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Page last updated at 19:58 GMT, Saturday, 12 February 2011

Saturday football as it happened


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By Chris Bevan

2000: Don't forget you can watch all today's action from the Football League too, in the aptly named Football League Show on BBC One and this website (again in the UK only) at 2355 GMT. Enjoy, and make sure you join me tomorrow for Bolton versus Everton at 1600 GMT. Bye for now.

1954: Here is something you may be interested in... the running order for Match of the Day, which is on BBC One and this website (in the UK only) at 2230 GMT. Like I said earlier, it is worth watching for Wayne Rooney's goal alone. Lucky you don't have to wait long to see it then isn't it, because the Manchester derby is the first game up... the order is as follows:

1. Man Utd v Man City
2. WBA v West Ham
3. Arsenal v Wolves
4. Sunderland v Spurs
5. Liverpool v Wigan
6. Birmingham v Stoke
7. Blackpool v Villa
8. Blackburn v Newcastle.
All of which are followed by the January Goal of the Month held over from last week. A feast of fabulous goals then...

FULL-TIME Sunderland 1-2 Tottenham
Oliver Brett reports: "Not the most composed performance from the visitors, but a very welcome three points from Spurs who can travel to AC Milan in good spirits. Sunderland, worryingly, are making a habit of losing matches in which they have taken an early lead."

FULL-TIME Birmingham 1-0 Stoke
Les Roopanarine reports: "Birmingham's improved second-half showing injected some much-needed life into the afternoon - as did Nikola Zigic's injury-time winner - but it's fair to say that drama pulled up a seat about 92 minutes too late."

FULL-TIME Liverpool 1-1 Wigan
Phil Dawkes reports: "A battling performance from struggling Wigan earns them a deserved and impressive draw at Anfield. While it is far from a disaster for Liverpool, it does represent a minor blip in their resurgence under Kenny Dalglish."

FULL-TIME Blackpool 1-1 Aston Villa
Paul Fletcher reports: "Blackpool stop the rot with a point against Aston Villa. It was fully deserved."

FULL-TIME West Brom 3-3 West Ham
Michael Da Silva reports: Truly a game of two halves! West Brom were rampant in the first, but credit to West Ham - and Demba Ba - who showed the kind of fighting spirit that could just keep them up.

FULL-TIME Blackburn 0-0 Newcastle
Nabil Hassan reports: "Newcastle dominated this game against Blackburn but lacked that vital x-factor in the final third."

FULL-TIME Arsenal 2-0 Wolves
Ian Hughes reports: "A comfortable win for Arsenal and outstanding performances from Robin van Persie and Jack Wilshere - memories of that capitulation at Newcastle banished (almost)."

FULL-TIME Man Utd 2-1 Man City
Chief football writer Phil McNulty reports: "Wayne Rooney's spectacular late winner put Manchester United's Premier League title assault back on course and left City devastated."

1938: Goal fans have probably noticed things were a bit quieter on that front today... just 19, opposed to 41 last Saturday. But it's about quality not quantity in my book - and I reckon Wayne Rooney's overhead kick is worth about 20 of your run-of-the-mill strikes on its own. Before I tell you when you can watch it, here's a little reminder of what happened around the Premier League grounds earlier on today...

EmJayLambert on Twitter: "Sandro's best performance so far, Kranjcar doing all he can to stay at the club/get a decent move in the summer. Pav useless."

1928: So, three defeats in a row for Sunderland, after being ahead in all of those games. They stay seventh, while Tottenham climb above Chelsea and into fourth after their third straight win. And, if Spurs win their game in hand, they will move above third-placed Manchester City.

Full time
1924: FULL-TIME Sunderland 1-2 Tottenham

1925: Time for one last Sunderland attack? Yes. But it breaks down when Stephane Sessegnon fails to find Jordan Henderson with what should have been a straightforward pass on the edge of the Spurs area. Black Cats boss Steve Bruce looks exasperated on the sidelines.

1922: Sunderland waste the first two minutes of added time trying to win the ball back. When they do, they promptly give it away again.

1920: The 90 minutes are up at the Stadium of Light... where we will have four minutes of added time.

NeilKnighton on Twitter: "Re 1912. Has Pav done anything positive in the match? Needs to take some pointers from Kranjcar on how to make an impression."

Football League Macca: "The end of the game and the end of Derby's misery. Sven-Goran Eriksson's Leicester move up to seventh and are headed in the right direction after a 2-0 win. A lot of work to be done by Nigel Clough, if he is given the time to do it." FT Derby 0-2 Leicester

1917: Maybe not so dangerous after all: Zenden promptly blasts it straight into the Spurs wall. Tottenham are taking Jermain Defoe off, with Wilson Palacios on to tighten things up in midfield.

1915: Another Sunderland change. Nedum Onuoha is being replaced by Bolo Zenden. Moments later, Sunderland win a free-kick about 25 yards out when Jermaine Jenas jumps for the ball with Sulley Muntari. This looks dangerous... Zenden is behind it.

Football League Macca: "Five minutes of injury time at Pride Park but Derby could carry on for the rest of the weekend and not look like scoring. The Leicester fans have started the party already." Derby 0-2 Leicester

Yellow card
1912: Another booking for Mike Jones to deal with - Tottenham's Roman Pavluchenko is penalised for time wasting. Less than 10 minutes left for Sunderland now.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1908: Sunderland's best effort for a while. Asamoah Gyan and Sulley Muntari link up well on the edge of the Spurs box and tee up Kieran Richardson, who sees his shot spin off Sandro's boot and land on the top of the bar.

1908: That's the last we will see of Steven Pienaar actually. He is off and Aaron Lennon is on, after a slight delay because the fourth official forgot to turn on his electronic board.

1905: Time for a Sunderland change, with Ahmed Al Muhammadi on for Steed Malbranque. We've got a bit of a delay at the Stadium of Light, while Steven Pienaar gets treatment for a hamstring injury.

Yellow card
1904: Heurelho Gomes gets a booking for time-wasting after taking an age to take the free-kick after Asamoah Gyan is caught marginally offside. Gomes then smacks the ball straight out of play. An interesting tactic, that one.

1902: It's been quite a bad-tempered encounter, this one, and we see more handbags here after Asamoah Gyan challenges Heurelho Gomes for a high ball. Yes, it was a free-kick because Gyan jumped into him, but it was hardly as big a crime as Gomes made out.

1859: Sulley Muntari tries his luck from 30 yards or so but his left-footed drive drifts a couple of yards wide... I think Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes had that covered. Sunderland have less than 20 minutes left to try to salvage something from a game they were in control of at one stage.

Yellow card
1858: Big, big shouts for a penalty from Sunderland when Kieran Richardson's quick cross hits Vedran Corluka on the arm.. Referee Mike Jones says no, and Richardson doesn't take the decision too well - chasing Corluka and haranguing him. His reward is a yellow card.

From Spurs fan in Wakefield, via text: "Bramble on the team sheet always gives me hope."

1853: Asamoah Gyan is behind a free-kick for Sunderland from about 25 yards out. He tries to bend it over the wall but fails, and Spurs clear. Fair to say that the Black Cats have lost their way somewhat in this game. The home fans at the Stadium of Light have gone a bit quiet too.

From Tom in Liverpool, via text: "Sorry for being a pedant here but I assume James in Stratford is incorrectly referring to Gallas as a World Cup winner whereas the yellow booted sulker was actually not in France's 1998 World Cup winning squad."

Football League Macca: "The game at Pride Park has been temporarily halted while Leicester pair Ben Mee and Souleymane Bamba recover from a clash of heads. Not much sign of a Derby comeback as we pass the midway stage of the second half." Derby 0-2 Leicester

Tottenham goal: Does Niko Kranjcar ever score scrappy goals? After last week's pearler against Bolton, he puts Spurs ahead with another super strike. Kranjcar pounces after Sandro's cross is headed clear by John Mensah, but only as far as the Croatian... who meets it on the edge of the area and smashes it past Craig Gordon. Unstoppable.

1846: GOALFLASH Sunderland 1-2 Tottenham (Kranjcar)

1844: More half-chances for Sunderland. Jordan Henderson drags an angled shot roll wide from the right-hand side of the box and Stephane Sessegnon shoots straight at Heurelho Gomes from a similar position. I wonder if Sessegnon would do a Beagrie-style somersault if he scores?

1842: Sunderland's turn to attack and, after good work by Asamoah Gyan down the left, Kieran Richardson tees up Steed Malbranque to fire in a shot that Michael Dawson has to block. That was going in too.

1839: A promising build-up by Tottenham, containing lots of slick one-touch passing, ends with Vedran Corluka slipping Steven Pienaar into space down the right-hand side of the area. Sunderland clear for a corner but Spurs keep pressing and, from a curling Benoit Assou-Ekotto cross, Phil Bardsley has to hack clear from under his bar after another Michael Dawson header is met by William Gallas, with Craig Gordon doing well to get a hand to the ball. That was pretty frantic stuff.

OptaJoe on Twitter: "17 - Before today Sunderland had dropped the most points from winning positions while Spurs had recouped the most when losing. Turnaround?"

1837: Sunderland are the first to attack, and Stephane Sessegnon shows off some silky skills to turn Niko Krankcar inside-out not once, but twice. Reminds me of Peter Beagrie in his prime, sort of. Anyway, the Black Cats have a corner which Jordan Henderson wastes by hitting it far too deep.

1835: The second half is under way at the Stadium of Light.

From James in Stratford, via text: "To Jim in Essex at 1829. take a look at West Ham's back four today and our endless injury list. You have a World Cup winner at the back!"

Football League Macca: "We're back up and running at Pride Park. Derby in desperate need of some Cloughie half-time team talk magic. The manager has brought on Tomasz Cywka, criticised by him recently, for Stephen Pearson." Derby 0-2 Leicester.

1829: It was Titus Bramble who should have been picking up Michael Dawson for the Spurs equaliser. He was nowhere near him. Sunderland just don't deal with set-pieces, do they?

From Jim in Essex via text: "Spurs have got a second string midfield and back two today. Hard to think of any Premier League club playing well with that kind of loss."

jagdeeplall on Twitter: "I'm sure Gallas earns enough money to afford a half-decent pair of boots!!"

Half time
1819: HALF-TIME Sunderland 1-1 Tottenham
Oliver Brett's HT snapshot:
"Spurs started sloppily and their work-rate was vastly inferior to Sunderland's, but after Gyan's skilful opener, Dawson's equalising header will give the visitors a boost."

Tottenham goal: Another soft goal, and those bright yellow boots of William Gallas are involved again too. Michael Dawson rises unchallenged from a corner to send a header goalwards - Craig Gordon should really deal with it but, with Gallas running in front of him, he is unsighted and cannot stop it from bouncing through his legs. Ouch.

1816: GOALFLASH Sunderland 1-1 Tottenham (Dawson)

1814: A sniff of a chance for Spurs. Roman Pavlyuchenko releases Benoit Assou-Ekotto down the left and his low cross is heading for Jermain Defoe until it is hacked clear by Nedum Onuoha.

1813: Tottenham's free-kicks continue to disappoint. This time Benoit Assou-Ekotto hoists a long-range one into the Sunderland area, but it bounces straight out of play. Five minutes left until half-time.

Football League Macca: "Half-time at Pride Park but not before Leicester go 2-0 up through Andy King's 14th of the season. It's a delightful goal as they pick apart the Derby defence before King slots in. The whistle is met by boos from the home fans. Not good for Nigel Clough and his Rams." Derby 0-2 Leicester

1810: That's more like it from Spurs, with Niko Kranjkar releasing Roman Pavluchenko to angle in a drive that fizzes over Craig Gordon's bar. Following swiftly afterwards are some handbags involving Kieran Richardson and a couple of Spurs players... but referee Mike Jones either didn't see it, or decided to ignore it.

Yellow card
1806: Spurs have another free-kick after Sulley Muntari is booked for a foul on Roman Pavlyuchenko. Niko Kranjcar takes this one - it isn't quite so bad as Jenas's effort... but not much better. Kranjcar drives the ball low into a crowd of players inside the box and the Black Cats are able to clear their lines.

1804: Jermaine Jenas sums up Tottenham's performance so far, running up to fire in a free-kick and skewing it horribly high and wide. Think Cristiano Ronaldo's toe-pokes, but without any sort of skill.

daxfullbrook on Twitter: "Spurs are a shambles today. this performance stinks of one eye on the Champions League."

Give 'em time... but, yes, this has been a pretty awful start by Harry Redknapp's men.

1802: The Tottenham defence backs off as Phil Bardsley advances to the edge of the area. He has space to shoot but, when he does, he blazes the ball high over Heurelho Gomes's bar.

1759: Spurs are not quite being out-classed but they are definitely being out-passed at the moment - Sunderland have made 87 successful passes so far, compared to 47 by the visitors. That figures actually, because Harry Redknapp's men have made a very scrappy start.

1756: Niko Kranjcar, who scored a super late winner for Tottenham against Bolton last week, tries again from distance here. But he is running across the edge of the area when he lets fly and cannot generate anything like the power he needs - his shot rolls wide but it would not have troubled Craig Gordon anyhow.

Football League Macca: "Paul Gallagher almost makes it 2-0 to Leicester as he whistles one just wide of the upright with a well-struck right-foot effort. The Foxes are full of confidence and Derby need to get a foothold in the game."

1752: William Gallas changing his boots (into a luminous yellow pair) left Michael Dawson with two men to mark for Sunderland's goal, and to add insult to injury, Asamoah Gyan actually fired through Dawson's legs after collecting Kieran Richardson's cross from the left.

Football League Macca: "It's been a quiet half hour at Pride Park but not now as Leicester new boy Ayegbeni Yakubu scores an absolute stunner. Derby fail to clear and Yakubu produces a touch of class, followed by a superb volley. It's not quite Rooney-esque, but it's very decent." Leicester 0-1 Derby

1750: Sandro has fired over from a promising position for Tottenham but I don't think they have really recovered from falling behind yet. The visitors need to take the sting out of this game somehow.

1746: Sulley Muntari is lucky not to get a card after catching Spurs striker Roman Pavlyuchenko with a wild aerial challenge. Sunderland have just had another pop at goal too, with Stephane Sessegnon testing Heurelho Gomes with a swerving shot. Not enough power to beat the Tottenham keeper though.

Sunderland goal: Straight out of Sunday League this one. With William Gallas off the pitch and changing his boots, the Black Cats take advantage. They break forward and, with the Spurs defence at sixes and sevens, Asamoah Gyan controls a Kieran Richardson cross, swivels and finds the corner of the net with a precise shot. I cannot imagine Harry Redknapp will be too impressed.

1743: GOALFLASH Sunderland 1-0 Tottenham (Gyan)

1742: Steed Malbranque has had the most efforts on goal without scoring in the Premier League this season and he has just been unsuccessful again, firing wide from the edge of an area after a free-kick is half-cleared.

1740: Sunderland want a penalty when Nedum Onuoha is caught by Nico Kranjcar as he runs into the box to meet a free-kick. Krankcar's boot was high, when he cut out the attempted pass, but he made only minimal contact with the Black Cats defender as well as getting the ball.

1737: More good work by Tottenham, well until the finish anyway. Jermain Defoe cuts in from the left and rolls the ball into the path of Jermaine Jenas, who skies his shot high over the bar.

1734: A bit of sloppy defending by Sunderland lets Roman Pavlyuchenko in and he almost feeds Jermain Defoe, who is lurking on the edge of the area. This is a bright start by Spurs.

1732: Right then. Tottenham get us going. There is one other game going on at the moment too by the way. It's in the Championship, where Derby are drawing with Leicester.

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy after his side were outclassed by Arsenal, who won 2-0 at the Emirates but would have scored many more but for visiting keeper Wayne Hennessey: "There was a murder going on. They have murdered us today - all over the park, from 1 to 11, they were better than us, stronger than us and quicker than us. I have to admire their class and the way they play. We were spanked."

1727: The players emerge from the tunnel at the Stadium of Light. Tottenham's opponents today are in red-and-white stripes... on Tuesday, they will be in red-and-black. We are about to find out just how much next week's Champions League clash with AC Milan will affect Harry Redknapp's in-form side.

Football League Macca: "If you've not had your daily fill of Championship drama then Derby v Leicester is just kicking off now. The Foxes have won five out of six, while Derby have lost eight of 11. But everyone knows you can throw that formbook out of the window when it comes to east Midlands derbies. More cliches to follow, undoubtedly."

1723: We have had 16 Premier League goals so far today, so just another 25 needed at the Stadium of Light to match our tally of 41 from last week... shouldn't be too much of a problem then.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew on his side's 0-0 draw with Blackburn: "I thought we bossed the game for long periods and had plenty of chances. We were magnificent today - we dealt with Blackburn's style and out played them."

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson on THAT spectacular Wayne Rooney overhead kick which sank neighbours City earlier today: "I've not seen anything like it. Absolutely stunning. Unbelievable. We've scored some fantastic goals but in terms of execution you'll never see that again."

"What I need to get out of Wayne and Berbatov is a performance away from home because they should be dictating and if they do it will make a huge difference to Manchester United.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on his side's one-sided 2-0 win over Wolves: "The chances we created and the speed of our play was fantastic. We wanted to come back and win after last week - we know what we want to achieve; we are in the title race and in a good position."

Sunderland v Tottenham line-ups
Sunderland: Gordon, Bardsley, Mensah, Bramble, Onuoha, Malbranque, Henderson, Muntari, Richardson, Gyan, Sessegnon. Subs: Mignolet, Zenden, Angeleri, Riveros, Colback, Elmohamady, Ferdinand.
Tottenham: Gomes, Corluka, Dawson, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto, Pienaar, Jenas, Sandro, Kranjcar, Defoe, Pavlyuchenko. Subs: Cudicini, Lennon, Palacios, Crouch, Bassong, Khumalo, Woodgate.
Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish on his side's 1-1 draw with struggling Wigan: "It was hard-fought game. You can see the legacy of the midweek international with the players. We gave as hard as we could and, with a bit of luck, Luis Suarez could have had two goals. Wigan competed well. I think their goal was maybe offside but these things happen."

davidlocke1992 on Twitter: "Simply not good enough from Liverpool. Too many poor performances (Maxi, Aurelio, Johnson) but credit to Wigan, they performed."

Oliver Brett reports:
"Harry Redknapp makes four changes as Tottenham keep half an eye on Tuesday's Champions League date in Milan. The injured Rafael van der Vaart makes way, as does Wilson Palacios, Aaron Lennon and Peter Crouch. They are all on the bench, with Niko Kranjcar, Steven Pienaar, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Sandro brought in. Sunderland manager Steve Bruce leaves out defender Anton Ferdinand and replaces him with midfielder Steed Malbranque."

Infostrada Sports on Twitter: "Van Persie has scored 10 Premier League goals in 2011, a new PL record for most goals in first two months of a calendar year."

Oliver Brett reports:
"Having lost out to West Ham in terms of taking ownership of the Olympic Stadium, what Spurs do not need is an insipid final quarter of the season that sees them miss out on a top-four finish. Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is said to be an admirer of Tottenham's brand of football, but will be keen for the in-form Kieran Richardson - said to be a summer target for Harry Redknapp - to add to his recent goal tally."

Football League Macca: "If Grant Holt went on Mastermind his specialist subject would be late winners. His injury-time goal sees Norwich beat 10-man Reading to go third. Swansea stage a crazy comeback to win 4-3 at Boro, while Millwall grabbed a late leveller at Sheff Utd and Barnsley did likewise at home to Ipswich. Cardiff go second by beating Scunny. Despite a late goal for Sheff Wed, Gary Megson slipped to a 2-1 loss in his first game in charge and Colchester sealed a late win at Swindon."

From anonymous Hammers fan via text: "Re Steve at 1537. West Ham actually need the track for a lap of honour."

1658: Amazing comebacks, stunning goals... just another Saturday afternoon in the Premier League I suppose. We are not done yet, either. Sunderland versus Tottenham is coming up at 1730 GMT.

Full time
1658: FULL-TIME West Brom 3-3 West Ham

1658: FULL-TIME Blackpool 1-1 Aston Villa

Full time
1655: FULL-TIME Blackburn 0-0 Newcastle

1655: FULL-TIME Birmingham 1-0 Stoke

1654: Villa want a penalty in stoppage time when Alex Baptiste tangles with Ashley Young but it is not given and Young gets a booking for his protests. There is still time for the visitors to win it when they break forward quickly but Young snatches at his shot and the chance is gone.

1653: ALMOST a late, late winner for West Ham too. Manuel Da Costa meets a Mark Noble cross but heads over.

Birmingham goal: They have left it late but the three points are in the bag for the Blues with 30 seconds of injury time left. Asmir Begovic spills David Bentley's low shot and Cameron Jerome turns the ball back across goal for Nikola Zigic to nod home.

1651: GOALFLASH Birmingham 1-0 Stoke (Zigic)

Full time
1650: FULL-TIME Liverpool 1-1 Wigan

1650: FULL-TIME Arsenal 2-0 Wolves

CorneliusFinger on Twitter: "Blimey! Good thing Avram Grant didn't get the chop at half time after all, eh?"

Football League Macca: Cardiff have the breakthrough in the dying stages at home to Scunny and they look like going second. Ipswich also ahead at Barnsley while Burnley (3-1 at Watford) and Cov (2-0 against Palace) look safe. Charlton, 3-1 against P'boro, Tranmere, 3-0 up against Plymouth, and Torquay 2-0 in front at Barnet, Stockport (2-1 against Bury) also seem headed for victories.

1646: Wayne Hennessy has pulled off another terrific save to deny Theo Walcott, who had run clear after a quick-fire one-two with Marouane Chamakh. At the other end, Sylvan Ebanks Blake has just had Wolves' first notable effort on goal of a difficult afternoon, but blazed his shot over.

1645: Fabio Aurelio is the latest Liverpool player to fire over Ali Al Habsi's bar at Anfield. And, over at Ewood Park, new Newcastle signing Shefki Kuqi is about to come on for his Magpies debut.

West Ham goal: All gone quiet, has it? Erm, no. Mark Noble's cross is flicked on by Baggies defender Jonas Olsson and the ball falls for Demba Ba to sweep home a stunning first-time shot. A brilliant finish, and the comeback is complete... now, can West Ham go one better than Newcastle and go on and win it?

1642: GOALFLASH West Brom 3-3 West Ham (Ba)

1641: It has all gone a bit quiet at the Hawthorns since Frederic Piquionne hit the bar for West Ham. Still time for a grandstand finish though. At Anfield, Luis Suarez has just had another sniff of goal, but he bent his shot high over the bar after the ball broke to him inside the box. He should have done better from there.

Football League Macca: "Chris Eagles has swooped to put Burnley in front at Watford. They are up to seventh as Millwall fall behind at Sheff Utd. Bradford are beating Wycombe and Daggers are ahead against Yeovil - a result that will see Bristol Rovers slip to the foot of the L1 table."

1637: Gary Caldwell hauled back Luis Suarez for that Liverpool free-kick and he had already been booked. Kevin Friend could easily have shown him a second yellow there... perhaps he should have done. By the way, to say there were suspicions of offside about Wigan's goal is a bit of an understatement.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1635: So close for Liverpool, who hit the bar through a wicked Luis Suarez free-kick from the edge of the area. I suspect many Reds fans were expecting an easier ride in this game, but Wigan are good value for a point at the moment.

1633: Michael Bradley is coming on for his Villa debut as Gerard Houllier reshuffles his side. Blackpool have made a change too - Andy Reid is on. I promised you more goals in that one, and time is running out...

Football League Macca: We're into the last 20 minutes, when anything can happen. Swansea have pulled it back to 3-3 at Boro. Two quick goals have also put Charlton 2-1 up against Peterboro, Hartlepool now just 4-1 down at Brighton (surely too late?), while Stockport - propping up the Footy League - are beating Bury. If it wasn't for their -36 goal difference they'd be out of the dropzone."

Red card
Villa red card: A bit harsh this. Yes, Jean Makoun is late with his tackle on DJ Campbell but he didn't get that much of the man. Referee Howard Webb decides it is a straight red card, however, and Villa are down to 10 men.

1630: RED CARD Aston Villa's Jean Makoun

Football League Macca: "Leeds have a second at Bristol City through Max Gradel's effort. Six more and they will be second with Cardiff, Norwich and Swansea all level or losing. In fact the Swans have just gone 3-1 behind at Boro through Leroy Lita. Pompey are now 2-0 up at Doncaster. In L1, Brighton are beating Hartlepool 4-0, Bournemouth are keeping pace by winning at Walsall and MK Dons were briefly in fourth but Brentford have now levelled."

1629: Blackpool, who are defending well for a change, are coming forward with confidence too. Jason Puncheon has just volleyed wide from about 18 yards and the Seasiders are giving Villa plenty to think about.

1626: Only two Premier League games remain goalless - Newcastle cannot turn their possession into goals at Blackburn and Birmingham are currently unable to break down Stoke. The Blues should have had a penalty, though, when David Bentley's shot was blocked by Robert Huth's hand inside the area. Huth then clutched his face in the pretence that was where the ball hit him, which was enough to fool referee Mark Halsey. Seb Larsson has also fired just wide for the home side.

Wigan goal: Suspicions of offside at Anfield but the Latics are level. Charles N'Zogbia's cross is flicked on by Antolin Alcaraz and Steve Gohouri reaches it at the back post to turn it home. Gohouri looks well off to me, but the goal stands.

1623: More chances for Arsenal, who are attacking at will - their latest opening comes and goes when Andrey Arshavin and Theo Walcott combine but Cesc Fabregas cannot get his shot away in the box and the opportunity goes begging.

1622: GOALFLASH Liverpool 1-1 Wigan (Gohouri)

1621: Fun and games at Bloomfield Road, when Aston Villa win a free-kick outside the Blackpool penalty area. Communication obviously fails because both Ashley Young and Stewart Downing attempt to take it, each pulling out as the other approaches the ball. They try again and Young manages to cross it in. At the other end, Blackpool go close through DJ Campbell, who shoots wide at the near post.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1619: Shades of St James' Park from last week at The Hawthorns today, no doubt about it. Frederic Piquionne, who made the Hammers' second goal, has just headed against the bar as his side pour forward again in search of an equaliser. Half-an-hour to go there... another 4-4?

West Ham goal: The Hammers are right back in this one now. West Brom's defence go AWOL from a Mark Noble free-kick and Frederic Piquionne is all alone to head the ball back across goal for Carlton Cole to get the final touch from point-blank range. Cole was hurt in the process of scoring, but he is back on his feet now.

1616: GOALFLASH West Brom 3-2 West Ham (Cole)

1615: Arsenal's third goal almost arrives immediately. Andrey Arshavin, who seems to be getting some stick from you lot for his lack of effort, charges down a Wayne Hennessey clearance but the ball ricochets wide of goal.

Arsenal goal: It's been coming, hasn't it? Not even Wayne Hennessey can deny the Gunners this time, after a flowing move involving Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott leaves Robin Van Persie with space and time to power home his second goal of the game.

1613: GOALFLASH Arsenal 2-0 Wolves (Van Persie)

1611: Blackburn made a couple of changes at the break, bringing on Morten Gamst Pedersen and Jason Roberts, but Newcastle are still dominating. The Magpies almost made the breakthrough too when Fabricio Coloccini met Joey Barton's corner on the edge of the box and fires the ball right down the throat of Rovers keeper Paul Robinson, who tips over.

West Ham goal: The comeback is on! Well, maybe. Mark Noble hoists the ball into the Baggies are and Demba Ba chests it down before passing it into the bottom corner of the net. A cool finish... and another Hammers goal might make things interesting.

1609: GOALFLASH West Brom 3-1 West Ham (Ba)

1607: It is Wigan with the first chance of the second half at Anfield, and they really should have scored. Victor Moses' low cross from the left finds Hugo Rodallega at the near post, but he puts his first-time side-foot shot wide under pressure from Jamie Carragher.

Football League and Blue Square Bet Premier Macca: "Worth a mention - Darlington, down in the Blue Square Bet Premier, were 5-0 up at half-time at home to Eastbourne Borough. Marc Bridge-Wilkinson helped himself to a hat-trick after just 33 minutes. Wonder if Eastbourne can outdo Newcastle's efforts with a comeback?

1604: Only a terrific Wayne Hennessey save, with his leg, stopped Robin van Persie extending their lead before the break and they have just had two chances in quick succession. First Theo Walcott shot wastefully wide when clean through and then Hennessey had to react quickly to stop Richard Stearman turning a cross into his own net, sticking out his leg again to block the ball. Somehow, Wolves are still only 1-0 down.

1601: We are under way everywhere apart from, you guessed it, Bloomfield Road.

From, Dave a disillusioned Hammers fan in Nottingham, via text: "Unbelievable no passion and no belief. Dare I say it, West Ham are Championship fodder."

Zain_Patel on Twitter: "Is it a case of 'When' rather than 'If' for Avram Grant to get sacked by West Ham now?"

He will be hoping he avoids getting the chop during the interval but the first 45 minutes did not do Mr Grant's future prospects too many favours, did they?

Football League Macca: Thankfully it sounds like things have calmed down at Ashton Gate. BBC Sport's David Ornstein reports that the police seem to have got things under control after a spot of trouble following Leeds's goal. A fair few away fans in the home end apparently.

Half time
HALF-TIME: Birmingham 0-0 Stoke
Les Roopanarine reports: "With apologies to Alan Hansen, when you talk about tempo and enterprise and goalmouth incident, you're unlikely to be talking about this bore-fest. Nikola Zigic headed over for Birmingham early on, Jermaine Pennant sent a free-kick narrowly wide later on, and very little else happened either side of those moments."

HALF-TIME: Blackburn 0-0 Newcastle
Nabil Hassan's HT snapshot: "This time last week both these sides had conceded five goals between them. None so far, but both have gone close with Roque Santa Cruz heading against the post for Blackburn and Newcastle forward Peter Lovenkrands lobbing onto the bar. Entertaining game at Ewood Park which Newcastle have shaded.."

Half time
HALF-TIME: Liverpool 1-0 Wigan
Phil Dawkes' HT snapshot: "Liverpool have lacked fluency for large parts but Raul Meireles' goal is reward for a half they have edged. However, Wigan have offered enough to suggest they capable of getting themselves back into the game."

HALF-TIME: West Brom 3-0 West Ham
Michael Da Silva HT snapshot:
"What a first half! Roy Hodgson must be wishing he had escaped Liverpool sooner. The new boss couldn't ask for much more from his side, who have been brilliant at times. Graham Dorrans and Jerome Thomas have combined to devastating effect to give the Baggies a surely unassailable 3-0 lead. West Ham have hit the woodwork twice but, on the whole, they have been woeful."

Football League Macca: "Boro have nudged their necks back in front at home to Swansea again, this time through Jonathan Grounds. Coventry are also in front through Richard Wood. Portsmouth - winless since 11 December - are winning at Doncaster, while Hull are beating Preston who, coincidentally, are also winless since 11 December."

HALF-TIME: Arsenal 1-0 Wolves
Ian Hughes's HT snapshot: "For the second match in a row, Arsenal totally dominate the first half and look well on their way to victory - but as last week showed, football really can be a game of two halves!"

Half time
HALF-TIME: Blackpool 1-1 Aston Villa
Paul Fletcher's HT snapshot:
"The first-half rather disappointingly faded out after a series of early chances. Frustration on both sides, with Blackpool's Charlie Adam taking out his on a advertising board that now needs some serious repair work."

1550: It's half-time at Bloomfield Road, and the other five top-flight games too.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1549: It's a shame about West Ham's defending because they look pretty handy going forward. Gary O'Neil smashes a shot against the bar from the edge of area with Boaz Myhill beaten... but the Hammers will go in at the break trailing by three goals.

1546: After a flurry of early chances it has all gone a little quiet at Bloomfield Road. Both teams have lost a player to injury, first Aston Villa defender Carlos Cuellar and then Blackpool goalscorer Elliott Grandin. Referee's assistant Sian Massey is running the line today - her first involvement in a Premier League fixture since the whole saga erupted following remarks made by Andy Gray and Richard Keys.

1543: Arsenal want a penalty when Andrey Arshavin skips into the box and runs into Adam Hammill. Chris Foy, who I promise not to call Chris Hoy today, says no. At Ewood Park, Joey Barton might have had an elbow in the face but he is helping Newcastle run the midfield against Blackburn. The Magpies are very much on top in that one but no goals yet.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1542: Better by West Ham, who go close at the right end this time. When a corner isn't cleared, Baggies keeper Boaz Myhill does well to get a hand on to a Demba Ba shot and turn it on to the post. The ball is rolling across the goal-line until James Morrison whacks it clear.

1540: Hmmm. Dare I say it has gone a bit quiet on the goal front?

BBC Sport's David Ornstein on Twitter: "At Bristol City v Leeds. Sell-out at Ashton Gate, superb game & atmosphere but depressing scenes of violence since Snodgrass opener for Leeds."

From Steve in Cambridge, via text: "See why West Ham need the running track now. So the other team have a place to run rings around them."

1537: No chances at St Andrew's to tell you about, just some wild tackles. First, Jermaine Pennant's clumsy challenge on Birmingham striker Nikola Zigic briefly enlivens the proceedings, the prone winger's boot accidentally connecting with the back of Zigic's head. Moments later, Craig Gardner goes in hard on Stoke's Danny Pugh. Pennant responds by swinging a free-kick narrowly wide. Still 0-0.

noonen7 on Twitter: "What did Dalglish did to Meireles? He is on fire since Hodgson left. Great goal!"

Football League Macca: "Reading have levelled at Norwich through Shane Long. In L1 Rochdale have a second and Gary Megson is having a debut to forget. Peterborough lead at Charlton while lowly L2 side Barnet are down to 10 men and trail against Torquay."

West Brom goal: West Ham's defending has been terrible today but at least they weren't putting the ball into their own net. Well, not until now anyway. Graeme Dorrans bends over a free-kick from the left and it hits Winston Reid at the back post before bouncing in.

1532: GOALFLASH West Brom 3-0 West Ham (Reid og)

1530: West Ham finally seem to have woken up at The Hawthorns but have not created a clear-cut chance yet. At the Emirates, Wayne Hennessey has just pulled off a fabulous point-blank save from Theo Walcott, before Cesc Fabregas's follow-up hits Richard Stearman on the line. Arsenal are threatening to run riot.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1527: Almost a second goal for Liverpool, after a lovely piece of skill by Luis Suarez. He drops a shoulder to make space for a shot inside the box but his curling effort hits the far post and bounces to safety.

1527: Here come Arsenal again. Andrey Arshavin should make it 2-0 for the Gunners but he fails to properly connect with a corner that Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey misjudges, the Russian sending his volley wide of the gaping goal.

Football League Macca: A quick flood of goals and some important ones too. Norwich are ahead at home to Reading and fellow Championship promotion hopefuls Leeds lead at Bristol City. Brighton have a second at home to Hartlepool. Sheff Wed trail at Rochdale - not a great start for Megson's men.

Liverpool goal: He is in form and, seemingly, unstoppable. Fabio Aurelio's cross from the left finds Raul Meireles who smashes the ball past Ali Al-Habsi for his fourth goal in his last five games. Liverpool, looking for their fifth straight win, are off to a pretty good start.

1524: GOALFLASH Liverpool 1-0 Wigan (Meireles)

Football League Macca: Four goals in the Championship so far and they have come at two games. Boro took the lead against high-flying Swansea, but the Swans have just levelled. Similarly, Watford and Burnley have traded strikes at Vicarage Road. L1 leaders Brighton are ahead against Hartlepool and Leyton Orient have shrugged off the Olympic shenanigans to put two past struggling Bristol Rovers already.

1523: Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton gets an elbow in the face from Martin Olsson as they tussle for possession but it didn't seem intentional to me. Referee Stuart Atwell agrees but Barton doesn't look too happy, understandably.

1520: Some news from Anfield, where not a lot has happened so far. Wigan settled the quickest but the Reds are now starting to apply some pressure. It is Dirk Kuyt who produces the home side's first goal-bound with a 20-yard drive, but Ali Al-Habsi is able to save easily.

1519: Yep, the chances just keep coming at Bloomfield Road. Stewart Downing has a great chance to restore Villa's advantage but, clean through, he sees his shot blocked by Richard Kingson's legs.

Blackpool goal: The Seasiders are quickly back on level terms at Bloomfield Road, Elliott Grandin heading home at the near post from Charlie Adam's corner. I've got a feeling there could be a few more goals in this one.

Arsenal goal: Another nice finish, this one. Cesc Fabregas clips in a ball from the right and Robin van Persie connects with a sweet volley that flies beyond Wayne Hennessey's desperate dive. Still plenty of time for a Wolves comeback though...

1516: GOALFLASH Arsenal 1-0 Wolves (Van Persie)

1516: GOALFLASH Blackpool 1-1 Aston Villa (Grandin)

Someone has struck the woodwork
1515: More woodwork at Ewood Park, where Peter Lovenkrands has just hit the bar for Newcastle with a delightfully dinked chip after running on to a long ball. Unlucky.

1514: Birmingham have made a lively start against Stoke, with Sebastian Larsson in particular catching the eye. The Sweden international created the Blues' best chance so far when he swung in a far-post cross to Nikola Zigic, only for the 6ft 8in Serb to head over under pressure.

1513: No goals yet at Ewood Park but both sides have had a sniff now. Newcastle's first attack sees Kevin Nolan just fail to connect with Joey Barton's cut back.

Villa goal: A swift break sees Darren Bent slip Gabriel Agbonlahor clear, and he rounds Richard Kingson before, only just, slotting home. His shot actually went through the legs of Ian Evatt who had got back to the line in an attempt to cover. That is the 50th Premier League goal that Blackpool have conceded this season.

1511: GOALFLASH Blackpool 0-1 Aston Villa (Agbonlahor)

Someone has struck the woodwork
1510: Blackburn go close against Newcastle, with Roque Santa Cruz heading a Chris Samba flick against the post.

1509: It has stopped hailing at the Emirates - not sure what the weather will do next there. On the pitch, Arsenal striker Robin van Persie has two early sighters at goal, firing a 25-yard free-kick over and then slicing wide from just outside the box.

West Brom goal: The Baggies are rampant. Another neat build-up ends when Marc-Antoine Fortune tees up Jerome Thomas inside the box, and he has time to pick his spot and stroke the ball home into the bottom corner of the net.

1507: GOALFLASH West Brom 2-0 West Ham (Thomas)

1506: Almost a second goal for the Baggies. It should be, to be fair. A swift attack down the left is half-cleared but Chris Brunt follows up to fire in a close-range shot that is going in until it hits his West Brom team-mate Marc-Antoine Fortune on the line.

1505: An early chance for Aston Villa too, but Darren Bent's low strike is blocked by Ian Evatt. The England striker was given far too much time to control Gabriel Agbonlahor's low cross before shooting.

West Brom goal: Not quite in the Wayne Rooney class but this effort by Graeme Dorrans is a bit special too. He picks up the ball on the edge of the box and lashes home a fierce drive. A pretty good start for new boss Roy Hodgson, watching from the stands.

1503: GOALFLASH West Brom 1-0 West Ham (Dorrans)

1502: The players at the Emirates are being pelted with hailstones, which seemed unlikely a few minutes ago when the sun was shining. Even the Premier League weather is crazy these days, it seems.

1501: And at Blackpool too now. No goals yet, but give it time...

1500: We are under way everywhere apart from at Bloomfield Road.

1459: It was around this time last week that Sam Lyon took his last breath for about the next two hours. What will be in store for us today, then?

1458: Ah, apologies if Roberto Mancini appears to be speaking double-dutch below - my fault, not his.

Man City boss Roberto Mancini on his side's derby defeat: "Wayne Rooney can change every game because he is a fantastic player. But we didn't deserve to lose. We played very well and I'm not worried for the result because this is football. What was important is that we played a good game."

1455: I am just watching the Arsenal players limber up in the tunnel at the Emirates. After last week's shenanigans at St James' Park, how many goals will they need to score today before people say they have wrapped up the three points?

GrazDay on Twitter: "I think that Rooney goal is the kickstart to an even crazier day of football than we saw last weekend! Optimistic?"

It's asking a lot, but a few more goals like that one would be nice...

Injured Man Utd defender Rio Ferdinand on Twitter: "Wow....what a goal by ROOOOOOONEY!!! What a way to win the derby!! Everyone of us were class. Nani MOM with 1 goal 1 assist... what a player."

Manchester United matchwinner Wayne Rooney on THAT goal, his superb overhead kick that won the Manchester derby: "I think it's the best goal I've ever scored, I saw it coming over and I thought, why not? I was just delighted to see it go in the net and get the three points. Nine times out of 10 they go into the stand… it's the first overhead kick I've scored since turning professional."

From Isaac via text: "Big game for Arsenal today, will we bounce back or was the Newcastle result the start of the traditional February collapse we are so accustomed to?! Come on the Gooners!"

Michael Da Silva reports:
"Roy Hodgson will watch from the stands as James Morrison, Graham Dorrans and Gonzalo Jara are all handed starts for the Baggies, who were comprehensively beaten 3-0 at Manchester City last weekend. Senegalese striker Demba Ba makes his first West Ham start following his move from Hoffenheim, replacing Victor Obinna in the starting line-up. He partners Carlton Cole in attack for the Hammers."

Phil Dawkes reports: "Steven Gerrard, who missed England's midweek friendly win in Denmark with a groin problem, is absent for Liverpool and so Fabio Aurelio comes into midfield. There is a first start for Luis Suarez up front as Kenny Dalglish opts for a more attacking formation, that sees Daniel Agger miss out on selection. Gary Caldwell is fit again after a fractured cheekbone and returns for Wigan in defence, replacing Emmerson Boyce. This is the only change from the Latics side that beat Blackburn 4-3 last Saturday."

Ian Hughes reports: "Arsenal make only one change from the side that squandered a four-goal lead at Newcastle, with Alex Song replacing the suspended Abou Diaby. Wolves stick with the same team that inflicted a first defeat of the season on Manchester United."

Les Roopanarine reports: "New signing Obafemi Martins goes straight into Alex McLeish's Birmingham side for today's visit of Stoke, and will partner Nikola Zigic up front. In one other change, Sebastian Larsson starts in midfield, which means a place on the bench for Lee Bowyer. In a trio of adjustments to the Stoke side that edged past Sunderland last time out, Marc Wilson, Danny Pugh and Jonathan Walters all start. Andy Wilkinson and Danny Higginbotham are on the bench, while Aston Villa loanee John Carew continues alongside Kenwyne Jones in attack. "

Paul Fletcher reports: "Blackpool
boss Ian Holloway makes four changes from the team that conceded five at Everton last weekend, including Richard Kingson replacing injured goalkeeper Paul Rachubka. Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier makes two changes from the 2-2 draw with Fulham, Carlos Cuellar and Nigel Reo-Coker in for James Collins and Stiliyan Petrov. New signing Michael Bradley is on the bench."

Nabil Hassan reports: "Striker Roque Santa Cruz returns for Blackburn and David Dunn also starts but new signings Mauro Formica and Ruben Rochina are still not fit. Newcastle are unchanged from the side that drew with Arsenal with new signing Shefki Kuqi on the bench."

Blackpool v Aston Villa line-ups
Blackpool: Kingson, Baptiste, Evatt, Cathcart, Carney, Adam, Vaughan, Grandin, Campbell, Harewood, Varney. Subs: Kettings, Southern, Eardley, Phillips, Puncheon, Reid, Beattie.
Aston Villa: Friedel, Walker, Dunne, Cuellar, Clark, Agbonlahor, Makoun, Reo-Coker, Downing, Ashley Young, Bent. Subs: Marshall, Pires, Albrighton, Bradley, Delph, Heskey, Collins.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

Arsenal v Wolverhampton line-ups
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Wilshere, Walcott, van Persie, Arshavin. Subs: Almunia, Denilson, Squillaci, Eboue, Gibbs, Chamakh, Bendtner.
Wolverhampton: Hennessey, Zubar, Stearman, Berra, Elokobi, Hammill, Jarvis, Henry, Milijas, O'Hara, Doyle. Subs: Hahnemann, Craddock, Ebanks-Blake, Fletcher, Ward, David Jones, Foley.
Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)

nessrichard on Twitter: "The only thing that matched the finish was Rooney's celebration. No fist-pumping or arrogant cupping of the ears, just pure delight."

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford: "Manchester United get their Premier League title assault back on course after the defeat at Wolves - and Wayne Rooney's spectacular strike that beat Manchester City was worthy of winning a championship, not just a single game."

Full time
1437: FULL-TIME Man Utd 2-1 Man City

1436: City have not exactly been knocking on the door in the last few minutes and, when they do come forward, Chris Smalling is in the right place to make a perfect interception and dispossess Pablo Zabaleta on the edge of the area.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford: "Old Trafford is still buzzing from Wayne Rooney's goal - a magical moment. Has it finally finished off Manchester City's challenge?"

1435: If United hold on, they go seven points clear at the top, until Arsenal play Wolves later anyhow. City would be eight points adrift of their neighbours, having played a game more. The end of their title hopes?

West Brom v West Ham line-ups
West Brom: Myhill, Jara, Scharner, Olsson, Shorey, Brunt, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Thomas, Odemwingie, Fortune. Subs: Carson, Pablo, Morrison, Barnes, Vela, Tamas, Cox.
West Ham: Green, Jacobsen, Reid, da Costa, Bridge, O'Neil, Parker, Noble, Boa Morte, Cole, Ba. Subs: Boffin, Hitzlsperger, Kovac, Spector, Faubert, Hines, Piquionne.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

1433: City are a bit unlucky from the resulting free-kick with Vincent Kompany penalised for doing not much more than going up for a header with Edwin van der Sar who was struggling to collect it. We are into the final minute of the 90, and there will be four added minutes.

Yellow card
1430: Edin Dzeko has been off the pitch having an enormous bandage put on his head but he is back on now. City are still having a real go at this though, and Ryan Giggs goes in the book for blocking off Carlos Tevez.

1428: Pressure by City, with Nemanja Vidic leaping to clear a David Silva corner. United break through Nani but Silva runs back to clear the danger.

christianjhugo on Twitter: "Just a perfect goal from Rooney."

Blackburn v Newcastle line-ups
Blackburn: Robinson, Salgado, Samba, Nelsen, Olsson, Hoilett, Nzonzi, Jermaine Jones, Dunn, Kalinic, Santa Cruz. Subs: Bunn, Emerton, Grella, Pedersen, Mwaruwari, Roberts, Hanley.
Newcastle: Harper, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Barton, Tiote, Nolan, Gutierrez, Best, Lovenkrands. Subs: Krul, Campbell, Guthrie, Perch, Ranger, Ferguson, Kuqi.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)

Liverpool v Wigan line-ups
Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Johnson, Maxi, Lucas, Meireles, Aurelio, Suarez, Kuyt. Subs: Gulacsi, Pacheco, Jovanovic, Kyrgiakos, Wilson, Ngog, Poulsen.
Wigan: Al Habsi, Gohouri, Gary Caldwell, Alcaraz, Figueroa, N'Zogbia, Watson, McCarthy, Diame, Moses, Rodallega. Subs: Pollitt, Di Santo, Steven Caldwell, Gomez, Cleverley, McArthur, Stam.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

1424: Basically you need to watch Match of the Day tonight for that Wayne Rooney goal alone. Anyway, there are 10 minutes left for City to try to level again but it is United who are attacking... before play is brought back because of a foul, and injury, to Patrice Evra in the left-hand corner.

Man Utd goal: Absolutely amazing. There is no other way to describe this strike by Wayne Rooney. Nani sends over a cross from the right and Rooney leaps and swivels to meet it with a magical overhead kick that leaves Joe Hart with no chance. Goal of the season? Probably.

1421: GOALFLASH Man Utd 2-1 Man City (Rooney)

Birmingham v Stoke line-ups
Birmingham: Foster, Carr, Johnson, Jiranek, Ridgewell, Larsson, Ferguson, Gardner, Bentley, Zigic, Martins. Subs: Doyle, Bowyer, Phillips, Jerome, Fahey, Beausejour, Davies.
Stoke: Begovic, Delap, Huth, Shawcross, Pugh, Pennant, Whitehead, Wilson, Walters, Jones, Carew. Subs: Sorensen, Higginbotham, Collins, Whelan, Fuller, Diao, Wilkinson.
Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)

1419: Ouch. Gareth Barry takes out Wayne Rooney with a tackle that would not look out of place in a wrestling ring, using a sort of clothesline to floor him in the centre-circle. But play is allowed to continue and Nani picks up the ball and makes for goal. He skips past Vincent Kompany, who pays the inevitable price for me praising him in the previous paragraph, but blasts his shot over the bar from the edge of the box. A bit of a waste.

1416: If Chris Smalling has impressed for United today, Vincent Kompany has been immense for City. I've lost count of the number of tackles he's made but it's a LOT. Anyway, back on the pitch, it's still end-to-end, with no end-product, yet.

1414: Shaun Wright-Philips blocks off his own man, Carlos Tevez, as he shapes to shoot from the edge of the area. Not sure why. Anyway, this game is stretched out at the moment and there is a lot of space to exploit for both teams.

1413: Action at both ends, with Nani sending over a dangerous cross and Carlos Tevez seeing a deflected shot loop into Edwin van der Sar's hands. Just over 20 minutes left and this game is back in the balance.

1411: When the free-kick for that foul is finally taken, Carlos Tevez finds space to head goalwards, bringing a brilliant reflex save from Edwin van der Sar. The linesman's flag was up so it would not have counted, but still a fantastic stop.

1410: Dimitar Berbatov is on at last for United, replacing Anderson. And Paul Scholes has been booked, for a foul on Micah Richards.

Man City goal: Erm, fair to say there is an element of luck about this one. Shaun Wright-Phillips gets down the right and Edin Dzeko's first-time shot hits David Silva's backside and spins into the net. The Spaniard knew absolutely nothing about it.

1408: GOALFLASH Man Utd 1-1 Man City (Silva)

1407: More defending for United to do, when Carlos Tevez drills a cross over from the left. A lot of pre-match chat about how United would fare without Rio Ferdinand but Chris Smalling and Nemanja Vidic look pretty solid so far.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford: "Roberto Mancini showing his hand now as the giant Edin Dzeko comes on for James Milner. City's boss must know they need to work Edwin van der Sar, who has been relatively untroubled."

1404: Dzeko will replace James Milner... City going for this now. Half-an-hour left for them to try to find an equaliser.

1402: Another change for City - their £27m striker Edin Dzeko is about to come on.

1401: This second half has taken a while to get going but it is livening up now. United break forward and it takes a perfectly-timed tackle by Vincent Kompany to deny Wayne Rooney as he shapes to shoot inside the area.

1359: Hmmm. Edwin van der Sar tries to deal with a high-bouncing Paul Scholes backpass but gets his header all wrong and it spins out of play. That's a corner to City, quickly followed by another one when Wayne Rooney heads behind. This time it is half-cleared but City keep the pressure up and, after cleverly making space for a shot on the edge of the box, David Silva fires straight at Edwin van der Sar. A bit of a disappointing finish to be honest.

nealcol on Twitter: "SWP coming on... should be Dzeko... come on Mancini, get out there and win it! Don't just sit there!"

1355: Yep, here he comes. Aleksandar Kolarov is coming off... David Silva will move over to the left as part of the reshuffle.

1354: Shaun Wright-Phillips is about to come on for City, by the looks of things.

1353: Pablo Zabaleta gets his reward for chasing a lost cause, forcing a corner off John O'Shea. Aleksandar Kolarov sends it across and Micah Richards flings himself at it, but doesn't make a proper contact with his diving header. City continue to attack, however, but their pressure ends when Yaya Toure goes down inside the box. He wants a penalty but Andre Marriner, correctly, is having none of it.

1351: City are straight on to the attack. Carlos Tevez bursts down the right but his cross is headed clear and Micah Richards makes a mess of his effort to drill the ball back into the danger area. I've got a postponement in League Two to tell you about by the way: Accrington v Southend has been called off because of a waterlogged pitch.

1348: Here we go again. City get the second half started. No changes from either side at the break.

Football League Macca: "With leaders Chesterfield slipping up at Burton on Friday night, Wycombe can narrow the gap to two points with a win away to a Bradford side who have not enjoyed the sweet taste of victory since 3 Jan."

Football League Macca: "Some decent games on show in L1. Leaders Brighton host Hartlepool, while Huddersfield host promo rivals Oldham, Peterboro visit Charlton and Gary Megson's Sheff Wed reign begins at Rochdale."

Football League Macca: "Nott'm Forest have the day off (ahead of their top-of-the-table tussle at QPR tomorrow), leaving Cardiff, Norwich, Swansea and Leeds all with a chance of leapfrogging them into second. Championship top scorers Leeds would have to put eight goals past Bristol City, mind."

1346: Before the action at Old Trafford resumes, let's have a look at what is happening in the Football League today... I know just the man to ask too...

1345: Hmmm. I'm just looking at that David Silva miss for City again - he tried to place his shot but put it just the wrong side of the post. United did have to deal with a lot of early possession from the visitors but, between them, Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling have kept Carlos Tevez very quiet. The home side have done more than just defend well, though, obviously. Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and, of course, Nani have been United's best players going forward and, after a slow start, they were the men dictating the tempo before half-time.

Michael Da Silva reports:
"Roy Hodgson makes a swift return to the managerial hot-seat following his doomed tenure at Liverpool. Roberto Di Matteo's successor has one target and one target only - Premier League survival. West Ham have the same objective, and are boosted by their encouraging form of late, with two wins in their last three. I wouldn't want to predict the outcome of this one."

Phil Dawkes reports: "El Nino may have gone, but the King Kenny-infused euphoria remains firmly in place at Liverpool. Amidst all of last Sunday's Torres-induced hysteria, it was easy to forget the 1-0 win at Chelsea was the Reds fourth win on the bounce, taking them to a season-high sixth. However, with no score-settling motivation, today's game with Wigan presents an entirely different challenge. The Latics are fighting for their Premier League lives and have demonstrated already this season they are handy in a scrap with the heavyweights."

Paul Fletcher reports:
"Blackpool have lost seven of their last eight games and have the worst home record in the Premier League. The Seasiders are desperate for points but it won't be easy against an improving Aston Villa team that has lost just once in seven in all competitions."

Nabil Hassan reports: "After their amazing comeback against Arsenal last weekend, Newcastle fans will be hoping for a repeat performance today. However, the omens do not look good for the Magpies - who are looking for a first win in six games. Blackburn are aiming for a seventh consecutive win against Newcastle and have won all four matches against promoted clubs this season. You do the math."

Ian Hughes reports: "A very intriguing afternoon ahead as Wolves aim to add Arsenal to an impressive list of scalps that includes Liverpool, Chelsea and most recently Manchester United. They'll be in confident mood, while Gunners fans will worry whether even a 5-0 lead would guarantee their side three points after the debacle at Newcastle last time out."

Les Roopanarine reports: "An air of optimism surrounds Birmingham right now, and it's not just down to the club's forthcoming Carling Cup final appearance. With last weekend's victory at West Ham, Alex McLeish's side struck a vital blow in the relegation dogfight, stretching their unbeaten run to four games in all competitions and earning a first clean sheet since mid-November. Can Stoke ruin the party? Possibly, but to do so they will have to prevail at St Andrew's for the first time in eight attempts spanning almost a quarter of a century."

PeteFHumphreys on Twitter: "Sign of champions! Not playing well but winning. True for the season. True for this game!"

OptaJoe on Twitter: "19 - Nani has now scored or assisted 19 goals for Manchester United in his last 20 Premier League appearances. Impact."

Half time
Man Utd 1-0 Man City
Phil McNulty's HT snapshot:
"Manchester City have been comfortable for so much of that half - with Yaya Toure and David Silva impressive - but it is United who lead at the interval. Roberto Mancini will want his side to create much more end product from so much possession."

1332: Two minutes of added time to be played at the end of the first half and United are well on top at the moment.

1331: City only have a couple of minutes to respond to that goal before the break. But in any case, it is United who are attacking. They have a penalty appeal turned down when Gareth Barry tangles with Anderson inside the box, before Ryan Giggs fires high and wide from about 25 yards out.

United goal: Wayne Rooney challenges for Edwin van der Sar's clearance and the ball drops for Ryan Giggs, who spots Nani has got on the wrong side of Pablo Zabaleta... Zabaleta is not going to catch him either, and Nani runs on to coolly slot past Joe Hart.

1326: GOALFLASH Man Utd 1-0 Man City (Nani)

1324: City's first foray forward for a while and a big shout for a penalty when David Silva's snapshot from the right of the area hits Patrice Evra... on the chest, I think, but possibly a bit of his arm too. Referee Andre Marriner says no, anyhow.

1322: Another United attack, another neat build-up. Nani pops up on the left this time, and makes space for a shot that fails to test Joe Hart. A few moments later, from the right, Nani repeats the trick - cutting in and letting fly... but he is way off target.

1320: United have stepped things up a tad in the last few minutes. This time they attack down the left and a flowing move ends when Ryan Giggs bends in a cross which Darren Fletcher meets but heads straight at Joe Hart.

1318: Pablo Zabaleta is not normally shy in the tackle and, maybe because Nani has got the better of him a couple of times recently, elects to crunch his man on the halfway line. Referee Andre Marriner has another word.

1316: Carlos Tevez holds the ball up on the edge of the United area, allowing Aleksandar Kolarov to run on and unleash that left foot of his again... but he slices his shot high and wide.

1315: I should point out that Paul Scholes found Nani with a peach of a crossfield pass for that last United attack. Signs the home side are waking up, perhaps? Although City do still look dangerous on the break.

1313: Nani skins Pablo Zabaleta again, and this time they do have men in the box to meet his cross - Micah Richards has to head clear. This is a decent spell of pressure by the home side.

1312: Andre Marriner has a word with Wayne Rooney, who has been riled by a couple of challenges by Vincent Kompany and looks keen to get revenge. When play resumes, Nani beats Pablo Zabaleta down the right and sends over a glorious cross... nobody in the middle to get on the end of it though.

SamadGigii on Twitter: "Nice to see the opposition at OT dominate the midfield as per usual (!) WAKE UP MR FLETCHER AND MR ANDERSON!"

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford: "Some glorious early touches from Manchester City's David Silva, who is dictating affairs at the moment despite that early miss. Micah Richards has already put in a couple of boneshaking challenges on Patrice Evra. Good game."

1308: United haven't created an awful lot since those opening moments and they are still trying to find their feet in midfield. City have had the better of the opening 20 minutes or so but the important thing, of course, is that it is still 0-0.

Yellow card
1305: United's turn to attack. Vincent Kompany lunges in late on Wayne Rooney but referee Andre Marriner allows play to continue. Good decision. When United's attack breaks down, Kompany becomes the first man into Marriner's book. Another good decision.

From Spencer in Brighton, via text: "Nice to have already seen more attacking football than the whole of their last meeting!!! United to win in last minute again!!!"

1302: City come forward again, with David Silva's slipped pass releasing Yaya Toure on the right-hand side of the area, but his cross is blocked by Nemanja Vidic.

1300: Pablo Zabaleta is fouled in the corner and City have a free-kick in a dangerous position on the left. Aleksandar Kolarov wraps his left foot around it and finds Yaya Toure at the far post, who fails to either find the target with his header, or knock the ball back across goal. He had a bit more time and space than he thought too.

1256: United's best effort so far. Nani cuts in from the right and lets fly with a fierce shot that fizzes just over Joe Hart's bar. A close shave.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford: "Manchester City have shown positive intent from the start but how expensive will that miss from David Silva prove to be? Time, space, only a yard or two out and did not even hit the target."

1254: David Silva is Manchester City's main man so far, and he and United's Ryan Giggs both look dangerous whenever they are in possession. The same cannot be said about Carlos Tevez at the moment, though, because he has just floated a cross straight out of play after a neat build-up found him in space on the right.

1252: United respond with some delightful skill by Ryan Giggs and a succession of corners. From the last of them, Nani spins past Gareth Barry with a clever flick but his control lets him down at the vital moment. Both sides showing plenty of attacking intent so far.

1249: City's first attack, and a golden chance for David Silva. A quick one-two sees him dart into the box from the right but the Spaniard pokes his shot wide with only Edwin van der Sar to beat. It was a tight angle, but he definitely should have hit the target at least.

1248: Carlos Tevez's first touch is roundly booed by the United fans, and he is promptly bundled over too.

1246: A lively start. Nani wins a corner for United inside the first 10 seconds... Ryan Giggs whips it in, and City keeper Joe Hart gets nowhere near it. Neither does anyone else, though, and Hart collects when Nani puts in another cross from the opposite flank.

1245: Here we go. United get us under way.

Manchester City assistant boss Brian Kidd: "This could be a defining weekend in the Premier League."

I don't know of many that aren't...

1243: The players are out on the pitch and shaking hands. Kick-off is just moments away now... do I need to tell you the atmosphere is white-hot?

Alex_Ishola on Twitter: "If City lose, they're out of the title race. Win and it's wide open."

1240: Further to the below, there is not that much difference between the two formations, more in how many men you commit forward at different times. I think we are going to see a bit of a battle in midfield, and I'm sure we will see Dimitar Berbatov at some point too.

kyba125 on Twitter: "it's quite ironic that most United fans are having a go at Mancini's formation when Sir Alex Ferguson's formation is as defensive!"

We shall see. I've got a feeling United actually will be 4-3-3 while City will be 4-5-1.

1234: Lots of predictions flying about ahead of kick-off at Old Trafford. Lawro has gone for a 1-1 draw, while this week's celebrity guesser, Olympic heptathlete Kelly Sotherton plumps for 2-2. Me? 0-0. You? Let me know...

crashdavis2008 on Twitter: "Smalling has come a long way from playing for Maidstone Utd at East Thurrock, the last time I saw him play for the Stones!"

1226: A few of you are questioning Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to leave Dimitar Berbatov on the bench. But here's a stat that supports his thinking, courtesy of Infostrada Sports. Dimitar Berbatov has not scored a single goal this season against a current top-five side. In total only six of his 67 Premier League goals have been against one of the current top five teams.

BBC pundit Alan Hansen on the Manchester derby: "It is not a result you would call with huge confidence. I would go with United with home advantage - but what an opportunity for City to do something to show they mean business and even revive their own hopes of winning the league."

frostiesvshredi on Twitter: "Both United and City look pretty defensive. We are in for a goal feast!"

From Alex in Nottingham, via text: "Big day for Small-ing."

1217: Right, half-an-hour or so until the off at Old Trafford... why not watch Football Focus in the meantime? Give this page a manual refresh and (if you are in the UK) it will magically appear at the top.

1215: And lots to talk about too, from Roy Hodgson's return to management at West Brom to West Ham's successful bid for the Olympic Stadium. You can Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball or ask me a question direct @chrisbevan_bbc or text me via 81111 (UK). Don't be shy.

1213: Plenty else going on today, though. Oh yes. Seven other Premier League games, with Arsenal and Liverpool among the sides in action at 1500 GMT and Sunderland versus Tottenham rounding everything off at 1730. There's a full programme in the Football League too. Dull? Not a chance...

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford:
"Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson springs a real surprise as he leaves Dimitar Berbatov, the Premier League's top scorer, on the bench and entrusts Wayne Rooney with a lone attacking role. He clearly feels the battle will be won in midfield - and Roberto Mancini uses Carlos Tevez as his single spearhead with Edin Dzeko a substitute."

OptaJoe on Twitter: "4 - Carlos Tevez has scored four goals in his last six appearances against Manchester United in all competitions. Reject."

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford:
"Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson makes no bones about what he thought of their first Premier League defeat of the season at Wolves, describing it as "a pathetic crash" in his programme notes for the derby against Manchester City at Old Trafford. He will demand a response and the big question for Manchester City is will coach Roberto Mancini shed his natural cloak of caution and adopt an attacking approach to this huge game."

Man Utd v Man City line-ups
Man Utd: Van der Sar, O'Shea, Smalling, Vidic, Evra, Fletcher, Scholes, Anderson, Nani, Rooney, Giggs. Subs: Lindegaard, Brown, Owen, Berbatov, Hernandez, Carrick, Rafael Da Silva.
Man City: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Zabaleta, Milner, Barry, Toure Yaya, Kolarov, Silva, Tevez. Subs: Given, Wright-Phillips, Dzeko, Boateng, Vieira, Jo, Toure.
Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands)

Dimitar Berbatov and Edin Dzeko are on the bench for United and City, who both line up 4-3-3. More on that in a tick.

1205: Yep, United versus City, otherwise known as first versus third in the Premier League, gets under way at 1245 GMT. Now, we will be very lucky if the next few hours end up being as dramatic as last Saturday but a rip-roaring cross-Manchester clash would be a good start, no? Let's hope it's more like their last meeting at Old Trafford than November's bore-draw at Eastlands then...

1202: Doors slamming, people yelling, dogs barking and music blaring? It's derby day in Manchester... which means Sir Alex Ferguson is having to deal with those noisy neighbours of his again.

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Barclays Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 12 Feb 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 26 32 57
2 Arsenal 26 29 53
3 Man City 27 19 49
4 Tottenham 26 9 47
5 Chelsea 25 24 44
6 Liverpool 27 3 39
7 Sunderland 27 0 37
8 Bolton 26 -1 33
9 Stoke 26 -2 33
10 Newcastle 26 2 32
11 Blackburn 27 -8 32
12 Fulham 26 0 30
13 Everton 25 -1 30
14 Birmingham 25 -8 30
15 Aston Villa 27 -15 30
16 Blackpool 26 -11 29
17 West Brom 26 -17 27
18 Wigan 27 -18 27
19 West Ham 27 -18 25
20 Wolves 26 -19 24

see also
Saturday's football photos
12 Feb 11 |  Football

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