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By Sam Lyon
1855: So, erm, caught your breath yet? What an afternoon of football that was. The stuff of dreams for Stoke, the stuff of nightmares for Arsenal and Bolton, and the stuff of "not sure what to make of that" for Liverpool, who have gone a long way to guaranteeing a record 19th league title heads the way of Man Utd this season. Unless... unless... listen, stranger things have happened people and I dare say there are a few more twists and turns left in this season's title race yet. Either way, every reason for you to catch Match of the Day 2 at 2200 on BBC Two and Online this evening - maybe, may I add, with a glass or two of vino? You know, just to calm the nerves/excitement/agony? Beautiful. That's it from me,
is your host Tuesday as I switch to match report duties for Newcastle-Man Utd. Jubbly.
TonyCardone on Twitter:
"Probably handed Man Utd their 19th title, but that's why I support Liverpool. Could have just given up and kept title race alive."
ARSENAL 1-1 LIVERPOOL Mandeep Sanghera
reports: "Ouch. Agony to ecstasy and back again for Arsenal. A setback too far and, barring a dramatic turnaround, another trophyless season appears to lie in wait for them. A deserved point, meanwhile, for Liverpool."
1838: Let's hear, then, from our match reporters... only one of which faced a frantic re-write - twice - at the latter stages of their match.
monkeyfezntie on Twitter:
"If United drop more than six points in their last six games I'd fancy Chelsea more than Arsenal to win the league."
1834: Stoke manager Tony Pulis on his side's FA Cup semi-final 5-0 win over Bolton: "It's fantastic for everybody connected with the football club. The Coates have taken over a club that was really down in the dumps and they've turned it around. It was a great performance. To do it on a stage like this is great. We know Bolton and 90% of their goals came off phases of play off Kevin Davies so we narrowed everyone in and made sure their wide players were covered. From that tight position we knew we could cause them problems on the break."
Anon via text: "I might be the only Arsenal fan who sees the funny side."
NattyJTSoccer on Twitter:
"Arsenal are still very much in this - they must beat Spurs and Man Utd and get some serious help from Chelsea, Everton and Schalke."
1829: Where does that leave us in the league, then? Well Arsenal are now six points adrift of Man Utd with six matches to play - including a local derby against Tottenham next up and the visit of United to the Emirates on 1 May. In simple terms... tough. Liverpool, meanwhile, are four points off Tottenham in fifth, the last European place, but having played two games extra. While Spurs's run-in includes matches against Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool, themselves, though, the Reds might not have ruled out all hope of pushing past their London rivals. All in all... it's still a fascinating run-in isn't it?
1825: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "I feel hard done by at the end because time was over. Extra time should have been eight minutes. And I don't think it was a penalty at all but Lucas played in an intelligent way, he stopped his run in front of Emmanuel Eboue. [But] we have to take it [the draw] and continue to fight."
Sam via text: "I am so shocked about the end of that game - how could Arsenal not just keep the ball like they do so often? Season over for sure and no trophies yet again!"
APercival21 on Twitter:
"When Arsenal beat Barca on 16 February everything looked so promising. In the two months since they've won three out of 11. Very Poor Form."
1822: And here's Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish's reaction to that staggering draw: "What my team did at the end epitomised what they did all day. You lose two players to injury, we had two young boys playing at full-back, Jonjo Shelvey was just coming back, we lost a centre-forward, everything was battling against us and they still remained committed to get something from the game. That's fantastic. You can maybe play better but you won't find a more committed team than the one out there today."
JamesMartyn93 on Twitter:
"'BraveFootball' (below) can't have any complaints about the added time. If Van Persie wants to spend so long lining up a penalty..."
1818: What about the FA Cup semi-final, though? Here's some player reaction... Jon Walters: "This is superb. We've been wanting to achieve something like this. People said Bolton would get to the final but they were wrong. It was a tough game we did well from the back to the front. The team is made up to have won 5-0." Andy Wilkinson: "Words can't describe it. The fans have been unbelievable. We've had people writing us off ever since we've been in the Premier League - and this is emotional." Rory Delap: "I'm delighted for everyone. It's brilliant for the fans who have come down. We've got a big game at the end of May now."
jgaugust on Twitter:
"I haven't been this gutted since Paris 06. I'm absolutely stunned and have no words for my anger and despair."
Ian via text: "Bolton fan still inside Wembley. I genuinely hope Stoke go on and do the same to City. I reckon, however, that City may pose a little more of a test. What a day to play the worst game under St Owen. We'll be back after licking our wounds a bit."
1811: As Sam says below, there were a few afters between the managers as Arsene Wenger approached Kenny Dalglish at the full-time whistle, an approach that was ended in no uncertain terms by some rather anglo-saxon language from the Scot. Wenger then approached Marriner to continue his protests - but the Frenchman can have no complaints, it was definitely a foul on Lucas, just as it was a definite foul on Fabregas earlier.
BBC Sport's Sam Sheringham at Emirates:
"Extraordinary ending to an ordinary game. Angry exchange as Kenny Dalglish dismisses Arsene Wenger's protests. Andre Marriner won't be dining locally tonight."
1807: How on earth? Arsenal's title challenge was off-bang on-and the off again all in the space of four injury-time minutes the likes of which you'll rarely see again. Will Man Utd fans ever have cheered a Liverpool goal more vigorously? Anyone out there reckon Arsenal's title challenge isn't now over? Can someone fetch me some sedatives?
1804: FULL-TIME Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool
1804: There's not even time to restart, the Arsenal players are completely and utterly shell-shocked. And then some.
Liverpool goal: Speechless. As the clock ticks over the 100th minute, Liverpool's Luis Suarez swings a free-kick in from the edge of the area and as the ball bobbles around the Arsenal box Emmanuel Eboue inexplicably hauls Lucas down in the box. Referee Andre Marriner gives his second penalty of injury time and Dirk Kuyt slams it home with the very last kick of the game. Wow.
1802: GOALFLASH Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool (Kuyt pen)
1801: PENALTY TO LIVERPOOL
Arsenal goal: Staggering. Seven minutes into stoppage time and Jay Spearing ends Cesc Fabregas's mazy run into the box with a trip - it's a blatant spot-kick - and eight minutes into stoppage time Robin van Persie keeps his head to steer in the penalty. The Emirates erupts and the title race is right back on.
1757: GOALFLASH Arsenal 1-0 Liverpool (Van Persie pen)
1756: PENALTY TO ARSENAL
1755: The last 5-0 FA Cup s/f win? Wolves 5-0 Grimsby in 1939.
1754: FULL-TIME Bolton 0-5 Stoke STOKE INTO THE FA CUP FINAL
1751: At Wembley, it's just the three minutes of stoppage time - three minutes Bolton fans could really do without. Bolton 0-5 Stoke.
1750: We will have EIGHT minutes of stoppage time at the Emirates, the scoreline still Arsenal 0-0 Liverpool.
1749: Both sides going for the win at the Emirates for sure - a draw does neither much good.
1748: Chance for Liverpool at the Emirates now as the ball falls to Luis Suarez inside the area by the byeline, but the Uruguayan's near-post shot is wild and well off target.
BBC Sport's Chris Bevan
at Wembley: "This is becoming a bit embarrassing for Bolton, who continue to defend like a bunch of strangers. Not many of their fans are still here to witness it, which is probably for the best. Have they ever played so badly under Owen Coyle? I doubt it. Wembley is hardly the best place to produce your worst display of the season but that is what Bolton have done."
1745: Massive chance, massive save. Samir Nasri slips Robin van Persie free in the Liverpool box 16 yards out with a delightful flick but the Dutchman, one on one, is denied by a brilliant Pepe Reina save. Is that the save that effectively hands the title to Man Utd?
Stoke goal: It's a rout. Officially. And Bolton are not even at sixes and sevens any more. Kenwyne Jones breaks down the right and his cross is deflected into the path of Jon Walters at the back post, the striker taking a touch before steering into the far corner to send the Stoke fans on to the brink of near implosion.
1742: GOALFLASH Bolton 0-5 Stoke (Walters)
1740: Time for a bit of Alex Song now as he comes on to replace About Diaby. Ten minutes for Arsenal to grab a precious goal and, dare I say, keep their title hopes alive at the Emirates.
1739: At Wembley, Dean Whitehead comes on to replace Jermaine Pennant - the Stoke winger receiving a lovely reception as he leaves the field. Deservedly so, too, the winger's been excellent this afternoon.
1738: Arsenal just wobbling a touch defensively at the Emirates in the last 10 minutes and the nerves among the supporters are almost tangible.
1737: Decent save at the Emirates as Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny gets down to save Luis Suarez's left-foot curler.
BBC Sport's Chris Bevan
at Wembley: "No way back for Bolton now after that Jon Walters solo effort, and their fans are making for the exits. The Stoke supporters, on the other hand, are all on their feet and singing their hearts out - I don't think they will want to leave Wembley at all."
1735: Last roll of the dice from Bolton as Rodrigo Moreno comes on for Fabrice Muamba. The Trotters have a little more than 15 minutes to score four goals.
1733: Chance now for Arsenal at the Emirates, moments after Nicklas Bendtner and Andrey Arshavin replace Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott, as Robin van Persie's near-post header from a corner flies just wide.
1732: It's only taken them 71 minutes, but finally an effort of note from Bolton at Wembley, Matt Taylor hooking goalwards from a knock-down 12 yards and forcing a smart stop from Thomas Sorensen in the Stoke goal.
1731: At the Emirates, Liverpool frontman Andy Carroll is finally going to make way as he continues to struggle a touch following that earlier knock, Jonjo Shelvey the man replacing him.
Stoke goal: Well it is 4-0 now and Stoke are beyond dreamland. Wherever that is. Jon Walters is allowed to stroll at the Bolton defence without a challenge, turn inside on his right foot 25 yards out, and then slam a cracking shot into the bottom corner from range. Brilliant finish, woeful defending, and Stoke are Final-bound.
1728: GOALFLASH Bolton 0-4 Stoke (Walters)
1727: How is it not 4-0 at Wembley? Following another set piece the ball falls to Stoke frontman Jon Walters in acres of space with just the keeper to beat but Jussi Jaaskelainen parries the striker's effort. Walters hooks the ball back into the danger area, though, and Kenwyne Jones meets it on the volley eight yards - only to tamely steer it off target. Massive let-off for Bolton - any chance they could use that as a springboard for recovery?
1723: We're back up and running at the Emirates following the best part of a six-minute break while Jamie Carragher received treatment. Nice ovation from the crowd as the Liverpool defender was stretchered off, too.
1722: And now Kenwyne Jones almost makes the most of a Jussi Jaaskelainen spill from a cross, but Paul Robinson - who had initially given the ball away - blocks the striker's goalbound shot. Bolton are all over the place.
BBC Sport's Chris Bevan
at Wembley: "You can see Bolton boss Owen Coyle's frustration growing on the touchline. His side's biggest game of the season and they just haven't turned up. At least Mark Davies has tried to make things happen since coming off the bench, by running at Stoke's defence, but the Potters remain by far the more menacing side going forward."
1721: Stoke still looking the more likely to grab the game's fourth at Wembley, Kenwyne Jones's header from Jon Walters's deep cross saved by Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen this time though.
1719: Carragher still receiving treatment and a neck brace has been put on the Liverpool defender. He'll be stretchered off momentarily, Sotirios Kyrgiakos will replace him.
1717: Walking wounded at the Emirates now - and I don't think Jamie Carragher will be 'doing a Carroll' and playing on after this one, the defender clearly knocked out cold by a sickening clash of heads with John Flanagan. He's receiving treatment now but, fortunately, it looks like he has regained consciousness...
1715: Actually, there's a shot - Bolton substitute Mark Davies forging some space on the run before firing goalwards, the midfielder's effort sliced well wide, though.
1714: Almost 10 minutes gone in the second half and Bolton have yet to have a shot on goal. A response needed from them double quick.
1713: What do I know? Andy Carroll is made of stronger stuff than I gave him credit for apparently, the big Geordie striding back on the field after a bit of treatment. Iron.
1711: Ouch. Liverpool striker Andy Carroll is in trouble here after landing awkwardly on his left leg - it looked like his knee or his ankle gave way underneath him. That might be the end of his afternoon's work.
1710: It's been a decent start to the half from Arsenal too - but Liverpool went close just then, the Gunners defence backing off in the face of Luis Suarez's run at goal and allowing the Uruguayan to curl a shot narrowly wide of the post.
1708: Bolton seeking a fast start to the second half at Wembley, then... but it's Stoke with the first half chance of note, Jussi Jaaskelainen flapping at a Rory Delap long throw and Ryan Shawcross just failing to get his header from close range on target.
1706: And now at Wembley, where Bolton have made a double change - Matt Taylor and Mark Davies on for Ivan Klasnic and Martin Petrov. Bolton 0-3 Stoke.
1705: Back up and running at the Emirates, Arsenal 0-0 Liverpool.
BBC Sport's Sam Sheringham at Emirates:
"Tense times at the Emirates and the Arsenal fans were just starting to get on the Gunners players' backs before the break. Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina will take some beating today."
1700: A few of you taking issue with my "heading for the exits" comment at 1640 - but there were definitely some Bolton fans leaving Wembley entirely after the third goal went in. Even those who were heading for the burger/beer queues were doing so a good 15 minutes before the break. Either way, the Trotters fans are not happy. To say the least.
1655: HALF-TIME Bolton 0-3 Stoke BBC Sport's Chris Bevan's
HT snap-shot from Wembley: "An incredible first 45 mins if you are a Stoke fan. Close to complete disaster if you are a Bolton supporter. Some poor defending has cost Wanderers three goals but their whole team has been short of confidence and class, and barring drastic improvement and a dramatic comeback it is Stoke who will be back for the final."
1652: HALF-TIME Arsenal 0-0 Liverpool Mandeep Sanghera's
HT snapshot: "You've probably read this before but Arsenal have had plenty of the play but have failed to convert any of their possession into a goal. Still, Liverpool will have to up their game if they want that to continue, you feel."
1650: The half-time whistle goes at Wembley - and then at the Emirates. Two fascinating halves of football, with two very different scorelines.
1649: What Bolton would give for a reply before half-time... but their latest foray forward - yet another long ball towards Kevin Davies - is collected by Potters keeper Thomas Sorensen with utter ease.
1648: Arsenal finishing the half fairly strongly now, and Emmanuel Eboue is a touch unlucky not to see his shot deflected in after being released in the box by Cesc Fabregas, the Ivorian's low effort kept out of goal by Martin Skrtel's touch.
BBC Sport's Chris Bevan
at Wembley: "Things look grim for Bolton but if their boss Owen Coyle needs inspiration, he should remember his first visit to Wembley as a Bolton player in 1995 for the Championship play-off final. Then, Wanderers trailed 2-0 after 12 minutes to Reading, but Coyle pulled one back and the Trotters ended up winning 4-3 in extra-time. I'm not sure too many of their fans are thinking an epic fightback of that magnitude is on the cards here, though..."
1646: Stoke don't want this half to end. A set piece this time causes Bolton problems, Marc Wilson's delivery met by Jon Walters' header - Jussi Jaaskelainen saving well on the sprawl.
1644: Plenty of pretty football, zero end product so far. Yep - Arsenal.
1642: Ooh, should that have been four? Jermaine Pennant does excellent down the Bolton left again and his clip to the back post is towards the unmarked Kenwyne Jones six yards out - his header is tame, but had he left it Matthew Etherington was running on to the cross completely unmarked behind him.
1640: Believe it or not, some Bolton fans are already making for the Wembley exits. Blimey.
1638: Arsenal still looking the likelier to score at the Emirates but the scoreline only tells half the story there, as both sides have looked dangerous going forward, as well as a touch vulnerable in defence. Goals in that one, I reckon.
BBC Sport's Chris Bevan
at Wembley: "Kenwyne Jones' goal means the day gets even worse for Bolton, who time and time again are seeing their defence ripped apart in open play. Practically all that Bolton have offered in response has been set-pieces aimed for the head of Kevin Davies. I thought set pieces were supposed to be Stoke's gameplan? Anyway, the Potters lead 3-0 and their fans are still managing to up the volume still further - something I didn't think was possible."
Stoke goal: Unbelievable. Even in their wildest dreams Stoke fans would not have seen this. Jermaine Pennant is the creator this time as he robs Martin Petrov inside the Bolton half before feeding Kenwyne Jones inside the box, the big frontman clipping home one-on-one to make it 3-0 inside the half hour. Stunning.
1633: GOALFLASH Bolton 0-3 Stoke (Jones)
1632: Luis Suarez's slip-up allows Cesc Fabregas to have a pop at goal, but the Spaniard's effort flies wide.
1630: Bolton still wearing the faces of a team utterly shell-shocked by this first half hour at Wembley - and the decision to start with Johan Elmander in midfield is not quite working as planned just yet, with Stoke controlling the middle of the park right now. It's all going Tony Pulis's way so far.
1628: Arsenal have the ball in the net against Liverpool as Robin van Persie finishes with aplomb on the volley from Cesc Fabregas's ball over the top, but the Dutchman is rightly called offside.
BBC Sport's Chris Bevan
at Wembley: "A dream start to this semi-final for Stoke, but an absolute nightmare for Bolton. Wanderers boss Owen Coyle is on his feet and trying to rally his side, who understandably look shell-shocked. Still time for them to turn this round, but they are being out-played at the moment."
1624: Early enforced change for Liverpool as Fabio Aurelio limps off with a hamstring strain, his replacement 17-year-old Jack Robinson, who became Liverpool's youngest ever player when he came on in the final game of the 2009-10 season against Hull as a 16-years-and-250-days-old. Youthful.
Stoke goal: Dreamland. Gary Cahill's attempted clearance from Andy Wilkinson's cross is not great and it falls straight to Robert Huth who, without hesitation, thumps a dipping shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards out. Incredible scenes.
1621: GOALFLASH Bolton 0-2 Stoke (Huth)
1619: Close! Laurent Koscielny goes within inches of breaking the deadlock at the Emirates - and of cheering Arsene Wenger right up - his header from Robin van Persie's corner crashing back off the cross bar.
BBC Sport's Sam Sheringham at Emirates:
"Kenny Dalglish prowling around barking at players while Arsene Wenger is sitting snug and pensive - the Arsenal manager won't be overly happy with this start though, I'll wager."
1617: Almost a long-range breakthrough at Arsenal, too, Theo Walcott striking a swerving 22-yard shot which Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina blocks rather than catching because of the movement of the ball, the Reds defence just about hacking clear from the rebound.
Stoke goal: One half of Wembley has just gone absolutely bonkers - and it's a super goal to get us up and running, Matthew Etherington making the most of some sloppy Bolton passing to stride forward and lash a beautiful finish into the corner from 22 yards. Doozy.
1615: GOALFLASH Bolton 0-1 Stoke (Etherington)
1613: Liverpool settling in a bit now at Arsenal - and I tell you what, video replays of an early incident - which looked fairly innocuous to me at the time - show the Reds might be unlucky not have been awarded a penalty when Johan Djorou caught Jay Spearing in the box. It looked a foul on the replay... And talking of penalty shouts, Robert Huth's blatant man-handling of Kevin Davies inside the Stoke box a couple of minutes ago also went unpunished. Two good shouts.
1610: Couple of corners for Bolton at Wembley, the second of which falls to Gary Cahill on the edge of the box - the Trotters defender's rising snap-shot flying narrowly over the bar. At the Emirates, Luis Suarez has a pop at goal with a 30-yard free-kick, but Wojciech Szczesny is well behind it in the Arsenal goal.
1608: It's an early save for Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen now, albeit a relatively comfortable one, the Finn getting out well to smother Jon Walters' shot from the angle dashing in from the left touchline.
1608: And that's the first chance of the afternoon at Arsenal, Abou Diaby rising above Andy Carroll to meet Samir Nasri's free-kick but glancing inches wide from 16 yards out.
1607: At the Emirates, it's Arsenal into their pass-and-move stride early doors. Liverpool on the back foot in the opening exchanges.
1606: 'It's a question of who settles first' appears to be the phrase of the day ahead of the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley... and so far, 120 seconds in, it's Bolton. It is quite early days, though, to be fair.
1604: And now at Wembley too... Bolton 0-0 Stoke.
1603: Up and running at the Emirates... Arsenal 0-0 Liverpool.
1559: Deary me, the noise is verging on the ridiculous at Wembley as the players emerge from the tunnel into the afternoon sun - Bolton and Stoke fans are determined to enjoy this day, for sure. Not quite matched by noise levels at the Emirates it has to be said, but a nice touch now as the crowd and players settle in for a minute's silence following
the death of Arsenal board member Danny Fiszman
and in memory of the 96 that died 22 years ago this week in the Hillsborough tradegy. Brilliantly observed, too.
BBC Sport's Chris Bevan
at Wembley: "Stoke fans usually pass a huge flag reading 'the 12th man - loud and proud' - around the Britannia Stadium before kick-off. It has just had its first ever airing at Wembley and the Potters supporters are making an incredible racket to back that statement up. Bolton fans are not exactly quiet either, mind. Just no giant flags down that end yet."
1555: Bolton boss Owen Coyle on ESPN: "Ivan Klasnic is quality player and a terrific finisher and him alongside Kevin Davies gives us a very positive line up and we will look to score goals. Both teams will be going out to win the match and both have good individual players and, collectively, very good teams. This is the best arena in world football and the players will want to go out an maximise the opportunity." Stoke assistant manager David Kemp: "Getting out wide is part of our plan, certainly. It is a big wide open pitch and we will look to use Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington as much as possible."
j_grodes on Twitter:
"You can look at stats all day long, but nine times out of 10 they wont mean anything."
LuisamKarroll9 on Twitter:
"A Liverpool win would put us right back in the chase for fifth, with Spurs still facing Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and us."
1550: Ooh I'm such a tease aren't I?
1549: But what do our football experts make of it? Well, famously, I don't do predictions - and I never will - but Alan Hansenhad his say on this weekend's semi-finals,
while Mark Lawrenson once again put his reputation on the line by
making his predictions
for both today's matches too. Today he's plumping for a 2-0 and a 2-1... to whom, I'll let you find out.
Viks_1 on Twitter:
"It's make or break for Arsenal today, with a strong looking squad despite the absence of Sagna. However, Liverpool are on great form! Game on!!"
1546: On paper (footballing cliche alert!) this looks a tough task for Liverpool at the Emirates today, as
point out. As Mandeep said earlier, the Reds have not won at Arsenal in the league in more than a decade - and the Gunners boast a seven match unbeaten streak at either venue too. Liverpool just about edge the overall record between the teams, though, with 68 wins to Arsenal's 60 (with 45 draws) and are one of just three clubs with a positive win/loss record overall against Arsenal alongside Man Utd and QPR. So, upon reflection, we're no nearer to knowing what might happen ahead of time based purely on the stats. Which is nice.
trevoryong on Twitter:
"Pleased for Coyle if they win today and make Europe League. The thought of Stoke in Europe sends me a bit loopy."
Dan the Gooner, Bristol via text: "My old Liverpool supporting housemate Steve has been giving me big chat all week about how they are going to end Arsenal's season today - I just keep reminding him that the gulf in class and quality between our two teams is huge, well 14 points to be precise!"
1541: ARSENAL v LIVERPOOL (1600) Mandeep Sanghera
reports: "Arsenal make three changes from the team that won at Blackpool last time out. Keeper Wojciech Szczesny, centre-back Johan Djourou and winger Theo Walcott come into the side for Jens Lehmann, Sebastien Squillaci and Andrey Arshavin. Liverpool's 18-year-old right-back John Flanagan keeps his place in the side as Reds boss Kenny Dalglish retains the same side that beat Manchester City on Monday."
1538: BOLTON v STOKE (1600) BBC Sport's Chris Bevan
at Wembley: "Ivan Klasnic gets the job of filling the hole left up front by on-loan striker Daniel Sturridge, who has scored six goals in eight games for Bolton but is cup-tied today after playing in the third round for Chelsea, while Paul Robinson comes in for Marcos Alonso in defence. Stoke's only change sees Thomas Sorensen replace Asmir Begovic in goal, but John Carew is back on the bench after missing four games with a back problem."
James, Reading via text: "Everyone thought that the Carling Cup Final was a foregone conclusion and we all know what happened there..."
kamtahir on Twitter:
"I'm getting confused, shouldn't Arsenal v Liverpool be the FA Cup semi final? How times have changed."
1532: Talking of 1958 - the two-goal hero that day was a certain Bolton legend - THE Bolton legend, in fact - Nat Lofthouse, who sadly passed away at the age of 85 in January. The striker's passing has many Bolton fans convinced their name is on the trophy, though much credit would lay of course at the door of a certain Owen Coyle - a man who might just be rivalling Lofthouse in the legend stakes if he continues as he has been going of late. Our man Paul Fletcher was lucky enough to
talk to him in the lead up to this semi,
by the way, and I urge you to check it out, it's lovely stuff. As for you Stoke fans, I have a little filip for you lot too. Yes, you have all three FA Cup semi-finals you've appeared in so far - but you know what? You've got a 100% record at Wembley, with three wins from three. In effect, this place is your manor right?
1528: Already the atmosphere building beautifully at Wembley, with the pre-match soundtrack proving inspiring listening for the early bird fans in situ - everyone's in great voice. Tis small wonder, too, given the lack of tangible trophy success for the two clubs' sets of fans of late. Stoke, for example, have never reached the FA Cup final - and are appearing in their first semi-final since 1972 - Potters fans are gagging for silverware. Four-time winners Bolton, meanwhile, might be appearing in their 14th semi-final but not only is this their first for more than a decade, they've also not had their hands on the trophy since 1958. That's 53 years. Yep, Trotters fans are gagging for silverware too.
AshpTaylor on Twitter:
"Liverpool fan from Bolton, jealous of the Wembley trip but with this squad we'll get there soon, today we need show what we got."
arhindtutt on Twitter:
"Great incentive for Stoke and Bolton today - The winner plays in the Europa League next year. Phwoar."
1524: ARSENAL v LIVERPOOL (1600) Arsenal: Szczesny, Eboue, Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy, Diaby, Wilshere, Walcott, Fabregas, Nasri, van Persie. Subs: Lehmann, Song, Squillaci, Arshavin, Gibbs, Chamakh, Bendtner. Liverpool: Reina, Flanagan, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio, Kuyt, Spearing, Lucas, Meireles, Suarez, Carroll. Subs: Gulacsi, Cole, Kyrgiakos, Maxi, Ngog, Shelvey, Robinson. Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands)
James, Southampton via text: "Man Utd supporting Liverpool, Spurs supporting Arsenal - the world's gone mad!"
1519: ARSENAL v LIVERPOOL (1600) Mandeep Sanghera
reports: "So then, have Arsenal got a title challenge in them heading into the season's climax? We are about to find out as they play Liverpool. The Gunners are 14 games unbeaten in the league but have lost ground on top-flight leaders Manchester United with that run including six draws. Liverpool will want to end a run of having not won at Arsenal since February 2000 but for their fans it's a bit awkward. A Reds win at the Emirates would help rivals United move a step closer to securing a 19th top-flight crown to move ahead of Liverpool's 18. Talk about catch 22."
ambigram0 on Twitter:
"Wonder what odds you could've got on Birmingham and Bolton winning the two domestic cups this season?"
1516: BOLTON v STOKE (1600) BBC Sport's Chris Bevan
at Wembley: "This has been billed as the 'other semi-final' following Saturday's all-Manchester extravaganza but try telling success-starved Stoke and Bolton fans that today's tie is any less compelling or important. Stoke are aiming to reach their first ever FA Cup final, while Bolton have not been in one since they lifted the famous old trophy in 1958. Up for grabs is the chance to return to the capital on 14 May to face Man City, and also a likely European place given that Roberto Mancini's men are all but guaranteed at least a Europa League spot. Lots to play for then."
S_Lennon on Twitter:
"A Liverpool win today and it's been six seasons since Arsenal won a trophy. Benitez got sacked for less..."
Patrick, nervous Arsenal fan, via text: "Personally I think that Liverpool will let Arsenal win just so Man Utd won't win the title. Too optimistic?!"
1513: TEAM NEWS SNAP Arsenal recall keeper Wojciech Szczesny to the side for the visit of Liverpool while Theo Walcott replaces Andrey Arshavin, with the Reds unchanged from the side that routed Man City last Monday.
1511: TEAM NEWS SNAP Ivan Klasnic gets the nod to replace the ineligible Daniel Sturridge up front for Bolton at Wembley with Johan Elmander continuing in midfield, while Stoke make just one change to the side that lost to Spurs last time out, Cup keeper Thomas Sorensen back in goal in place of Asmir Begovic.
1509: All in all then, a cracker and a barn-stormer in store - so every reason for you to get involved on what some have already dubbed "One FA Cup Semi-Final and One Premier League Match Sunday". Or OFACSFAOPLM Sunday, if you like. Snappy. Same drill as always folks - tweet the commentary via the hashtag
or text me via 81111 (UK). Excellente.
1507: And in your classic buy-one-get-one-free offer, as well an FA Cup semi-final I'll throw a Premier League match positively dripping with history, class and no little potential impact on this year's title and European races into the mix as well.
Arsenal and Liverpool
have met 173 times in the league, plenty of them with league glory and position at stake, and today is no different. The Gunners go into today's game knowing a win and their title push is very much on track, a defeat and the league is all but Man Utd's for the taking - while Liverpool have their push for a top-five finish firmly at the forefront of their minds. I'm expecting a barn-stormer.
1504: Oh of course not. Anyone who thinks today's
Bolton v Stoke
match-up is nothing but a play-off for a loser's medal come 14 May needs to check their FA Cup history book. Tottenham won it as a non-league side in 1901; West Ham as a Division Two side in 1980; few would have picked the likes of Coventry ('87), Wimbledon ('88), Everton ('95) and Portsmouth ('08) in their triumph years. And that's not even the start of it. So you know what? Cast your expectations to one side for an afternoon and watch two of your, shall we say, less glamorous sides go at it hammer and tong in an effort to keep alive the improbable dream - FA Cup glory. I'm expecting a cracker.
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