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Page last updated at 17:26 GMT, Sunday, 3 April 2011 18:26 UK

Sunday football as it happened


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By Sam Lyon

1825: And on that bombshell, I shall bid you adieu my good people. Don't forget to check out Match of the Day 2 tonight from 2200 on BBC Two and on this very website, followed at 2300 by extended highlights of the JP Trophy Final - absolute bonus. I, Sam Lyon, am joining the golf team on loan for a spot of Masters 2011 action this week so Chris Bevan will be your host for the small matter of Real Madrid v Tottenham and Chelsea v Man Utd in the Champions League this week. Monster matches. Until next time then my lovelies, see ya!

News just in from League One, by the way, Paul Ince has left Notts County - who are on a run of five defeats without a goal - by mutual consent after just five months in charge.

Josh, Bristol via text: "Aw, clearly both the away sides would rather have been at home, with their mums."

Alistair Magowan reports:
"Was that the metaphorical shackles being thrown away? A fine display by City but somehow you suspect they will not be that positive against teams better than Sunderland, who at times had holes in their defence as big as the Grand Canyon."

Mandeep Sanghera reports:
"Fulham's dominant display will have eased any relegation worries their fans might have had but Blackpool's disappointing performance will only increase the concern of the drop among their supporters."

Stephan Shemilt reports:
"Long-serving defender Peter Murphy scores the winner as Carlisle beat Brentford to exorcise his demons of 2010 and earn United a second Football League Trophy win."

1808: Let's see what our match reporters made of today then...

Amezzeray on Twitter: "Finally. A performance that convinces me we have a chance against Man Utd in the FA Cup semi!"

Kev, S Wales via text: "Attacking football is the way forward for Man City. Will Mancini take this onboard?"

1800: So Man City produce a performance that should really get the alarm bells ringing not just in the Tottenham dressing room, but also the dressing rooms of Chelsea, Arsenal and maybe even Man Utd. Roberto Mancini's side power up to third in the table, three points off second and six ahead of Spurs in fifth, as the boys in blue signal their intent of a late-season push. Sunderland, in a rut of dire form, are now 12th, six points off the bottom three, and dropping like a stone. How they need a result - or at least a goal - as soon as possible.

noonen7 on Twitter: "What is the difference between Sunderland goalkeeper and a minicab driver? The Sunderland keeper has let more than four in..."

Full time
1753: FULL-TIME Man City 5-0 Sunderland

1752: MARIO BALOTELLI IS SMILING! I repeat... MARIO BALOTELLI IS SMILING!! The boy from Italy, who does moody almost as well as magnificent so often, breaks into a wry smile when his goalbound stoppage-time free-kick is tipped brilliantly around the post by Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet. Wonders never cease.

1749: Anyway, back at Eastlands, we'll have two minutes of stoppage time as Man City comfortable see out a potentially significant win.

1747: And don't forget the fun we had earlier Sunderland fans, what with the Michael Jackson puns and all. They were Gone Too Soon I think we'd all agree.

1745: Fear not, though, Sunderland fans for today is not a complete washout - Sunderland Ladies only went and clinched the Women's Premier League title with a 3-2 win at relegation threatened Millwall Lionesses earlier didn't they? Break out the bubbly.

1743: So nearly 5-1... best chance of the game for Sunderland by a mile as Ahmed Elmohamady rises completely unmarked eight yards out to meet a free-kick from deep - but he contrives to head it wide.

1741: So nearly 6-0, Shaun Wright-Phillips firing a cracking cross into the Sunderland box and Carlos Tevez sliding inches wide from close range. Even damage limitation is beyond Sunderland now, you'd think.

Daniel_Speller on Twitter: "Sunderland haven't looked the same since Darren Bent left. Need another decent striker to partner Gyan."

1737: David Silva - have a rest, son - the Spaniard replaced after a fine shift this afternoon by Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Man City goal: Five goals, five different scorers, and Sunderland once again the architects of their own downfall. Lee Cattermole's suicidal pass across his own box finds only Yaya Toure who takes a touch and then clips it in. Gift.

1731: GOALFLASH Man City 5-0 Sunderland (Yaya Toure)

1729: Not a bad time to make your debut I suppose, Ryan McGiven on for City in place of Dedryck Boyata. Gawd help the youngster if City lose it from here...!

1728: Man City are threatening a proper rout now, Mario Balotelli's curling dipper from range beaten away by Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet.

Man City goal: Impacts don't come much swifter than that, Patrick Vieira sliding home Man City's fourth with his very first touch from an Aleksander Kolarov cross. It was given by the linesman as Simon Mignolet attempted to scramble it off the line, but it was definitely over and definitely a goal.

1725: GOALFLASH Man City 4-0 Sunderland (Vieira)

1725: Cue a Man City change, Patrick Vieira on to replace Adam Johnson.

Ian10Toure on Twitter: "Sunderland's failure to pass the ball in midfield and track runners has been their downfall today."

Man City goal: Not what the game needed to keep it interesting as a spectacle, but exactly what Man City needed to kill this game off I reckon, David Silva fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to tap home after Mario Balotelli's snap-shot from a Carlos Tevez cross had been blocked in the area.

1721: GOALFLASH Man City 3-0 Sunderland (Silva)

1718: Another change for Sunderland now as the ineffective Jordan Henderson is replaced by Bolo Zenden.

1714: And now Mario Balotelli stings the palms of Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet with a rising effort from the angle. Warning shots for Sunderland, who surely can't afford to go 3-0 down.

1713: But that's the danger for Sunderland, City working the ball excellently on the edge of the box before David Silva picks out Adam Johnson driving into the area - his volleyed effort is saved but the flag, incorrectly as it happens, was raised anyway.

1711: One of those getting forward for Sunderland is Ahmed Elmohamady, who has clearly been given licence to push on from right back. No chances for the visitors in this half just yet, though.

1707: Notably more intent going forward from Sunderland at the start of this half, the visitors getting numbers in attack early doors. City happy to sit back at the moment.

1704: And we're back up and running, Man City 2-0 Sunderland.

1703: Ahmed Elmohamady is going to make his Sunderland entrance from the bench in the second half, Phil Bardsley making way.

Man Utd striker Michael Owen: "What a game this is. Two teams playing attacking formations. More goals in this one I fancy."

CityMoltenLight on Twitter: "Today's result will truly reflect what Man City could be if Mancini took more risks with an attacking formation."

jbd_84 on Twitter: "Well this one's set up perfectly for Danny Welbeck to follow Rooney's example and grab himself a treble."

Half time
1651: HALF-TIME Man City 2-0 Sunderland
Alistair Magowan's HT snap-shot:
"City fans must be wondering why Roberto Mancini has not opted for this line-up before as they could easily be out of sight by now... but Sunderland have re-grouped and this game is not over yet, I reckon."

1647: The half-time whistle goes at Eastlands.

1645: This match a lot more even now, though, with Man City taking their foot off the pedal and Sunderland regaining some sort of composure to get on the ball a bit more. A goal for the visitors now or early in the second half could make things interesting...

1642: They've had a quiet few minutes but Man City threaten to burst into life every time David Silva gets on the ball, the Spaniard's clipped pass over the top only narrowly beating Carlos Tevez's outstretched foot this time.

1638: Better again from Sunderland in attack, Asamoah Gyan dipping a shot narrowly wide from 20 yards out.

Yellow card
1637: Aleksandar Kolarov joins John Mensah in the referee's notebook - this time somewhat more understandably - for a clumsy through-the-back challenge on Stephane Sessegnon.

1634: First real glimpse of Mario Balotelli striding at the Sunderland goal, but his shot lacks power and Black Cats keeper Simon Mignolet gets down to save easily.

Yellow card
1632: Hhmm... Sunderland defender John Mensah - free to play in this match after his recent red card against Liverpool was rescinded - goes into the book for what referee Howard Webb deems a foul on Carlos Tevez. Looked very much like he got the ball there, though. Hhmm.

1631: Ooh - half a chance for Sunderland - Danny Welbeck missing his kick six yards out from goal from Stephane Sessegnon's cut-back. Encouraging for Sunderland at least.

1628: Man City free-kick, 30 yards out, Mario Balotelli over it... but it's Aleksandar Kolarov who tries his luck, the full-back ripping it past the far post. Balotelli remains hands on hips exactly where he stood by the free-kick for a full 10 seconds before strolling away. Mad as a bag of frogs that boy.

1624: Aleksandar Kolarov slaps in a left-footed effort from the angle but Simon Mignolet gets down to save relatively comfortably. It's about all that's been comfortable for Sunderland so far. Too early for a Black Cats change?

1622: On this evidence - and having watched Tottenham in spells at Wigan yesterday - a top four spot is Manchester City's for the taking if they keep playing like this. Sunderland are all a frenzy trying to keep up with the hosts' silky passing moves - and Carlos Tevez is sporting the hunger of a man who has just stumbled across a bbq'd sausage after three weeks on the salad.

1618: Simon Mignolet actually got a hand to that Carlos Tevez penalty then but just didn't get enough wrist behind it to keep it out. Man City really spraying the ball about with real confidence now - this might just be the best I've seen of them so far this season.

Man City goal: Dream start for City. Carlos Tevez, running down a lovely ball over the top from David Silva, is felled illegally by Phil Bardsley in the Sunderland box, the Argentine picking himself up to slide the penalty into the corner.

1616: GOALFLASH Man City 2-0 Sunderland (Tevez pen)


1614: What reaction from Sunderland now? They've gone over six hours of football without a goal, you know...

Man City goal: Quality move, quality finish. Yaya Toure kickstarts the break and swaps passes with Adam Johnson on the charge before his reverse pass finds the winger bursting into the box, Johnson lashing a fine strike low into the corner.

1609: GOALFLASH Man City 1-0 Sunderland (Johnson)

1608: Plenty of purpose about the start from Man City with - surprise surprise - Carlos Tevez to the fore, only a John Mensah block inside the box ending a fine break from the Argentine a moment ago.

1605: It does look as if Man City are set out in a 4-4-2 with David Silva wide left and Adam Johnson on the opposite side. Already, mind, Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli have dropped deep so it might just be a touch fluid.

1601: Fairly prompt start at Eastlands, then, as Man City get us under way.

1559: The players are out, which can only mean kick off is moments away. If you refresh this page, by the way, our BBC Radio 5 Live commentary link will magically* appear on the right hand side. Jubbly.
* Not actually magic.

Chris T, London via text: "The teams at the bottom are averaging about a point per game, even if Sunderland lose today they'll only need one or two from their remaining 7 fixtures. They won\'t be looking over their shoulder."

1555: A potentially huge match for Man City, then, in the knowledge a win will take them third - anything less could open the door wide open again for the likes of Tottenham to chase them down in the hunt for fourth. The omens are good for the hosts, Infostrada Sports tell me, as they are unbeaten at home since December as well as in their last eight home ties against Sunderland, winning all six Premier League meetings. Sunderland, looking to cement mid-table security, could yet complete a first ever league double over City, though, after beating Roberto Mancini's men at home on 29 August.

MatthewHewitt on Twitter: "Don't know what all this talk of 'a very attacking line-up' is for City. It's exactly the same 4-5-1 Roberto Mancini has used all season..."
I think the expectation is that City will play 4-4-2 with Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli up front and David Silva and Adam Johnson on the wings. We shall see, though...

Nickbluemoon via text: "Big game for our chances of Champions League qualification today. Let's hope Joleon's untwisted his blood since Tuesday night's embarrassment at the hands of Gyan..."

1547: MAN CITY v SUNDERLAND (1600)
Alistair Magowan reports:
"So Manchester City name an attacking line-up with Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Adam Johnson all starting with Dedryk Boyata replacing the injured Micah Richards. No place for Gareth Barry, though. Sunderland make two changes to the side beaten by Liverpool two weeks ago, with Michael Turner and Lee Cattermole replacing the injured Titus Bramble and Kieran Richardson."

imjakeh on Twitter: "I am truly baffled by Mancini's decision to play Balotelli more than Dzeko.. Dzeko has been treated horribly so far..."

1542: MAN CITY v SUNDERLAND (1600)
Man City:
Hart, Boyata, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, Toure Yaya, De Jong, Silva, Adam Johnson, Tevez, Balotelli. Subs: Taylor, Milner, Wright-Phillips, Dzeko, Barry, Vieira, McGivern.
Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Turner, Mensah, Ferdinand, Cattermole, Henderson, Muntari, Sessegnon, Gyan, Welbeck. Subs: Gordon, Zenden, Malbranque, Colback, Elmohamady, Adams, Lynch.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

Chris C, Surrey via text: "I reckon Sunderland might just be looking over their shoulder at the drop zone if they come away with nothing today..."

1538: MAN CITY v SUNDERLAND (1600)
Alistair Magowan reports:
"Two teams that have failed to fire recently but Man City's Champions League ambitions were given added boost on Saturday after Tottenham drew a blank against Wigan. Sunderland will hope that Asamoah Gyan can further torment Joleon Lescott as he did for Ghana against England at Wembley on Tuesday, as the Black Cats go looking for their first Premier League win since 22 January."

1535: Time now, though, for us to look at our remaining fixture this weekend - Man City v Sunderland...

1532: Fulham, meanwhile, continue their superb recent form to stride up to 10th in the table, six points clear of the relegation zone now. For Blackpool, though, the very real threat of the drop remains - this defeat leaves them just a place and a point off the bottom three and their entertaining football looks like only getting them so far this season. Next up for them? Arsenal at home. Ah.

1530: A third defeat in as many Football League Trophy finals for Brentford, then, but Carlisle - veterans in this competition with this their sixth final appearance - are rightly enjoying their moment at Wembley right now, none more so than match-winner and new father Peter Murphy. Happy days.

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Wembley: "Congratulations to Carlisle, who deserve their victory over Brentford at Wembley. How fortunes can change in a year. Last season Cumbrians veteran Peter Murphy conceded the penalty that set Southampton on their way. This year he scored the only goal of the contest."

Full time
1525: FULL-TIME Brentford 0-1 Carlisle

1524: Huge cheers from the Carlisle contingent as Leon Legge heads wide at the back post with Brentford throwing men forward. In more than 95 minutes of football in this JP Trophy final, Brentford have not had a single shot on target. Hhmm.

Full time
1523: FULL-TIME Fulham 3-0 Blackpool

1521: Another poor miss from the Tangerines now, Gary Taylor-Fletcher prodding wide with Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer prostrate on the ground having only been able to parry Charlie Adam's long-ranger. It really hasn't been Blackpool's day.

1520: We'll have five minutes of stoppage time at Wembley, where Carlisle continue to hang on relatively comfortably.

1519: Blackpool should have pulled one back there, but Craig Cathcart heads Charlie Adam's pinpoint free-kick over unmarked from six yards out.

Red card
Brentford red card: And that's not going to help the Londoners' cause at all, Toumani Diagouraga getting his marching orders after two bookings in a matter of minutes, the latter a silly and unnecessary foul on Carlisle midfielder Tom Taiwo.

1516: RED CARD, Toumani Diagouraga, Brentford.

Mario Balotelli, Carlos Tevez and Adam Johnson all start for Man City v Sunderland.

1514: Time running out for Brentford at Wembley as we enter the last five minutes. They're not exactly throwing the kitchen sink at Carlisle either...

1513: It had to happen - a Michael Jackson entertainer makes the most of a break in play with a routine in the Craven Cottage stands. I think it's fair to say he's not the greatest MJ impersonator I've ever seen at work.

1511: Did that pun work? Anyone? No...? Haha.

1510: Steve Sidwell, a famous red head, and Simon Davies are on for Fulham now. Not sure there are that many red heads in Russia... if Sidwell went there on holiday would he have... Strange hair in Moscow?

1508: Attacking change from Brentford with that match entering its 80th minute, striker Lewis Grabban on for Myles Weston. Still, Brentford 0-1 Carlisle.

1505: Fulham threatening to turn this into a bit of a rout now and Clint Dempsey's side-foot finish from Dickson Etuhu's lay-off is only narrowly wide with Blackpool keeper Richard Kingson beaten. Some of this defending will have Ian Holloway wanting to Scream, I'm sure.

Fulham goal: Blackpool's revival is snuffed out almost before it begins as Dickson Etuhu is on hand to sweep home Brede Hangeland's square ball after Clint Dempsey's header from Danny Murphy's free-kick crashed back off the post. Game over?

1501: GOALFLASH Fulham 3-0 Blackpool (Etuhu)

1459: Enforced change for Carlisle at Wembley now - Francois Zoko replaced by Patrick Madded because of a calf injury. It's a lot more even in that JPT Final now, but time is running out for Brentford to get back in that one.

1457: And Jason Puncheon goes close straight away as his curler from a Charlie Adam lay-off forces a save from Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer.

1456: Triple change for Blackpool as the Tangerines look to turn the tide at Craven Cottage, James Beattie, Brett Ormerod and Elliott Grandin replaced by Luke Varney, Sergey Kornilenko and Jason Puncheon.

yusufboro on Twitter: "Sam, you are really putting me off with the MJ puns, half of which I don't understand. Just talk about the game."
I would say this is the only Tweet along these lines I've received but Yusuf, You Are Not Alone.

1452: Oh you have to do better there, son, Brentford defender Karleigh Osbourne contriving to miss a fine Sam Saunders free-kick when well well placed six yards out of the Carlisle net, centre of goal.

1450: We won't have another Football League Danny Hat-Trick today - from Bobby Zamora at least - as the frontman, obviously struggling for full match fitness still, is replaced by Andy Johnson for Fulham.

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Wembley: "Brentford fans in good song as they try to lift their team. The Bees have been poor overall so far, unable to cope with Carlisle's diamond formation in midfield. On-loan Bees striker Jeffrey Schlupp is very highly rated at parent club Leicester and looks like Brentford's main attacking threat - as shown by that near miss a few moments ago."

Someone has struck the woodwork
1446: Wembley woodwork! Brentford won't come closer to a goal without an equaliser as Jeffrey Schlupp powers past the Carlisle full-back to get in behind the United defence but, with just the keeper to beat, watches on in despair as his drilled shot cannons back off the near post. So close.

1443: A promising Blackpool attack is brought to an end by an apparent Danny Murphy foul on Charlie Adam 25 yards out, but referee Stuart Atwell opts against giving a free-kick - much to the Scot's rather obvious chagrin.

1441: Blackpool, however, have started brightly once again at Craven Cottage. If they could just Keep The Faith they might just force their way back into this.

1439: Not had a huge say in things in this second half just yet, though, Marcus Bean, with Carlisle again bossing possession and territory at Wembley. Are Brentford to freeze once again in a major final?

1435: And it's Westy the soothsayer... Marcus Bean is indeed on for Brentford, with Adam Reed replaced in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final at Wembley, Brentford 0-1 Carlisle.

1434: Back up and running at Craven Cottage, Fulham 2-0 Blackpool.

BBC Sport's Ian Westbrook at Wembley: "Disappointment among Brentford fans at half-time. Team not really got going yet or made a worthwhile chance. The feeling is that it is worth bringing on Marcus Bean to liven up midfield."

lewisbryan on Twitter: "Looks like Blackpool have got themselves into a Jam."

Paul, Wirral via text: "As someone whose knowledge of Michael Jackson hits is limited you do realise your running joke is condemning me to the role of 'person trying frantically to work out when to laugh'. I've caught myself wondering if MJ had singles titled 'eight yards out', 'Cracking finish'... or even 'enforced change'."
Ah yes, 'Enforced Change', the notable absentee from the classic 1982 record-breaking Thriller album.

Half time
1422: HALF-TIME Brentford 0-1 Carlisle
Paul Fletcher's HT snap-shot from Wembley:
"Carlisle deserve to be ahead but the game has steadily diminished as a spectacle. Probably a good time for a break and a recharge."

Half time
HALF-TIME Fulham 2-0 Blackpool
Mandeep Sanghera's HT snapshot:
"Bobby Zamora is making up for seven months out injured - twice he's made Blackpool pay for a lethargic and lacklustre first half at Craven Cottage."

1418: There's the half-time whistle at the Cottage... and now at Wembley, too. Someone get the teas in will you?

1416: Just starting to build a bit of steam with half-time approaching at Craven Cottage, Blackpool, and David Vaughan goes ever so close with a left-foot curler that is deflected a coat of paint's breadth past Mark Schwarzer's far post.

1413: Off the line! Blackpool, out of nowhere, almost drag themselves back into the match as Brett Ormerod beats Mark Schwarzer to Craig Cathcart's long ball into the box only for the Tangerine striker to be left frustrated when Chris Baird scrambles back to clear his goalbound header off the line.

1411: It's all a little bit scrappy at Wembley - which will suit Carlisle just fine with the break approaching. Bees' rookie boss Nicky Forster might need an inspiring half-time team-talk there.

1408: Just under 10 minutes until half time at Craven Cottage and Fulham are still well on top. The Cottagers are unbeaten at home in the league in 2011 of course and have won four of their last five there - some might say they're near Invincible.

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Wembley: "A real shame for Carlisle midfielder Ben Marshall, whose afternoon at Wembley ends with him being stretchered from the field. Andy Reed could arguably have been sent off for his challenge, but there is no doubt that the Bees have come into the match since Carlisle's enforced change."

1404: It was never really going in but it's a decent strike from Sam Saunders, smashing a shot past the upright from 20 yards out. He's had the Bees' two best efforts today - but Brentford efforts have been few and far between so far, it has to be said.

1401: Half chance for Brentford at Wembley, Gary Alexander getting on the end of a fine cross from the right but getting underneath it and sending his header over.

Fulham goal: Told ya. It's Bobby Zamora again, the frontman this time picked out excellently by Danny Murphy's pin-point free-kick from wide on the right and flicking a back-header into the corner of the Blackpool net from eight yards out.

1359: GOALFLASH Fulham 2-0 Blackpool (Zamora)

1358: Plenty of work for Blackpool to do here, Fulham are well on top. You have to say the hosts really are looking... Dangerous.

Fulham goal: It's his first goal from open play since August - which was ironically against Blackpool too - but it's like Bobby Zamora has never been away despite that broken leg injury, latching on to James Beattie's wayward pass, charging at goal, and crashing high into the Blackpool net. Cracking finish.

1354: GOALFLASH Fulham 1-0 Blackpool (Zamora)

1353: In fact Ben Marshall is going to have to come off for Carlisle after that challenge. And the poor lad is distraught.

1352: Fulham go close again at Craven Cottage, Chris Baird's long-ranger spilt by Richard Kingson in the Blackpool goal but Bobby Zamora is called offside looking to pounce on the rebound.

1351: Oof. Adam Reed works his way into the referee's notebook - and is perhaps lucky not to be off - after a, shall we say robust, challenge on Carlisle midfielder Ben Marshall. The Bees midfielder's feet were both off the floor there... not nice.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1348: And that's the closest we've come to an opener at Craven Cottage - and only a fabulous Richard Kingson save keeps Blackpool level, the visiting stopper getting down brilliantly to tip Damien Duff's 16-yard curler on to the post.

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Wembley: "A lovely warm Wembley afternoon and a very bright start by Carlisle, who are appearing in a record sixth final of this competition. Peter Murphy conceded the handball that led to Southampton's opening goal last year but a very different experience for him so far today as he puts Carlisle ahead."

1346: Woah - almost an immediate reply from Brentford, Sam Saunders whipping a doozy of a free-kick inches wide from 25 yards.

Carlisle goal: It's no more than they deserve but it's defender Peter Murphy the unlikely early hero. Francois Zoko gets a head on yet another United corner and Murphy, showing the touch and guile of an experienced forward, dollies it up before lashing a superb volley home from the angle. Advantage Carlisle.

1343: GOALFLASH Brentford 0-1 Carlisle (Murphy)

1341: Another Carlisle corner comes and goes at Wembley. Brentford - who have a bit of a history of choking in cup finals, it has to be said - yet to settle at all.

1338: Better from Fulham already at the Cottage, the Londoners getting a grip of things after Blackpool's bright start. Bobby Zamora proving a handful.

1335: At Wembley, it's Carlisle on to the front foot nice and early - the Cumbrians forcing a couple of early corners under the blazing London sun. Francois Zoko has had their best effort, but his swiped shot was straight at Bees keeper Simon Moore.

1333: Typically confident start from Blackpool, who really can move the ball around nicely when they're in the mood. There can't be any neutral out there that doesn't want the boys in orange to stay in the league this year can there?

1331: Almost simultaneously, we are under way at both Craven Cottage and Wembley.

Lolsworth on Twitter: "I am going to slap you so hard in a minute."

1329: While at Craven Cottage, Fulham and Blackpool - separated by just two points in the Premier League - are moments away from kick off. Blackpool, as always, in tangerine, Fulham... Black and White.

1327: The players are out and about at a gloriously sunny Wembley now, with Brentford seeking a first major trophy since 1942 and Carlisle hoping for a second Football League Trophy win in what will be their sixth appearance in this stage of the competition. Atmosphere = pumping.

chralieme on Twitter: "I don't see the problem with the statue - someone wants to remember their hero, it's just Human Nature."

BBC Sport's Ian Westbrook at Wembley: "Superb atmosphere inside Wembley. Fans making most of day. Regulars from Griffin Park all together. Handshakes and good wishes all round. Come on you Bees!"

1321: FULHAM v BLACKPOOL (1330)
Mandeep Sanghera reports:
"Fulham make one change from the defeat by Everton last time out as striker Bobby Zamora - making his league start in seven months - replaces Andrew Johnson, who drops to the bench. Blackpool boss Ian Holloway makes two changes from a draw at Blackburn as Brett Ormerod and James Beattie come into the side with Luke Varney and Jason Puncheon making way."

Paul Fletcher at Wembley reports:
"Brentford boss Nicky Forster resists the temptation to select himself for a first appearance at Wembley, instead naming Gary Alexander and on-loan Jeffrey Schlupp up front. In total, the Bees boss makes seven changes from the team that won at Sheffield Wednesday in midweek. Carlisle boss Greg Abbott rested Francois Zoko for the recent League One tie between the teams but he starts at Wembley. Indeed, the Cumbrians are unchanged from the team that lost at Yeovil on Tuesday."

Tom, York via text: "Re: 1311 That gag was bad. Really, really bad."

TomEMcKeown on Twitter: "Honestly Sam, you should be ashamed of that one. I think it's about time you took a long hard look at the Man in the Mirror."

1315: Not everyone's against the Michael Jackson statue, though. And no, I'm not judging that by your texts and tweets. Fulham boss Mark Hughes points out chairman Mohamed Al Fayed has earned the right to erect whatever he wants, saying: "In fairness to the chairman, he's fully supported this club for a long time now, put in something like £200m. And if he wants to make that gesture to somebody who he knew personally then who am I to pass comment on it?" Ian Holloway, meanwhile, has described the statue as "terrific". "He was one of a handful of people I am proud to have been on the planet at the same time as," he added. Saying that, maybe the pair of them just don't Wanna Be Starting Something.

1311: Course, if anything were to go wrong for Fulham or Blackpool today, I suppose they could always Blame It On The Boogie.

1309: FULHAM v BLACKPOOL (1330)
Mandeep Sanghera reports:
"Fulham go into the game with four wins from their last five home league matches whereas Blackpool have a meagre one win in 10 league outings. The Tangerines have also conceded more than any of their Premier League rivals with 60 goals against so the match may have the look of a home banker. But then this is a Blackpool side managed by Ian Holloway. You might expect him to be a bit cautious considering his side's form but he has promised to stick to his attacking principles."

Mr_MichaelSmith on Twitter: "Tough run for Carlisle, down to Brentford, then all the way to Yeovil and then back to London today. Fancy them to do it though."

Tom, Liverpool fan, via text: "Tragic to see Blackpool so close to the foot of the table, they've been a breathe of fresh air. Here's hoping they pull clear!"

Paul Fletcher at Wembley reports:
"It might not be the most glamorous final Wembley will host this season but for the players and supporters of Carlisle and Brentford it is THE big day out. The Cumbrians were thrashed 4-1 last year and have deliberately kept preparations low-key this season. The Bees beat Sunday's opponents 2-1 in a League One match on 25 March and a repeat dose at Wembley will bring Nicky Forster the first silverware of his short managerial career."

Anon via text: "As a Fulham fan, we should respect Al-Fayed's decision to have this statue as MJ was clearly a close friend to him and we should respect that because Al-Fayed has done so much for our club and he loves our club. So we should respect his decision. Come on FULHAM!!! Let's moonwalk to a good win today!"

1301: BRENFORD v CARLISLE (1330)
Moore, Neilson, Osborne, Legge, Woodman, Saunders, Reed, Diagouraga, Weston, Alexander, Schlupp. Subs: Carson, O'Connor, Bean, Grabban, Byrne.
Carlisle: Collin, Simek, Michalik, Murphy, Robson, Marshall, Thirlwell, Taiwo, Berrett, Curran, Zoko. Subs: Caig, Livesey, Noble, Loy, Madden.
Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire)

1258: FULHAM v BLACKPOOL (1330)
Schwarzer, Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Salcido, Duff, Etuhu, Murphy, Dempsey, Zamora, Dembele. Subs: Stockdale, Kelly, Sidwell, Johnson, Gudjohnsen, Kakuta, Davies.
Blackpool: Kingson, Baptiste, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey, Grandin, Adam, Vaughan, Ormerod, Beattie, Taylor-Fletcher. Subs: Rachubka, Southern, Eardley, Varney, Kornilenko, Puncheon, Reid.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)

MegaDarkpros on Twitter: "Relegation is the thought on both Fulham's and Blackpool's mind today, namely how do we 'beat it'."

Anon via text: "What on Earth (Song) was Fayed thinking?"

1255: If you're wondering what the Fulham and Blackpool players are going through, by the way, I expect their managers are simply telling them Don't Stop Til You Get Enough (Points to Avoid Relegation).

1253: And if you're wondering what it's like for the Brentford and Carlisle players making their final preparations for today's Johnstone's Paint Trophy final at Wembley, you'll definitely want to check out Paul Fletcher's blog on such things. He and Stephan Shemilt are our men on the scene today, so expect plenty of chat from those two later. Trust me, it's a big deal for these two clubs.

1250: Of course, it's not just - some would say (or probably hope) not even - about Jacko's statue today, there are also some football matches going on. Here's your plan of action...
Prem: Fulham v Blackpool (1330)
JPT: Brentford v Carlisle (1330)
Prem: Man City v Sunderland (1600)

TacheyDelBosque on Twitter: "Let's get 'em all out of the way: The statue's Bad, we should be in for a Thriller today, Fayed is Off The Wall etc."

1246: In revealing plans to erect the statue, Mohamed Al Fayed said last month: "I hope many fans of his will visit the statue from far and wide. I hope that Fulham fans will appreciate seeing the finest performer in the world amongst them, the finest fans in the world." Today, in the face of widespread criticism of the move, he is somewhat more defiant. "Why is it bizarre?," he said after the unveiling. "Football fans love it. If some stupid fans don't understand and appreciate such a gift they can go to hell. I don't want them to be fans. If they don't understand and don't believe in things I believe in they can go to Chelsea, they can go to anywhere else." Blimey.

Michael Jackson statue at Craven Cottage
The Jackson statue at Craven Cottage
1243: For those of you in the dark, Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed has erected a statue of his "close friend" Michael Jackson in tribute to late singer's work. And, erm, this is what it looks like...

1239: Anyway, more on all to come that later - obviously - but here's where I need you all to come in. Gawd knows I can't hog all the Jacko puns. So let me know what you Say Say Say (ahem) by Tweeting the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @sampatricklyon or text me via 81111 (UK). This. Is. It.

1236: By, the way, I've just seen the Jacko statue at Craven Cottage. Words... genuinely... fail me. Wow.

1234: ...what the cynics among you might not expect, though, is a barn-storming day of football action. Well think again, folks. A massive relegation battle between the league's form team and its great entertainers? Check. A potentially huge clash in the race for fourth and a Champions League spot? Check. A Wembley final? Check. Throw in more Jacko puns than you can shake a stick and a big pile of vol-au-vents and you've got yourself a par-tay people.

1230: On a day when a statue of Michael Jackson - yes, that Michael Jackson - is being unveiled by Fulham FC, you've got to expect something rather weird and wonderful could take place in the world of football haven't you? I don't know, Ian Holloway bursting into a faultless half-time version of "Nessun Dorma" at Craven Cottage perhaps, maybe Eurythmics guitarist Dave Stewart making a surprise appearance up front for boyhood club Sunderland, or even Man City striker Mario Balotelli being able to put a bib on without help...

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Barclays Premier League results

3 Apr 2011 23:59 UK

Barclays Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 3 Apr 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 31 36 66
2 Arsenal 30 30 59
3 Man City 31 23 56
4 Chelsea 30 29 55
5 Tottenham 30 7 50
6 Liverpool 31 4 45
7 Everton 31 1 41
8 Bolton 31 0 40
9 Newcastle 31 2 39
10 Fulham 31 3 38
11 Stoke 31 -2 38
12 Sunderland 31 -9 38
13 West Brom 31 -14 36
14 Blackburn 31 -12 34
15 Birmingham 30 -12 34
16 Aston Villa 31 -14 34
17 Blackpool 31 -18 33
18 West Ham 31 -15 32
19 Wolves 31 -17 32
20 Wigan 31 -22 31

see also
Sunday's football photos
03 Apr 11 |  Football

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