Doyle, as they tried to clear that corner.
1251: A few Liverpool fans were unhappy about the inclusion of Christian Poulsen but he's, er, already had an impact. He's the first player to be booked by referee Martin Atkinson today, for bringing down Stephen Ward as Wolves broke forward from a Liverpool corner.
OptaJoe on Twitter:
"5 - Only Wolves (4) have picked up fewer points away from home this season than Liverpool (5). Bleak."
1250: An early free-kick for Wolves sees Matt Jarvis hoist the ball into the Liverpool area but Pepe Reina is off his line to collect comfortably. Still, a bright start for the home side.
1248: Here we go. Wolves get the game started.
From At least John Barnes could rap on 606:
"Re 1208. BBC Sport's journalism gets closer to gutter press standards every week it seems. "The Tottenham boss was in Madrid to watch Diego Forlan" Really? You know this as a fact? Is there an attributable source for this? I guess not."
1240: Mark Lawrenson thinks his old Liverpool team-mate Kenny Dalglish will have to wait a bit longer for his first win since returning as Reds boss, because
he predicts a 1-1 draw today at Molineux.
At least he thinks they will get a point, though. Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton, Lawro's predicting opponent this weekend, has gone for
2-1 Wolves win...
although her dog Barney does not approve.
1237: Liverpool have lost eight Premier League games on the road already this season. Why have they struggled so badly this season - anything to do with the players brought in by former boss Rafa Benitez, who left in the summer? He thinks not.
"It's not my fault, sorry," Benitez said.
"We know that we made some mistakes. We are not happy with some of the signings. But we are really pleased with the majority of them, especially if you analyse the team now. Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Aurelio, Lucas, Torres, Maxi and Kuyt. It is a massive team."
From anonymous Reds fan via text: "Christian Poulsen starting again? why do Liverpool managers not see what the fans do?"
WOLVES v LIVERPOOL TEAM NEWS (1245 GMT) Mandeep Sanghera
reports: "Wolves boss Mick McCarthy brings midfielder Karl Henry in for David Jones in the only change from the 4-3 defeat by Manchester City in his side's last Premier League outing. New signing and ex-Red Adam Hammill is on the bench. Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish also makes one change from the side which drew 2-2 against Everton last time out as holding midfielder Jay Spearing makes way for Christian Poulsen. Joe Cole is on the bench as captain Steven Gerrard sits out the final game of his three-match ban."
1227: As discussed, we have a busy old afternoon (and evening) ahead of us so I need plenty of chat from you lot. How? Like this. Get involved on
text me via 81111 (UK) or, if you want to get in touch via Twitter, you can do so via the hashtag
or ask me a question at
1224: Now, Stevo's not here today but, if he were, he would be ready to explode with excitement ahead of that Forest-Derby clash. To be honest, I'm quite looking forward to it too because games between these two sides are
very rarely dull.
1222: Eight Premier League games today. Like the old days, isn't it? What else is happening though? Here's Football League Danny to tell us more: "First up in the Championship is the 1300 GMT East Midlands derby between, er, Derby and Nottingham Forest. Forest will be desperate to boost their promotion credentials there. Cardiff (third) host Watford (sixth) in a tidy-looking encounter, while Swansea (second) visit lowly Barnsley knowing that an 18-0 win will put them top, because leaders QPR play tomorrow..."
Wolverhampton v Liverpool line-ups Wolverhampton: Hennessey, Zubar, Stearman, Berra, Ward, Jarvis, Henry, Milijas, Hunt, Doyle, Fletcher. Subs: Hahnemann, Craddock, David Jones, Vokes, Hammill, Mouyokolo, Davis. Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson, Kuyt, Lucas, Poulsen, Meireles, Maxi, Torres. Subs: Gulacsi, Aurelio, Cole, Pacheco, Kyrgiakos, Spearing, Shelvey. Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)
WOLVES v LIVERPOOL (1245 GMT) Mandeep Sanghera
reports: "Liverpool will be out for revenge after being beaten 1-0 by Wolves at Anfield on 29 December in a defeat which hastened former Reds boss Roy Hodgson's exit. King Kenny has since taken over but is without a win in his three games - two in the league - in charge. Although Wolves are second-from-bottom of the Premier League, they are just five points behind the Reds, who have not won at Molineux in six games since victory courtesy of an Alan Hansen goal in April 1979."
1215: But there is plenty going on before then. Oh yes. Wolves take on Liverpool in today's early top-flight game, and (if you are in the UK), give this page a manual refresh and you will be able to watch Football Focus.
1212: Did they take his sweets too, then? I hope not. Anyway, I'm pretty sure Newcastle fans will be sympathetic to Redknapp's experience when he walks out at St James' Park later on today...
1208 GMT: Hello. I've heard enough managers say "we wuz robbed" down the years, but Harry Redknapp is probably the first one to actually
have his wallet nicked,
the poor bloke (although
Steve Bruce was attacked outside his house in 2004).
The Tottenham boss was in Madrid to watch Diego Forlan, and was buying some sweets when this happened: "It was so packed. The next thing there's two guys on their knees in front of me and I felt someone pull my overcoat."
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