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Page last updated at 19:48 GMT, Saturday, 19 March 2011

Saturday football as it happened

GOALFLASHES AND MAJOR INCIDENTS (all times GMT)

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By Sam Lyon

1945: And that's a wrap, folks. May I suggest you check out Match of the Day from 2230 tonight on BBC One and the website, followed by the Football League Show at 2350, for your fix of all things goals, incidents and generally just avoiding rubbish late Saturday night TV alternatives - and that you join me again tomorrow from around 1230 GMT for Sunderland v Liverpool and the barnstormer that promises to be Chelsea v Man City. I forsee a tantalising twosome - and I am never, ever wrong. Ever. Until then, see ya!

jaysarollia on Twitter: "Fulham have never won at Goodison Park and last won a point back in Sept 1959, I think that says it all, don't you?"

1940: EVERTON 2-1 FULHAM
Mark Ashenden reports:
"A scrappy encounter. Two fireworks. Sweet Baines feet. Sweet Coleman header. Late Toffees nerves but it's the Londoners left a little sticky."

1938: WIGAN 2-1 BIRMINGHAM
Owen Phillips reports:
"Maynor Figueroa's dramatic and deserved late winner could make all the difference to Wigan's still shaky survival hopes. The Latics remain bottom but the victory keeps them in touch with the rest of the strugglers - including Birmingham."

1937: WEST BROM 2-2 ARSENAL
David Ornstein reports:
"Not for the first, second or third time in recent weeks, months or years, Arsenal are punished for a goalkeeping howler. Time to call for Mr Lehmann? West Brom will be cursing their own defensive fragility - but a point apiece was fair."

1936: STOKE 4-0 NEWCASTLE
Saj Chowdhury reports:
"It was not really a 'four niller'. Stoke had a killer instinct that Newcastle lacked. They also had a better defence."

1934: MAN UTD 1-0 BOLTON
Stephan Shemilt reports:
"Manchester United pull a late winner out of the bag yet again. It wasn't undeserved, but Bolton have every right to feel disappointed in leaving Old Trafford empty handed."

1933: BLACKBURN 2-2 BLACKPOOL
Kevin Darling reports:
"A scintillating first half followed by capitulation in the second… this match could serve as a metaphor for Blackpool's whole season. And just like the Tangerines' Premier League adventure, it was great fun to watch."

1932: ASTON VILLA 0-1 WOLVES
Les Roopanarine reports:
"History was against Wolves, who had not won at Villa Park for 31 years, but they laughed in its face with a performance full of spirit, endeavour and no little skill. Deserved win."

1930: TOTTENHAM 0-0 WEST HAM
David Ornstein reports:
"Hopes of a top-four finish will quickly fade if Tottenham continue to squander as many chances as they did today. But take nothing away from West Ham - on this evidence they have more than enough to beat the drop, for certain."

1929: Here, then, is what our match reporters made of today's action...

1928: It was tense and it was tight at the end, but Everton hang on to go eighth in the Premier League, Fulham stay 12th.

Full time
1926: FULL-TIME Everton 2-1 Fulham

1924: Chance for Jermaine Beckford to wrap up the win on the counter-attack, but after cutting inside from the left inside the box, his shot is weak and Mark Schwarzer is able to smother.

1923: Fulham pressing for a last-gasp equaliser, Everton just about holding firm...

1920: Time running out for Fulham, who have probably left it too late to get something out of this match. They will have five minutes of stoppage time, mind.

1917: Blimey. If he's not auditioning for a part in the remake of Platoon, Louis Saha is very, very injured here. The Frenchman lands awkwardly going up for a header - replays show his ankle collapsing underneath him - and it doesn't look good as the striker is stretchered from the field screaming in agony. I fear he might have snapped something there. Jermaine Beckford comes on.

1915: Chance. Gael Kakuta drifts over a beauty of a cross and Bobby Zamora rises unmarked to meet it - but he can't get enough on his header and the chance goes awry. A fully match fit Zamora might just have gobbled that up.

Football League Nathan: "So Saints go marching on with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday. The win leaves Southampton fourth in the table but with a game in hand over Peterborough and Huddersfield and in an ideal spot to challenge for automatic promotion. The Owls remain towards the bottom end of ther League One table and still not safe from the drop."

1912: Off the line! There was almost our late drama, Phil Jagielka rising to head a corner at goal and it looks for all the world to be heading into the net, only for Fulham full-back Carlos Salcido to fling himself at the ball and head around the post. Brilliant defending.

1910: We're into the last 10 minutes, just the one goal in it, I fancy a spot of late drama. Who's with me?

1907: Hhmm... that's a chance if you ask me, the ball falling to Moussa Dembele on the edge of the box but the Fulham midfielder swiping wide of the goal tamely. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov comes on for Jack Rodwell for the hosts.

1904: A real sense of nerves around Goodison Park now as Fulham continue to press the home backline. And here comes a potentially tricky opponent for the Toffees - loan forward Gael Kakuta replacing Damien Duff for the Cottagers.

1859: Or, you know, making a change. It's not the most attacking substitution from Everton - Johnny Heitinga on for Tim Cahill - but it looks like David Moyes's hand might have been forced by an injury to the talismanic Australian. So we'll let him off.

1858: Fulham are bossing this now, such has been the impact of Bobby Zamora's introduction. Everton could do with getting on the ball a bit more.

1854: That was Clint Dempsey's 11th goal of the season, making this his most prolific campaign in English football ever. And yep, I say this stuff to girls. I'm THAT charming.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Fulham goal: Immediate impact. Bobby Zamora has been on the field less than a minute and already he's helped get Fulham back in the match, his lay-off on the edge of the area slammed home left-footed by the onrushing Clint Dempsey.

1852: GOALFLASH Everton 2-1 Fulham (Dempsey)

1851: Cometh ze hour, cometh Zamora. Or something like that. Bobby Z is on for Dickson Etuhu, with Clint Dempsey pushed back into midfield.

1849: This boy Seamus Coleman is a real find for Everton isn't he? He goes on a typically rampaging run this time and stings a shot at goal that Mark Schwarzer has to scramble across to save. Which he does.

Football League Nathan: "Rickie Lambert doubles the lead with a delightful prodded half-volley to make it Southampton 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday. Game over, surely?"

1848: If this match stays as it is, Everton will leap up to seventh in the table by the way. Lofty.

1846: Snap-shot by Dickson Etuhu - blocked - follow-up effort from Damien Duff - saved. Something like a response from the visitors.

1844: Fulham boss Mark Hughes, looking every inch as if someone has just wiped tabasco sauce under his nose, is not a happy bunny. At all.

Football League Nathan: "Breakthrough for Southampton as Jose Fonte powers above his marker to head home from a corner for his fifth of the season. Home side on top now with 30 minutes remaining. Southampton 1-0 Sheff Weds."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Everton goal: Simple. Everton earn a free-kick 22 yards out, Leighton Baines lays it off, and Louis Saha slams is low through the wall and into the corner with Mark Schwarzer, unsighted, completely helpless. Fulham's lack of urgency punished.

1840: GOALFLASH Everton 2-0 Fulham (Saha)

Mike, Edinburgh, via text: "Douglas Costa would be a great addition to United! We are missing an engine room in midfield, some creativity, composure and fight! A new Roy Keane or Bryan Robson (who our thoughts are with)!"

1838: Looks like Fulham aren't going to learn their lesson - they've started as sluggishly in this half as they did the first.

1835: Here we go then, Everton 1-0 Fulham, back up and running.

Chris, Fulham fan via text: "Why do we always start to play only when we concede? Hopefully Mark Hughes will sort it out - 2-1 Fulham, COYW!"

1829: It's being reported, by the way, that Shakhtar playmaker Douglas Costa was a guest of Manchester United at Old Trafford today. Hhmm... *purses lips, strokes chin and nods conspiratorially*

Half time
1825: HALF-TIME Everton 1-0 Fulham
Mark Ashenden's HT snap-shot:
"What happened to those fireworks I forecast? Seamus Coleman's cool header the difference between these two teams who aren't really out of second gear. The left foot of Leighton Baines is a thing of a beauty though."

1820: By the way, despite what it says on our stats on the right-hand side, it is definitely only 1-0 to Everton. I fear a gremlin/Toffees fan has got into the system. Our techies are all over it, I'm told.

1819: There's your half-time whistle. Stick the kettle on would you?

1818: And now the visitors create their best chance of the afternoon as Andy Johnson lays off the ball beautifully for Clint Dempsey on the edge of the box only for the American's fierce shot to fly narrowly over. I fear for the walls of the visiting dressing room at the interval - Mark Hughes looks bloomin' furious.

Football League Nathan: "Southampton struggling to break Sheffield Wednesday down at St Mary's, plenty of possession but no end product as yet. Solid performance from the Owls so far, particularly from debutant Owls keeper Richard O'Donnell who is keeping Saints at bay."

1816: Fulham enjoying a decent spell of possession since going behind - though why they had to wait for that I don't know. Everton far from comfortable sat on this 1-0 lead at the moment, at least.

1812: So what response from Fulham then? Well this is encouraging, a fine move on the break ends with Carlos Salcido whipping a fabulous ball across the Everton box - the only trouble being that his team-mates had given the move up for dead. Shame.

Football League Nathan: "Bury's brave comeback against Cheltenham was all in vain as the visitors grabbed a 3-2 win over the team second in League Two. They remain their due to Wycombe's 1-1 draw with Shrewsbury, who themselves occupy thrid. Another point on the road keeps Gillingham in the play-off mix, while at the bottom Stockport and Barnet both lose."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Everton goal: Breakthrough - and it's no less than Everton deserve. Leighton Baines is again involved, his cut-back worked well by Leon Osman who crosses to the back post for Seamus Coleman to guide a fabulous header across goal and home.

1808: GOALFLASH Everton 1-0 Fulham (Coleman)

1804: Everton still on top at Goodison Park - and in Leighton Baines they have a potent weapon on the left hand side. He's giving Chris Baird a right ol' working over today. Still no breakthrough, though.

1800: Something! Happened! Leighton Baines swings over a corner and Louis Saha gets on the end of it to send a downward header at goal, his effort cleared off the line by a Fulham defender. That's by far the closest we've come to an opener.

1758: Bolton manager Owen Coyle: "[On the red card] My concern is about the player (Stuart Holden). He's on the way to hospital with his knee opened by a cut. I'm hoping it's no more than that. I've not seen the tackle again but it looked like to players committed to get the ball. It was a thrilling game and my players gave everything they could. We're disappointed we've lost and that shows how far we've come. There are many positives and we'll look to take the next step to improve further."

Football League Nathan: "Huddersfield and Bournemouth both slip up but there's no such stutter from the Seagulls who march on with a 1-0 win at Oldham. Bournemouth lost 1-0 at Carlisle, while Huddersfield could find no way past Swindon in a stalemate. Cash-strapped Plymouth suffered another defeat leaving them rooted to the foot of the League One table but Bristol Rovers hang on for a vital three points at Notts County."

1755: Words to describe proceedings at Goodison Park so far: lacklustre; quiet; uninspired; sluggish. The pitch looks nice, though. Lovely surface.

1753: Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson: "You've got to admire the character of the players. The fans were fantastic, but the players take great credit. They have come through a tough programme and deserve all the credit they get. [On the red card] Jonny Evans's foot is not high, but is off the ground. I think it was a fair attempt to get the ball the the player (Stuart Holden) has got a bad gash and the referee has seen the injury and given the red card. When you've got a foot off the ground you can't be certain you won't be sent off."

1750: Anyway, while we wait for the Everton-Fulham match to catch light, here's what Gareth Bale has had to say after signing a new long-term contract at Tottenham: "It is great to commit to this club and hopefully we can achieve what we believe we can with this squad. I definitely believe we can challenge for a title very soon. That is why I have signed. Every year as a minimum we are aiming to qualify for the Champions League so we are definitely going in the right direction. We have proven in the Champions League this season that we can compete with the best and we are in the last eight now and there is no reason we can't go further this season and in years to come." Spurs boss Harry Redknapp added: "It's great to have Gareth sign a new contract at the club. He is a fantastic player and the type of player we need to be keeping at Spurs. Gareth is now one of the top left-sided players in the world, he really is an amazing talent and can only get better. He is a smashing lad as well."

1748: Oh you should better there, son, Clint Dempsey picked out by Danny Murphy's free-kick but managing only to head away from goal 12 yards out.

Football League Nathan: "Big win for Preston in the Championship today who now have back-to-back victories, the latest a 2-1 win at home to Coventry. With Scunthorpe's 2-0 defeat at Ipswich, Preston are now eight points from safety with a game in hand, they couldn't could they? At the top there are wins for leaders QPR (1-0 at Doncaster) and Swansea (3-2 over Nottingham Forest). There was also a thrilling 3-3 draw between Cardiff and Millwall, with the Welsh side now trailing rivals Swansea (third) by three points."

1744: Everton full-back Leighton Baines, in my opinion an absolute spit for our very own Jonathan Stevenson, has a go at goal - it's a good 'un, too - but his flash volley flies wide of the far post.

1741: I won't lie, it's not exactly a crackerjack at Goodison Park. Yet. I imagine they're warming into proceedings so as to give us all time to catch our breath after the events of earlier this afternoon. It's considerate in a way.

Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden on Twitter: "Thanks for all the messages of support, will keep everyone updated when I find out the extent of injury."

1737: It's a rather sedate start to proceedings at Goodison Park. Very much a feeling-out process going on, though Everton are edging the opening exchanges.

andy_heron on Twitter: "Hope the Blues do it today but the Cottagers will be tricky."

1733: And now, minute's silence for Japan observed, we are up and running.

1730: Here come the teams at Goodison Park.

mw883 on Twitter: "Just on way home from Villa v Wolves. Concerned we will get relegated! Credit to Wolves. They have more fight than us!"

1727: West Brom boss Roy Hodgson: "We had a 2-0 cushion to help us and we're disappointed by the way we've let the second goal in. But over the 90 minutes they have done us well as can be asked of them. It was pretty hard work towards the end of the game especially against a team that establishes possession as much as Arsenal."

1724: Stoke boss Tony Pulis: "It looks like a side will need more 40 points to guarantee safety. The crowd have been brilliant today and will have to play their part in the coming weeks. To get four goals today and keep a clean sheet was great." Newcastle manager Alan Pardew: "We coped well with the pressure early on but mistakes at the start of the second half have has cost us the game. They didn't deserve to win 4-0 but it's a result we have to take home."

Wisdom via text: "This is the type of season I have been waiting for... anyone can win the league and anyone can get relegated... bring on the last games of the season - imagine how tense it will be then."

1721: Blackpool boss Ian Holloway: "I don't think [referee] Howard Webb had a good game today - I think both managers will agree on that. I didn't even think our penalty should have been given."

Joe Dempsey, Lancashire, via text: "Arsenal surely can't be happy with that result even if they did come back from the dead. Their title push is still flat-lining."

Liamreddi on Twitter: "Can anyone rule Chelsea out of the title race after those performances? Man Utd will drop points and Chelsea are improving..."

1718: And as we rake the leaves over the day's play as well as looking at this evening's Everton-Fulham match, here's how you get involved. Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @sampatricklyon or text me via 81111 (UK). Easy.

1715: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "It was a game where we need to show lots of character and resilience in a football match which was played on a rugby pitch. It was more about character than football today. It was attack against defence for 90 minutes and in the last 10 minutes it was us who were close to winning the game. We made a massive mistake on the second goal and you cannot afford to do that. But we have shown we are ready to fight."

1712: EVERTON v FULHAM (1730)
Mark Ashenden reports:
"Everton are boosted with the return of skipper Phil Neville (hamstring) and Australian midfielder Tim Cahill (foot), while Fulham boss Mark Hughes sticks with the same XI that started in their 3-2 win over Blackburn. Striker Bobby Zamora has to be content with the bench despite his last-minute winner two weeks ago. Can Sparky pull of a shock against his former employers? His team are looking to avoid an 18th consecutive defeat at Goodison Park. Top stat that."

fcessiogba on Twitter: "I don't care what anyone says, Man United are the luckiest team in world football."

Emma via text: "How big is the Newcastle-Wolves game in a couple of weeks now? Feeling nervous as a Toon fan."

thesupercow on Twitter: "I love you Arsene Wenger, but PLEASE PLEASE get rid of Almunia. The man is a worthless keeper!"

1708: BREAKING NEWS
Gareth Bale has signed a new four-and-a-half year contract with Tottenham, a deal that runs until 2015.

1707: EVERTON v FULHAM (1730)
Everton:
Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Coleman, Rodwell, Neville, Osman, Cahill, Saha. Subs: Mucha, Heitinga, Bilyaletdinov, Beckford, Gueye, Anichebe, Baxter.
Fulham: Schwarzer, Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Salcido, Duff, Murphy, Etuhu, Dempsey, Dembele, Johnson. Subs: Stockdale, Kelly, Gudjohnsen, Kakuta, Zamora, Greening, Davies.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

aidanjwbrowne on Twitter: "Eight games left and eight points separate eighth from 20th. Ridiculous."

1703: And we're not even done yet people! We've still got Everton v Fulham to come don't forget. Might I suggest you take a few deep breaths in the next 25 minutes or so to calm yourselves down? I know I need to...

1701: Where to start with that lot? Your summary: Man Utd once again grind out a precious win, Arsenal show resolve to come back against West Brom but just fall short of the win, Newcastle get battered, Wigan and Blackburn leave it late - very late - and Wolves earn a first win at Villa Park for 31 years. Thoughts?

BBC Sport's David Dulin at the Liberty Stadium: "Swansea 3-2 Forest. Swansea turned on the style to re-ignite their automatic promotion hopes. Debutant Fabio Borini scored twice and Scott Sinclair claimed a brilliant individual goal as the third-place Swans close the gap on Norwich to a point. Forest, who scored through Kris Boyd and Paul Anderson, are without a win in seven."

Full time
1658: FULL-TIME Wigan 2-1 Birmingham

1657: FULL-TIME Blackburn 2-2 Blackpool

Full time
1657: FULL-TIME West Brom 2-2 Arsenal

1656: FULL-TIME Man Utd 1-0 Bolton

1655: Close! Arsenal full-back has a pop as the match draws to a close, his effort tipped around the near post by Baggies keeper Scott Carson.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Blackburn goal: And now late drama at Ewood Park as Blackpool keeper Richard Kingson comes for a deep free-kick, misses it, the ball bouncing out to Junior Hoillett to head in what looks like being and absolutely vital equaliser.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Wigan goal: Incredible - Wigan snatch a last-gasp win, surely, as Maynor Figueroa slams a dramatic second for the hosts from 22 yards out. Questions will be asked of Birmingham keeper Ben Foster, but the Latics care not a jot. Celebration time.

1653: GOALFLASH Blackburn 2-2 Blackpool (Hoillett)

1653: GOALFLASH Wigan 2-1 Birmingham (Figueroa)

Full time
1652: FULL-TIME Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves

1652: FULL-TIME Stoke 4-0 Newcastle

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Stoke goal: Game, set and match. Jon Walters flicks on Asmir Begovic's long goal kick and Ricardo Fuller gets on the end of it to drill home from the angle. What a week it's been for Stoke.

1650: GOALFLASH Stoke 4-0 Newcastle (Fuller)

1649: At the DW Stadium, Wigan have been on top for most of the second half but are lucky not to concede a penalty when Antolin Alcaraz shoves Curtis Davies in the box but referee Lee Probert ignores the Birmingham appeals.

1648: That Man Utd goal makes it even more important Arsenal grab a come-from-behind win at the Hawthorns you would think, and the Gunners are throwing all but the kitchen sink at West Brom in search of it now.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Man Utd goal: A more valuable goal he may never score for Man Utd. Substitute Dimitar Berbatov is the home hero, tapping home from close range when Jussi Jaaskelainen can only spill Nani's shot - and United have two minutes to hold on to a precious, precious win.

1646: GOALFLASH Man Utd 1-0 Bolton (Berbatov)

1644: Oh Matt Taylor, you have to score there. With Man Utd down to 10 men the hosts look stretched at times - and this was one of them - Gretar Steinsson's cross finding Taylor totally unmarked six yards out, but he can only head straight at Edwin van der Sar. Waste.

1643: What a block that is from Arsenal defender Sebastien Squillaci, the Frenchman laying his body on the line to deny Marc Antoine Fortune a certain goal at the Hawthorns. Nervy.

Football League Nathan: "Leaders Brighton are up and running at Oldham through Ashley Barnes and with Huddersfield drawing and Bournemouth losing, it looks like being another step on the way to promotion for the Seagulls today. Big goal for Bristol Rovers at Notts County, huge in fact. Plymouth are trailing still and Swindon still at 0-0, could be a significant one that from Will Hoskins."

Someone has struck the woodwork
1642: Another chance for Blackburn, another let-off for Blackburn… Junior Hoillett unwittingly backheeling a cross against the post. Blackpool are under the cosh here.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Arsenal goal: Total turn-around at the Hawthorns - and if Arsenal go on and win this how huge a result would this be? Abdoulaye Meite will be credited with the own goal I think as he swept into his own net under pressure from Robin van Persie, but Andrey Arshavin deserves huge credit for his role in the goal, his cross rebounding off the post and into Meite's path inside the six-yard box. Ten minutes remaining.

1640: GOALFLASH West Brom 2-2 Arsenal (Meite og)

1639: It's tense, too, at Old Trafford - where Michael Carrick is playing centre-half for the hosts.

1638: And now there's almost an equaliser for Blackburn - and a second goal for Chris Samba - but the Congolese defender's goalbound volley hits his own man, substitute Jason Roberts, on the line. Tense.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1637: Over at Villa Park, the hosts go within a whisker of equalising through Ashley Young, who shudders the bar from Jean Makoun's precise through-ball.

Red card
Man Utd red card: What impact will this have on not only the match but Man Utd's run-in? As if they can afford to lose another defender, Johnny Evans receives his marching orders with a straight red card from referee Andre Marriner for what was deemed to be an over-the-top dangerous tackle on Stuart Holden. It looked like he went for the ball, but the deep gash on Holden's knee as he's stretchered off suggests he didn't quite get all of it.

1635: RED CARD, Evans, Man Utd

1634: Man Utd are getting closer at Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney laying it off to Dimitar Berbatov, but his shot flies wide from just outside the box.

Football League Nathan: "Thrilling game at Bury where the home side drag themselves back in it at 2-2 only to see their goal quickly cancelled out by Cheltenham who retake the lead through Joshua Low. Neither of the bottom sides having much luck this afternoon, Stockport being held by Aldershot and Barnet trailing at home to Morecambe."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Arsenal goal: Now then, are Arsenal digging deep for a sensational comeback? Andrey Arshavin, who has been more anonymous than the invisible man so far today, swaps passes with Marouane Chamakh before slamming a beauty into the top corner from just inside the area. It's game back on at the Hawthorns and about 20 minutes for Arsenal to turn this around.

1631: GOALFLASH West Brom 2-1 Arsenal (Arshavin)

1629: Well, if ever there was an effort to sum up Arsenal's struggles this afternoon it's that one - Robin van Persie lining up a free-kick well positioned 25 yards out - and then sending it so far over, it would have beaten three goals. Hurrumph.

1627: They may be 3-0 down, but Newcastle are not giving up just yet - and when you've come back from 4-0 down against Arsenal, why would you I suppose? It's outstanding play from teenage substitute Shane Ferguson, the left-back pirouetting away from his marker on the left-hand side and drifting past two Stoke players inside the area before firing in a shot that Asmir Begovic does well to hold on to.

1626: It's opening up at Old Trafford but still Man Utd are failing to throw their weight around against a Bolton side that look all kinds of organised. The Old Trafford crowd, perhaps mindful of the score at the Hawthorns, are just getting a little bit restless.

1625: Chances at both ends as the game opens up at the DW Stadium, with Birmingham's Cameron Jerome forcing a fine low stop from Ali Al Habsi and then a mesmeric run from Charles N'Zogbia teeing up a great shooting chance for Maynor Figueroa.

1622: Another name correction re: Blackburn's goal earlier, apologies - it's Mame Diouf at Blackburn, not El Hadji Diouf who is of course on loan at Rangers. I know, you just can't get the staff these days...

Football League Nathan: "Plymouth fall behind against Rochdale, a game they can't afford to lose really. Their closest rivals are not taking advantage at the moment, though, with Walsall trailing at home to Huddersfield and Swindon locked at 0-0 with Huddersfield."

BBC Sport's David Dulin at the Liberty Stadium: "What a debut for Fabio Borini! The on-loan Chelsea striker has just bagged his second goal of the afternoon pouncing on a rebound from Lee Camp's save to put Swansea 3-1 up."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
West Brom goal: Unbelievable. What on earth is Manuel Almunia doing there? Inexplicably, the keeper comes out of goal in an attempted to clear Youssef Mulumbu's ball over the top only to come up short and allow Peter Odemwingie the simple task of sliding into the open goal from 25 yards. Jens Lehmann watches on from the bench in disgust, and well he might.

1619: GOALFLASH West Brom 2-0 Arsenal (Odemwingie)

1618: Aston Villa have improved since the break, but still Gerard Houllier decides changes are needed - Gabriel Agbonlahor and Robert Pires on, Nigel Reo-Coker and Marc Albrighton off. The response from the fans? 'You don't know what you're doing'.

Football League Nathan: "Millwall back on terms against Cardiff from the spot. Calm as you like, Liam Trotter strokes home for 1-1 against the Championship promotion-chasers. Ipswich double their lead with Jimmy Bullard on target for the home side and league leaders QPR have found the breakthrough at Doncaster with Hogan Ephraim on the mark."

1616: Woah, West Brom have just almost out-Arsenaled Arsenal. A dreamy one-touch move ends with Marek Cech crossing for Chris Brunt to slide home, only for the midfielder to prod wide on the stretch. That move was glorious from the hosts.

1614: Another good effort at Ewood Park, this time for Blackpool, Jason Puncheon's low shot palmed away by Paul Robinson.

1613: Half a chance for Arsenal at the Hawthorns, but Marouane Chamakh's header from Andrey Arshavin's deflected cross is easily collected by home keeper Scott Carson. Arsenal looking every inch a team deflated by their recent cup exits.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1612: Blimey, it's all happening at Ewood Park, Martin Olsson pressing forward now for the hosts before lampooning a rising effort at goal from the angle, his shot crashing back off the outside of the post.

BBC Sport's David Dulin at the Liberty Stadium: "Swansea 2-1 Forest. Two goals in five minutes have put Swansea deservedly on the front foot. You need to watch the Football League show for Scott Sinclair's superb opener, while debutant Fabio Borini added the second and later rattled the post. Forest are still in this though after Kris Boyd squeezed the ball home just before the break."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Blackburn goal: And this is even more encouraging - it's game on at Ewood Park. Junior Hoillett and Mame Diouf both have efforts blocked as Blackburn press in the area before the ball falls to Chris Samba, who takes a touch before slamming low into the corner.

1609: GOALFLASH Blackburn 1-2 Blackpool (Samba)

1608: Blackburn almost pull a goal back within seconds of the restart as Junior Hoilett tees up Steven Nzonzi 15 yards out but the South African sidefoots his effort inches wide. Encouraging for the hosts, though.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Stoke goal: Kerboom! It's almost an exact replica of his goal last week, Danny Higginbotham leathering a free-kick through the Newcastle wall and into the roof of the net from 20 yards. Game over for the Toon, surely.

1607: GOALFLASH Stoke 3-0 Newcastle (Higginbotham)

1606: There's been a change for Arsenal, too, by the way - Marouane Chamakh on for Denilson. Tactical.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Stoke goal: Stoke double their lead but it's something of a comedy of horrors from Newcastle. Steve Harper puts his side in trouble with a woeful clearance, and then moments later Sol Campbell - who is having a bit of 'mare today, it has to be said - flicks Matthew Etherington's cross on for Jermaine Pennant to clip in.

1605: GOALFLASH Stoke 2-0 Newcastle (Pennant)

1604: There's been a double change for Man Utd, by the way, Sir Alex Ferguson working his magic at half-time with Dimitar Berbatov and Fabio da Silva on, Javier Hernandez and Wes Brown off.

1604: Followed by all the matches elsewhere. Pretty much, dare I say, as you would expect.

1603: Back up and running at Villa Park. Prompt.

MikeMcCarthy87 on Twitter: "Man Utd must break away from Arsenal today. If they do it'll go a long way to deciding the league."

harounhickman on Twitter: "Arsenal might need to revert to plan B (endtner), or even plan C (hamakh) ...plan A (rshavin) isn't working."

Half time
1556: HALF-TIME Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves
Les Roopanarine's HT snapshot:
"Wolves have taken full advantage of Villa's defensive woes, scoring a cracker through Matt Jarvis and seeing two further efforts disallowed. Villa boss Gerard Houllier will have to work some serious half-time alchemy if the visitors are to be denied a first win at Villa Park since 1980."

Half time
1555: HALF-TIME Wigan 1-1 Birmingham
Owen Phillips's HT snap-shot:
"A more than dubious opening goal in a bright Birmingham start threatened to totally deflate Wigan but the gutsy hosts created a fine equaliser, have found their confidence and look lively in attack. Delicately poised."

Football League Nathan: "Couple of goals on the stroke of half-time in the Championship with Bristol City taking the lead against Burnley through Brett Pitman and Middlesbrough turn things around against Watford, with efforts from Scott McDonald on 33 and Andrew Taylor on 45 giving the home side a 2-1 lead at the interval."

Half time
1554: HALF-TIME West Brom 1-0 Arsenal
David Ornstein's HT snap-shot:
"One chance, one goal. Arsenal's defensive frailties ruthlessly exposed once again. When will they learn? A massive 45 minutes await for the title-chasing Gunners."

Half time
1553: HALF-TIME Blackburn 0-2 Blackpool
Kevin Darling's HT snap-shot:
"Once again Charlie Adam makes the difference for Blackpool - his first goal was a hotly disputed penalty but the second was as lovely a free-kick as you'll see this season. Rovers, who had started brightly, look shell-shocked and their players leave the field with boos ringing in their ears."

Half time
1552: HALF-TIME Man Utd 0-0 Bolton
Stephan Shemilt's HT snap-shot:
"Plenty of attacking intent, but few clear goalscoring opportunities. Bolton are deservedly level and, even though he's watching from the stands, Sir Alex could be plugging in the hair dryer."

Half time
1551: HALF-TIME Stoke 1-0 Newcastle
Saj Chowdhury's HT snap-shot:
"A lively encounter. The hosts scored a good goal from open play but Newcastle have looked dangerous when they have been in and around the area. "

1548: The half-time whistles sounding around the country - and I can confirm Sir Alex Ferguson is heading to the dressing room for his half-time chat at Old Trafford, just to clear that one up.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1547: And now only the woodwork denies Birmingham regaining the lead at the DW Stadium, Sebastian Larsson's 30-yard free-kick smacking back off the bar just before the half-time whistle.

1545: Ooh Aston Villa could - and possibly should - be level against Wolves, Jean Makoun sending his unmarked header wide six yards out from Stewart Downing's cross.

Football League Nathan: "East meets west London in League One and it's west London's Brentford enjoying the first half more than opponents Leyton Orient so far. The Bees lead 2-0 thanks to goals from Marcus Bean and Gary Alexander. Bournemouth's long trip to Carlisle has not been made any easier by Peter Murphy's opener. Sticky spell for the Cherries."

1544: Luke Varney has the ball in the net at Ewood Park again, again he is denied by the linesman's flag, and again it looks a good decision.

1543: At the Britannia Stadium Danny Higginbotham has twice saved Stoke, first when Shola Ameobi's goalbound shot strikes his face and then with a block to prevent Kevin Nolan's ball across the six-yard area from being converted. Cheik Tiote, meanwhile, has collected his 10th booking of the season for Newcastle meaning a two-match ban for the Toon's key midfielder.

1541: Fabio Capello and Rio Ferdinand are both at Old Trafford this afternoon - though no talk yet whether they've talked armbands - but so far they're witnessing a decent display from Bolton, who are more than holding their own against the title favourites. Though Wayne Rooney has just fired a fierce effort only inches over the bar from the edge of the area...

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Wolves goal: First blood in the west midlands derby to Wolves - and it's a fine goal, Matt Jarvis driving an excellent volley home in off the post from Kevin Doyle's flick-on. Much deserved that goal, too.

1539: GOALFLASH Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves (Jarvis)

1538: Arsenal are completely dominating possession at the Hawthorns, but showing all the threat of a shark in a sand-pit at the moment. West Brom happy to sit on their lead at present - and the Gunners need some inspiration if they are to get their title push back on track.

Football League Nathan: "Few early goals to tell you about in the Championship - one apiece between Palace and Derby, a promising start for Preston as they go 1-0 up on Coventry, Norwich looking in command against Hull as Zak Whitbread powers in a header from a set-piece for the opener and his first goal for the Canaries. Watford, Ipswich and Portsmouth the others to open up a 1-0 lead. Very lively."

1535: Ah yes, I've turned Wigan midfielder Tom Cleverley into a boxer below. It's Tom not Nathan... Tom not Nathan... cheers.

1534: Best chance of the game at Old Trafford, Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney combining well to set up Javier Hernandez, who clips wide at the near post. Decent chance, could have done better.

1532: Another disallowed goal at Villa Park - and it's a lot more contentious this time - Kevin Doyle heading home from Matt Jarvis cross, a cross that is adjudged to have gone out of play. Close.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1530: Arsenal almost draw level. Gael Clichy's cross is headed on to the crossbar by Robin van Persie and Scott Carson spreads himself well to save Aaron Ramsey's follow-up.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Blackpool goal: If there was any doubt about Blackpool's first goal, no one can dispute the brilliance of this second from Charlie Adam. Free- kick, 25 yards out, beautifully dinked into the top corner by the Scotsman as Paul Robinson watches on helplessly. That was a peach… and Rovers are in huge trouble here in a match boss Steve Kean called their biggest of the season.


Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Stoke goal: He's played approximately three minutes of football this year and boy does it show as Sol Campbell's sluggish defensive effort is exposed by Jon Walters, the Stoke man bullying his way on to the end of Jermaine Pennant's cross to head home.

1529: GOALFLASH Blackburn 0-2 Blackpool (Adam)

1528: GOALFLASH Stoke 1-0 Newcastle (Walters)

1527: Antonio Valencia cross from the right, Rooney, from the edge of the area, acrobatically hooks the ball goalwards, but straight at Jaaskelainen.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Wigan goal: We're back level at the DW Stadium and it's a fine game. Tom Cleverley is the beneficiary as Emmerson Boyce's cross is only half-cleared and he taps home to get the hosts on terms.

1527: GOALFLASH Wigan 1-1 Birmingham (Cleverley)

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Blackpool goal: Now it's Blackburn's turn to be furious, referee Howard Webb pointing to the spot for a penalty after Ryan Nelsen catches Gary Taylor-Fletcher inside the area, Charlie Adam sliding home the spot-kick. The hosts are livid.

1525: GOALFLASH Blackburn 0-1 Blackpool (Adam pen)

1524: PENALTY TO BLACKPOOL

1523: It's that time of the season when players start dropping like flies through injury - and it looks like Newcastle full-back Jose Enrique, only just back from injury, has to limp from the field with a hamstring injury. Shane Ferguson comes on to replace him.

1522: The touchline-banned Sir Alex Ferguson is on the phone to the dugout. No surprise, Bolton have so far had the upper hand at Old Trafford.

1521: And now a disallowed goal at Villa Park, Christophe Berra coming within a linesman's flag of claiming his first goal for Wolves, but he was clearly offside as he lunged to head home Nenand Milijas's free-kick.

1520: Furious scenes at Ewood Park as Luke Varney turns in Charlie Adam's whipped free-kick and starts the celebrations... only for the linesman to pull play back a good few moments later with a raised flag. To be fair, it's a fine decision - it was offside - but man that flag was late. Still, better late then never I suppose.

Football League Nathan: "Cracking week for Cheltenham the town and now the football club as the Robins take an early lead against Bury in League Two. It was 2-0 after seven minutes but Bury have pull one back two minutes later."

1518: Blackburn go close to an opener against Blackpool as Roque Santa Cruz's nod back into the box is headed narrowly wide on the charge by Steven Nzonzi.

1516: Early change for Birmingham at the DW Stadium with Martin Jirinek forced off with a leg injury, Curtis Davies his replacement.

1515: The lively start continues at Villa Park, where Adam Hammill forces another save from Brad Friedel after Matt Jarvis leads a promising counter-attack for Wolves. Villa respond through Kyle Walker, who goe haring down the right flank before delivering a promising ball into the six-yard box; Richard Stearman clears.

1514: It's a cracking atmosphere at Ewood Park in what is a massive game at the bottom. Blackburn have started brightly against Lancashire rivals Blackpool but the closest they've come is a Jermaine Jones volley that flew over the bar.

1513: Now a chance for Stoke against Newcastle, Jermaine Pennant's corner from the left is headed a yard wide by Marc Wilson arriving late into the area.

1512: Penalty appeals at Old Trafford as Javier Hernandez's snap-shot hits Gary Cahill's arm as the defender slides into block - referee Andre Marriner rules it's a case of ball to hand, but the Bolton defender's arm was raised... hhmm...

1511: Shola Ameobi's tame turn-and-shot inside the area from Newcastle has been the only chance of the match so far at the Britannia Stadium. Stoke's Rory Delap has already tested the Magpies defence with a long throw-in, but it came to nothing for the hosts.

BBC Sport's David Dulin at the Liberty Stadium: "Swansea are attacking from the off and have just had an appeal for a penalty turned down. Paul Konchesky appeared to bring down Nathan Dyer in the box but referee Scott Mathieson waved away appeals. Would love to see the replay."

1509: After some cagey opening exchanges at Old Trafford, home striker Wayne Rooney crashes a fine effort at goal from all of 30 yards out, but it flashes past the post.

1508: The last thing Arsenal need now is more injuries in defence but right-back Bacary Sagna is hobbling after a studs-up challenge by former Gunners Jerome Thomas. Looked nasty but no action taking by referee Stuart Atwell.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Birmingham goal: It's a fine finish, but Liam Ridgewell looks a touch offside as he thrashes a hook finish into the top corner from Martin Jirinek's flick-on into the box. Wigan not happy, but that's Ridgewell's fifth of the season.

1507: GOALFLASH Wigan 0-1 Birmingham (Ridgewell)

1506: It's a positive start, too, for Wolves at Villa Park, Nenad Milijas forcing Brad Friedel to make an early save after good work down the left by Adam Hammill.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
West Brom goal: Bosh. It's his first Premier League goal in nearly five years, but Steven Reid has got West Brom off to the perfect start at the Hawthorns, rising unmarked to crash home a fine header from Chris Brunt's corner.

1504: GOALFLASH West Brom 1-0 Arsenal (Reid)

Guardian journalist Daniel Taylor: "First song of the day at Man Utd: 'Only one Bryan Robson'..."

1502: We're getting under way everywhere now. Hold on to your hats folks, this could get busy.

1500: As with at the Spurs-West Ham match earlier, there is a minute's silence around the grounds in tribute to those affected by the disastrous events over in Japan.

1458: Meanwhile, in an interesting meeting of the minds, Antony Cotton, who plays Sean in Coronation Street, has just been seen in conversation with Sir Bobby Charlton and Sam Allardyce. Would really like to know what they were discussing...

annemzulu on Twitter: "I hope [England boss Fabio] Capello was watching Robert Green's performance today. Surely he deserves a chance to redeem himself with England?"

Football League Nathan: "Dreadful afternoon for Leeds as Billy Paynter sees red shortly before the referee blows full-time on a 2-0 victory for Sheffield United. Well-deserved win for the home side with Leeds bystanders throughout. Massive three points for the Blades in their fight for survival, only three points behind Crystal Palace now, albeit having played a game more."

1455: Let's hear from a couple of Hammers heroes shall we? Matthew Upson: "Robert Green kept us in it at times. It's a good result for us and we fully deserved it. In the second half of the season we've come together as a team a lot more, and you can see the effects on the pitch. I'm very positive (we can stay up)." And man-of-the-match Wayne Bridge on how he marshalled Lennon: "He's really quick and likes to come inside, I just tried to read him and stay as tight as possible."

BBC Sport's David Dulin at the Liberty Stadium: "Both Swansea City and Nottingham Forest are battling for an automatic promotion place, but neither side are in great form. Swansea are without a win in three, while Forest have just one win in nine so a victory for either side will be crucial. On-loan Chelsea striker Fabio Borini makes his debut up front for the Swans while Forest hand Kris Boyd his first start and he is joined by Nathan Tyson."

Richard via text: "Impotent strike force. If spurs had a striker who could score in the league they'd have third sewn up. Two points from games against Wolves, Blackpool and West Ham is not fourth place consistency."

marcusmerehay on Twitter: "Could the league be any closer at the moment? Everyone from Sunderland down is in a relegation battle as well as European hope!"

1453: ASTON VILLA v WOLVES
Les Roopanarine reports:
"Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier makes three changes to the side that lost 3-2 at Bolton last weekend. One-time trainee Chris Herd makes his first Premier League start in an injury-hit defence, where the return of Carlos Cuellar will also be particularly welcome, while Cameroon international Jean Makoun takes Fabian Delph's place in midfield. Mick McCarthy, meanwhile, makes just one change to the Wolves side that drew with Tottenham at Molineux last time out, with Jamie O'Hara - who is on loan from White Hart Lane and was therefore ineligible to play last week - replacing Stephen Ward."

1451: WIGAN v BIRMINGHAM
Owen Phillips reports:
"Wigan top scorer and injury doubt Hugo Rodallega is only named on the bench so Franco Di Santo starts up front. There are two other changes from the side that lost to Manchester City, defender Emmerson Boyce returning after injury and Charles N'Zogbia also comes in. Birmingham welcome back defenders Stephen Carr and Roger Johnson and midfielder Craig Gardner - all of whom missed the FA Cup defeat against Bolton. But Nicola Zigic fails to recover from a groin injury."

Football League Nathan: "Championship. The top two in the Championship face middle-of-the-table opposition with QPR at Doncaster and Norwich at Hull. A healthy gap has opened up between those two but there's precious little between the four occupying promotion places - three in fact. Two of those teams meet today with Swansea (third) welcoming Nottingham Forest (sixth) who have gone six matches without a win. Bottom side Preston, buoyed by their win over fellow strugglers Scunthorpe in midweek, face Coventry, who have never won a league game at Deepdale."

1450: WEST BROM v ARSENAL (1500)
David Ornstein reports:
"West Brom make one change after their recent impressive win at Birmingham with striker Peter Odemwingie coming in. For Arsenal, all eyes will be on Aaron Ramsey and Jens Lehmann. Welsh midfielder Ramsey returns after breaking his leg over a year ago, while the 41-year-old German keeper Lehmann is on the bench after rejoining the club to solve their injury crisis. Andrey Arshavin and Robin Van Persie start up front with fit-again Nicklas Bendtner missing out."

1449: BLACKBURN v BLACKPOOL (1500)
Kevin Darling reports:
"A couple of changes in Blackburn's defence as Ryan Nelsen returns from a ban and Brett Emerton replaces the suspended Gael Givet. Up front, Roque Santa Cruz is preferred to Jason Roberts, while long-term injury victim Phil Jones features on the bench. Blackpool make five changes to the side beaten by Chelsea in their last match. The talismanic Charlie Adam is back from suspension with Luke Varney, Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Craig Cathcart and Elliott Grandin all recalled."

Football League Nathan: "League One. Second plays second bottom in League One today with high-flying Huddersfield hosting Swindon. It's getting tighter by the week at the foot of the table with Swindon, Plymouth and Bristol Rovers locked on 33 points. Walsall and Dagenham and Redbridge are only three points ahead of them and should remain where they are regardless of other results. Game of the day? The 1720 Southampton v Sheff Wed match perhaps. Journey of the day? Bournemouth's trek to Carlisle, ouch.

1447: MAN UTD v BOLTON (1500)
Stephan Shemilt reports:
"Manchester United make two changes from the side that progressed in the Champions League in midweek. Antonio Valencia starts for the first time since suffering an horrific ankle injury in September, while Jonny Evans returns to bolster an injury-hit defence. Park Ji-sung is on the bench after overcoming a hamstring injury, but Paul Scholes is out through suspension. Bolton right-back Gretar Steinsson has recovered from illness and starts, with Daniel Sturridge replacing Ivan Klasnic up front."

1445: STOKE v NEWCASTLE (1500)
Saj Chowdhury reports:
"Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic returns to the starting XI in the only change from the side that beat West Ham in the FA Cup last week. Newcastle's Sol Campbell replaces Steven Taylor in the heart of the defence, while Jose Enrique recovers from a hamstring injury to take his place on the left. Joey Barton also returns while Shola Ameobi replaces the injured Leon Best."

Football League Nathan: "League Two. Bury have come good in recent weeks and will look to push further away from third-place Wycombe when they face mid-table Cheltenham. Runaway League Two leaders Chesterfield thrashed Rotherham last night and look to be out of sight, but the promotion spot are far from secure. Port Vale can take advantage of Rotherham's hammering when they play Accrington, while bottom side Stockport are at Aldershot."

1443: How did that stay goalless? Seriously? A great point for West Ham - it takes them up three places and out of the bottom three - but not such a great point for Tottenham, who now have two points from their last three games and are seeing their top-four charge stumble and stutter. I'll wager there will be more goals in our 1500 kick-offs, though...

Full time
1442: FULL-TIME Tottenham 0-0 West Ham

1441: We're into the last minute now. Spurs still knocking on the door, but this looks like being a frustrating afternoon for the north Londoners.

1438: We'll have four minutes of stoppage time.

1437: Wayne Bridge has been brilliant today - and he has just saved West Ham again, sticking out a leg to block another Jermain Defoe shot from another Roman Pavlyuchenko lay-off. Wonderful work.

1436: It's just not his day, Jermain Defoe lashing over the bar from a tricky angle after a lovely through ball from Roman Pavlyuchenko. We're into the last minute now. Late drama anyone?

Football League Nathan: "More trouble for Leeds as Bjorn Helge Riise gives Sheffield United a comfortable lead at 2-0. The visitors will need something special to salvage anything from this one now."

Someone has struck the woodwork
1433: Crossbar! Unbelievable save! Gareth Bale whips a beauty of an effort at goal direct from a free-kick 22 yards out but Robert Green - somehow - tips it on to the bar at full stretch. Stunning work from the former England keeper.

1432: STOKE v NEWCASTLE (1500)
Stoke:
Begovic, Wilson, Shawcross, Huth, Higginbotham, Pennant, Delap, Whelan, Etherington, Jones, Walters. Subs: Sorensen, Collins, Fuller, Pugh, Diao, Whitehead, Wilkinson.
Newcastle: Harper, Coloccini, Williamson, Campbell, Jose Enrique, Simpson, Barton, Nolan, Tiote, Lovenkrands, Ameobi. Subs: Krul, Guthrie, Gutierrez, Steven Taylor, Ranger, Ferguson, Kuqi.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

1430: ASTON VILLA v WOLVES (1500)
Aston Villa:
Friedel, Walker, Cuellar, Baker, Herd, Albrighton, Reo-Coker, Makoun, Downing, Ashley Young, Bent. Subs: Marshall, Pires, Agbonlahor, Bradley, Delph, Heskey, Petrov.
Wolverhampton: Hennessey, Foley, Stearman, Berra, Elokobi, Hammill, Henry, Milijas, O'Hara, Jarvis, Doyle. Subs: Hahnemann, Craddock, Kightly, Ebanks-Blake, Fletcher, Ward, David Jones.
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

1429: And now Roman Pavlyuchenko is denied twice in a minute by Robert Green, twice seeing fine efforts palmed away from goal by the form Hammers keeper. Tottenham just showing signs of ramping up the pressure a touch now.

1428: Another good chance for Spurs as Manuel da Costa fails to deal with a long throw allowing Roman Pavlyuchenko a shot at goal, but his effort from 10 yards is well blocked.

1427: WEST BROM v ARSENAL
West Brom:
Carson, Reid, Meite, Olsson, Shorey, Scharner, Mulumbu, Brunt, Morrison, Thomas, Odemwingie. Subs: Myhill, Cech, Tchoyi, Fortune, Tamas, Cox, Jara.
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Denilson, Ramsey, Nasri, Arshavin, van Persie. Subs: Lehmann, Rosicky, Eboue, Gibbs, Chamakh, Miquel, Bendtner.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)

1426: WIGAN v BIRMINGHAM (1500)
Wigan:
Al Habsi, Boyce, Gary Caldwell, Alcaraz, Figueroa, Watson, McCarthy, N'Zogbia, Cleverley, Moses, Di Santo. Subs: Pollitt, Gohouri, Gomez, Sammon, Rodallega, Diame, Stam.
Birmingham: Foster, Carr, Johnson, Jiranek, Ridgewell, Larsson, Gardner, Ferguson, Mutch, Beausejour, Jerome. Subs: Doyle, Murphy, Phillips, Bentley, Martins, Parnaby, Davies.
Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

1425: A change apiece at White Hart Lane as we approach the last 10 minutes, Victor Obinna on for Carlton Cole for West Ham, Alan Hutton replacing Vedran Corluka for Tottenham.

1423: TEAM NEWS SNAP
Roque Santa Cruz starts up front for Blackburn against Blackpool, who welcome Charlie Adam back from suspension.

1422: TEAM NEWS SNAP
Hugo Rodallega is only fit enough to start on the Wigan bench against Birmingham.

1421: BLACKBURN v BLACKPOOL (1500)
Blackburn:
Robinson, Salgado, Samba, Nelsen, Olsson, Emerton, Nzonzi, Jermaine Jones, Diouf, Santa Cruz, Hoilett. Subs: Bunn, Kalinic, Pedersen, Rochina, Mwaruwari, Phil Jones, Roberts.
Blackpool: Kingson, Baptiste, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey, Grandin, Adam, Vaughan, Puncheon, Taylor-Fletcher, Varney. Subs: Halstead, Southern, Eardley, Ormerod, Phillips, Reid, Beattie.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

1420: West Ham waste a glorious chance to open the scoring as Mark Nobel shimmies past two men to get a clear sight of goal, but sends a shot well wide with the outside of his right foot. Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp responds by replacing Rafael van der Vaart with Roman Pavlyuchenko.

1418: MAN UTD v BOLTON (1500)
Man Utd:
Van der Sar, Brown, Smalling, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Nani, Rooney, Hernandez. Subs: Kuszczak, Owen, Berbatov, Park, Fabio Da Silva, Gibson, Gill.
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Wheater, Cahill, Robinson, Elmander, Holden, Muamba, Petrov, Kevin Davies, Sturridge. Subs: Bogdan, Taylor, Klasnic, Moreno, Blake, Alonso, Lee.
Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands)

Football League Nathan: "Surprise goal at Sheffield United where the home side go 1-0 up on Leeds. It's come from an own goal, too as loanee Eric Lichaj puts into his own net."

1416: TEAM NEWS SNAP
Aaron Ramsey starts for Arsenal at West Brom.

1415: Another booking for West Ham as Matthew Upson trips Jermain Defoe, ending what looked a promising break from the hosts.

1413: TEAM NEWS SNAP
Antonio Valencia starts for Man Utd for the first time September. Johnny Evans also plays against Bolton.

1412: Boom! Out of nowhere Demba Ba crashes a stinging drive at goal that looks for all the world like nestling in the corner of Spurs' goal until Heurelho Gomes tips it around the post on the stretch with a remarkable save. Super stop.

1411: Yet more excellent build-up play from Tottenham... without an end product, Luka Modric's shot from Aaron Lennon's cross deflected into Rob Green's arms.

1409: TEAM NEWS SNAP
Sol Campbell, Jose Enrique and Shola Ameobi all start for Newcastle at Stoke.

1406: An hour gone and I challenge anyone to call this game right now.

Yellow card
1403: Third booking of the day - and third booking for West Ham player - as Carlton Cole is yellow carded for a clumsy lunge at Tottenham's Brazilian midfielder Sandro.

1402: Oof! I thought it was in. Gary O'Neil's cross is half-cleared and Mark Noble, with a spectacular overhead kick, returns it with interest but his shot zips past the Tottenham upright. Inches away.

1358: You don't save those... unless you're Rob Green. Another fine Luka Modric break gets him behind the Hammers defence and his cut-back finds Jermain Defoe four yards from goal, only for Green to save the diminutive striker's shot with his foot. Great save but, just as in the first half, Defoe should have done so much better.

Yellow card
1355: It's like night of the walking wounded at White Hart Lane, with Manuel da Costa apparently nursing a leg injury and now Rafael van der Vaart receiving treatment after a hefty Matthew Upson challenge. Gareth Bale is then caught late by Mark Noble, who is booked. Feisty.

Football League Nathan: "Half-time at Bramall Lane and nothing to choose between these two neighbours. Leeds can ill-afford to drop points in this one ahead of their promotion-chasing rivals' matches at 1500. The same could be said of Sheffield United who are still in the mire at the bottom."

1353: An immediate chance for West Ham, Carlton Cole turning the Spurs defence excellently and firing across goal, Heurelho Gomes forced to palm away from goal on the stretch. Bright start to the half from the Hammers.

1352: Right then, with the White Hart Lane turf newly-decorated with Sandro's insides after a rather unpleasant vomiting episode from the Brazilian bless 'im, we're back up and running, Tottenham 0-0 West Ham.

NatMansfield on Twitter: "Money on Wigan v Birmingham to be the highest scoring game of the day."

lukenightingale on Twitter: "Brilliant first half from Spurs... but perhaps we could try and score a goal now? I can see those missed chances coming back to haunt them in the second half."

1348: WIGAN v BIRMINGHAM (1500)
Owen Phillips reports:
"Without wishing to over-egg the pudding, this is a gargantuan game. Wigan can climb off the bottom - and potentially just a point from safety - while defeat could see them looking very lonely. Carling Cup winners Birmingham can put some daylight between themselves and the drop zone. But the league's two lowest scorers are hardly in inspiring form. Wigan have one win in 11 league games, Blues two in eight top-flight matches. Time and chances are running out, both face tough run-ins and need a win."

1346: WEST BROM v ARSENAL (1500)
David Ornstein reports: "Their Champions League, FA Cup and Carling Cup aspirations dashed for another season, Arsenal's quest to end a six-year trophy drought rests solely on the Premier League. Arsene Wenger says his side must show "mental toughness" to bounce back from a woeful fortnight but it might take more than that to beat a West Brom side who outclassed them earlier in the season and have been revitalised under Roy Hodgson. For opposite reasons, this is vital match to both teams."

1345: STOKE v NEWCASTLE (1500)
Saj Chowdhury reports:
"Neither Stoke or Newcastle will consider a mid-table finish as mediocre. The Potters have Chelsea and Tottenham coming up so will want to ease their relegation fears before their FA Cup semi-final with victory over the Magpies. Newcastle boss Alan Pardew likened Stoke to Wimbledon's "Crazy Gang" this week, but the spirit that side showed may be what injury-hit Newcastle may need in the closing weeks."

1343: MAN UTD v BOLTON (1500)
Stephan Shemilt reports:
"De La Soul told us that three is the magic number. Three is the number of trophies Manchester United are chasing, the number of successive Premier League defeats they are looking to avoid and the number of defenders they have lost to injury this week. United will take heart from the fact that Bolton have only scored three times at Old Trafford since they last won there in 2002, but Wanderers are unbeaten in their last five. It could be a dress rehearsal of the FA Cup final, but United's focus will be on maintaining a three-point lead over Arsenal at the top of the table."

1342: BLACKBURN v BLACKPOOL (1500)
Kevin Darling reports:
"These north-west rivals have spent big chunks of the season larging it in the top half of the table. Not anymore. Blackburn are winless in six while Blackpool have garnered just four points from a possible 27 - making this a season-defining, six-pointing, simmering Lancashire hotpot (insert your own cliché or food-based pun here) that neither side dare lose. Currently sandwiched together on 32 points, mid-table is the carrot for the winners while the losers will be left to stew."

1340: ASTON VILLA v WOLVES (1500)
Les Roopanarine reports:
"The West Midlands derby brings together two teams approaching the problem of Premier League survival from different angles. Aston Villa are two points clear of the drop zone and just about keeping their heads above water, but a record of one clean sheet in 18 league matches - and a paltry five points from five games - does not bode well. Wolves, on the other hand, who have lost just once in five matches, are in good form but remain mired in the bottom three. Will that change today? History would suggest not. It's been three decades since they last won at Villa Park."

1338: It's low on goals so far, but the bar has been set well up the pole in terms of entertainment for the rest of the day's matches, hasn't it? Talking of which...

Half time
1337: HALF-TIME Tottenham 0-0 West Ham
David Ornstein's HT snap-shot:
"The woodwork denies Spurs not once but twice - yet West Ham have had chances of their own. Cracking half of football at a sun-drenched White Hart Lane."

1335: Blink-and-you-missed-it, that's the end of the first half.

1334: ...Hammers keeper Robert Green collects Rafael van der Vaart's dipping effort comfortably.

Yellow card
1334: First booking of the match as Scott Parker gets his tackle on Rafael van der Vaart all wrong... and Spurs have a free-kick 25 yards out now too...

1333: ...it is cleared well by the hosts, though, and only a wayward Benoit Assou-Ekotto pass ends what looked a promising counter.

1332: West Ham come forward now, for the first time in a while, and a Scott Parker run forces a corner for the visitors...

Someone has struck the woodwork
1329: Golly. Great work from Aaron Lennon, terrible from Jermain Defoe. Lennon drives at the Hammers defence, cuts in from the left, and smashes a low shot that cracks off the Hammers post... the rebound falls to Defoe six yards out with the goal gaping, but the striker contrives to send it wide. It came at him quickly, yes, but he should have gobbled that up and no mistake.

Football League Nathan: "Chances few and far between Sheffield United and Leeds in the Yorkshire derby. Max Gradel wasting the visitors' best effort and Ched Evans doing similar for the Blades. Needs a spark this one."

1327: Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon have swapped wings now - which is testament to the job Wayne Bridge has done on the latter, if you ask me.

1324: Tottenham still controlling possession of the football - but West Ham are hanging in there and starting to frustrate Spurs' attempts to create and score here. I'm not sure you would've said that about West Ham a few weeks ago.

1321: Talking of real players, Luka Modric is a little maestro isn't he? Most things that are good about Spurs this season have gone through the little Croatian and he goes within inches of the opener this time, bursting into the box and smashing a shot that drifts agonisingly past the far post. Good effort.

1318: Now Hammers striker Demba Ba - who looks a real player, he really does - tries his luck, but this time he gets his shot all wrong and it flies wide of the goal.

1316: How is this game still goalless? Tottenham are dominating, for sure, but both sides have created chances and West Ham have probably had the best of them. An opener can't be too far away.

1312: Aaron Lennon's cross, Jermain Defoe - again ahead of Manuel da Costa - on to it like a flash, but his shot smothered by Robert Green at the near post.

1309: Now West Ham bounce up the other end and create the best chance of the match, Demba Ba's clipped pass releasing Carlton Cole one-on-one, but the striker's finish lacks any kind of confidence and Heurelho Gomes gets down to save. Let-off for Spurs, waste for West Ham, and already more chances in this match than in a bumper edition of Monopoly. Brilliant.

1307: And the visitors repeat the error just two minutes later, Rafael van der Vaart given the freedom of White Hart Lane to fire Luka Modric's short corner narrowly wide on the half volley.

1305: Slack defending from West Ham from a corner allows Luka Modric time to turn on a short corner, but his slap-shot flies past the post. We're into the 17th minute already and this match is flying by. Cracking stuff so far.

1302: Oh cracking pass from Thomas Hitzlsperger in a rare Hammers attack, the German's ball over the top almost releasing Carlton Cole, whose attempted control goes awry.

1301: Deary me, Pedant of the Day award to Mike Dean please. The referee has just sent Spurs winger Gareth Bale down the tunnel to change because, and I quote, his cycling shorts are the wrong colour. He then refuses to wave him back on until Spurs knock it out of play. Sometimes referees just don't help themselves do they?

1300: This is not the only early game of the day, by the way, and over at Bramall Lane Sheff Utd v Leeds is just getting under way.

1258: The Tottenham waves of attack continue, Jermain Defoe pulling the Hammers defence all over the place before Sandro sees his long-range effort deflected past the goal by a desperate Manuel da Costa lunge.

1255: West Ham are just hanging on a touch in these early stages and Jermain Defoe - on the back of some fine movement - gets ahead of visiting defender Manuel da Costa to prod Gareth Bale's low cross inches wide of the far post.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1253: So, so close for the hosts - and this is a bright start for Tottenham, Luka Modric getting free down the left - again - and cutting back to Michael Dawson(!) who takes a touch and curls a beauty on to the bar from 20 yards with the keeper beaten.

1252: First signs of the returning Tottenham winger Gareth Bale - who prompts a cacophony of noise from the home support every time he gets on the ball - and twice he gets the better of Lars Jacobsen down the left. Ominous for the Hammers.

1249: Here we go, Tottenham v West Ham under way.

1248: Before kick-off, a minute's silence in tribute to those affected by the disastrous events over in Japan. Immaculately observed.

1245: Here come the teams, then. Tottenham, by the way, are unbeaten in all six previous Premier League London derby matches at White Hart Lane when Mike Dean has been the referee, while West Ham have lost their last two PL away derbies with him in charge. The Hammers, also, are looking for a third successive league win for the first time in almost four years. Stat-attack-tastic.

Andy in Solihull via text: "They say 40 points and you're safe... Does this mean the bottom 12 teams are still fighting to survive? Far too close, as a Birmingham fan we desperately need 3 points today! Keep right on!"

1242: Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp: "They look a much better team than earlier in the season. Thomas Hitzlsperger is fit now and that's a big plus, Demba Ba has come in, Wayne Bridge is an outstanding left-back and Mark Noble is playing well alongside Scott Parker, who's outstanding." West Ham manager Avram Grant: "Tottenham are playing wonderful football, everyone likes to watch them. They play attacking football and we play attacking football, to, so it should be a nice game."

Adam_Clatworthy on Twitter: "Spurs' defensive problems are exaggerated, only Man Utd and Chelsea have conceded less at home. It's away where they struggle."

1239: TOTTENHAM v WEST HAM (1245)
David Ornstein reports:
"After the euphoria of beating AC Milan to set up a Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid, it's back to reality for Tottenham with the visit of a West Ham side fighting for Premier League survival. Already beaten by the Hammers on and off the pitch this season, Spurs will be desperate to reverse that trend and boost their hopes of a top-four finish. West Ham haven't won at the Lane since 1999, but they're in good form and might well fancy their chances today."

1237: But now, with kick-off edging ever nearer, let's focus on Tottenham-West Ham. I can tell you that White Hart Lane is bathed in glorious sunshine already... the perfect setting for a rip-roarer, if you ask me.

Infostrada Sports on Twitter: "Tottenham's Jermain Defoe is one short of scoring 100 PL goals. He has scored in his last two PL matches v former club West Ham."

1234: And if your bag is puppets that don't really look or sound like who they're supposed to but are fairly amusing nonetheless - you'll probably want to check out the Special 1's reaction to the Champions League draw. Ah come on, it kills a few minutes.

Matt via text: "Wouldn't it be great if any player who scores today donated their goal bonus to Comic Relief? Could anyone see that happen? Me neither."

blackeyedangel1 on Twitter: "Spurs-West Ham has to be a cracker doesn't it? Two terrible defences versus two pretty good attacks. Goals."

1229: All of which has meant a monster shift for our football expert Mark Lawrenson, who - as always - has put his neck on the line with his Predictions for the weekend's Premier League matches. This week, he is up against swallow-diver/England rugby star Chris Ashton - and he has gone for six home wins and two draws today. Check them out, and then have a go yourself with our Premier League Predictor. It's blooming brilliant, it is.

1225: Before we get cracking properly on our Tottenham-West Ham build-up, then, let's have a look at our running order in the top flight.
All kick-offs at 1500 GMT unless stated
Tottenham v West Ham (1245)
Aston Villa v Wolves
Blackburn v Blackpool
Man Utd v Bolton
Stoke v Newcastle
West Brom v Arsenal
Wigan v Birmingham
Everton v Fulham (1730)

Like I said before - they've packed them in like rush-hour commuters.

draneni on Twitter: "A morale-boosting win for Arsenal today could put the league title in their hands."

1219: TOTTENHAM v WEST HAM (1245)
David Ornstein reports:
"Gareth Bale makes his first start since 22 January after a back injury and is one of two changes from the Tottenham side that started against AC Milan in the Champions League last time out. Bale replaces Steven Pienaar on the left wing, while Jermain Defoe is preferred to Peter Crouch up front and will be supported by Rafael van der Vaart. There are three changes to the West Ham team beaten at Stoke in the FA Cup - Lars Jacobsen gets the nod ahead of James Tomkins at right-back, Gary O'Neill comes in for Victor Obinna on the right of midfield and Demba Ba deputises for Frederic Piquionne in attack."

Anon via text: "In response to Trevor, I will pledge the same (£50) to Comic Relief for every goal West Ham score."
A worthy sentiment, somewhat undermined by the lack of a name attributed to the text. Suspect.

1215: Good people of Britain - refresh this page immediately and cast your eyes over our stream of Football Focus at the top of this commentary. Video, audio and my 'beautiful' prose. What more could you want?

Luke, London via text: "As the majority of teams have have had a couple of weeks off I'm predicting a fast paced, goal filled Saturday!"

Gabriel_Adler on Twitter: "Good luck to Bridge and Jacobsen today trying to contain two of the most in-form wingers in the league. This might get messy."

1211: Top work, that, Trevor. If you have, you know, a social life and stuff and therefore missed Comic Relief last night, you might be interested to know it raised £74.3m, the highest figure reached on the night of the show in its 23-year history. Boomtown. And you can still look back at all the best (and worst) bits over on iPlayer. Just make sure you come back, OK?

Trevor, Farnham via text: "I am pledging £50 for every goal Spurs score today to Comic Relief. Come on footy fans get behind your team and support a great cause at the same time."

1207: TOTTENHAM v WEST HAM (1245)
Tottenham:
Gomes, Corluka, Gallas, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Sandro, Modric, Bale, Van der Vaart, Defoe. Subs: Pletikosa, Hutton, Jenas, Pavlyuchenko, Crouch, Bassong, Kranjcar.
West Ham: Green, Jacobsen, da Costa, Upson, Bridge, O'Neil, Parker, Hitzlsperger, Noble, Cole, Ba. Subs: Boffin, Gabbidon, Tomkins, Boa Morte, Sears, Hines, Obinna.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

Tom_TomLord on Twitter: "I'm an Arsenal fan and it's definitely must win today! Hope to see Ramsey making his first start for more than a year."

sjransom on Twitter: "West Ham, Wolves, Wigan and Blackpool all to win."

1201: TEAM NEWS SNAP
Gareth Bale makes his first start for Tottenham since 22 January, with Jermain Defoe the other change to the side that drew with AC Milan last time out. Demba Ba starts up front for West Ham.

Lord Sugar on Twitter: "I am off to WHL now to see Spurs v West ham. We gave them their first win of the season. So we are after revenge."

CMDixon79 on Twitter: "Off to watch United today. Very tough game against Bolton. Defensive line up will be vital against Davies and Elmander."

1158: All of which means that if you don't find a reason to get involved today, you probably never will. Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @sampatricklyon or text me via 81111 (UK). And even if Premier League footy doesn't get your juices flowing, don't forget we've got some absolute crackerjack match-ups in the lower leagues today. Your man for all that chat is Football League Nathan - a man so handsome he makes Brad Pitt look like a cross between Shrek and Moe from the Simpsons.

1155: And that's not even it! Stoke-Newcastle meet in what can only be described on paper as your archetypal mid-table clash, while Everton host Fulham in the late kick-off to round off a bumper day of eight Premier League fixtures. In short, my fingers will be a bloody, worn-down mess by the end of the day.

1153: And how about at the other end of the table? Consensus has it that the chase for the title is now a two-horse race - though Chelsea and Man City might have something to say about that - so today's ties for Man Utd and Arsenal fall firmly into the category of 'must-win'. The trouble for both is that neither fixture is anything like a 'gimme'. Bolton, into the FA Cup semi-final, are on a run of six wins in their last eight games, while West Brom - unbeaten in four - turned the Gunners over in the reverse fixture in September. Hum-dingers.

1151: Then of course, we have your other two relegation face-offs. Blackburn v Blackpool and Wigan v Birmingham - two matches that promise to make up in intrigue and passion what some would argue they lack in glamour. Proper English football, that.

1148: Talking of derbies, what about Aston Villa v Wolves? It's got 'six-pointer' written all over it, hasn't it? A Villa win and you would have to fancy Gerard Houllier's side to pull away from relegation trouble, a Wolves win and Mick McCarthy's team would not only most likely jump out of the bottom three but drag their local rivals right into the mix down the bottom. Big.

1145: Tottenham fans have got to be flying right now haven't they? Their first season in the Champions League, already seen off the likes of Inter Milan and AC Milan, and now handed arguably the plum tie of the quarter-finals with a match-up against Real Madrid. Dreamland. A warning, though. While few things focus the mind more than the prospect of a fierce local derby, the north Londoners are in danger of letting their battle for a top-four finish be derailed - and coming up against an in-form, motivated West Ham side makes things anything but easy. Today's White Hart Lane clash looks a potential monster.



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Barclays Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 19 Mar 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 30 34 63
2 Arsenal 29 30 58
3 Man City 29 20 53
4 Chelsea 28 27 51
5 Tottenham 29 7 49
6 Liverpool 29 3 42
7 Bolton 30 1 40
8 Everton 30 1 40
9 Sunderland 29 -2 38
10 Stoke 30 -2 37
11 Newcastle 30 -1 36
12 Fulham 30 0 35
13 Blackburn 30 -12 33
14 Aston Villa 30 -14 33
15 Blackpool 30 -15 33
16 West Brom 30 -15 33
17 West Ham 30 -13 32
18 Wolves 30 -14 32
19 Birmingham 29 -13 31
20 Wigan 30 -22 30

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


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