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Page last updated at 18:57 GMT, Saturday, 16 April 2011 19:57 UK

Saturday football as it happened


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By Sam Lyon

1955: So "Six Point Saturday" turned into "The City Show Saturday" as a bumper afternoon of cracking Premier League and lower league football action was followed by Man City's FA Cup semi-final triumph over rivals United. It was a bit good today actually wasn't it? Well it's not over yet, folks, because Jonathan Stevenson is only going to be bringing you all the action from tonight's El Clasico Real Madrid v Barcelona from around 2030 isn't he? Hero. After that, of course, don't forget to watch Match of the Day online and on BBC One from 2230 followed by The Football League Show at 2335. Happy days. I'm back tomorrow for the double bubble of the Bolton v Stoke FA Cup semi-final and Arsenal v Liverpool in the league, so I'll see you all then right? Groovy. Sam Lyon out.

Daniel_Speller on Twitter: "Toure described as a galloping horse on ITV - he was fantastic tonight. Deserved MOTM and been one of the players of the season."

Matt via text: "Hhmm... Matt, City play Tottenham four days before the Cup final - how will that affect the fight for fourth."

martin_ltfc on Twitter: "They asked who would be missed more, Tevez or Rooney, and they said Tevez. Turned out to be Roo, City were brilliant after settling."

1945: MAN CITY 1-0 MAN UTD
Phil McNulty reports from Wembley:
"The 'noisy neighbours' are making some racket now. Manchester City reach their first FA Cup Final since 1981 with victory against Manchester United - and after a shaky first 35 minutes Roberto Mancini's team deserved the victory."

Owen Phillips reports:
"Villa were great value for their last-gasp win having been entrenched in the West Ham half for the entire second-period. Houllier's men should be safe now but the Hammers survival hopes look distinctly dicey after a third straight loss."

Mandeep Sanghera reports:
"A game of 'if only's' for Chelsea. If only their side had played like this at Man Utd. If only Drogba had started instead of Torres at Old Trafford. The Blues and Drogba took out their frustrations on a West Brom side who were well beaten."

Michael da Silva reports:
"A routine win for Everton, but these are tense times for Blackburn fans. Rovers lacked guile, imagination and fire power and, in this form, will do well to avoid the drop. Everton, though, are soaring."

Paul Fletcher reports:
"An afternoon as great for Wigan as it was atrocious for Blackpool, who are in the bottom three for the first time this season as a result."

Saj Chowdhury reports:
"Sunderland continue to avoid the back of the net - and their mistakes didn't help them today either. Birmingham creeping purposefully towards safety."

1932: Of course today wasn't all about the FA Cup - especially not for those teams involved in the Premier League relegation dogfight - so let's see what our match reporters made of today's action...

Slobberdan on Twitter: "Well done City, you wanted it more than United..."

cleverblok on Twitter: "Man Utd 's midfield Achilles heel came back to haunt them today, Carrick poor, Scholes always one tackle from a red card."

1930: Man City keeper Joe Hart: "It means the world, just look at us. The boys are over the moon, the fans are over the moon and the staff are over the moon but we've won nothing yet. We've done nothing yet but we've got got ourselves in a good position in the league and in the final and I'm so happy for the people (fans) here."

1925: For Man Utd, then, it's time to focus on Premier League and Champions League glory... for Man City, potentially a first trophy in 36 years awaits them when they return to Wembley on 14 May against either Bolton or Stoke - and they've still got the battle for fourth to occupy them in the league, too. A massive filip this will be for them in so many ways, I'm sure - and no chance of the tail end of the season getting at all dull for anyone in Manchester. Goodness no.

MusicVice on Twitter: "Big day for Man City. Bigger day for Man Cini."

Anon via text: "So, Jack and wife (1445) congratulations on the imminent birth of baby Yaya..."

1_1andrew1_1 on Twitter: "To be fair, Sir Alex normally gets it right, but today no. The 'Little Pea' [Hernandez] would've snatched up those two Berbatov chances."

1914: It's a Dear Diary moment and no mistake for one half of Wembley as the Blue side of Manchester greet the final whistle with scenes of absolute jubilation. Man Utd defender Rio Ferdinand is unhappy with something Mario Balotelli said or did at the final whistle and there's a bit of pushing and shoving - but the big picture is that Man City are in the FA Cup final at the expense of their fierce cross-city rivals Man Utd. And how the Eastlanders are enjoying their moment...

Full time
1910: FULL-TIME Man City 1-0 Man Utd
Man City are into the FA Cup Final.

1908: And still. We're into the last minute.

1907: This game is still being played in Man Utd's half. Seriously.

1905: We'll have FIVE minutes of stoppage time.

1904: And Man City almost wrap it up on the counter, Gareth Barry crossing for Yaya Toure bursting into the United box from deep, but a combination of Edwin van der Sar and Nemanja Vidic ends the break.

1903: Man City are defending their lives superbly in these closing stages - I'm not sure Man Utd have got in City's box more than a couple of times all half. The expected late United rally just isn't coming to fruition... yet...

1901: As the match enters the 88th minute Patrice Evra gets some space on the left... but instead of picking out a man with a cross, the Man Utd defender lashes in a shot from the angle that only troubles the side netting. A waste, that.

1900: Man City looking to shut up show now - Patrick Vieira on for David Silva.

Yellow card
1858: As Coldplay once warbled... 'And it was all yellow'... City defender Vincent Kompany the latest to have his name taken. Fabio da Silva comes on at right back in place of John O'Shea for United.

1855: While Javier Hernandez is on the pitch, however, United will always feel like they have a chance - and the Reds have been experts at late goals against Man City in recent years - although this time a fine run into the box by the diminutive Mexican does not end with a neat finish, Vincent Kompany back to clear his defensive lines.

1853: Man City change, Shaun Wright-Phillips on for Adam Johnson. Closing in on the last 10 minutes of normal time now, Man City 1-0 Man Utd.

1852: Half a chance for redemption for Michael Carrick as the midfielder collects the ball from a corner 20 yards out, but his attempted left-foot curler is right down Joe Hart's throat - and the keeper is in no mood to dish out gifts today.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Wembley: "Paul Scholes is one of the great Manchester United players but you have to wonder what goes on in his head sometimes. The tackle on Pablo Zabaleta was reckless in every way with United trying to force their way back into the game. No defence at all."

Yellow card
1849: More cards flying about now than at my house on Valentine's Day (ish) as Nigel de Jong has his name taken for a foul on Anderson. The Brazilian only just on the field in place of Dimitar Berbatov.

Red card
Man Utd red card: Oof. He's never been the greatest tackler but even by his standards that's pretty poor - Paul Scholes sent off for a reckless tackle on Pablo Zabaleta, the Man Utd midfielder all but embedding his studs in the full-back's right thigh with a run-up. Mike Dean had no hesitation in producing the red card and I don't think too many will argue, Scholes had to go there.

1846: RED CARD, Paul Scholes, Man Utd

1843: Aleksandar Kolarov launches another Man City assault on the United goal now, but after beating his man he can only last high and wide from outside the area.

Yellow card
1842: Second booking of the game and it's Mario Balotelli having his name taken by referee Mike Dean following a clumsy ol' challenge on Michael Carrick in the centre of the park.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1840: So close! Nani curls the free-kick at goal and it takes what looks like being a crucial deflection off the wall... but Joe Hart somehow adjusts his position in mid air to tip the shot on to the bar and away. Super save.

Yellow card
1839: Now then, can United get a foothold back in the game from here? Free-kick 20 yards out - a foul on Park Ji-Sung that earns Pablo Zabaleta a booking - and Javier Hernandez strides on from the bench in place of Antonio Valencia.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Wembley: "Manchester City have found real self-belief after that positive end to the first half and have taken the fight to Manchester United. The goal from Yaya Toure was a prime example of his power and it was certainly too much for Michael Carrick."

1836: More than rattled - United are on the ropes here. Three successive City corners all cause problems, Adam Johnson denied by Edwin van der Sar first up, Yaya Toure the second, and then Joleon Lescott heading David Silva's cross off target from the third. United are rocking.

1834: Yaya Toure is having a storming second half so far, United cannot cope with his pace or his power right now. Sir Alex Ferguson talked before the game about mentality... well it's his side that are rattled at the moment.

1832: Man City are getting real joy down the United right now and even Mario Balotelli looks like he might be enjoying himself. Blimey. Great spell this for Roberto Mancini's men.

1829: Man City aren't just going to sit back just yet, though, and David Silva almost breaks free into the United box as the Eastlanders counter, Rio Ferdinand's last-gasp tackle denying the Spaniard room for manoeuvre.

1828: What response from Man Utd now? They've got options on the bench of course...

Man City goal: Breakthrough - and it's advantage City. Michael Carrick is guilty of a sloppy pass just outside his own area and Yaya Toure is the beneficiary as the Ivorian collects, charges past Nemanja Vidic into the United box and slips home a finish as cool as you like. The blue half of Wembley explodes.

1826: GOALFLASH Man City 1-0 Man Utd (Yaya Toure)

1824: Ooh and that's good play from the boys in blue too, Mario Balotelli setting Aleksandar Kolarov free down the left and the Serbian playing the Italian back in with a low cross from the byeline, Balotelli just failing to turn the cross on target from close range under pressure from Nemanja Vidic.

1822: And it's Man City on the front foot early, Yaya Toure going close to releasing Aleksandar Kolarov behind the Man Utd defence but his pass just has too much on it and it goes behind for a goal-kick.

1820: Right then, the players are out and we're back up and running at Wembley. Up for it? Man City 0-0 Man Utd.

1819: Fancy getting involved, by the way? Well Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @sampatricklyon or text me via 81111 (UK). Now. Aces.

Everton boss David Moyes after the Toffees' 2-0 win over Blackburn: ""It was a great result and a good performance; we were comfortable today. Last season we had only two defeats in the last 24 games and this season is similar. We have a momentum at the moment and are playing well. We are finishing the season very strongly. The start we've had to the season may not allow us to finish above Liverpool, but we'll try." And Blackburn boss Steve Kean: "When Everton scored we were really disappointed because I thought we dominated the first half. We need to focus on our next game against Manchester City and make sure we get the win."

Gerard Houllier, whose Aston Villa side beat West Ham 2-1: "It was vital because we didn't shout it too loud but we knew it was decisive game. We played well, worked hard, the defending was fantastic all over the pitch and, on the whole, we deserved the three points." West Ham counterpart Avram Grant, whose side next face Chelsea and Man City: "I think our target is nine points - to get to 41 points - it's difficult but I think we can do it."

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, after his side's 3-1 win at West Brom: "It was a good performance. We showed personality and character after our defeat by Manchester United. We are strong and solid as a character and this is good. We have six games left and we want to do the same as we did in this game. [On Torres] We have to be patient. He came on for only 15 minutes and had a goal ruled out for offside, which was unlucky. We have to have confidence [in him]." West Brom boss Roy Hodgson: "Today was a little reminder that we are not going to sail blissfully over the line [to beat relegation] but I'm sure we will do it."

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish after the Blues' 2-0 win over Sunderland: "This is a big win for the team. A massive step for us. We know we're in a fight [but] I have great belief and confidence in the club."

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez after his side's 3-1 win at Blackpool: "This is a difficult place to come but we showed a great understanding and in many ways it was a complete performance. I have not seen another team keep Blackpool as quiet at home this season." Blackpool manager Ian Holloway: "We have got five games left and we are in the worst form we have been in this season. But we have got a lot of fight in us, we proved that last year and we must do it again now."

1807: Blimey. More tense than a campsite isn't it? Well let me take your mind off things, shall I? Here's some manager reaction from our 1500 kick-offs to pass the time...

Half time
1805: HALF-TIME Man City 0-0 Man Utd
Chief football writer Phil McNulty's HT snap-shot:
"Manchester City, after a start that was so subdued as to be almost non-existent, had the better of the latter stages of the first half and will take real encouragement from that. Manchester United will hope they do not regret those two wasted early opportunities from Dimitar Berbatov after dominating the opening half-hour."

1803: And that's your half-time whistle. Grab me a tea would you?

1801: We'll have two minutes of first-half stoppage time.

1759: Close! The corner is played short and laid to Vincent Kompany 22 yards out, the Man City defender curling a coat of paint's worth wide with a lovely effort.

1758: Excellent break, Yaya Toure charging at the Man Utd defence like a train before his shot is deflected behind for a corner.

1755: Into the last five minutes of the half and it's a lot more even now. Where's the half gone?

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Wembley: "Signs of life from Manchester City and encouragement at last for their supporters with a spell of possession and pressure. Joleon Lescott should have scored from Adam Johnson's corner but at least it was enough to finally persuade Roberto Mancini to sit down. Not for long though."

1751: Great chance for City! Adam Johnson's corner beats everyone and drops to Joleon Lescott 16 yards out, but the defender cannot control his volley and his effort flies well over. The sort of chance you'd want to have fallen to a striker if you're a City fan.

1750: Kaboom! Mario Balotelli finally gets on the ball and gives us a glimpse of what he might be capable of should he do it a bit more in this match, turning on a pass and leathering a shot at goal from fully 30 yards, Edwin van der Sar forced to tip the rising effort over the bar. City settling.

1748: Much better from Man City and the Blues finally forge a chance of note, David Silva working some space well on the right before finding, via a touch from Mario Balotelli, Gareth Barry, the midfielder's shot on the turn flying into the Man Utd side-netting.

Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas on Twitter: "Paul Scholes is so much class. Legend.

1745: ...Nani's direct shot hits the wall and deflects behind for a corner. From the resulting set piece Dimitar Berbtov meets Antonio Valencia's centre, but the Bulgarian's looped header drifts wide.

1744: Free-kick Man Utd, 25 yards out, to the right of the goal...

1741: Respite, albeit brief, for City as they win back possession but Gareth Barry's attempt to find Mario Balotelli running into the United box is overhit and Edwin van der Sar collects easily.

1740: Another chance for United - Antonio Valencia's outswinging corner met by the onrushing Nemanja Vidic, the Serbian's header flying wide.

1738: Sir Alex Ferguson, in the stands as a result of his five-match touchline ban, will be liking what he's seeing so far, United well on top and controlling possession and territory. Man City, without Carlos Tevez, are on the ropes but hanging in there.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Wembley: "Manchester United have made the better start and City will be thankful that Dimitar Berbatov reprieved them twice. United dominating possession - now City must start to get the creators like David Silva on the ball."

1735: Man City are camped in their own half at the moment and this is a storm they desperately need to ride. Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes are string-pullers-in-chief on the fine Wembley surface. At the other end, Mario Balotelli has been little short of anonymous... so far, anyway.

1734: Man Utd on the march now and no mistake.

1733: It had been a patient start to proceedings before those two chances, but in those two moments - within 20 seconds of each other - Man Utd showed all that can be dangerous about them. Only Dimitar Berbatov's profligacy has ensured the scores remain level.

1731: And now another gilt-edged chance! This time Nani does well down the left and crosses for Dimitar Berbatov all of four yards out - but with the goal gaping, the Bulgarian contrives to spoon the ball over the bar. Massive let-off for City. Twice.

1730: Great save! Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Park Ji-Sung combine to set Dimitar Berbatov clear in the box and the Bulgarian is one-on-one - but Joe Hart rushes out to produce a superb stop to deny the Man Utd striker from point-blank range. Excellent stuff from England's number one.

Football League Danny: "In League Two, Chesterfield hit back to beat Macclesfield and only a mathematical miracle will stop them being promoted. To ensure it, one point from their final four games will do - next match is at Oxford next Saturday. Bury are second and won today against Barnet, while Wycombe and Shrewsbury seem set to fight for the third promotion place. Shrews won 2-0 over Stockport, Chairboys drew 2-2 with Northampton today. The play-off race looks like going to the wire, but at the bottom, it's bleak for Stockport, eight points from safety with four games to go. Barnet still have a chance though…"

1727: Adam Johnson has the first meaningful pop on goal of the semi-final, but the Man City winger's low effort from 25 yards slides harmlessly wide.

1725: Man Utd midfielder Michael Carrick was predicting "a different kind of derby" before kick-off - well it looks pretty standard so far. Highly competitive, high-octane, high energy... low on chances.

Football League Danny: "League One news. Top six all won, bottom six all lost. Brighton are champions! A 3-1 win at Walsall confirms they are top dogs for the season. With four games to go and 93 points on the board, they are looking at a three-figure points tally. Well done them. Southampton second after a late goal sunk Bristol Rovers at St Mary's. Huddersfield, Peterborough, MK Dons and Bournemouth are behind - all won today. Rochdale (seventh) are the losers. At the bottom, it's looking way tight. Two points separate Notts County (22nd) from Dag & Red (19th). Going to the wire…?"

1722: More nip and tuck than on Hollywood Boulevard so far in this match - neither side giving the opposition any time and space on the ball whatsoever. I don't want to shock you too much, but the tackles are flying in already too. Mike Dean has a job on his hands this afternoon.

1719: According to the boys on ITV, by the way, poor ol' Rio Ferdinand prepared for this match with a 0230 wake-up call and dash to the hospital as his missus went into labour. But will he be the daddy (ahem) come full-time in this semi-final?

1718: It's a fairly bright start so far from Man City, appearing of course in their first FA Cup semi-final since 1981 - the year they lost to Tottenham in the final. Park Ji-Sung, meanwhile, looks to have been pushed right up by United boss Sir Alex Ferguson this afternoon. Your archetypal utility player that boy.

1716: Ladies and gentlemen, we are up and running.

1715: It will be Man Utd to kick off... towards a sea of blue first half.

1714: A quick word from the managers at Wembley? Go on then. Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini: "It's a very important game. It's a chance to change history." Manchester united boss Sir Alex Ferguson: "It's nice to be in the semi-final but there's always a great satisfaction in being in the final. We'll take that."

Football League Danny: "Epoch-making stuff today in the Football League. Championship headlines. Great day for Cardiff, 3-0 winners over Pompey. They're second. Reading beat Leicester 3-1, they're fourth. Norwich third after Friday's win over Forest. Bad day for Leeds, held 2-2 at home by Watford, dreadful day for Swansea, beaten 2-1 at Burnley. At the bottom, Sheffield United are surely finished after their 3-1 defeat at fellow strugglers Preston. The Lillywhites retain hope, as do Scunthorpe who beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park. Palace are looking very, very shaky right now."

1712: Here come the players - and it's a deafening roar from a sold-out Wembley stadium. One or two, I suspect, have been on the sauce since about Tuesday.

1710: MAN CITY v MAN UTD (1715)
Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Wembley:
"So Manchester City and Manchester United meet at Wembley for the first time in the FA Cup semi-final. City boast an impressive record of eight wins from 10 semi-finals, but victory today must be achieved without captain, star striker and talisman Carlos Tevez, out with a hamstring injury. United are in pursuit of a repeat of 1999's treble and they will be without Wayne Rooney, who is serving a suspension for swearing at a television camera after completing his hat-trick in the win at West Ham United."

JaroslawlGooner on Twitter: "Today, the form book merely hit the window frame and bounced back into the room."

1705: MAN CITY v MAN UTD (1715)
Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Wembley:
"Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson may be without suspended Wayne Rooney but there is no second string on show at Wembley with a powerful line-up. Dimitar Berbatov has missed out on the big Champions League games but gets his opportunity here. And Man City boss Roberto Mancini has gambled on the temperamental Mario Balotelli to fill the gap left by Carlos Tevez's injury. If ever there was a time for the young Italian to show his worth, this is it."

halkooheji on Twitter: "Okay it's United time. Let's keep the dream alive. The treble 2011."

1702: MAN CITY v MAN UTD (1715)
Man City:
Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, Silva, De Jong, Barry, Toure Yaya, Adam Johnson, Balotelli. Subs: Taylor, Boyata, Vieira, Milner, Wright-Phillips, Dzeko, Jo.
Man Utd: Van der Sar, O'Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Scholes, Carrick, Park, Nani, Berbatov. Subs: Kuszczak, Owen, Anderson, Smalling, Hernandez, Fabio Da Silva, Gibson.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

1700: For now, though, let us turn our attentions to Wembley...

1658: Another look at the battle to beat the drop following that late Aston Villa winner, then - Blackpool, West Ham and Wolves are your bottom three, with Wigan a point and Blackburn two points outside the relegation zone. I don't suppose Sunderland, Birmingham, Stoke and Fulham - all five points clear on 38 - are totally comfortable just yet, either. A few twists and turns left in that one, I'll wager.

Football League Danny: "Full-time. Walsall 1-3 Brighton. BRIGHTON ARE LEAGUE ONE CHAMPIONS."

Full time
1654: FULL-TIME West Ham 1-2 Aston Villa

1653: A minute of the four added minutes to go at Upton Park - but Aston Villa look like hanging on to an absolutely precious away win here.

Full time
1653: FULL-TIME Blackpool 1-3 Wigan

1652: FULL-TIME Everton 2-0 Blackburn

Full time
1652: FULL-TIME Birmingham 2-0 Sunderland

1652: FULL-TIME West Brom 1-3 Chelsea

Football League Danny: "Walsall 1-3 Brighton. Title is Brighton's surely. Preston 3-1 Sheff Utd. United down, surely. Preston fight on. Leeds 2-2 Watford. Late, late drama, Troy Deeney og, Leeds still in promotion mix."

Football League Danny: "Guly Do Prado gives Southampton a 1-0 lead against Bristol Rovers. Vital goal for Saints. Meanwhile, big news from Leeds. Watford now lead 2-1 at Elland Road thanks to Andreas Weimann. Big, big blow for Leeds."

Aston Villa goal: Huge goal. Absolutely huge. It's no more than Aston Villa deserve but boy have they left it late - Gabriel Agbonlahor picking the perfect time to grab his fifth goal of an injury-hit season, rising to meet Ashley Young's cross unmarked and heading home from six yards. Hammers heartbroken.

1649: GOALFLASH West Ham 1-2 Aston Villa (Agbonlahor)

Football League Danny: "League One promotion boost for Huddersfield, who lead 1-0 at Charlton thanks to Joey Gudjonsson. League Two promotion boost(ish) for Wycombe, who are 2-2 against Northampton. The Chairboys were 2-0 down)."

1648: Fernando Torres looks so out of touch he might as well be sporting flares and a mullet, the Chelsea substitute this time slicing horribly after being set up on the edge of the area by Florent Malouda.

1646: And now Demba Ba lines up a free-kick on the edge of the Aston Villa box - his low shot easily held by Villa keeper Brad Friedel. Will a point apiece be any good for either side?

1644: It's been all Aston Villa this half at Upton Park and yet Carlton Cole has almost just pinched a late winner, the striker just failing to get a proper connection on a lovely ball over the top with just the keeper to beat from the angle.

1643: Goal for Fernando Torres! DISALLOWED! Ouch. The Spaniard is played through by Florent Malouda and he rounds the keeper and slots in well... but the official's flag is raised for offside. It was marginal, but probably the right decision.

Football League Danny: "Leeds 1-1 Watford. Lee Hodson with the Hornets' equaliser. Massive goal, massive disappointment for Leeds."

Blackpool goal: Comeback on? Fine movement from DJ Campbell as the striker nips in at the near post to force home a reply from Matt Phillips's cross after Neal Eardley's free-kick had been deflected to the edge of the area.

1641: GOALFLASH Blackpool 1-3 Wigan (Campbell)

1640: Here comes Fernando Torres at the Hawthorns, replacing Didier Drogba. Chelsea certainly look in the mood for more goals... and the away support launch into a chorus of "He's Gonna Score In A Minute". Optimism.

1639: Your bottom three in the Premier League as it stands... West Ham (33 pts), Blackpool (33), Wolves (32). In other words, tighter than a fat man's hatband.

Football League Danny: "By the way. I am aware that Utter Champo Tension is UCT rather than UTC (see 1636). The tension got to me."

Football League Danny: "Burnley 2-1 Swansea. Cardiff 3-0 Portsmouth. A good minute for Cardiff fans, I'd suggest, horror for the Swans. Chesterfield now lead Macclesfield in League Two and move to within mere inches of promotion."

1638: Birmingham holding firm in the face of something like a late rally from Sunderland - hold on to this win and they'd pull five points clear of the drop zone today.

Football League Danny: "Leeds 1-0 Watford. Massive goal for Leeds. As it stands, Swansea are the big losers in the Championship top six today. Luciano Becchio with the strike by the way."

1636: You've got to score from there, son. Great chance for Blackburn to get right back in it at Goodison Park as Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka make a hash of a clearance, but substitute Morten Gamst Pedersen can only volley wide eight yards out with the goal gaping. Big miss.

Football League Danny: "Utter Champo Tension (UTC). Crystal Palace 1-2 Scunthorpe. Lifeline for Palace, cracking finish set for Selhurst Park. Preston 2-1 Sheff Utd. Lifeline for the Blades - they simply cannot afford to lose today. In League One, meanwhile, Peterborough are 2-1 up on Plymouth and it would seem that the form book can come back in through the window (having been thrown out when the Pilgrims took the lead)."

1634: It's still Aston Villa on top at Upton Park and Kyle Walker's fine run tees up a chance for Darren Bent, only for the striker to fluff his shot from close range. Let-off for the Hammers, that.

Everton goal: Could the Toffees make a late European place push? Phil Jones hacks down Seamus Coleman in the box - it's a blatant penalty - and Leighton Baines lashes home the resulting spot-kick. Blackburn two points off the drop as it stands.

1632: GOALFLASH Everton 2-0 Blackburn (Baines pen)


Football League Danny: "Championship. Preston 2-0 Sheff Utd. Another for Keith Treacy. As it stands, Sheffield United are going to be eight points from safety, with four games to play. Mega-trouble. Reading lead Leicester 3-0 by the way and are doing their best to keep up the pressure on their promotion rivals."

Man City:
Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, De Jong, Barry, A Johnson, Yaya Toure, Silva, Balotelli
Man Utd: Van der Sar, O'Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Park, Scholes, Carrick, Valencia, Berbatov, Nani.
Ryan Giggs not even on the bench for Man Utd. Hhmm...

1627: That Wigan goal, by the way, has been credited as a Neal Eardley own goal. So Mohamed Diame's shot wasn't going in then...

1626: Worrying times for West Ham as Gary O'Neil is taken off on a stretcher with looks like an ankle injury after a crunching tackle by Nigel Reo-Coker which wins the ball cleanly but also upends O'Neil in the follow-through. Look as though it could be a serious one.

Wigan goal: Crisis time for Blackpool - and the luck couldn't have deserted them by a greater distance on this occasion, Mohamed Diame's speculative long-ranger taking a huge deflection off Neal Eardley and creeping into the far corner. The Wigan midfielder's initial shot might not have even been on target, you know.

Birmingham goal: Just as Sunderland were enjoying their best spell of the match, Birmingham double their lead, Craig Gardner collecting Alexander Hleb's pass and then lashing a swerving effort into the corner from 20 yards - Simon Mignolet got a hand to it but couldn't keep it out.

1623: GOALFLASH Blackpool 0-3 Wigan (Diame)

1623: GOALFLASH Birmingham 2-0 Sunderland (Gardner)

Football League Danny: "Chesterfield are level against Macclesfield thanks to Craig Davies - it's 1-1. No chance of them going up from League Two today, because Shrewsbury are winning - but they remain hot favourites for promotion. Elsewhere, Scunthorpe are 2-0 up at Crystal Palace and are dragging the London side right back into the Championship relegation mire."

Mario Balotelli starts up front for Man City in Carlos Tevez's absence in what looks to be a 4-2-3-1 formation, while Dimitar Berbatov gets the nod as Wayne Rooney's replacement for Man Utd - no room in the XI for Ryan Giggs, though.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1620: The chances continue to come for Chelsea at the Hawthorns, Salomon Kalou turning inside the box and firing goalwards, Abdoulaye Meite deflecting the effort up and on to the bar.

Football League Danny: "Enormo-goal for Preston. Keith Treacy puts them 1-0 up against Sheffield United. A win will all-but finish the Blades off for this season and keeps Preston fighting. Meanwhile, Swansea's 'vital' lead against Burnley (see 1615) is finished. The Clarets level through an Ashley Williams own goal."

1617: Desperate times call for desperate measures - triple Blackpool change at Bloomfield Road, James Beattie, Jason Puncheon and Matt Phillips on, Luke Varney, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Elliott Grandin the men removed. Half an hour for the Seasiders to get back into this - and we could be in for a barn-stormer of a finale here.

Football League Danny: "Massive. Garry Monk puts Swansea 1-0 up at Burnley. With Norwich's win last night and Cardiff and Reading both currently ahead, victory for the Swans today feels vital. Elsewhere, 10-man Ipswich lead 1-0 at 11-man Bristol City thanks to Josh Carson."

1615: Better again from Sunderland, Phil Bardsley's fierce deflected low drive from 25 yards saved brilliantly low down to his right by Ben Foster. Fine stop.

Everton goal: Told ya. Leon Osman breaks the deadlock for Everton as Blackburn sleep at a corner, the midfielder collecting a short-ball routine, turning inside the box and lashing a fine effort into the far corner via a deflection off Chris Samba. Blackburn bang in trouble.

1613: GOALFLASH Everton 1-0 Blackburn (Osman)

1612: David Dunn comes close to opening the scoring at Goodison as his curling effort from 20 yards has Tim Howard scrambling as the ball sails just wide. At the other end, Everton youngster Magaye Gueye has fired just over and Leighton Baines has seen a long-range effort brush the outside of the post. A goal may not be far away.

1611: Chelsea almost picking up in the second half where they left the first, Didier Drogba's dipping 30-yard shot creeping inches over the bar and on to the roof of the net.

1610: Deary me. Blackpool boss Ian Holloway is going from pink to puce on the touchlines as he watches his side stutter and stumble against what was the division's bottom side. One of the league's great entertainers are slipping inexorably towards the drop.

Football League Danny: "Brighton fans - champers at the ready. Glenn Murray restores the Seagulls lead at Walsall, League One title heading to the south coast as it stands."

1608: That's just about as good as it's got for Sunderland this afternoon as Jordan Henderson - on the back of some neat one-touch play involving Danny Welbeck and Asamoah Gyan - curls narrowly past the post from 18 yards.

1606: Saved again! West Ham are rocking at Upton Park and only a fabulous one-handed full-length diving save from Robert Green prevents Ashley Young's whipped free-kick flying into the top corner.

1605: And now Villa defender James Collins has a header from the resulting corner cleared off the line! Fine start to the half from Villa.

1604: He's been the class act all afternoon so far and Darren Bent goes close after getting behind the Hammers defence down the left, his low shot kept out by the feet of Robert Green.

1603: Here we go, then, massive 45 minutes or so coming up for those teams at and near the bottom of the Premier League.

Sylvie_M on Twitter: "Sam, give me two goals for Sunderland, one for B'pool, one for Everton, one for Villa and we'll share out the £100,000 prize!!!"
Done. Like, seriously done.

Nervous Stoke fan via text: "Looking at the league as it stands, five teams on 38 points. Only too pleased to be on other duties tomorrow!"

Jack_Leahy on Twitter: "80 minutes to United v City. Needless to say, winner will more than likely take the Cup. As good as a Cup final for both."

Football League Danny: "Just a bit of fun this - but if the season ended right this second, QPR and Cardiff would be promoted from the Championship, Brighton and Southampton go up from League One and Chesterfield, Bury and Shrewsbury are up from League Two. Nottingham Forest, Hull and Rochdale miss the play-offs in their divisions by a whisker and Bristol Rovers are relegated on goal difference. How much of this will come to pass…? Hey, give our predictor a try, why don't you?"

NickSlobodyanyk on Twitter: "Looks like Chelsea have lady luck on they side today! Time to bring Torres on for him to try his luck?!"

Half time
1556: HALF-TIME West Ham 1-1 Aston Villa
Owen Phillips's HT snap-shot:
"Strikers on top at Upton Park. Robbie Keane got the home support rocking inside two minutes but Villa have been just as threatening and Darren Bent's header deservedly levelled. Very watchable and plenty more to come"

Half time
1554: HALF-TIME Everton 0-0 Blackburn
Michael Da Silva's HT snap-shot:
"Not much to talk about in what has been a rather dull half of football, though at least the performance of Blackburn debutant Ruben Rochina has brightened up a half of very few chances."

Half time
1553: HALF-TIME Birmingham 1-0 Sunderland
Saj Chowdhury's HT snap-shot:
"Sunderland looked comfortable up until the calamity of all calamities at the back. When you're on the slide it's hard to arrest it. Manager Steve Bruce needs to give one heck of a team-talk at half-time."

Half time
1552: HALF-TIME West Brom 1-3 Chelsea
Mandeep Sanghera's HT snapshot:
"It's been all Chelsea since they were given an early scare by the Baggies and Didier Drogba has played a part in each of Chelsea's goals… are you watching Fernando Torres?"

Half time
1550: HALF-TIME Blackpool 0-2 Wigan
Paul Fletcher's HT snap-shot:
"Blackpool have not once been in the Premier League's relegation zone. They are 45 minutes from breaking unwanted new ground after a first-half to forget."

1548: The half-time whistles ring out across the land of football. What a half of twists and turns huh?

Wigan goal: How big a goal might that be? Just as Blackpool looked to have settled into the match, the Latics double their lead, Charlie Adam caught in possession and Charles N'Zogbia dribbling at goal, beating a couple of defenders, and then slipping into the far corner. Fine finish. Blackpool into the bottom three as it stands.

Chelsea goal: West Brom will be desperate for this half to end now before any more damage is done, Frank Lampard sweeping in Chelsea's third from Florent Malouda's cut-back to deservedly extend the visitors' lead.

1545: GOALFLASH Blackpool 0-2 Wigan (N'Zogbia)

1545: GOALFLASH West Brom 1-3 Chelsea (Lampard)

Football League Danny: "Plymouth (23rd in League One) lead 1-0 at Peterborough (4th in League One) thanks to Carl Fletcher. Potential surprise fans will like that one."

1544: Any Sunderland fans not chewed their nails down the nubs out there? This would be an eighth defeat in nine and the drop suddenly doesn't look ever so far away.

Birmingham goal: The pressure of the relegation battle starting to tell in our 1500 kick-offs - it's another error leading to a goal. Simon Mignolet and Phil Bardsley are the culprits this time, getting in each other's way as they attempt to clear Cameron Jerome's flick-on and allowing Sebastian Larsson to poke into an empty net.

1540: GOALFLASH Birmingham 1-0 Sunderland (Larsson)

Aston Villa goal: What is Mark Noble doing? The midfielder, with Aston Villa attacking in numbers, attempts to dribble out of his own area but is dispossessed by Emile Heskey, Luke Young crossing for Darren Bent to flick in a fine header. Disastrous work from Noble considering the position West Ham are in.

1536: GOALFLASH West Ham 1-1 Aston Villa (Bent)

1535: Some element of redemption for Scott Carson as the West Brom keeper does excellently to tip Frank Lampard's rasping 22-yard free-kick over the bar, but it's all Chelsea at the Hawthorns. Their season not completely crumbling just yet, then.

Football League Danny: "Great League One work from Carlisle, who lead Colchester 3-0 after just 31 minutes. Meanwhile, at Ashton Gate, Ipswich's Lee Martin has been sent off against Bristol City in the match they've already dubbed 'the battle for 13th place in the Championship'."

1533: Low on excitement and low on quality so far at Goodison Park. That early miss by Jermaine Beckford remains the only clear cut opportunity in what has been a somewhat tepid opening 35 minutes.

1531: Fairly scrappy stuff still at St Andrew's, though Sunderland have fought their way back into things against Birmingham. Chances thin on the ground.

1529: Blackpool, for the first time, building a head of steam against Wigan now, the home side forcing a succession of corners and free-kicks in the opposition half. No clear chances as yet, but pressure building on the Latics.

Football League Danny: "Richlegate on Twitter quite rightly reminds us about the big Crystal Palace v Scunthorpe match at the foot of the Championship. Six-pointer written all over it, that one. And David Mirfin has just given Scunthorpe the lead. A potentially massive goal of solid Iron, that one."

Chelsea goal: Two goals in four minutes and Chelsea have turned this around. Scott Carson again, though, is partly to blame - his parried save from Didier Drogba's low shot falling to the feet of Salomon Kalou, who swipes home from the angle.

1526: GOALFLASH West Brom 1-2 Chelsea (Kalou)

1524: But now Aston Villa come forward and it should, in my opinion, be 1-1. Darren Bent rises brilliantly above Lars Jacobsen to head home from Stewart Downing's cross, but referee Mark Halsey disallows the 'goal' for a push by the Villa striker. Can't say I saw much wrong with it, though.

1522: Carlton Cole is finding plenty of freedom behind the Aston Villa defence and sees his excellent low shot tipped wide by Brad Friedel following a searching long-ball from Gary O'Neil.

Football League Danny: "Reading lead Leicester 2-0 - a Royals win keeps them very much in the Championship promotion mixer. In League Two, Shrewsbury lead Stockport 2-0 after two quick goals. Implications there for Unstoppable Football Machine (UFM) Chesterfield. If the Shrews win today, Chesterfield cannot be promoted. Stockport, to be fair, looked doomed. Doomed."

Chelsea goal: Immediate reply and exactly the response Carlo Ancelotti craved. It's a gift, though, Scott Carson flapping at Florent Malouda's low cross, Nicky Shorey deflecting the ball back into the centre of the area, and Didier Drogba helping himself to a simple eight-yard finish. West Brom have now not kept a clean sheet for 31 games.

1521: GOALFLASH West Brom 1-1 Chelsea (Drogba)

West Brom goal: The pressure on Carlo Ancelotti's shoulders weighs heavier by the minute - West Brom break the deadlock at the Hawthorns in fine fashion, James Morrison and Jerome Thomas linking up well to set Peter Odemwingie clear, the frontman clipping a delightful finish over Petr Cech's dive to score - and Chelsea's season is threatening to completely crumble around them.

1518: GOALFLASH West Brom 1-0 Chelsea (Odemwingie)

1517: Most of the day's action at Upton Park so far, and West Ham think they should have a penalty when Carlton Cole - chasing on to a ball over the top - is bundled over uncompromisingly by Richard Dunne. Referee Mark Halsey waves away the appeals and it may well have been outside the box, but it looked a foul to me.

1516: Close! Birmingham's Barry Ferguson gives the ball away about 20 yards from goal but Sunderland's Lee Cattermole sees his shot blocked low by keeper Ben Foster and then the follow-up from Stephane Sessegnon is blocked on the line by Roger Johnson.

Football League Danny: "Champagne back in the fridge, Brighton fans. Andy Butler levels for Walsall and it's 1-1 - the Saddlers are battling for every League One point they can muster. Elsewhere in League One relegation news, Tranmere lead fellow strugglers Dagenham & Redbridge 1-0."

1514: Enforced early change for West Ham as Manuel da Costa is forced off by a Darren Bent kick to the leg, Danny Gabbidon on in the defender's stead.

1512: No great response from the hosts at Bloomfield Road to that early goal just yet, though Neal Eardley has almost bagged the flukiest of equalisers when his cross floats towards the top corner, Ali Al Habsi forced to back-peddle and palm over the bar.

Football League Danny: "Good news for fans of Seagulls and Bluebirds. Inigo Calderon puts Brighton ahead at Walsall - remember, the south coast side will be crowned champions today with victory. Walsall are very much in the relegation mire. And Seyi Olofinjana puts Cardiff ahead against Portsmouth - the Welsh team move back into second with a win."

1509: Fairly even start at the Hawthorns but it's West Brom with the first chance of note, James Morrison cutting back for Youssef Mulumbu on the edge of the area - only for the midfielder to scuff his shot over.

1508: Aston Villa almost level at Upton Park, Ashley Young embarrassing Lars Jacobsen for pace and skill down the left before cutting inside the box, his goalbound shot deflected wide by Matthew Upson's desperate lunge.

1506: That goal for Hugo Rodallega makes him the most prolific striker in the Premier League in Wigan's history, by the way - he has 21 altogether now.

1505: At Goodison Park, Phil Neville launches a long ball forward and Leon Osman does well to head into Jermaine Beckford's path, but he slices his shot which goes hopelessly high and wide. Big miss inside a minute for Everton.

Wigan goal: And Wigan strike first in the relegation battle at Blackpool, Hugo Rodallega slotting a low angled strike beyond Matt Gilks. Crucial in the build-up was a slip by Blackpool defender Craig Cathcart, who lost his footing just as Rodallega collected Charles N'Zogbia's through ball.

West Ham goal: Crucial early breakthrough for the Hammers, Robbie Keane in the right place at the right time - and onside - to slap into the roof of the net from six yards after Villa failed to clear a corner. 105 seconds that took the Londoners.

1503: GOALFLASH Blackpool 0-1 Wigan (Rodallega)

1503: GOALFLASH West Ham 1-0 Aston Villa (Keane)

1502: Fine early chance for Birmingham at St Andrew's as Cameron Jerome bursts behind the Sunderland defence with superb pace, but his right-footed effort from the angle is saved by the feet of Simon Mignolet.

1500: Nice and prompt, we're under way everywhere in the Premier League. Well, not everywhere, only at those grounds that are staging matches today, but... oh you get the idea...

1458: As the players emerge from tunnels the country over, let me hit you with some knowledge via Infostrada Sports: Sunderland's starting line-up today is their youngest ever in the Premier League with an average age of 23 years, 311 days. Look out for Chelsea's Didier Drogba to score today, meanwhile, the Ivorian has bagged seven Premier League goals against West Brom already in his career. Oh yes, and this from BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce at Upton Park: "If West Ham lose this, they have Chelsea and Manchester City next - and to recover from three defeats at this stage of the season against that opposition would be a tall order. Massive game." Lovely.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Wembley: "Traffic negotiated and safely at Wembley. Plenty of other early arrivals from Man City & Man Utd outside already in the car parks."

Owen Phillips reports:
"West Ham must make do without inspirational midfield dynamo Scott Parker who has succumbed to his persistent Achilles problem. Gary O'Neil comes in while Carlton Cole, Victor Obinna and Robbie Keane all start in an attack-minded line-up. Aston Villa bring in Emile Heskey and Nigel Reo-Coker, the only two changes from the side that beat Newcastle 1-0 last time out. Gabriel Agbonlahor and Jean Makoun drop to the bench."

Psychosilocybin on Twitter: "10 Draws today in the Championship will win me £26543.96 from a 10p stake. Fingers crossed."

Mandeep Sanghera reports:
"West Brom make one change from the 3-2 win over Sunderland as midfielder James Morrison replaces striker Simon Cox. Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti decides to drop strikers Fernando Torres and Nicolas Anelka to the bench after they both started in the Champions League defeat at Manchester United in midweek. Instead, fellow forward's Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou start, while centre-back David Luiz replaces Alex and midfielder John Mikel Obi comes in for Ramires."

Michael Da Silva reports:
"Blackburn have to make do without Junior Hoilett - scorer of three goals in the last four for Rovers - who has a hamstring injury. But the silver lining is a much-anticipated debut for 20-year-old Barcelona academy graduate Ruben Rochina, who bagged a brace for the reserves on Monday. Everton's 19-year-old Frenchman Magaye Gueye starts on the right wing for the Toffees. Tony Hibbert, Leon Osman, Diniyar Bilyaletinov and Jermaine Beckford all start as injuries to key players continues to blight Everton's campaign. Seamus Coleman and Jack Rodwell are on the bench."

Football League Danny extra: "There was one early League One game and it finished Notts County 0-2 Bournemouth. Implications? Massive win for the Cherries, who put themselves back in the play-off mix (for a bit, anyway), bad news for Martin Allen's Notts County who are now on nine defeats in a row."

Paul Fletcher reports:
"Blackpool boss Ian Holloway makes three changes from the side that lost against Arsenal, the headline of which is that goalkeeper Matt Gilks comes in for Richard Kingson to make his first start since he broke his kneecap against West Ham in November. Neal Eardley and Elliot Grandin are also brought into the Seasiders starting XI, replacing Alex Baptiste and Jason Puncheon. Wigan boss Roberto Martinez makes one change from the team that lost at Chelsea, with Steve Gohouri replacing the suspended Maynor Figueroa."

Saj Chowdhury reports:
"Birmingham centre-back Roger Johnson is in the XI after recovering from concussion he suffered at Blackburn last weekend. Kevin Phillips continues to partner Cameron Jerome up front. Sunderland boss Steve Bruce hands 21-year-old Jack Colback his first league start. He partners Lee Cattermole in central midfield. Stephane Sessegnon and Jordan Henderson return to the wings. Sulley Muntari misses out with a calf injury as does Kieran Richardson who has not recovered from an ankle problem."

Jack via text: "Both myself and my Mrs are united fans, she is due to give birth to our first son tomorrow. We have agreed to name the baby after United's winning scorer today!"

1445: Now then, I imagine you're all sat at home with your pens and paper out, furiously scribbling down your predictions for today's games while racking your brains for form and fortune. Well sweat no more good people of the world... for the legend that is Mark Lawrenson is here to help. The big man is going for two home wins and three draws today. Think you can do better? Have a go.

Football League Danny: "Norwich's Friday night 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest has put the Canaries second behind QPR in the race for automatic Championship promotion. Cardiff can retake second spot with a win over Portsmouth, with Swansea (at Burnley) and Reading (hosting Leicester) ready to capitalise on any slip. Preston (23rd) host Sheff Utd (24th) at the bottom - both clubs are in big, big trouble and defeat will surely extinguish the loser's faint survival hopes."

ecruden on Twitter: "Reckon one more win will see Birmingham survive and McLeish establish himself as undisputed 'best man for the job'."

Football League Danny: "Brighton clinched a deserved promotion to the Championship on Tuesday and could claim the League One title today if they win at Walsall, who are battling against relegation. If they don't win, they could still be top dogs as long as they match Southampton's result - the Saints host a Bristol Rovers side desperate for points. Huddersfield and Peterborough could steal the promotion initiative from Saints if the south coast side slip up."

albarr1978 on Twitter: "A win for Wigan would really make Blackpool sweat, not to mention half a dozen others down there."

Football League Danny: "Fans of Statistics 'A' Levels (I got a 'B') will enjoy this - Chesterfield will be promoted from League Two if they beat Macclesfield and Shrewsbury do not beat Stockport, and a point will do if Shrewsbury lose and Torquay, Stevenage, Gillingham and Accrington all fail to win. Got that? Good, I'll test you later. Meanwhile, it's as tight as the JB's horn section in the play-off mix, and Torquay-Port Vale is the pick of a bunch of key matches."

1439: What about the lower leagues? I hear you cry. Fear not... Football League Danny has got it all sorts of covered.

GeordieSpurs on Twitter: "As a Spurs Fan I wouldn't mind wins for West Brom and Aston Villa today for Different reasons COYS."

West Ham:
Green, Jacobsen, da Costa, Upson, Bridge, O'Neil, Noble, Hitzlsperger, Keane, Cole, Obinna. Subs: Boffin, Gabbidon, Boa Morte, Spector, Ba, Hines, Piquionne.
Aston Villa: Friedel, Walker, Collins, Dunne, Luke Young, Ashley Young, Reo-Coker, Petrov, Downing, Bent, Heskey. Subs: Marshall, Pires, Agbonlahor, Albrighton, Makoun, Clark, Cuellar.
Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)

ConorBond on Twitter: "Scott Parker is a huge loss for West Ham, hopefully Hitzlsperger will be able to provide the inspiration needed."

West Brom:
Carson, Reid, Meite, Olsson, Shorey, Brunt, Mulumbu, Scharner, Thomas, Morrison, Odemwingie. Subs: Myhill, Tchoyi, Vela, Fortune, Tamas, Cox, Jara.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry, Cole, Essien, Mikel, Lampard, Kalou, Drogba, Malouda. Subs: Turnbull, Torres, Benayoun, Bosingwa, Zhirkov, Ferreira, Anelka.
Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Gueye, Neville, Heitinga, Bilyaletdinov, Osman, Beckford. Subs: Mucha, Coleman, Rodwell, Vellios, Anichebe, Mustafi, Forshaw.
Blackburn: Robinson, Salgado, Phil Jones, Samba, Givet, Emerton, Dunn, Jermaine Jones, Olsson, Rochina, Santa Cruz. Subs: Bunn, Kalinic, Pedersen, Mwaruwari, Roberts, Hanley, Diouf.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

jrodger93 on Twitter: "Liam Gallagher has more chance of leading Man City to victory today than Mario Balotelli does."

ianbeany1989 on Twitter: "Wins for Blackpool and Villa today, along with a Liverpool win tomorrow, would all but settle this league for this season."

Gilks, Eardley, Evatt, Cathcart, Crainey, Southern, Adam, Taylor-Fletcher, Grandin, Varney, Campbell. Subs: Kingson, Ormerod, Baptiste, Sylvestre, Phillips, Puncheon, Beattie.
Wigan: Al Habsi, Boyce, Gary Caldwell, Alcaraz, Gohouri, Diame, Watson, N'Zogbia, McCarthy, Cleverley, Rodallega. Subs: Pollitt, Di Santo, Moses, Gomez, Sammon, Stam, Lopez.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)

Ben in Maidstone via text: "As an Arsenal fan, Man Utd winning later today might work for us. Fingers crossed for their squad to tire out and slip a few points for the league. Although I fear that may be a tad too hopeful."

Foster, Carr, Johnson, Ridgewell, Parnaby, Larsson, Ferguson, Gardner, Bowyer, Phillips, Jerome. Subs: Doyle, Bentley, Derbyshire, Fahey, Hleb, Mutch, Davies.
Sunderland: Mignolet, Elmohamady, Onuoha, Turner, Bardsley, Henderson, Cattermole, Colback, Sessegnon, Welbeck, Gyan. Subs: Gordon, Zenden, Malbranque, Riveros, Meyler, Noble, Lynch.
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

Fernando Torres starts on the bench for Chelsea at West Brom - as does Nicolas Anelka - with Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou up front for the Blues at the Hawthorns.

henrybenryo on Twitter: "Hoping for some good footy today, could be a pretty great day to be a neutral... What's that? there's a Clasico later? Awesome."

Nick the Greek, Walthamstow via text: "Have put a quid on a cheeky win double, Ancelotti to smile and Torres to score, will be taking the Mrs down the new Hawaiian themed pub later when it comes in."

figfenelon10 on Twitter: "Blackpool v Wigan could be a cracker! Two sides who need the points and are capable of good football on their day. Optimistic."

Owen Phillips reports:
"A home win and the not-so-happy Hammers may climb out of the relegation zone and will certainly breathe a bit easier. Coming on the back of two confidence-sapping defeats, and with Chelsea and Manchester City next up, you feel West Ham need it. Turmoil and unrest surround Gerard Houllier's Aston Villa after a dismal season but a second successive victory will probably ensure Premier League survival…and there's always next season. Pick a cliché....crunch clash, must-win, six-pointer, squeaky-bum time. Don't you love the end-of-season games where everything counts?"

Mandeep Sanghera reports:
"Whichever way you look at it, 862 minutes in total, 693 in a Chelsea shirt and 447 in the Premier League, Fernando Torres's run without a goal does not make for pretty reading from a Blues perspective. So can the £50m striker end his scoring nightmare at a West Brom side managed by Roy Hodgson? Hodgson managed Torres at Liverpool for the first part of this season and has backed him to rediscover his form, although he'd like the Spaniard to do it after today's match."

kalkwasser on Twitter: "This might be the day for Balottelli to stand up and be counted!"

Chooch, Wales via text: "Afternoon Sammy lad. Hoping 4 another positive performance from the toffees today to keep the pressure on Liverpool."

Scott Parker misses out for West Ham against Aston Villa today thanks to an Achilles injury. Emile Heskey statrs up front for the Villans.

Michael Da Silva reports:
"If you are a believer in statistics then there are two that might interest you about today's game at Goodison Park: Everton are unbeaten in their last eight league matches at Goodison, while Blackburn have taken just one point from the last 18 available away from home in the Premier League. Away win anyone?"

Matt Gilks returns in goal for Blackpool v Wigan for the first time since 13 November following his recovery from knee and calf injuries.

Paul Fletcher reports:
"This one is massive, no doubt. Blackpool are one place above the relegation zone and two points above Wigan, who are currently bottom of the table. The Seasiders won 4-0 at Wigan, but that was back in August and seems an awful long time ago. Blackpool have the worst home record in the Premier League, the Latics have won only two of their last 14 home games. What will give today?"

Ali via text: "Five away wins today Sam my boy. No doubt. Come on the Villa!!"

Haillay7 on Twitter: "As a Newcastle fan... Draws all round please?"

Saj Chowdhury reports:
"Sunderland are not quite down there yet, but one point since 1 February is a worry. It's about momentum and the injury-ravaged Black Cats have gained it going downhill. A Birmingham win could see them leapfrog Sunderland into 13th spot in what has been a topsy-turvy campaign for the Carling Cup winners. Although, Blues have only won one of their last six league games they have only lost one of the last four. Oh, and Sunderland have not won a top-flight clash at St Andrew's since 26 Nov, 1983."

1410: Time, then, to hear from our match reporters...

rrengland3 on Twitter: "In the top five leagues in Europe, in the last six games, Everton are the fourth best club in form."

CraigyThommo on Twitter: "I think the real question is...will Balotelli be able to dress himself today?"

1406: So, without further ado, why don't you all think about getting involved? Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @sampatricklyon or text me via 81111 (UK). Jubbly.

1402: And AS IF THAT WASN'T ENOUGH... (why am I shouting?)... there's more intrigue, suspense and action in the lower leagues today than in an Andy McNab novel, perched on top of a Rocky/Rambo box-set, with a sprinkling of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest hits over the top. Football League Danny is in 'da house' all kinds of primed to bring you the latest and the best from the Championship, League One and League Two - and, frankly, there is no man better placed to deliver to you score updates in an irreverent, informative and slightly off-beat tone than the man sat immediately to my left. Trust me.

1400: So here's what we have in store on this Six Point (with a barn-storming FA Cup semi-final thrown in) Saturday my friends...
All kick-offs 1500 BST unless stated
PL: Birmingham v Sunderland
PL: Blackpool v Wigan
PL: Everton v Blackburn
PL: West Brom v Chelsea
PL: West Ham v Aston Villa
FA Cup: Man City v Man Utd (1715)

1357: But, you see, the absolute beauty of football at this time of the season is that there's always something of paramount fascination and importance going on even outside of Cup semi-finals between two fierce rivals. Take today's Premier League action - or, as I'm calling it, "Six-Point Saturday" - for example. Yes, Chelsea are involved, looking to push on in the upper echelons of the Premier League following their Champions League exit, but otherwise today is all about relegation. Eight of the nine other teams involved in top-flight action today can be said to be mixed up in the battle to beat the drop, and the other side - Everton - retain slim hopes of pushing into the top five. All things considered - it's little shy of monster.

1355: So basically, today's FA Cup semi-final between Man City and Man Utd is... gargantuan. And, trust me, we've barely scratched the surface of our build-up to and coverage of that match.

1353: Don't go thinking Man Utd don't desperately want FA Cup success this season too, though. For a start only five members of the Red Devils' present squad have won the FA Cup before, a figure that does not include Wayne Rooney or Rio Ferdinand, who was suspended for the last of United's 11 triumphs in the competition in 2004 thanks to his eight-month ban for failing to take a drugs test. And every player wants an FA Cup winners medal. Oh yeah, and United are also chasing the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup treble too. I imagine they wouldn't want the chances of that to be ended by their bitter cross-city rivals. Just guessing, like.

1351: Scoff as you might, the Italian believes victory in this season's FA Cup will do just that. "I can see us winning the title next year," said Mancini in the build-up to today's match. "If we win the FA Cup this year or get in the final and get in the Champions League, then that will give us a massive push, we will be flying. Once you get that first success you have the winning mentality." In short, today's semi-final could prove the start of an era for Man City. Massive.

1348: Yep, believe it or not youngsters, Sir Alex Ferguson was reportedly only half a season away from the sack back in 1990 before his United side went on to win the FA Cup. The trophy provided a stay of execution for a manager who, until then, had gone nearly four seasons in charge without silverware. And since then, the Scot has won a staggering 34 trophies. So, I ask you again, will this season's FA Cup prove Roberto Mancini's saviour? And if it does, any chance he could lead City on a Fergie-esque run of sensational success?

1345: Cast your minds back. It's 1990 and a manager is under intense pressure following a lengthy trophy-less period for a club bent on success, with rumours abound only silverware will save his job. The club: Manchester United. The manager: Sir Alex Ferguson.
Now back to the present day. It's 2011 and a manager is under intense pressure following a lengthy trophy-less period for a club bent on success, with rumours abound only silverware will save his job. The club: Manchester City. The manager: Roberto Mancini.
Can the FA Cup prove a manager's salvation once again this year?

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The FA Cup results

16 Apr 2011 23:59 UK

Barclays Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 16 Apr 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 32 38 69
2 Arsenal 31 32 62
3 Chelsea 32 32 61
4 Man City 32 20 56
5 Tottenham 31 8 53
6 Liverpool 32 7 48
7 Everton 33 6 47
8 Bolton 32 3 43
9 Aston Villa 33 -12 40
10 Newcastle 32 1 39
11 West Brom 33 -15 39
12 Fulham 32 1 38
13 Stoke 32 -3 38
14 Birmingham 32 -10 38
15 Sunderland 33 -12 38
16 Blackburn 33 -14 35
17 Wigan 33 -21 34
18 Blackpool 33 -22 33
19 West Ham 33 -19 32
20 Wolves 32 -20 32

see also
Saturday's football photos
16 Apr 11 |  Football

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