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Page last updated at 19:50 GMT, Saturday, 5 March 2011

Saturday football as it happened


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By Jonathan Stevenson

1949: And that, for now, is that. MOTD on BBC One and online at 2230 GMT, with The Football League Show following on after. I'm gonna catch the second half of Barcelona's game before crashing embarrassingly early. See you on Sunday, for the English Clasico. Have a good night.

1945: Talking of Match of the Day, here's a running order:
Arsenal v Sunderland
Fulham v Blackburn
Birmingham v West Brom
Bolton v Aston Villa
West Ham v Stoke
Newcastle v Everton
Man City v Wigan

From Nick, Manchester, on text: "A win's a win, but another poor second-half performance by City."

Full time
Full-time Manchester City 1-0 Wigan
Nabil Hassan reports: "Wigan deserved a point for their second half endeavour but will be relegated unless one of their strikers hits form. They look woefully short of confidence in front of goal. City were scrappy but will be happy to further consolidate their place in the top four. David Silva was by far the best player on the pitch. This game is only worth watching on Match of the Day for Ali Al Habsi's howler."

Full time
Full-time West Ham 3-0 Stoke
Julian Shea reports: "Stoke pay the price for a lacklustre first-half performance and leave themselves too much to do in the second half, as upwardly mobile West Ham keep their first league clean sheet since New Year's Day."

Full time
Full-time Newcastle 1-2 Everton
Saj Chowdhury reports: "Two unpredictable teams played in an unpredictable match. Many chances missed, the difference being that Everton's defence was less fragile than Newcastle's. Mid-table awaits both."

Full time
Full-time Fulham 3-2 Blackburn
Phil Dawkes reports: "It's a shame such an entertaining and fiercely-contested game has to have a loser and for it to be decided in such controversial fashion. The penalty decision is sure to get its share of analysis but it shouldn't be allowed to over-shadow the preceding 89 minutes."

Full time
Full-time Bolton 3-2 Aston Villa
Paul Fletcher reports: "A sensational game of football at Bolton, just don't expect Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier to feel that way."

Full time
Full-time Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland
From BBC Sport's David Ornstein at the Emirates: "Many more afternoons like this and Arsenal's wait for a first Premier League title since 2004 is almost certainly going to run into an eighth year. But take nothing away from Sunderland - a fine way to bounce back from four defeats on the spin."

Full time
Full-time Birmingham 1-3 West Brom
Saj Chowdhury reports: "A month ago it was doom and gloom and now West Brom have gone four games unbeaten - what a strike from James Morrison. As for Birmingham, last week's joy will have been tempered by this loss which leaves them in the relegation mire."

1931: Well, that was woeful. Shall we get a full-time wrap from our match report writers? Yeah, come on...

From Hoyhequnlay on Twitter: "Wigan really deserved a draw at least today, they played well in the second half, it's just not their day."

Full time
1926: Full-time Manchester City 1-0 Wigan
It's sad for any game to be won and lost on one man's mistake, and Ali Al Habsi will be heartbroken when he gets to the changing room in a few moments. Wigan didn't deserve to lose, no way.

1925: Oh my life that was the chance. Connor Sammon plays a fabulous one-two with Hugo Rodallega and is in on the right of their penalty area, but the youngster can only drag his shot from an angle across the face of goal and wide of Joe Hart's right-hand post. They deserved a leveller, but they won't get it now.

1924: Tick, tock, tick, tock...

From Boomey on text: "I just wish that when managers criticise referees about the 'decision that changed the game' they would also mention the other 89 minutes when their millionaire team failed to score/woefully defended."

1922: Connor Sammon makes a nuisance of himself in the City area and the ball breaks 16 yards out to Hugo Rodallega - but instead of putting his foot through it, the Colombian side-foots weakly and Joe Hart gets down well to save. That might be their last chance, the Latics.

1921: Charles N'Zogbia crosses low from the Wigan left, but Vincent Kompany is in the right place to clear. We have just gone into four minutes of stoppage time.

1919: This game is making me miss Adam Johnson.

1917: Now City take off captain Carlos Tevez, with Nigel de Jong taking the armband and Edin Dzeko coming on in place of the Argentine. This game is limping towards a conclusion.

1915: In the Championship, it has finished in Wales, Cardiff 0-2 Ipswich. At Man City, goalscorer David Silva is taken off and Nigel de Jong - out for six weeks with ankle injury - comes on in his place. Wigan send on Connor Sammon for Mohamed Diame.

1913: Charles N'Zogbia attemps the near-impossible, sending a 30-yard left-foot drive high, wide and not so handsome as Wigan try to get close to the Man City goal.

1912: David Silva's lazy cross from the right is blocked and then the Spaniard tries again, but it's too close to Ali Al Habsi. Is there some late drama left at Eastlands? I think this game owes us some.

From Adam9309 on Twitter: "I'm nearly 18, and would love to ref. But it's so inconvenient to do so - the FA needs to cut the red tape to make it appealing."

1908: Patrick Vieira heads a corner over the Wigan crossbar and we're back to absolutely nothing of note really happening at Eastlands. I'm in 'Looking forward to tomorrow' mode already.

1906: Jimmy Bullard smashes a 30-yard free-kick goalwards, it hits a Cardiff defender and flies into the Bluebirds' net. In the Championship, with a handful of minutes left, it's Cardiff 0-2 Ipswich.

1905: If Wigan end up pointless from this one due to Ali Al Habsi's first-half clanger, it would be terribly unfair on the visitors, who have probably been the better team in the second half. About 17 minutes left, still Man City 1-0 Wigan.

From Ol, in the gym, central London, on text: "It's all well and good saying "increase referee's salaries to attract a higher calibre of candidate" but surely in the short term you'd be paying the same inconsistent refs more money in the short term for no increase in performance. It would take several years to identify, hire, train and integrate the next generation of refs, even if they were fast tracked. You'd just end up paying more to those already in the system."

West Ham boss Avram Grant: "We have momentum at the right time. We will not score three goals every game, that's for sure. Nobody is doing this. I believe in this football, I believe in attacking football. You need balance, and we're getting the balance better and better every game. But we have many players forward that can score now."

1900: Wigan send on Steven Gohouri for Adrian Lopez.

1859: Now City are looking much more threatening, though they will have to beware Wigan catching them out on the break, especially with some real pace up top. City bring on Aleksandar Kolarov for Mario Balotelli.

1857: Better from City and they want a penalty as Mario Balotelli's cross appears to hit the arm of James McCarthy, but referee Stuart Attwell is having none of it.

From TJPoynton on Twitter: "Age-old City problem - defenders standing off."

1853: So close for Wigan once more, this time James McCarthy's well-struck half-volley from 20 yards forcing a flying save from Joe Hart in the City goal. Lots of life left in this one yet.

1852: Over in the Championship, we've got another team at the top struggling, with Cardiff now trailing 1-0 at home against Ipswich thanks to Jimmy Bullard's 20-yard screamer.

1851: Wigan send on Charles N'Zogbia for Victor Moses - that's a pretty decent change to be able to make when you're bottom of the Premier League.

1850: Roberto Mancini keeps talking about City being tired, and they look shattered out there right now - there's no movement, no decent exchange of passes, only really David Silva looks anything like in decent form.

Yellow card
1847: It's so flat, desperately flat. The odd feisty challenge aside, this is slim pickings. Vincent Kompany is booked for a silly foul on Tom Cleverly and Wigan are by far the better of the two teams at the moment. City are so lethargic. Gary Caldwell heads a cross over and Wigan could get themselves level if City aren't careful.

From Steve, Bournemouth, on text: "Week in week out refs change games affecting outcomes of promotions, relegations, trophies yet they earn less in a year than most players do in a month. If the wages went up a lot presumably the standard of those attracted to refereeing would too."

Someone has struck the woodwork
1842: That was a bit too close for comfort for Man City - Ben Watson swings over a corner from the Wigan right and the hosts haven't picked up Antolin Alcaraz, who volleys superbly from 15 yards against the post with Joe Hart beaten.

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce: "We needed a response after last week, we were shocking at Everton. First half, I can't remember being as comfortable here for a long time. We had a few hairy moments in the last 10-15 minutes but overall I thought we deserved something from it. The Arshavin penalty thing, for me that would've been harsh if it had it had been given. Arsenal have had an awful week after losing the Carling Cup final the way they did - let's hope they can turn it around in Barcelona on Tuesday."

1839: It's so quiet at Manchester City. Wigan knock the ball around, but it's harmless - as soon as they get it in City's half, they haven't got enough players forward to sustain the attack.

1837: And we are back under way at Eastlands, where it's Manchester City 1-0 Wigan.

1833: By the way, in the Championship, Cardiff are still being held 0-0 at home against Ipswich. Big chance for the Bluebirds to capitalise on other teams' slip-ups, they've still got 35 minutes left.

1831: Couple of things to remind you of - firstly, Match of the Day is on BBC One and online at 2230 GMT tonight, and secondly, the Comic Relief 24-hour panel show is still going all-guns blazing. Six-and-a-half hours gone, 17.5 still to go. I think.

From Scottminto19 on Twitter: "Wigan with same problems as usual. Nice passing but poor support to Rodallega and undone by an individual error at the back."

From Ben Trafford, Stevenage, on text: "It's a shame, that. Up until now Al Habsi has been one of the top goalkeepers in the league this season."

1823: Arsene Wenger's post-match interview, where he says he is "disgusted" by what happened at Arsenal today, is now available for you to watch. Expect to see it all over the newspapers tomorrow, I'd wager.

Half time
1820: Half-time Manchester City 1-0 Wigan
Nabil Hassan reports:
"David Silva's goal… well, Ali Al Habsi's fumble separates these two teams in a match which by and large has been scrappy and peppered with reckless challenges. Wigan need to show more belief if they are to get anything from this game, City - who have dominated possession here - could run away with this in the second half if they sharpen up in the final third."

1818: Yaya Toure goes on a lung-bursting run down the City left, but his cross from the byeline is well gathered in by Ali Al Habsi. Gary Caldwell is booked moments later for a crunching foul on Toure, before Maynor Figueroa tries to lob Joe Hart from the halfway line and gets it wrong.

From Ish1804 on Twitter: "Wigan were playing really well until that mistake... now City will probably get three or four."

1813: You've got to feel for Wigan there - they must have played Roberto Martinez's masterplan to the absolute letter right up until that David Silva shot. Victor Moses, meanwhile, skins Pablo Zabaleta again down the Wigan right and his cross is only just too strong for Tom Cleverly inside the City box.

Man City goal: Oh dear. Oh dear me. It's dictionary definition of the word 'Howler', that one. If Wigan do such things, Ali Al Habsi will be wearing a pink t-shirt to training for the next month. David Silva does well to create room on the left of the box to fire in a shot but it's low and straight at the keeper, who has clearly never been taught the 'long barrier', and allows the ball to slip through his grasp and trickle into the net. Calamitous.

1811: GOAL Manchester City 1-0 Wigan (Silva)

1809: More spark as Gary Caldwell takes Carlos Tevez out inside the centre-circle, but the Wigan captain gets away without a yellow card.

Yellow card
1806: Gareth Barry clatters into Hugo Rodallega on the Wigan left and the City midfielder is in the book for that. Wigan are playing quite nicely at the moment, probably the better team. Roberto Mancini needs to wake half of his players up.

From kamz_nw1 on Twitter: "Funny how there was no mention of the clearly onside Arshavin goal in the live text or on the report after..."
Yeah, good point. Except see 1644. Gone early there, haven't you?

1803: Wigan should be ahead. Victor Moses does brilliantly to trick his way into the City box on the right and when his cross is half-cleared by Vincent Kompany, it falls at the feet of James McCarthy 14 yards out. However, the midfielder can only bend his left-foot shot wide of the target. Got to do better there.

1802: Mario Balotelli squares up to Gary Caldwell, but that's much ado about nothing. Nigel do Jong gets a nice round of applause as he starts warming up on the touchline. It's lifeless.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis on their run of bad luck: "We're getting our pants pulled down and having our bottoms slapped for every mistake we make."

From LucienGreen on Twitter: "One thing to criticise referees' decisions - implying partiality is another & much worse. Hate the "Taylor from Manchester" stuff."

1757: Better from City, David Silva this time pulling his left-foot shot from 25 yards wide of Ali Al Habsi's left-hand post with Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez well placed.

1755: It had threatened to get lively with Micah Richards' tackle and then some retribution on the defender from Wigan's James McCarthy a few moments later, but it's dampened down again. City are enjoying more of the ball but they haven't done much with it - as I write that Carlos Tevez runs past two defenders and drags a shot from the right of the box wide of the far post.

BBC Sport's David Ornstein at the Emirates: "Wenger says Wilshere has an ankle knock - definitely out of training Sun, will be assessed Mon. Cesc "has a chance", Walcott out."

Yellow card
1749: Tom Cleverly is in trouble here. He is turning, and is caught badly by a recklessly sliding Micah Richards. The Wigan man goes down straight away, writhing on the floor, and Richards is shown a yellow card. If there was an inbetween card, he'd have got it. Terrible tackle. Luckily Cleverly should be OK.

Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier: "I do not think we have just lost one point but three points. We played better than Bolton and created more chances."

1746: City are having joy down their left, with David Silva in the mood, but after the Spaniard is superbly played in by Carlos Tevez, his cross cannot find Mario Balotelli inside the six-yard box.

1745: Hugo Rodallega turns and shoots inside the City box and his effort is blocked - he might have been better off leaving the ball for James McCarthy, who was even better placed behind the Colombian.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "We are very disappointed because we gave a lot today. We tried everything but Sunderland defended very well. I am too disgusted to talk about the offside and penalty decisions. You don't need me to tell you that it was offside but we have to take it on the chin, even though justice was not done."

1742: Nothing much for the fans to get stuck into at Eastlands yet, though an attempted one-two between David Silva and Gareth Barry shows promise, the England man just failing to get the return under control inside the Wigan box.

From Mark, on text: "Stevo. Does any fool genuinely believe big clubs get more decisions for them than the smaller sides? Those two against Arsenal today were at least the 29th & 30th where Arsenal, Man Utd or Spurs have been denied points through woeful decisions against smaller sides. All three are at least six points worse off."

1739: Blackburn boss Steve Kean has just been asked about the late penalty they conceded against Fulham. He says if a referee is going to give a penalty for that, they will have to give about 10 per game.

1738: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says he is "too disgusted" to talk about the decisions that didn't go his team's way today. It's probably wiser than landing himself with an FA charge, anyway.

1737: That could've gone anywhere - Mario Balotelli cuts in from the left and smashes a shot goalwards that Ali Al Habsi deflects behind, but he didn't look convincing at all, the Wigan goalkeeper. Good atmosphere at Eastlands in the early stages.

1735: The first threat comes from Wigan - they win a corner, and when it is pumped into the mixer, Hugo Rodallega heads it over the crossbar.

1733: Hugo Rodallega and James McCarthy of Wigan get us under way at Manchester City.

From leebaker14 on Twitter: "[Referee in the Arsenal game] Anthony Taylor is trending. Think that tells you all you need to know about his performance today. Oh and he's from Manchester!"

1728: Captains Carlos Tevez and Gary Caldwell lead the teams out at Eastlands and we're moments away from getting started in the final game of the day. Kolo Toure watches on from the stand.

1726: Cardiff and Ipswich are under way in the Championship, a game which doesn't effect me anymore (see 1715), and we're not far off kick-off at Eastlands. Get in touch on text at 81111 and on Twitter @Stevo_football or by using the hashtag #BBCFootball. Over on the Red Nose Day website, meanwhile, their 24-hour panel show, which started more than five hours ago, continues apace.

From TheClapperBored on Twitter: "Good to see the Gunners practising their 0-0 draws before the trip to the Nou Camp..."

1720: Don't forget, whatever you do, that Match of the Day is on BBC One and online at 2230 GMT. It'll be a good one based on what we've seen so far, and there's hopefully a lot more to come at Eastlands. We should have the running order with you by close of play, to boot.

Football League Danny: "League Two chat. Unstoppable Football Machine (UFM) Chesterfield are now 11 points clear at the top after a 3-0 win at fellow team that starts 'che' Cheltenham. Big win for promotion hopefuls Bury at Hereford, Wycombe slipped up with a 2-2 draw at home to Aldershot. Rotherham drew, Shrewsbury and Port Vale won and all of them are massively in the promotion race. Massively."

1717: Gerard Houllier is doing his post-match interviews, and it's fair to say the Frenchman is absolutely livid about Aston Villa losing today's game at Bolton. What a week it's been for the Midlands club. What a week's it's been for the Midlands. Unbelievable.

Football League Danny: "League One chat. Unspeakable Withdean Stadium drama. A see-saw battle between table-topping Brighton and play-off hopefuls Carlisle ended 4-3. Brighton's winner came on 93 minutes after Carlisle equalised on 92. Heartbreaking 300 miles ahead for the U's. Bournemouth strengthened their grip on second with a 3-0 romp against Oldham. At the other end, Plymouth responded to going into administration by walloping Wednesday 4-2 at Hillsborough. Dagenham and Redbridge kept survival hopes alive with a win at surely-doomed Bristol Rovers, while Swindon and Walsall's tense 0-0 draw leaves them both in the relegation mixer."

1715: I know what you mean, Mac. I just ruled Forest out of the Championship promotion race, even though we're still only three points off second place. I know it's crazy, but that's a football fan's pessimism for you. Damn you, football. Damn you.

From Mac, Eastlands, on text: "As a Wigan fan I'm so worried about what a defeat could do for us today. I fear it'll be all over for us."

Football League Danny: "Championship chat. Massive, massive day for QPR who currently sit eight - count 'em - points clear at the top of the table after the last-gasp win against Leicester. The worst-case scenario for R's is that Cardiff beat Ipswich in the 1720 GMT kick-off,. Even then they'll still be six clear. Premier League here we come? Good day for Leeds, 5-2 winners over Donny, they're sixth. Average day for Norwich - held 1-1 at home by Preston. Bad day for Forest and Swansea - beaten. Swans currently have second place."

Manchester City v Wigan team news:
Nabil Hassan reports:
"Yaya Toure is named in the Man City starting line-up to face Wigan just 48 hours after it was confirmed brother Kolo had failed a drugs test. Defender Vincent Kompany returns from a bruised hip whilst Nigel de Jong is on the bench after a six-match absence with an ankle injury. Carlos Tevez makes his 150th Premier League appearance. Bottom of the table Wigan include on-loan midfielder Tom Cleverley, who was ineligible for last weekend's hammering by parent club Manchester United. Defender Emmerson Boyce is out with a hamstring injury."

1707: Manchester City v Wigan line-ups:
Man City:
Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Zabaleta, Vieira, Barry, Silva, Toure Yaya, Balotelli, Tevez.
Subs: Taylor, Dzeko, Kolarov, Boateng, Jo, De Jong, Boyata.
Wigan: Al Habsi, Lopez, Gary Caldwell, Alcaraz, Figueroa, Watson, Diame, Moses, McCarthy, Cleverley, Rodallega.
Subs: Pollitt, Gohouri, Thomas, Di Santo, N'Zogbia, Gomez, Sammon.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)

Manchester City v Wigan scene-setter:
Nabil Hassan reports:
"Twenty-three points separate these two teams with Manchester City looking to consolidate their place in the top four, while bottom-placed Wigan are running out of time to avoid relegation. City have won just one of their last five league games while Wigan have won just one of their last 10 league games. Defeat for Wigan today would be their 300th loss away from home in their league history."

From RobbieAlexScott on Twitter: "You don't need me to say it. But I will anyway. Just how crucial was that Ashley Young penalty miss?"

From Tim, London, on text: "No mention of the blatant penalty for Bramble's push on Arshavin (1640), Stevo? Sunderland played and defended well, but when decisions like that go against us it's incredibly difficult to accept the result. Gutted."

1659: Twenty goals in the six games so far today, so I wonder what Manchester City v Wigan will bring us at Eastlands? Scene-setter, line-ups and team news is all on the way.

1656: Full-time Newcastle 1-2 Everton

1655: Still playing at Newcastle, where Everton still lead 2-1.

Football League Danny: "Heck. Brighton 4-3 Carlisle. Liam Bridcutt with the injury-time (surely) winner for Brighton."

1654: Full-time Bolton 3-2 Aston Villa

1653: Full-time Fulham 3-2 Blackburn

Football League Danny: "Cripes. Brighton 3-3 Carlisle. Harry Arter with the 90th-minute leveller for Carlisle."

1652: Full-time Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland

1652: Full-time West Ham 3-0 Stoke

1651: Tomas Rosicky sends over a cross from the Arsenal right and Nicklas Bendtner can only head tamely into the arms of Simon Mignolet, who has enjoyed a very fine day at the Emirates thus far. Seconds remaining.

1650: I'd pay £100 for a Forest goal right now. Arsenal fans?

1649: We're into four minutes of stoppage time at Arsenal, and how badly do they need a goal right now?

Football League Danny: "Look. Just look. Ishmael Miller. 88 minutes. Goal for QPR. QPR 1-0 Leicester. Utter. Utter. Loftus Road-themed mayhem."

Fulham goal: Not sure exactly what that is for - but it might be a foul against Chris Samba, who has been booked by referee Mark Clattenburg, who likes a bit of drama. Bobby Zamora, a second-half sub, steps up and dispatches the spot-kick down the middle and surely the points are Fulham's.

1647: GOAL Fulham 3-2 Blackburn (Zamora, penalty)


Bolton goal: What a game at the Reebok - one to watch on Match of the Day at 2230 GMT, for sure. Daniel Sturridge's deep cross is headed back by David Wheater and Ivan Klasnic finishes brilliantly on the turn into the corner of the Villa net.

1645: GOAL Bolton 3-2 Aston Villa (Klasnic)

1644: Poor decision - Andrey Arshavin has the ball in the Sunderland net, but he is flagged offside. He wasn't, either.

Football League Danny: "Sheffield Wednesday 1-4 Plymouth - amazing stuff from the rock-bottom in-administration Pilgrims. Leeds 4-2 Doncaster. Max Gradel's second, job done."

Hammers goal: Game over, and about time too. Scott Parker cuts back from the touchline to Frederic Piquionne, whose shot is blocked, but the ball only goes as far as Thomas Hitzlsperger who thunders a left-foot shot into the roof of the net.

1641: GOAL West Ham 3-0 Stoke (Hitzlsperger)

1640: Sunderland could've gone 1-0 up. My word. Stephane Sessegnon crosses from the right and Danny Welbeck produces a fabulous piece of control before rifling a shot in, forcing Wojciech Szczesny to save superbly low down to his right. From the corner, Titus Bramble blazes over. Dear me.

1639: Newcastle are putting some pressure on and Leon Best has the ball in the Everton net, but he is adjudged to have fouled Phil Jagielka. Kevin Nolan has twice gone close, but Everton still lead 2-1.

1638: Samir Nasri sets Andrey Arshavin in down the left and the Russian gets into the box with Titus Bramble breathing down his neck - he gets his shot away, but it screws badly off target and doesn't threaten Simon Mignolet.

BBC Sport's David Ornstein at the Emirates: "Arsenal suddenly laying siege to the Sunderland goal. Simon Mignolet tips Samir Nasri free-kick on to the crossbar before the woodwork against rescues the visitors when Marouane Chamakh heads Nasri's cross on to the bar. The Gunners are going in for the kill - will Sunderland hold out?"

1636: Asamoah Gyan is taken off by Sunderland, with Ahmed Elmohamady on. Arsenal have brought Tomas Rosicky on for Abou Diaby. Nervy times at the Emirates.

Football League Danny: "Goals. Leeds 3-2 Doncaster, Luciano Becchio with it. Massive goal. Reading 5-2 Middlesbrough. Leroy Lita with the second for Boro."

Bolton goal: Brilliant goal - and another against a former club. Must be something in the water today. Stuart Holden flings over a corner from the right and after Gary Cahill's header is saved by Brad Friedel, the defender fairly lashes in the rebound courtesy of a fabulous left-foot volley.

1633: GOAL Bolton 2-2 Aston Villa (Cahill)

Someone has struck the woodwork
1631: It's all Arsenal at the Emirates, they are laying siege to the Sunderland goal. Samir Nasri's 20-yard free-kick is well saved by Simon Mignolet and moments later Marouane Chamakh thumps Jack Wilshere's cross from the left against the crossbar with his head with Mignolet beaten.

Football League Danny: "League One chat. Brighton have retaken the lead against Carlisle - it's now 3-2. Championship chat. Against the run of play Matt Fryatt puts Hull ahead at high-fliers Nottingham Forest. And - more potential shock news - Joe Garner puts Scunthorpe ahead against riding-high Swansea. Does anyone want to get promoted from the Championship?"

1629: Stoke's Kenwyne Jones comes on Rory Delap and straight away almost puts his side on the score sheet, when his glancing header from Matthew Etherington's cross goes just wide of the West Ham far post. Why didn't they play like this earlier, then they wouldn't be 2-0 down?

Someone has won a penalty
Villa missed pen: Should be game over at the Reebok, but Bolton have a lifeline. Ashley Young is brought down by a clumsy David Wheater challenge and Young picks himself up to take it, denied by a fine Jussi Jaaskelainen save low down to his right.

1628: MISSED PENALTY Ashley Young (Aston Villa)


1627: So nearly 3-0 to West Ham there - Ryan Shawcross's attempted header back to goalkeeper Asmir Begovic leaves the Bosnian stranded but he does superbly to recover and save Carlton Cole's goal-bound shot from a tight angle.

1626: Sunderland send on Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck for Steed Malbranque. Surely not? Still 0-0 at Arsenal, remember.

Rovers goal: Blackburn hit back again and Junior Hoilett is the scorer. Once again Fulham contribute to their own downfall by failing to clear and giving Hoilett a shooting chance in the box, and the midfielder makes no mistake with a crisp volley.

Villa goal: They deserve it, Villa. Stewart Downing marauds down the right and sends over a cross that Marc Albrighton slams into the Bolton net. Gerard Houllier looks jubilant, and so do the travelling fans, who have earned this performance after what happened in midweek.

1623: GOAL Fulham 2-2 Blackburn (Hoilett)

1623: GOAL Bolton 1-2 Aston Villa (Albrighton)

Football League Danny: "Upset? Ex-Norwich man Chris Brown puts Preston ahead at Carrow Road. Fans of players scoring against their former clubs are having a wonderful day. And it's Brighton 2-2 Carlisle thanks to Ben Marshall's leveller for the visitors. Hang on, Grant Holt's equalised for Norwich."

1620: Wow, Arsenal go so close to an opener, remember they are still 0-0 with Sunderland. Marouane Chamakh has come on for Denilson and he gets away down the right, crossing for Andrey Arshavin, but the Russian's goalbound effort is brilliantly parried away by Simon Mignolet, who is having one of those can't-do-anything-wrong days. What I'd give for one of them.

1620: Nimble footwork by West Ham's Carlton Cole as he twists and turns in the box to shrug off his marker, but his low shot towards the far corner is pushed behind for a corner by Asmir Begovic. It's a lively affair at Upton Park.

Football League Danny: "More goals. Reading 4-1 Middlesbrough, Shane Long for the Royals. Coventry 1-3 Bristol City, Lukas Jutkiewicz for the Sky Blues. Watford 1-0 Millwall, Danny Graham for the Hornets. In League One, it's Brighton 2-1 Carlisle. And Mark in Enfield texts to say this: 'Pompey now hold the record for longest time without conceding in the championship. Considering our dire start, surely that is worth a mention'. Indeed it is Mark. Indeed it is."

1619: Jermaine Beckford ghosts to the right edge of the six-yard area before firing in a fierce low shot that Steve Harper brilliantly pushes wide. Mikel Arteta then breaks down the left and clips his cross into the area which Louis Saha somehow manages to head over from eight yards.

1618: Stoke's best chance so far - an arrow-straight shot from distance by Rory Delap, which Robert Geen can only block, and he needs James Tomkins to finish things off and clear the ball from the goalmouth. They may be 2-0 up but there's no room for complacency from West Ham.

Fulham goal: Well, Damien Duff's enjoying a rollocking good afternoon against the team that used to pay his wages. Fulham's build-up down their right is patient and well-executed, and when Moussa Dembele feeds Duff outside the box on the right, he cuts in and fizzes a 20-yard drive low past Paul Robinson. Good hit, son.

1617: GOAL Fulham 2-1 Blackburn (Duff)

From Bibby, on text: "Just seen Ricky Sbragia at Leeds. Currently working as Sunderland chief scout. Wonder if he liked Max Gradel's wonder goal!"

1615: How are Villa not ahead? It's a cracking game and they really should be. Darren Bent sees his shot from eight yards blocked by the massive frame of David Wheater, before Ashley Young's follow-up effort draws a terrific low save from Jussi Jaaskelainen.

1614: Newcastle's Shola Ameobi comes in from the left and fires a shot that Tim Howard tips round for a corner. From the subsequent set-piece, the Magpies striker drills in a 10-yard shot that forces the keeper to save low. Everton's Phil Neville limps off, replaced by Johnny Heitinga.

1613: First change of the afternoon at Upton Park, and the only surprise is that it didn't come earlier - Stoke's Jermaine Pennant goes off, Matthew Etherington comes on. Etherington, who made 195 appearances for West Ham, gets a warm reception from the home fans.

1612: Aston Villa should be ahead at Bolton again, Stewart Downing volleying across goal from six yards when he probably should have hit the target.

Football League Danny: "Goals. Leeds 2-2 Doncaster. Franck Moussa puts Donny ahead, only for Jonathan Howson to level almost immediately for the home side. Reading 3-1 Middlesbrough. Ian Harte with his second. Northampton 2-2 Shrewsbury. Cobblers' new boss Gary Johnson watching what appears to be some kind of ding-dong belter."

1610: Daniel Sturridge goes close with a header, but the Bolton man cannot find the target. If he scores, it would be his fifth in successive games for his new club - he'd be the third man in the Premier League to achieve that feat, after Coventry's Micky Quinn and Ipswich's Ian Marshall. What a stat that is, thanks to Infostrada.

From CanTheyScore on Twitter: "The stage is set for on-loan MUFC striker, Welbeck, to come on & win it! You can't write these things (but you can tweet them)."

1607: Chance at Bolton and again it's a fine Ashley Young pass that sets Darren Bent free - the striker takes a touch, gets into the box and, shackled by a defender, has a left-foot shot saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1606: West Ham take a corner quickly down their left and the ball is flung over to the far post where, at an improbable angle, James Tomkins heads against the post.

1605: And the second half starts at Fulham and then Newcastle as well.

1604: Play is back under way at Arsenal, then West Ham, then Bolton.

Football League Danny: "With QPR, Swansea, Nottingham Forest, Norwich and Leeds all currently drawing at half-time, today is shaping up nicely for Burnley (winning 1-0 against Palace) and potentially Cardiff (who kick-off against Ipswich at 1720 GMT). By the way, I'm picking up some tap for my grammar in describing Crewe's scoreline (see 1541). I'm getting destructed, to be fair."

1602: Keep sending those messages in. Texts to 81111, tweets to @Stevo_football or by using the hashtag #BBCFootball. Be inspired by the UK's first online 24-hour panel show, in aid of Red Nose Day, which is now into its fifth hour.

From Gambeanosnitch on Twitter: "Arsenal have showed they need all their big guns back to stand a chance against Barcelona. Today's 11 just isn't strong enough."

Half time
HALF-TIME West Ham 2-0 Stoke
Julian Shea's half-time snapshot:
"A cruise so far for West Ham. Suicidal Stoke defending for Ba's opening goal, non-existant marking for da Costa's second. Piquionne and Hitzlsperger could each have added a third, all Stoke have to show for their efforts is three bookings."

Half time
HALF-TIME Newcastle 1-2 Everton
Saj Chowdhury's half-time snapshot: "Everton may have been ravaged by injuries to their midfield, but two of their middle-men worked well for the equaliser. Newcastle look disorientated, but it would be foolish to write them off."

Half time
HALF-TIME Fulham 1-1 Blackburn
Phil Dawkes' half-time snapshot:
"Fulham look the more composed of the two sides at Craven Cottage but you cannot fault Blackburn for their determination, which is rewarded courtesy of a what could prove to be timely equaliser, just before the break."

Half time
HALF-TIME Bolton 1-1 Aston Villa
Paul Fletcher's half-time snapshot: "An open and entertaining half of football that featured one of the worst ever attempts to convert a one-on-one opportunity. Darren Bent fluffed his lines in a big way, but did go on to put Villa in front, before Bolton's equaliser on the stroke of the break."

Half time
HALF-TIME Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland
BBC Sport's David Ornstein at the Emirates: "Arsenal moving a point behind Manchester United at the Premier League summit? Not at this rate. Sunderland are proving more than capable opponents - the Gunners must up their game."

Football League Danny: "Alistair McGowan has just done a more than passable Garth Crooks impression while sat next to Garth Crooks on the Final Score Comic Relief sofa. Could've gone either way that, but he's pulled it off. Meanwhile, speaking of success, David Clarkson has just netted a penalty to make it Coventry 0-3 Bristol City. Robins rampant."

1549: The whistle goes for half-time at Newcastle after Mike Williamson shoots wide from four yards. We are half-time everywhere in the Premier League now.

Bolton goal: Good day for scoring against your former employers. Gary Cahill, once of Aston Villa, levels for Bolton with a near-post header from Martin Petrov's corner.

Rovers goal: Back to all-square at Craven Cottage, and the visitors are a little fortunate to get their equaliser. Fulham fail to clear a corner and after some pinball inside the Cottagers box, the ball falls to Grant Hanley about 15 yards out, the defender's shot hitting the head of Brede Hangeland on its way in.

1546: GOAL Bolton 1-1 Aston Villa (Cahill)

1545: GOAL Fulham 1-1 Blackburn (Hanley)

1543: Striker Shola Ameobi comes on for Newcastle, wearing a mask to protect his fractured cheekbone. He has replaced the injured Spanish full-back Jose Enrique.

1541: Best moment of the game at the Emirates, as Jack Wilshere's gorgeous pass over the top finds Nicklas Bendtner on the right of the Sunderland box, the Dane's fiercely struck right-foot volley producing a stunning one-handed save from Simon Mignolet.

Football League Danny: "Crewe. The best team in the country. They are destructing Burton Albion 3-0 and it's not even half an hour gone. They're the new Unstoppable Football Machine (UFM). Sorry Chesterfield (see 1449) . Elsewhere, Southampton lead at Colchester, and Boro equalise at Reading - Leroy Lita becomes the 10 millionth player (probably) to score against his former club, but Ian Harte has restored the Royals advantage from a free-kick. By the way. Sorry Clarets fans. Burnley did indeed score today's first goal in the Championship promotion race (see 1514), not Leeds, thanks to Jay Rodriguez's third-minute strike. My error. Just don't set Alastair Campbell on me."

BBC Sport's David Ornstein at the Emirates: "Sunderland are enjoying plenty of possession and it's beginning to frustrate the Arsenal fans. They're not used to seeing their team forced to play on the counter-attack at home, especially against a team who have lost each of their last four matches. Both sides are adopting 4-2-3-1 formations but it's the visitors who have looked the more dangerous so far. Arsenal are beginning to grow in confidence - Samir Nasri and Nicklas Bendtner have just gone close - yet the absence of injured captain Cesc Fabregas is certainly being felt."

1537: So nearly 3-0 to West Ham there - Frederic Piquionne fires into the side-netting after Stoke fail to clear a Demba Ba shot from long-range. Stoke's defence seem to be permanently on the back foot at the moment and two of their defenders have already been booked, no wonder their away record is so poor.

Fulham goal: The hosts take the lead at Craven Cottage and it's Damien Duff against his former club. Dickson Etuhu finds the winger on the right of the box and the winger cuts inside before firing a low shot that Paul Robinson is unable to prevent finding the bottom corner.

Everton goal: A brilliant example of how to react to going behind, courtesy of Everton. They now lead at Newcastle after Leighton Baines whips in a devilish ball from the left and Phil Jagielka meets it at the far post. The home side are stunned.

1536: GOAL Fulham 1-0 Blackburn (Duff)

1536: GOAL Newcastle 1-2 Everton (Jagielka)

1535: Samir Nasri goes on a mazy dribble at Arsenal, cutting in from the right and drifting past three defenders, but the angle is tight and his cross is blocked by Phil Bardsley. From the corner the ball falls for Nicklas Bendtner with his back to goal, but the big Dane's overhead kick flies into the arms of Simon Mignolet.

1534: Anything Mark Schwarzer can do, Paul Robinson can match in the Blackburn goal. Dickson Etuhu turns in the box and shoots, but a strong left hand from the former England keeper prevents a goal. Decent game this.

Everton goal: It's Leon o'clock at St James' Park and we're back to all-square. Leon Osman starts it by feeding Mikel Arteta down the left and he gets into the box, playing it towards the penalty spot for Osman to take a touch and shoot low past a stranded Steve Harper.

1532: GOAL Newcastle 1-1 Everton (Osman)

Hammers goal: The Potters are in deep trouble now. Ryan Shawcross is booked for a foul on Scott Parker and when Thomas Hitzelsperger whips in the set-piece, Manuel da Costa rises unchallenged at the back stick to thump a header into the far corner past Asmir Begovic. The key word for West Ham: daylight.

1530: GOAL West Ham 2-0 Stoke (Da Costa)

1529: Half an opening for Arsenal at the Emirates as Jack Wilshere tries to spring Andrey Arshavin forward, but after appearing to get ahead of Titus Bramble the defender recovers, and then Simon Mignolet scampers out of his goal to deny the Russian a shooting opportunity.

1527: Fulham have Mark Schwarzer to thank for them not being a goal down. The Cottagers gift Blackburn possession from a free-kick and Rovers break rapidly to fashion a shooting opportunity for Mame Diouf, but the Aussie keeper blocks the striker's goal-bound effort well.

Football League Danny: "League One promotion fans - here's big news. Bournemouth have taken the lead against Oldham thanks to (football League) Danny Hollands. Brighton, meanwhile, have levelled at home to Carlisle. Glenn Murray notched."

Someone has struck the woodwork
1525: Crazy scenes at Bolton. Darren Bent connects with a Marc Albrighton cross. The Villa striker's header hits David Wheater, who also challenged for the cross, bounces back into Bent's face and then strikes the woodwork before bouncing to safety.

Magpies goal: Advantage hosts. Jonas Gutierrez plays the ball in from the left to Mike Williamson and he finds Kevin Nolan on the edge of the six-yard box - when the skipper's shot is parried away by Tim Howard, it falls for Leon Best to nod into an empty net from six yards.

1523: GOAL Newcastle 1-0 Everton (Best)

Hammers goal: You'd have to say, that's an almighty error from the Stoke defence. Mark Noble plays a ball forward from halfway and Asmir Begovic and Marc Wilson get in each other's way, letting Demba Ba stroll through and finish from about five yards. Calamity.

1521: GOAL West Ham 1-0 Stoke (Ba)

Football League Danny: "Fancy a Champo update? You're getting one anyway. Reading 1-0 Middlesbrough, thanks to Hal Robson-Kanu and it's Coventry 0-1 Bristol City with the prolific Nicky Maynard netting. If he'd been fit all season, where would the Robins be?"

1520: Stephane Sessegnon has a shot saved by Wojciech Szczesny as Sunderland attack, while at the other end Jack Wilshere drags an effort wide from about 25 yards.

BBC Sport's David Ornstein at the Emirates: "It may be a gloomy afternoon in north London but both sides have started brightly, creating a couple of openings apiece. Johan Djourou had to be alert to clear a Jordan Henderson cross with Asamoah Gyan lurking and Phil Bardsley drilled a shot narrowly wide. At the other end, Andrey Arshavin picked out Nicklas Bendtner but the striker's control was poor, before the same man just failed to connect with a Gael Clichy cross. There's a real buzz of anticipation around the Emirates - Arsenal and Sunderland know exactly how important today could be."

1518: Cracking save from Steve Harper at Newcastle, tipping over a goalbound Mikel Arteta drive after the Spaniard had gone on a mazy run, cutting in from the left.

1517: Few chances in the opening stages minutes at Craven Cottage but it is a keenly-contested affair with a number of tough tackles for Mark Clattenburg to rule on. He's booked Fulham's Dickson Etuhu already and you sense there are more cards in the offing.

Villa goal: The visitors have started really well and they take a deserved lead. After Kevin Davies' header is cleared by Luke Young, Villa work the ball beautifully up field, and when Kyle Walker gets it on the right, he bombs forward, racing past Stuart Holden and crossing to the back post, where Darren Bent can hardly miss four yards out.

1515: GOAL Bolton 0-1 Aston Villa (Bent)

Football League Danny: "First goal of the day in the Championship promotion mix-up - and it's gone to Leeds, who lead Doncaster 1-0 thanks to Max Gradel's strike."

1514: Louis Saha and Phil Neville for Everton and Newcastle's Leon Best have all required treatment in the early stages at St James' Park, where no goalmouth action has yet taken place.

1513: After West Ham have the majority of early possession, the first chance at Upton Park goes to Stoke - Rory Delap's cross from the left is flicked goalbound by Jon Walters at the near post, and Robert Green is forced to push the ball behind for a corner.

1511: Football League Danny has a message for you. Next thing you know, Danny will be doing this live text... "Thanks to Comic Relief, we have comedians on the Final Score sofa. But it's not all one-way - commentator Harry Gration, currently at Elland Road watching Leeds v Doncaster, has announced he will be doing a stand-up routine at a comedy club in Shoreditch this week. Can no-one stay inside their comfort zone these days?"

1509: Johan Elmander and Ashley Young go head-to-head at the Reebok, but there's nothing doing there as the ref breaks them up. At Arsenal, Nicklas Bendtner narrowly fails to connect with a Gael Clichy cross, before Samir Nasri curls into the arms of Simon Mignolet.

1507: Sunderland have started quite well at Arsenal, knocking the ball around nicely and getting into some dangerous areas too. A corner provides more danger, and when the Gunners don't clear it properly, Phil Bardsley hammers wide from 20 yards.

Football League Danny: "Tom Taiwo smashes Carlisle into the lead at Brighton after three minutes. That's made the 300-mile journey down there - which has been made by 150 or so hardy fans - almost worthwhile. But remember, the Seagulls are unbeaten at home in the league this season."

From Leo in London, on text: "What does Pedersen have to do to get a start?! Best Rovers player in years, what is Steve Kean thinking?"

1504: You don't often see Darren Bent forego the chance to score a one-on-one, but he has there. The Villa striker is sent clean through by Ashley Young, but as he tries to round Jussi Jaaskelainen he gets it all wrong and doesn't even get a shot away.

1502: Decent opening for Sunderland at the Emirates as Jordan Henderson's low ball in from the right is cleared away by Gael Clichy.

1501: And now they've started between Newcastle and Everton and West Ham and Stoke, too. Bellissimo.

1500: Under way at Fulham-Blackburn and Bolton-Villa too.

1459: Early, but under way at Arsenal-Sunderland.

1458: Ah, three o'clock on a Saturday - smell that time, the most beautiful of the week. At the top of this page, if you refresh, you'll find a special edition of Final Score - it's got Comic Relief written all over it. Meanwhile, the UK's first online 24-hour panel show, in aid of Red Nose Day, is almost three hours old.

West Ham v Stoke team news:
Julian Shea reports: "West Ham
recall Carlton Cole as part of a three-pronged attack alongside Demba Ba and Frederic Piquionne, with midfielder Gary O'Neil dropping to the bench. Their one other change sees Manuel da Costa promoted from the bench to the starting XI, with Lars Jacobsen making the opposite journey. Stoke's only change sees striker Kenwyne Jones sacrificed in favour of midfielder Glenn Whelan."

Newcastle v Everton team news:
Saj Chowdhury reports: "Steven Taylor replaces the suspended Ryan Taylor in the Newcastle team as the only change from the side that drew against Bolton. Everton boss David Moyes makes two changes from the XI defeated by Reading in the FA Cup, with Tony Hibbert and Jermaine Beckford coming in for Seamus Coleman and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov."

Fulham v Blackburn team news:
Phil Dawkes reports: "Fulham
boss Mark Hughes names the same side which drew 1-1 at his former club Manchester City last Sunday. This means fit again striker Bobby Zamora must once again make do with a place on the bench. In contrast, Blackburn make six changes from the team beaten 4-1 at Aston Villa last time out. Chris Samba and Gael Givet return to the defence for the suspended Ryan Nelson and injured Vince Grella respectively. Into midfield come Steven Nzonzi and Junior Hoilett, while Jason Roberts and Mame Biram Diouf start up front. Morten Gamst Pedersen, Brett Emerton, Keith Andrews and Roque Santa Cruz are all on the bench."

Bolton v Aston Villa team news:
Paul Fletcher reports: "After the criticism that followed his weakened team selection for the midweek FA Cup defeat at Man City, Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier selects a strong side for the match at Bolton, with eight changes from the tie at Eastlands. Bolton make one change from the side that drew against Newcastle, with Gretar Steinsson replacing Marcos Alonso."

Arsenal v Sunderland team news:
From BBC Sport's David Ornstein at the Emirates: "As expected, Arsenal ring the changes from Wednesday's FA Cup victory over Leyton Orient. There are eight in all as Wojciech Szczesny replaces Manuel Almunia in goal and Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny, Johan Djourou, Gael Clichy, Jack Wilshere, Samir Nasri (captain) and Andrey Arshavin return to the starting line-up. Nicklas Bendtner gets the nod ahead of Marouane Chamakh, with Aaron Ramsey on the bench. Just the one change for Sunderland following last weekend's loss at Everton, Steed Malbranque preferred to Ahmed Elmohamady in midfield. Danny Welbeck is among the substitutes after eight weeks out injured."

Football League Danny: "It's a tough League Two opener for new Northampton boss Gary Johnson as his Cobblers side host Shrewsbury, who are fifth and very much eyeing automatic promotion. Unstoppable Football Machine (UFM) Chesterfield take their nine-point lead to Cheltenham, but behind them, my it's close. Wycombe, Bury, Rotherham, Port Vale and Gillingham are vying with the Shrews for automatic promotion or play-off places - and there's a whole bunch just behind them if they slip up."

1449: I've had a shocker. Two League One Football League Dannys? Crazy talk. Here's League Two...

Football League Danny: "Carlisle face an environment-punishing 600-mile round trip to League One leaders Brighton, and they'll do well to come back with anything. The unbeaten-at-home Gulls have taken 37 out of a possible 45 points at the Withdean. Bournemouth will hope to maintain their grip on second place with a win against Oldham. And it's a big day for relegation fans. Swindon (21st) host Walsall (20th) and Bristol Rovers (22nd) host Dagenham and Redbridge (23rd)."

Football League Danny: "Carlisle face an environment-punishing 600-mile round trip to League One leaders Brighton, and they'll do well to come back with anything. The unbeaten-at-home Gulls have taken 37 out of a possible 45 points at the Withdean. Bournemouth will hope to maintain their grip on second place with a win against Oldham. And it's a big day for relegation fans. Swindon (21st) host Walsall (20th) and Bristol Rovers (22nd) host Dagenham and Redbridge (23rd)."

Football League Danny: "Football fan? Thought so. Why not feast on an actually full Championship programme today? Leaders QPR host play-off chasing Leicester and could theoretically go eight points clear should both of the South Wales massive slip-up. Speaking of said massive, Swansea are away at struggling Scunthorpe and Cardiff host Ipswich in the evening kick-off. Nottingham Forest (home v Hull) and Norwich (home v Preston), will both be confident of staying firmly in automatic promotion contention."

1447: Team news in a sec, but first let's let Football League Danny set up the sub-Premier League action...

West Ham v Stoke scene-setter:
Julian Shea reports:
"West Ham and Stoke will be both hoping to claim the psychological upper hand as well as the points when they clash in the Premier League at Upton Park, eight days before they meet once again in the FA Cup. The home side's improved form of late has been helped by three goals in two games from loanee Demba Ba, who was on course to join Stoke until he failed a medical. The visitors, meanwhile, are on a club-record run of five successive Premier League away defeats and have already lost once at Upton Park this season, in the Carling Cup."

Newcastle v Everton scene-setter:
Saj Chowdhury reports: "It's tight in that mid-table region at the moment. An Everton win would pull them level with the Magpies, while a win for the home side - whisper this - could push them up to sixth spot. Everton have not won at St James' since 2000 while Newcastle have lost one of nine league games in 2011."

Fulham v Blackburn scene-setter:
Phil Dawkes reports:
"All that separates 13th-placed Fulham from Blackburn in 14th is 11 goals, but both will be more concerned by the inadequacy of the four point gap that stands between them and the relegation zone. The smart money is on a home victory, with the Cottagers having only lost one of their last eight league matches and Rovers without a point from four games on the road. But whatever the result, let's all just hope for a lovely, lingering handshake with plenty of eye contact at the end of it."

Bolton v Aston Villa scene-setter:
Paul Fletcher reports: "Bolton's highest finish in the Premier League is the sixth place they achieved in 2005 - and hopes are high that Owen Coyle's team can at least repeat that feat this season. They are currently seventh, two points off Liverpool. Aston Villa supporters probably cannot wait for the season to end. Their team are only four points behind Bolton but Villa were dumped out of the FA Cup in midweek and top-flight survival seems to be the over-riding priority."

Arsenal v Sunderland scene-setter:
From BBC Sport's David Ornstein at the Emirates: "A good week for Gunners led Arsene Wenger to suggest Sunday's Wembley nightmare already felt six months in the past - and his side can further erase that memory with a victory over Sunderland that would move them to within a point of Manchester United. The visitors may be unbeaten in London this season, but they're without a league win at Arsenal since 1983 and have lost their last four games. Wenger will fancy a morale-boosting three points ahead of Tuesday's Champions League trip to Barcelona."

1440: So, scene-setter and team news for the 1500 GMT Premier League games, and some Football League Danny to come too. That should take us up to kick-off, pretty much...

From DH, Edinburgh, on text: "Re: 1426. Does that mean Wolves are better than AC Milan?"
Yeah, why not?

Full time
1437: Full-time Birmingham 1-3 West Brom
Well that's a result that puts the cat amongst the pigeons at the bottom of the table. A game of two halves if ever there was one, Brian.

From Femi_Adeyemi on Twitter: "Zigic is good enough to play against the Arsenal but not good enough to rattle WBA's fragile defence."

1432: We'll have four minutes of injury time, which might all be pretty pointless unless Blues can get a goal quickly. West Brom have got the ball, mind.

1430: Huge swathes of Birmingham fans are flooding out of St Andrews, pretty dismayed at what they have witnessed today. Almost into injury time, this game's over.

1429: West Ham v Stoke line-ups:
West Ham:
Green, Tomkins, Upson, da Costa, Bridge, Noble, Parker, Hitzlsperger, Piquionne, Cole, Ba.
Subs: Boffin, Gabbidon, Spector, Hines, O'Neil, Obinna, Jacobsen.
Stoke: Begovic, Wilson, Huth, Shawcross, Pugh, Pennant, Delap, Whitehead, Whelan, Walters, Carew.
Subs: Sorensen, Collins, Jones, Fuller, Diao, Etherington, Wilkinson.
Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands)

From Kamil in London, on text: "Does that mean that West Brom (who are beating Birmingham, who beat Arsenal who themselves beat Barcelona) are the best team in the world?"

1426: A Blues cross from the right is half-cleared by the visitors as far as Lee Bowyer, who takes aim and fires goalwards from 22 yards, the ball taking a deflection and flying into the hands of Scott Carson.

1425: Another chance for the Baggies, what a second half they have enjoyed. Chris Brunt plays a gorgeous ball into the Blues box, over Roger Johnson and on to the head of Peter Odemwingie, but he gets his effort all wrong and it dribbles away from the target.

1424: Fulham v Blackburn line-ups:
Schwarzer, Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Salcido, Duff, Etuhu, Murphy, Dempsey, Johnson, Dembele.
Subs: Stockdale, Kelly, Gudjohnsen, Kakuta, Zamora, Greening, Davies.
Blackburn: Robinson, Salgado, Hanley, Samba, Givet, Hoilett, Jermaine Jones, Nzonzi, Olsson, Roberts, Diouf.
Subs: Bunn, Emerton, Kalinic, Pedersen, Andrews, Santa Cruz, Rochina.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

1422: Birmingham take off Liam Ridgewell and send on David Murphy. Still no Nikola Zigic - about 10 minutes for the Blues to get something from this one. Birmingham 1-3 West Brom.

1422: Bolton v Aston Villa line-ups:
Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Wheater, Cahill, Robinson, Elmander, Holden, Muamba, Petrov, Kevin Davies, Sturridge.
Subs: Bogdan, Taylor, Mark Davies, Klasnic, Moreno, Alonso, Lee.
Aston Villa: Friedel, Walker, Clark, Baker, Luke Young, Reo-Coker, Delph, Albrighton, Ashley Young, Downing, Bent.
Subs: Marshall, Pires, Agbonlahor, Bradley, Heskey, Petrov, Herd.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

1420: Arsenal v Sunderland line-ups:
Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Denilson, Wilshere, Nasri, Diaby, Arshavin, Bendtner.
Subs: Almunia, Rosicky, Ramsey, Squillaci, Eboue, Gibbs, Chamakh.
Sunderland: Mignolet, Ferdinand, Mensah, Bramble, Bardsley, Henderson, Muntari, Malbranque, Richardson, Sessegnon, Gyan.
Subs: Gordon, Riveros, Welbeck, Colback, Elmohamady, Knott, Noble.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)

1419: Alex McLeish looks bemused. West Brom make their third change, with James Morrison, who scored their brilliant second goal, coming off for Gabriel Tamas.

From JayNandha on Twitter: "How can you bring on Phillips when you have an in-form Zigic against a poor West Brom defence, madness I tell you, madness."

1416: Newcastle v Everton line-ups:
Harper, Steven Taylor, Williamson, Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Simpson, Tiote, Nolan, Gutierrez, Best, Lovenkrands.
Subs: Krul, Guthrie, Perch, Ameobi, Ferguson, Richardson, Kuqi.
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Osman, Neville, Rodwell, Arteta, Beckford, Saha.
Subs: Mucha, Heitinga, Bilyaletdinov, Coleman, Anichebe, Duffy, Baxter.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

West Brom: Ridiculous defending from Birmingham - and it could have cost them big time today. They fall asleep as the Baggies play a quick corner and when James Morison floats over a cross, Paul Scharner heads it goalwards - David Bentley has recklessly strayed off the post he is supposed to be guarding and Ben Foster can only get a hand on it as the ball crosses the line. A real comedy of errors.

1414: GOAL Birmingham 1-3 West Brom (Scharner)

1412: Liam Ridgewell collects a Cameron Jerome pass and gets into the box, where he falls under a challenge from Gonzalo Jara. The Chilean just gets enough of the ball to make sure it's not a penalty.

1411: Good threat from Cameron Jerome, who shows decent pace to get into a crossing position down the Blues right, but his ball is cut out by the Baggies defence, who remain on top of their game at the moment. Just over 20 minutes left, still Birmingham 1-2 West Brom.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1410: Could've so easily been 3-1 to West Brom. Chris Brunt slaps in a right-foot shot from 25 yards that cannons back off the base of Ben Foster's left-hand post and, with the goal gaping from the rebound, Peter Odemwingie blazes hopelessly over. What a chance.

1408: Here comes a change apiece - West Brom haul Jerome Thomas off for Gonzalo Jara, and Birmingham send on ex-Baggies goal-getter Kevin Phillips in place of Jean Beausejour.

1406: Bit of pressure from Birmingham, but they cannot fashion a chance from it. West Brom's defending since their second goal has been a whole lot better than after their first.

1404: The Premier League apparently has Lee Bowyer on 99 yellow cards, but Infostrada, Opta and Soccerbase all have that most recent booking as Bowyer's 100th. So, there it is. Cards on the table.

1402: Almost another instant equaliser when David Bentley fires a rasping shot from 25 yards that Scott Carson has to push away.

West Brom goal: Good grief, it's magnificent now. James Morrison scores an early contender for goal of the weekend and it's a belter - he collects the ball 25 yards from goal, flicks the ball impishly with his right foot past Curtis Davies and hits a sizzling left-foot half-volley from the edge of the box that fairly flies past Ben Foster high into the Blues goal. Wonderful stuff.

1400: GOAL Birmingham 1-2 West Brom (Morrison)

From Nemo, Leicester, on text: "CONGRATULATIONS! Lee Bowyer on becoming the 1st Premier League player to pick up his 100th yellow card."

1358: David Bentley's viciously inswinging cross from the Blues left forces Scott Carson to tip the ball away as it heads towards his top corner. The hosts, buoyed by their quick-sharp leveller, are in the ascendancy now.

Yellow card
Yellow card
1354: Paul Scharner and Liam Ridgewell tangle inside the Blues penalty area - it's not just a tangle, mind, they end up wrestling on the floor. Ridiculous behaviour, and they are both booked by referee Mike Jones.

Yellow card
1353: The goals were 79 seconds apart. I'd imagine Roy Hodgson will be pretty cross. Oh look - Lee Bowyer's been booked, I reckon that might be his 100th in the Premier League! See 1233 for confirmation.

Blues goal: What a response from the Carling Cup winners. Stephen Carr sends Lee Bowyer away down the right and his excellent low cross into the six-yard box is met by Jean Beausejour's right foot, the Chilean steering past Scott Carson for his first Premier League strike. It got lively.

1351: GOAL Birmingham 1-1 West Brom (Beausejour)

West Brom goal: Now that's a half-time substitution. Peter Odemwingie has a decisive say on proceedings almost immediately - after one Baggies attack is cleared by Ben Foster, the ball comes back out to the Nigerian, who pokes it forward for Youssouf Mulumbu, and he prods neatly over Foster from just inside the area.

1349: GOAL Birmingham 0-1 West Brom (Mulumbu)

1347: Goody, a change already. Peter Odemwingie, with nine Premier League goals to his Nigerian name this season, is on in place of Marc-Antoine Fortune for West Brom. We're back under way.

1345: OK, let's get positive. Look at the benches - we've got Kevin Phillips, Nikola Zigic, Peter Odemwingie and Carlos Vela all still to come on. It's about to explode, this six-pointer.

From sylvietjoo on Twitter: "I will buy a snood and wear it in protest from now on. Also, bring in Vela or I'm definitely switching to Red Nose Day.

From Spencer, on text: "Further to 1317, I think it's just one of those games that is crying out for a goal. Maybe Odemwingie can be Roy's super-sub?"

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce on BBC Radio 5 live: "In the last 18, 20 months we've had an improvement and I'm delighted to have signed a new contract. We're just looking to keep getting better. To be without eight or nine players, it's caught up with us recently. We have to put up with it, but it's been difficult."

From RyanEmery on Twitter: "In Texas. Up at 6:30am to watch the early Saturday games, no matter who is playing. This tosh is making me question myself."

1332: Don't worry. I think there's better to come today.

Half time
1331: HALF-TIME Birmingham 0-0 West Brom
Saj Chowdhury's HT snapshot: "I've seen better to be honest. Understandably, neither team wants to give an inch taking into account their league predicament but if the two keepers aren't made to work soon then I fear they may walk off."

1330: West Brom are woeful. There, I said it. They just keep giving the ball away and they can't string two passes together. Roy Hodgson needs to give them a rocket at half-time - they are lucky Birmingham haven't been that much better.

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live's Jimmy Armfield: "This is Birmingham's home game and the onus is on them to attack really. They've got games in hand on the teams around them and they should be trying to win this game."

1327: The ball bobbles around the midfield and no-one seems able to get it under control properly. Chris Brunt crosses deep from the West Brom right, but it's an easy catch for the woefully under-used Ben Foster.

From Anon, on text: "Re 1317. I think that's a little unfair. Both teams are playing tenaciously and the game's at a decent tempo. As soon as someone scores you'll change your tune and say 'it's been coming'. I can sense it."

1323: Blues have ramped it up a notch in the last few moments, and Cameron Jerome is about to pull the trigger just inside the West Brom box, only for Paul Scharner to nick the ball off his toes. Smart piece of defending.

1321: Much better from the Blues. Jean Beausejour collects on the edge of the Baggies box with his back to goal and he turns smartly, clipping a left-foot cross into the mixer, where a stooping Cameron Jerome directs a header just wide of Scott Carson's left-hand post.

1319: Good grief. Jerome Thomas has been the liveliest player on the pitch so far and he rampages down the Baggies left, cutting infield and trying to pick out James Morrison down the right. His pass is intercepted but Thomas gets it back and lays the ball off to Chris Brunt, who spanners miles high and wide from 25 yards. Brunt and Thomas have what seems like an argument, but it doesn't last long.

1317: We've had more than half an hour so far at St Andrews, and already I'm looking forward to Saj Chowdhury's half-time snapshot. It cannot be worse than the game. Birmingham 0-0 West Brom.

From Davinho, on text: "Just to let you know the mighty Super Hoops could be the first to 70 points in all four divisions today - in Warnock we trust. Best wishes."

1313: Paul Scharner attempts to get something going by giving the ball away at St Andrews, but Cameron Jerome eschews the opening by tamely sending the ball bobbling harmlessly wide from 25 yards. Terrible shot.

1311: Alex McLeish attempts to gee up his troops from the touchline - it's a bit muted at St Andrews all round, to be honest. I hadn't factored this in today, I was expecting something a little livelier. Not Charlie Sheen-lively, no tigers, but better than this.

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live's Alan Green: "Birmingham look hungover to me. Not alcohol-related, but maybe mentally after last weekend. They haven't had a shot on target yet."

1307: Steven Reid fouls Liam Ridgewell down the Birmingham left and after David Bentley's cross is headed away, it falls for the winger 30 yards out, his ambitious volley flying over Scott Carson's crossbar. Blues are back in the game.

From blackeyedangel1 on Twitter: "Someone want to explain to me what Carlos Vela needs to do to get a start for WBA?"

1302: Lots of chat about snoods - just to clarify, that is a Fifa directive, so snoods will be banned from football pitches all over the world from 1 July. No, Marouane Chamakh and Samir Nasri will NOT be handing in transfer requests to move somewhere warmer.

1259: Scott Carson does well to come and catch a corner, but promptly smashes it straight down the other end to Ben Foster, his opposite number. He holds his hand up to apologise.

1257: Birmingham's first attack of any note ends with David Bentley winning a corner down the left, but Lee Bowyer's cross to the far post is too high for Roger Johnson and the danger disappears.

1254: Liam's pay-off there fair tickled Football League Danny pink, you know. At St Andrews, it's all West Brom - they're the only team playing any football and they will be looking for a goal to make their early dominance count.

From Liam, en route to the Emirates, on text: "There is nothing more exciting than being at a train station on a Saturday morning surrounded by many other nervous fans going off in their various directions. Such thrills!"

1251: Calamitous from the Blues. Roger Johnson's sloppy pass to Stephen Carr is cut out by Jerome Thomas and he surges towards the box, his right-foot shot blocked in the end by Johnson, who recovered his composure in the nick of time.

1249: More threat from the visitors as Jerome Thomas dinks over a cross from the left and Chris Brunt's header flies into the arms of Ben Foster. Nothing from the hosts as of yet.

1248: First ball into a danger area comes from the West Brom right, but Steven Reid's effort is comfortably headed back to Ben Foster by Stephen Carr at the far post. The Blues are in all blue save for white shorts, the Baggies in red shirts, white shorts and red socks (for those of you watching in black and white).

From 1andonlyzim on Twitter: "Looking for seven away wins in Premier League today - got a cheeky bet on. The odds are very long."
And my predos get some tap?

1245: We're under way at St Andrews.

1243: Breaking news: The International FA Board has announced that the wearing of snoods in matches will be banned from 1 July.

1242: Stephen Carr and Chris Brunt lead their respective teams out and we're almost ready to go at St Andrews as Carling Cup winners Birmingham entertain West Bromwich Albion.

West Brom manager Roy Hodgson: "Games are now very important for all of us managers with teams involved in relegation battles. I have to make sure my players are hyped up for every game."

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish: "We will be doing everything we can to win this game. This is massive, it's like another cup final."

1238: I'd be astonished if you didn't have all your comedy needs met by this very page. Truly I would. But something quite remarkable is happening over on our sister site ahead of Red Nose Day: the UK's first online 24-hour panel show is already under way. It's in aid of Comic Relief, it started at midday and, clearly, it's scheduled to end at midday on Sunday. Check it out, but only if you promise you'll come back.

From Carleen, London, on text: "Arsenal's consistency is to be admired but, as a Blues fan, we've waited 48 years for that trophy and I wouldn't give it back for anything! Even if it does mean playing in Europe and the Championship next year."

1233: Couple of cheeky stats courtesy of Infostrada: Birmingham's Lee Bowyer has received 99 yellow cards in the Premier League - he could become the first man to reach three figures today. Also, Birmingham have scored the fewest goals (25) in the PL so far. Last season, the side scoring fewest goals (Wolves with 32) managed to stave off relegation.

1230: Stevo's Predos:
Birmingham 2-1 West Brom
Arsenal 2-0 Sunderland
Bolton 1-1 Aston Villa
Fulham 2-0 Blackburn
Newcastle 3-1 Everton
West Ham 2-1 Stoke
Man City 4-1 Wigan
Lawro and cyclist Bradley Wiggins' predos

1226: So, this is how we roll today. I'm Jonathan Stevenson, and I'm going to do my level best to bring you all of today's action while upsetting the fewest number of people possible. It's harder than you might think. Get in touch, because I do tend to go on about stuff: get the texts in to 81111; and tweet too, either by hitting me directly @Stevo_football or by using the hashtag #BBCFootball. Look forward to hearing from you.

From Mark, on text: "Nice photo of the Carling Cup runners-up. How about a photo of the winners?"
Check out the football page, pal. Remember the feeling?

From mattlandsman on Twitter: "[See first entry] Might not have won a trophy but that is still a VERY impressive record. Competing consistently in EVERY competition isn't easy."
Great use of caps. TOP work.

The great Eric Cantona: "Kicking the fan was a mistake. But that's life. That's me."

Birmingham v West Brom team news:
Saj Chowdhury reports: Birmingham
midfield pair Barry Ferguson (fractured rib) and Craig Gardner (dead leg) are missing from the starting XI, but Roger Johnson has recovered from a calf injury. West Brom's Graham Dorrans misses the match with an ankle injury, although striker Peter Odemwingie has recovered from a similar problem to take his place on the bench."

Birmingham v West Brom scene-setter:
Saj Chowdhury reports:
"This is a big game any day of the week, but today's derby is particularly significant because defeat could plunge either team into relegation waters. Blues will be buoyant after their Carling Cup win and, importantly, have two games in hand over their local rivals. West Brom have drawn four of their last five but desperately need to win this fixture with Arsenal, Liverpool, Sunderland, Chelsea and Tottenham coming up. Sorry for the reminder, Baggies."

1216: Just for a moment, it became the Saj Chowdhury Show...

1214: UK web users - you might like to know that if you refresh your page, you'll see BBC One's Football Focus appear at the top. I'm all over it - there's only an interview with one of the greatest footballers of all time in the programme today: Eric Cantona. C'est magnifique.

1212: Birmingham v West Brom line-ups:
Foster, Carr, Johnson, Davies, Ridgewell, Beausejour, Fahey, Bowyer, Bentley, Jerome, Martins.
Subs: Doyle, Murphy, Larsson, Phillips, Zigic, Parnaby, Mutch.
West Brom: Carson, Reid, Olsson, Meite, Shorey, Brunt, Mulumbu, Scharner, Thomas, Morrison, Fortune.
Subs: Myhill, Tchoyi, Vela, Odemwingie, Tamas, Cox, Jara.
Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

1210: There are Championship, Leagues One and Two games by the bucketload today and our Football League Danny will be along in due course to tell us exactly what to look out for. But in the meantime, here's a Premier League schedule of events:
1245 GMT: Birmingham v West Brom
1500 GMT: Arsenal v Sunderland
1500 GMT: Bolton v Aston Villa
1500 GMT: Fulham v Blackburn
1500 GMT: Newcastle v Everton
1500 GMT: West Ham v Stoke
1730 GMT: Manchester City v Wigan Athletic

1206: It would make a pleasant change for the Gunners to have something to celebrate at the end of the season; perhaps it would be even more pertinent in a year that ends in a '1', usually the time when their great rivals Tottenham bag a trophy. Today, Arsenal can close to within a point of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League, as Arsene Wenger's very solo search for success persists.

1204: I know what you're thinking: it's about time Arsenal won something. Here's them with silverware, 2,115 days ago...

Arsenal celebrate with their last trophy, the 2005 FA Cup
Arsenal celebrate with their last trophy, the 2005 FA Cup

2010/11: Carling final... ?????
2009/10: Prem 3rd, Carling quarters, FA Cup 4th rnd, CL quarters
2008/09: Prem 4th, Carling Cup quarters, FA Cup semis, CL semis
2007/08: Prem 3rd, Carling semis, FA Cup 5th rnd, CL quarters
2006/07: Prem 4th, Carling final, FA Cup 5th rnd, CL last 16
2005/06: Prem 4th, Carling semis, FA Cup 4th rnd, CL final

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Barclays Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 5 Mar 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 28 35 60
2 Arsenal 28 30 57
3 Man City 29 20 53
4 Chelsea 27 25 48
5 Tottenham 27 7 47
6 Bolton 29 2 40
7 Liverpool 28 1 39
8 Sunderland 29 -2 38
9 Newcastle 29 3 36
10 Everton 28 0 36
11 Fulham 29 1 35
12 Stoke 29 -6 34
13 Aston Villa 29 -13 33
14 Blackburn 29 -12 32
15 Blackpool 28 -13 32
16 West Brom 29 -15 32
17 West Ham 29 -13 31
18 Birmingham 27 -12 30
19 Wolves 28 -15 28
20 Wigan 29 -23 27

see also
Saturday's football photos
05 Mar 11 |  Football

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