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Page last updated at 19:02 GMT, Sunday, 18 December 2011

Sunday football as it happened

LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY (all times GMT)

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By Mike Henson
BBC Sport

1856: Well, that was all throughly enjoyable wasn't it? Thanks for all your messages which arrived by the barrel-load. It was always going to be the way with such big names and big matches. Bye for now and catch you back around these parts soon.

Full time
FULL-TIME Man City 1-0 Arsenal
Alistair Magowan reports: "The result might suggest a boring game, though it was anything but. A perfect response from Manchester City after a testing period."

Full time
FULL-TIME St Johnstone 0-2 Celtic
Clive Lindsay reports: "Celtic thoroughly deserve their win over St Johnstone after a display of power and clinical finishing.That's seven league victories in a row for Neil Lennon's side and leaves former Northern Ireland team-mate Steve Lomas looking to end a run of three straight home defeats as Saints boss."

Full time
FULL-TIME Tottenham 1-0 Sunderland
Owen Phillips reports: "Spurs deservedly take the points from an absorbing game which had plenty of thrills, lots of chances, a great goal and a staggeringly bad miss by the exceptionally talented Luka Modric. The highlights are well worth a look on BBC2 later."

Full time
FULL-TIME Aston Villa 0-2 Liverpool
Chris McKenna reports: "Craig Bellamy's goal and assist gave Liverpool some early festive cheer but Alex McLeish won't be feeling too merry after watching his side rarely trouble the dominant Reds with an abject display."

Full time
FULL-TIME QPR 0-2 Man Utd
Phil McNulty reports from Loftus Road: "Manchester United's task was to maintain their pursuit of Manchester City and they completed it with plenty to spare. QPR - game but limited - eventually had no answer to United's firepower but showed enough resilience to encourage manager Neil Warnock for the months ahead."

1844: Should we have a quick rundown on what has been a mammoth day of top-quality action then? Our matchday reporters are on hand to give you a recap in bite-size chunks. Here we go...

1841: It will be interesting to see how Arsene Wenger plays the January window. Investing in new players would not only strengthen the team but might prove to his star names that he still has the stomach for the fight. Chief amongst them Robin van Persie, who has been linked with today's opponents again in the last few days. That really wouldn't go down well in north London would it?

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From an Arsenal fan wondering what could have been if we'd invested properly, via text: "Mertesacker hapless, Gervinho short of the mark and no full backs... and as if Arshavin and Chamakh were going to turn things around. Van Persie and co deserve better"

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "We were unlucky because we had chances. The offside positions (on City goal and Arsenal chance) are not exactly convincing. But this is part of the game."

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Phil in Chelmsford, via text: "If Spurs beat Chelsea at home on Thursday, it's a three horse race!"
Some massive games at the top and bottom this midweek with that humdinger on Thursday and Blackburn v Bolton on Tuesday. Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool all play on the day in betwen as well. Who needs European nights when the domestic scene just got interesting?

1819: City aren't brilliant on-message public relations operators singing from the same hymnsheet. Instead I have made a mistake. A quick refresh and Vincent Kompany will have his real words restored to him. Apologies.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini: "It was important (to win) because Manchester United are doing a good season like Manchester City. They are strong and we are but the season is long. It is important to be at the top at the end."

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany: "Overall we are very happy with the performance of the team. It was very open but we managed to keep a clean sheet so it means we are doubly happy. We've been going for a lot of goals and we just didn't finish the chances we had. One-on-one in defence we were brilliant today."

Twitter
Thomas Spray on Twitter: "At least this week's shown that City are nowhere near invincible and it's going to be a great title race."

Twitter
Manchester United's Michael Owen tweets after Man City's win over Arsenal: "Good game. Thought the ref was very good despite a few too many players trying to get the opposition booked."

1811: So Manchester United's stay at the top of the table was a brief one. City clamber back above them to restore a two-point lead over their local rivals. The gap between City and Tottenham is seven points (although Spurs have a game in hand) and it is nine back to Chelsea in fourth. Just three horses in the title race now?

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Ash, Arsenal fan, via text: "Hope today was a wake up call for Wenger, Arshavin and Chamakh simply not good enough for Arsenal yet again."

Twitter
Rahul Golchha on Twitter: "The loss spells the end of Arsenal challenge for the league title this year...."

1803: FULL-TIME Man City 1-0 Arsenal

1802: Thomas Vermaelen is within inches with a superb curling effort. A sprawling Joe Hart puffs his cheeks in relief as the ball misses the top right-hand corner.

1801: Manchester City have named Samir Nasri as man of the match over the stadium PA. Cue pantomine reactions from both sets of fans.

1800: Great stop from Joe Hart as Thomas Vermaelen sends a swerving shot through a crowd of players and the goalkeeper has to have his wits about him to push the defender's effort over the top. We are going into four minutes of stoppage time.

1758: Andrey Arshavin drags a shot wide of the near post from a promising position. He has not impressed since his arrival in the match. City swap Edin Dzeko and Nigel de Jong for Samir Nasri and Yaya Toure.

1755: Micah Richards bustles down the right but his pull-back is behind Sergio Aguero. When the ball comes back into the middle from David Silva, the full-back is perfectly positioned but plants a side-foot finish wide.

1753: Andrey Arshavin puts his foot in to send Vincent Kompany crashing to the deck. Honestly, I have got that the right way round.

Twitter
willowsj on Twitter: "Game of the season? I think so. End to end stuff..."

1749: Ten minutes left, is there a final twist in the tail of this match?

1748: Micah Richards is fortunate there as Laurent Koscielny's cross strikes his arm, but Phil Dowd waves play on. The defender may have been unsighted by Kolo Toure and Robin van Persie jumping in front of him, but otherwise it was pretty stonewall. Certainly Van Persie believes so.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Kev Wills, via text: "Dont know why city dont use dzeko more. He's an asset on the bench all revved up with nowhere to go."

Yellow card
1743: Mikel Arteta is also in the book after a tug on Yaya Toure that stops a City attack in its tracks. The Spaniard is fortunate not to collect a second in as many minutes as he then charges into Gareth Barry. Phil Dowd shows mercy though.

Yellow card
1741: Sergio Aguero picks up a yellow card as he catches Thomas Vermaelen a little late as the Belgian clears. Everyone still friends after though. Mario Balotelli makes way for James Milner for City.

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Sport's Mark Lawrenson is at Etihad Stadium for BBC Radio 5 live: "When Arsenal broke and rather wasted their opportunity, Man City had five players out of the game. If you didn't see Roberto Mancini, he was going absolutely spare!"

1740: Andrey Arshavin shanks a cross straight to Joe Hart with Aaron Ramsey and Gervinho both haring into the middle and City looking a bit short at the back. Wasteful.

1738: Andrey Arshavin replaces Theo Walcott and the England forward throws a mini-strop as he makes his way to the Arsenal bench.

Twitter
I_PHILOSORAPTOR on Twitter: "Brilliant game of football. Both teams playing the beautiful game and an example of just how good this league can be."

Someone has struck the woodwork
1736: Arsenal close to a response but Robin van Persie's sidefoot finish lacks power and Joe Hart saves comfortably. City go straight up the other end and Pablo Zabaleta strikes the post from 20 yards with a low drive. This game is open, next goal could be crucial and it doesn't feel far away.

1733: David Silva and Samir Nasri slice through the Arsenal defence but the latter's centre for Mario Balotelli is a touch over-hit with the net beckoning. Well, over-hit if your striker won't risk throwing himself at the ball.

1731: Back at the Etihad and Sergio Aguero singes the post with a terrific skidding effort from 25 yards that beat the keeper all ends up.

1729: A quick bit of injury news from Harry Redknapp in the wake of Spurs win against Sunderland. Aaron Lennon has torn his hamstring and will miss the match against Chelsea on Thursday, but the club are hopeful Gareth Bale should be fit.

Twitter
Top English golfer Ian Poulter on Twitter: "Come on Arsenal, let's turn this game around. I haven't woken up early to watch us get beaten."

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Sport's Mark Lawrenson is at Etihad Stadium for BBC Radio 5 live: "Well done Mario Balotelli. He wanted the ball early but he waited and waited, got it and cut inside. David Silva just made it absolutely certain."

1727: Robin van Persie has the ball in the back of the net with a finish as cute as a box of puppies, but the flag is up to deny him. Good response from Arsenal to falling behind.

1725: Arsenal almost hit an instant reply as Theo Walcott lets fly from 20 yards, but Joe Hart tips the ball over the bar.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Manchester City goal: Mario Balotelli delays his run to perfection to stay onside down the left before zagging in off the flank and rattling in a shot that is too hot for Wojciech Szczesny to handle. David Silva is on hand to nudge home.

1721: GOALFLASH Man City 1-0 Arsenal (Silva)

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Twitter
1720: Forty minutes remaining in a stellar afternoon of football. Time to splurge if you have any opinions unvoiced. You can tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @mikehensonbbc or text in via 81111 (UK). As Public Enemy put it back in the day, bring the noise.

Twitter
SamuraisShadow on Twitter: "City have a much stronger bench and I think that's where they'll win the game. Dzeko vs Chamakh? No contest."

Twitter
mikmiktirita on Twitter: "Arsenal are playing with heart. They are an example to all other teams in the Premier League."

1718: A nervous first touch from the Spanish 19-year-old Miquel as he needlessly concedes a corner under no pressure. Could have done with a shout from his goalkeeper though.

1716: A substitution from Arsene Wenger inside a couple of minutes as Johan Djourou limps away and Ignasi Miquel comes on to fill in at left-back in a defensive reshuffle.

1715: By the way, Alex Song's yellow card in the first half was his fifth of the season. He will miss the match against Aston Villa.

1714: Robin van Persie looks as if he has made it up with referee Phil Dowd. They chat happily before the visitors get the match back under way.

1712: Arsenal are first out for the second half at the Etihad with City keeping their oponents waiting out in the cold.

1711: A Sunderland side buoyed by Martin O'Neill's arrival looked a tricky assignment for Tottenham after their defeat by Stoke last weekend, but they handled it adeptly. They leapfrog Chelsea into third and reassume their place as the top London side in the Premier League.

Twitter
Kfresh on Twitter: "Seriously Djourou and Walcott are giving city early Xmas present, lucky for us Szczesny is taking it back."

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Luis, London, via text: "I want Man Utd to buy Rafael van der Vaart, brilliant today."

1701: FULL-TIME St Johnstone 0-2 Celtic

Half time
Man City 0-0 Arsenal
Alistair Magowan's HT snapshot:
"A pretty even first half, with Manchester City having the lion's share of possession. They should be ahead, but Sergio Aguero wasted their best chance early on."

1659: HALF-TIME Manchester City 0-0 Arsenal

BBC Radio 5 live
Mark Lawrenson on BBC Radio 5 live at the Etihad Stadium: "It was a good tackle by Pablo Zabaleta on Robin van Persie, but Van Persie had a right go at the referee Phil Dowd so he just said 'no trainer'. And by the way pick your dummy up as well."

1657: Nicklas Bendtner had the best chance of a equaliser after a sharp one-two with Stephane Sessegnon but Martin O'Neill tastes defeat for the first time as Sunderland boss.

1655: FULL-TIME Tottenham 1-0 Sunderland

1654: Concerning scenes for Arsenal as Robin van Persie is down and wincing following a good tackle from behind from Pablo Zabaleta. Referee Phil Dowd offers the striker a hand to his feet and get slapped away by the peeved striker.

Twitter
Liverpool and England full-back Glen Johnson on Twitter: "Great three points today!!! Good performance from the lads!"

1652: Sergio Aguero skirts around Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen but plants his shot straight at the goalkeeper. Promising from City.

Yellow card
1650: Gareth Barry joins Alex Song in the book as he mistimes a sliding tackle on Mikel Arteta. Tad harsh that one, perhaps certainly nothing malicious in there.

1649: Attack the best form of defence for Tottenham as Roman Pavlychenko goes close with a low drilled shot. Sunderland have a little more than two minutes left to find something.

1647: A good opening for Arsenal as Robin van Persie's deflected shot runs into the path of Aaron Ramsey. The midfielder is put off though as Kolo Toure throws himself in the way and the ball runs harmlesly through to Joe Hart with the Welshman taking a swipe of fresh air in the confusion.

1644: Rafael van der Vaart has a free-kick in a prime location, five yards from the edge of the area. The Dutchman's effort thuds away to safety off Craig Gardner's head though.

1641: The game at the Etihad is settling down after a bit of a frantic start. After a little period of Arsenal pressure, City are enjoying a spell of good possession. Pretty much even stevens so far.

1639: Tottenham are pressing hard for another as Kyle Walker's cross screams through the middle of the penalty box in front of Rafael van der Vaart who hasn't quite got the legs to get on the end of it.

Twitter
PeteFHumphreys on Twitter: "Pavlyuchenko is incredibly underrated! (Cue barrage of tweets calling me an idiot..)"

1635: Neither Per Mertesacker or Laurent Koscielny deal with Micah Richards's cross and Mario Balotelli drags the ball down on his instep from between the two of them. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny rushes out to dive at the striker's feet and snuff out the danger though.

1631: After rarely threatening so far, Arsenal draw two good saves from Joe Hart as first Gervinho tests him with an angled shot from the right after being put through by Alex Song and then Aaron Ramsey's effort from the resulting corner is tipped round the post.

1631: After rarely threatening so far, Arsenal draw two good saves from Joe Hart as first Gervinho tests him with an angled shot from the right after being put through by Alex Song and then Aaron Ramsey's effort from the resulting corner is tipped round the post.

1630: An astonishing miss from Luka Modric who sends the ball flying well over the bar from eight yards after Kieran Westwood has parried Emmanuel Adebayor's shot.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Celtic goal: Celtic quickly double their advantage with a goal on the counter attack. James Forrest powers down the right wing before slipping in Georgios Samaras, who works a neat one-two and sets up Ki Sung-Yeung to fire in from six yards out.

1627: GOALFLASH St Johnstone 0-2 Celtic (Ki)

1627: Sergio Aguero goes close again as he is put through by Mario Balotelli on the inside right, but the Arsenal defence snuffs him out after he cuts inside. Alex Song is booked for a foul on David Silva in the build-up to that chance.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Celtic goal: Celtic, looking to close the gap on leaders Rangers at the top of the SPL, take the lead at St Johnstone, with Gary Hooper striking from close range after the home team fail to clear a corner.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Tottenham goal: Wes Brown's wayward pass is pounced on by the Spurs midfield and it comes back at him with interest as Rafael van der Vaart's smart reverse pass frees Roman Pavlychenko to smash home.

1623: GOALFLASH St Johnstone 0-1 Celtic (Hooper)

1622: GOALFLASH Tottenham 1-0 Sunderland (Pavylchenko)

1622: Manchester City slice through the Arsenal defence via Gareth Barry's incisive pass to Pablo Zabaleta and the Argentine's cross picks out Sergio Aguero in the middle. The former Atletico man blazes over the top with the goal at his mercy though.

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Sport's Mark Lawrenson is at Etihad Stadium for BBC Radio 5 live: "Arsenal are coming up against a team today who can hold onto the ball and pass it just as well, if not better, than them. They might find that disconcerting."

1617: Tottenham press forward and Rafael van der Vaart's deflected shot sneaks just wide of the posts before Emmanuel Adebayor fails to get over the top of a header at the far post.

1616: City looking bright and breezy from the off and Mario Balotelli's smart turn lures Mikel Arteta into giving away an early free-kick.



Twitter
reillyusa on Twitter: "Cold at the Etihad. Warmed up by the Gooner fans booing Nasri and them singing the boring Thursday Night, Channel 5 song."

1611: Sunderland have started in impressive fashion after the interval and David Vaughan tests home keeper Brad Friedel with a 25-yard strike after a powerful run from the halfway line.

1610: City get us going at the Etihad.

1609: A nice big cheer for Samir Nasri from the home fans as his name is announced. Theo Walcott also seems pleased to see the Frenchman, sharing a quick joke with his former team-mate before kick-off.

1608: The action resumes at White Hart Lane.

Man City v Arsenal
MAN CITY v ARSENAL (1610 GMT)
Alistair Magowan reports:
"Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has stopped short of claiming a win at Manchester City will put them back in the title race. 'We have to come close to Manchester City to be really in it…and the purpose is to get closer,' he said. City boss Roberto Mancini hopes that former Gunner Samir Nasri can help his side continue their 100% record at home. The French attacker has struggled of late and Mancini said: 'I would like Nasri to play better, because he is a really good player.'"

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini: "It will be a difficult game. Robin van Persie is a fantastic striker who's scored lots of goals this year. But I think we must stop not only him but their other players as well."

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "Let's not speculate on their weaknesses. We focus more on us being at the top of our potential. It's a big test of us but of them as well. They're playing all their ex-Arsenal players today, apart from Clichy who is suspended. So that should be interesting!"

1605: Villa sit slap-bang in mid-table after that defeat, tenth with 19 points. That sounds healthy enough, but it is only five points better than Wigan in 18th. Liverpool still cannot break into the top five despite their three points.

Twitter
Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand on Twitter: "Good three points today at a hard place to play. Great support from our travelling fans again! Michael Carrick was top man today, under-rated by many."

Man City v Arsenal
MAN CITY v ARSENAL (1610 GMT)
Alistair Magowan reports:
"Manchester City bring in former Gunners Samir Nasri and Kolo Toure in place of James Milner and Joleon Lescott, while Pablo Zabaleta switches flanks as Micah Richards comes in for the suspended Gael Clichy. Arsenal remain unchanged with four centre-backs Johan Djourou, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny charged with taming Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero."

Man City v Arsenal (1610)
Man City: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Toure, Zabaleta, Barry, Toure Yaya, Silva, Aguero, Nasri, Balotelli. Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Milner, Dzeko, Johnson, Savic, De Jong.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Djourou, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Arteta, Song, Ramsey, Walcott, van Persie, Gervinho. Subs: Almunia, Rosicky, Arshavin, Frimpong, Chamakh, Benayoun, Miquel.
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

1558: FULL-TIME Aston Villa 0-2 Liverpool

Twitter
StephenConnor7on Twitter: "This is one of the worst Villa sides I've seen for a long time. Bring back John Gregory."

Half time
St Johnstone 0-0 Celtic
Clive Lindsay's HT snapshot: "Celtic have had most of the pressure at McDiarmid Park but have failed to create too many chances against St Johnstone. Saints goalkeeper Peter Enckelman has, though, produced a couple of fine saves to deny Georgios Samaras and Gary Hooper."

1554: Craig Bellamy makes way for Dirk Kuyt for Liverpool before Dan Agger gives away a free-kick in a promising position for Villa. Barry Bannan smashes it straight into the wall though. It has been a poor performance from Villa today.

Half time
Tottenham 0-0 Sunderland
Owen Phillips' HT snapshot: "Tottenham started in impressive form with the pace of Aaron Lennon to the fore, but they have been slightly hampered by his hamstring injury and Sunderland are growing into a lively, entertaining match."

1550: HALF-TIME Tottenham 0-0 Sunderland

1550: Roman Pavlychenko is close to breaking the deadlock for Spurs, getting to Scott Parker's cross just in front of Kieran Westwood. The goalkeeper's presence is just enough to put the Russian off though as he guides the ball just wide.


Man City v Arsenal
MAN CITY v ARSENAL (1610 GMT)
Alistair Magowan reports:
"Many experts claim a sign of a championship team is how they bounce back after defeat. So Roberto Mancini's side will aim to put Monday's loss to Chelsea behind them, but they have no straightforward task against the Premier League's hottest team and after Manchester United rose above City in the table following the earlier win over QPR. Part of Arsenal's seven wins in eight games included a 5-3 victory over Chelsea and Robin van Persie will be looking to take his season's goal tally to 20."

1546: Tottenham keeper Brad Friedel is forced into an acrobatic save to keep out Sebastian Larsson's 25-yard free-kick. A good save from a decent strike no doubt, but maybe one with the cameras in mind?

1545: Ten minutes left at Villa Park, but if there is a Villa comeback forthcoming they are hiding it well. Andreas Weimann is introduced at the expense of Fabian Delph as Alex McLeish tries to breathe some life into his side.

1541: Benoit Assou-Ekotto strides down the Sundrland left onto Luka Modric's pass. The full-back sends the ball zipping into the middle but David Vaughan manages to get a touch in to keep it away from waiting Roman Pavlychenko.

1538: Luis Suarez is replaced by Andy Carroll from the Liverpool bench at Villa Park.

1537: Conor Wickham is down and receiving treatment on his left knee after falling awkwardly under pressure from Kyle Walker. His side almost break the deadlock just after though. Sebastian Larsson and Stephane Sessegnon combine down the right but the Swede's low cross is just behind Kieran Richardson as he races into the middle. Martin O'Neill's side have been stubborn in the early stages and are now adding a bit more coming forward.

1531: Jonjo Shelvey hits high and handsome from Luis Suarez's lay-off. Still Liverpool look the more dangerous.

BREAKING ARSENAL TEAM NEWS: Arsenal unchanged from the line-up that beat Everton last weekend.

Twitter
OptaJoe on Twitter: "16 - Liverpool have now hit the woodwork 16 times in 2011/12, more than 15 of the 20 PL sides did last season. Thud."

1528:Spurs are on top at White Hart Lane but they have suffered a setback with Aaron Lennon apparently tweaking a hamstring as he attempts to burst clear down the right. Roman Pavlychenko is on in his place.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1524: Luis Suarez hits the frame of the goal for the second time in the half with a delicious chip stubbed across Brad Guzan. It comes back off the inside of the post and Craig Bellamy can't put away the rebound.

1520: Liverpool threaten but Luis Suarez opts to use Jonjo Shelvey as a decoy rather than play in the midfielder. It turns out to be the wrong option as the defence gets back. Emile Heskey gives way as Barry Bannan comes on for Villa.

BBC Radio 5 live
Former Tottenham and England defender John Scales is at White Hart Lane for BBC Radio 5 live: "Tottenham have the quality and it's shining through. They're able to outnumber their opponents in midfield and that's crucial. Sunderland just can't compete at the moment."

1518: Barry Bannan is getting ready to come on for Villa as they look to prise their way back into the contest.

BREAKING MANCHESTER CITY TEAM NEWS: Former Gunners Kolo Toure and Samir Nasri both start for Roberto Mancini's side.

1515: Benoit Assou-Ekotto is denied by his own team-mate as Rafael van der Vaart's knee blocks his cleanly-struck effort from just inside the box. Spurs are shading the early stages, but few chances either way so far in north London.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1513: The crossbar is still shuddering as Luis Suarez blasts against the underside from 10 yards out. The Uruguayan robbed Richard Dunne, sold James Collins a dummy, beat Brad Guzan with pure power but was denied by the woodwork.

1508: We are rolling at Villa Park and with a quick manual refresh you should be able to lose the remnants of the Portsmouth v Southampton video at the top of the page. Thanking you.

1506: It was Joel Ward with a late header who rescued a point for Portsmouth in the derby at Fratton Park.

BBC Radio 5 live
Vincent Kompany, Manchester City's captain, told BBC Radio 5 live earlier how he can't wait to get back to winning ways after their first defeat of the season against Chelsea on Monday night: "It feels like we're even more hungry to win the next game. It's the type of team we are; we react. We don't like to lose. Away at Chelsea we showed a lot of courage and were unlucky. But that game has been played now and it doesn't matter anymore. We've known tougher moments. We just have to pick ourselves up."
City's game against Arsenal at the Etihad kicks off at 1610 GMT.

Twitter
Jonoridge on Twitter: "Over a third of Aston Villa's goals conceded this season have been from corners. Laughable!

1500: And we are up and running at White Hart Lane. Still waiting for the teams' return at Villa Park.

TOTTENHAM v SUNDERLAND (1500 GMT)
Owen Phillips reports: "Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has welcomed Martin O'Neill's return to management at Sunderland. "This is a real opportunity for him to have a go at something. He has been out for a while and I'm sure he's pleased to be back. Sunderland is a great club. They have great support." O'Neill says the there is plenty of hard work to do and last Sunday's win over Blackburn is just a starting point. "Even with that, we haven't got level points per games played yet, so we have to really battle through this Christmas period," he warned."

Tottenham v Sunderland
TOTTENHAM v SUNDERLAND (1500 GMT)
Owen Phillips reports: "A desperately unlucky first defeat in 11 games at Stoke has by no means diminished the overpowering feeling of optimism emanating from White Hart Lane. Despite that setback, a victory today will see them move up to third spot, and with Manchester City playing Arsenal later, they could also close the gap on the leaders. However, Martin O'Neill masterminded a fine comeback win over Blackburn in his first game as manager of struggling Sunderland and the initial feelgood factor should make this a trickier proposition than the hosts hoped."

Tottenham v Sunderland
Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Gallas, King, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Parker, Sandro, Modric, Adebayor, Van der Vaart. Subs: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Bassong, Kranjcar, Rose, Livermore, Pienaar.
Sunderland: Westwood, O'Shea, Brown, Bramble, Bardsley, Larsson, Colback, Vaughan, Richardson, Wickham, Sessegnon. Subs: Carson, Cattermole, Gardner, Ji, McClean, Elmohamady, Bendtner.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

TOTTENHAM v SUNDERLAND (1500 GMT)
Owen Phillips reports: "Tottenham welcome back Ledley King to their defence, but are without the injured Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe. So Sandro comes in to replace the Welsh winger with Luka Modric likely to move out wide. Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill remains loyal to the team which beat Blackburn in his first game in charge. The recently arrested Nicklas Bendtner and Lee Cattermole are on the bench."

1455: FULL-TIME Portsmouth 1-1 Southampton

Half time
Aston Villa 0-2 Liverpool
Chris McKenna's HT snapshot: "Craig Bellamy has been the difference with a goal and an assist for a dominant Liverpool and as Villa have only claimed a single point this season after trailing at the break, it's going to be a long way back for them."

1453: HALF-TIME Aston Villa 0-2 Liverpool

1452: Liverpool keeping the ball well and suffocating the hope out of Villa as the half comes to an end.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Karl, Manchester, via text: "Is the Villa vs Liverpool match a Premiership record in terms of lack of goalkeeper hair I wonder?"

Twitter
QPR midfielder Joey Barton on Twitter: "You've got to be on it against reigning champions and today we felt short. Wasn't for lack of effort. Roll on Sunderland on Wednesday night."

1447: Villa have gone a little flat after looking like they were building up a head of steam with those two Charles N'Zogbia efforts.

ST JOHNSTONE v CELTIC (1500)
Clive Lindsay reports: Celtic will start strong favourites to take the points they need to narrow the gap on Scottish Premier League leaders Rangers to four points as they visit McDiarmid Park. Manager Neil Lennon names the same starting line-up that gave Serie A high-flyers Udinese a mighty scare in the Europa League in midweek as they face a St Johnstone side who are sitting fourth. It is a clash of two former Northern Ireland team-mates, with new Saints boss Steve Lomas looking to avoid a third straight home defeat in Perth and prevent the Glasgow side recording their seventh straight league win.

1442: Luis Suarez almost unlocks the Villa defence as he nutmegs Stiliyan Petrov and slips the ball through for Jonjo Shelvey. Brad Guzan is alive to the danger though and smothers the ball before the youngster can get hold of it.

Twitter
Arsenal's Jack Wilshere on Twitter: "Good day of football ahead and looking forward to the Gooners playing. Come on Arsenal!"

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson: "We should have put the game to bed after about half an hour. It was a good team performance; we played some good football and will take a 2-0 win away from home. We have been a bit sparse in terms of goals scored recently but we won 4-1 last week and scored two today, some would say we should have scored more."

Yellow card
1438: Craig Bellamy picks up his third booking of the season for a foul on Alan Hutton and Villa should have meted out a bit more punishment from the set-piece. Nathan Delfouneso heads over from five yards out with his marker, Jordan Henderson, not offering much of a challenge.

1435: The Liverpool fans, I presume, are chanting the name of the Gerard Houllier. The Frenchman managed both clubs with rather different results.

Yellow card
1434: Charlie Adam doesn't escape the referee's book this time. The Scot has a little tug of Emile Heskey's shirt and picks up a yellow that is probably as much for his earlier challenge on Nathan Delfouneso as that infringement.

1431: Villa look nervous as they defend a trio of Liverpool's corners but this time the rearguard holds strong enough.

1430: He is still yet to score since his summer switch from Wigan but Charles N'Zogbia is getting closer. He hammers another shot goalwards from Nathan Delfouneso's smart pass and ruffles the side netting of the Liverpool goal.

Twitter
andymcnamara on Twitter: "The Premier League is all about pace, and Liverpool have that today. Bellamy and Downing are giving Villa the runaround."

1427: Charles N'Zogbia chances his arm from distance and his rasping effort isn't too far away from pulling one back for Villa.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Southampton goal: Striker Rickie Lambert gets a flick on a free-kick and the Saints lead in the south coast derby.

1423: GOALFLASH Portsmouth 0-1 Southampton (Lambert)

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Liverpool goal: Again Villa are undone at the set-piece. This time it is Craig Bellamy's delivery and Martin Skrtel sneaks in front of Alan Hutton and Richard Dunne to guide a glancing header into the top corner. Less than a quarter of an hour gone and it is looking ugly for Villa.

1420: GOALFLASH Aston Villa 0-2 Liverpool (Skrtel)

1419: Another corner for Liverpool as they look to convert their early ascendancy into another goal.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Liverpool goal: Stewart Downing's corner is brilliantly flicked into the danger zone by Jonjo Shelvey and in a scuffle of feet it is Craig Bellamy rather than Luis Suarez who gets the final touch. 'One Stewart Downing' comes the chant from the away fans.

1415: GOALFLASH Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool (Bellamy)

1414: Stewart Downing, jeered by the home support, attempts to ram the catcalls back down his former fans' throats as he cuts inside off the right wing. His shot is straight into Brad Guzan's midriff though.

1411: Luis Suarez's extravagant flick to Craig Bellamy goes straight out of play. He escapes the sharp edge of the Welshman's tongue this time.

BREAKING TOTTENHAM TEAM NEWS: Ledley King is back for Spurs' match against Sunderland but there is no Jermain Defoe or Gareth Bale for Harry Redknapp's side.

1408: Charlie Adam catches Nathan Delfouneso with a crude challenge from behind to concede an early free-kick. The Scot is probably lucky to escape a yellow there and Stilyan Petrov gives Pepe Reina some early work with a comfortable save from the resulting free-kick.

1405: We are under way in the Midlands.

1404: Liverpool, complete with former Villain Stewart Downing in their ranks, and resplendent in their white away kit, will kick off at Villa Park.

BBC Radio 5 live
Former Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington is at Loftus Road for BBC Radio 5 live: "It was a stroll in the park for Manchester United. They started very brightly and the combination of Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck up front worked very well for them. QPR were good value last week against Liverpool, but today they looked a little bit lacklustre."

BBC Radio 5 live
1401: Ahead of the Spurs v Sunderland clash at 1500 GMT, Black Cats midfielder Sebastian Larsson has been telling BBC Radio 5 live about Martin O'Neill's first two weeks in charge at the Stadium of Light: "He has come in with loads of energy and loads of enthusiasm for the game, which is great. He's got into the swing of things quickly. He's told us that he believes in us and we need to start believing in ourselves. Sunday victory over Blackburn was only one win but, if we can get that confidence back in front of goal, we'll do well."

ASTON VILLA v LIVERPOOL(1405 GMT)
Chris McKenna reports: "Alex McLeish has warned Stewart Downing to expect some stick from the home faithful today as he returns to Villa Park for the first time since his £20m summer move to Liverpool, saying: "Maybe the fans will give a wee bit of apprehension-inducing stick shall we say." Villa will have to keep Downing and co quiet today. The Reds have won four games on the road this season but manager Kenny Dalglish doesn't believe it points to better form away from Anfield, saying: "We have picked up more wins away from home but it doesn't necessarily say we are playing any better." He will, however, be expecting another good showing today."

1358: Darren Bent's absence from the starting line-up is down to a thigh injury rather than illness apparently.

ASTON VILLA v LIVERPOOL
Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Albrighton, Delph, Petrov, N'Zogbia, Heskey, Delfouneso. Subs: Marshall, Clark, Cuellar, Bannan, Weimann, Johnson, Burke.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Bellamy, Adam, Shelvey, Henderson, Downing, Suarez. Subs: Doni, Carroll, Maxi, Coates, Kuyt, Carragher, Kelly.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)

Former England striker Alan Shearer at Fratton Park on BBC One: "It has been very even but it's been evenly poor with a lack of quality from both sides. Portsmouth will be the happier of the two teams because it's been scrappy."

1354: Plenty of endeavour and tasty tackles but precious little excitement at Fratton Park. Greg Halford and David Norris have gone closest for the hosts with long-range shots that have just drifted wide.

1354: HALF-TIME Portsmouth 0-0 Southampton

ASTON VILLA v LIVERPOOL (1405 GMT)
Chris McKenna reports: "Darren Bent missing with illness is a major blow for Alex McLeish with Gabriel Agbonlahor already out due to suspension. Nathan Delfouneso makes his first league start up front alongside Emile Heskey with Fabian Delph returning from injury. For Liverpool, Jonjo Shelvey makes his first start for the Reds this season after impressing recently on-loan at Blackpool. Craig Bellamy also starts in place of Dirk Kuyt."

Twitter
PatCDev on Twitter: "United completely overran QPR in the second half. Deserved winners in the end. Watch them kick on from here until May."

1351: FULL-TIME QPR 0-2 Man Utd

1351: Rather sums up the game that little episode. Joey Barton's attempt to play it short is intercepted and from that point on United look the more likely to score. The counter-attack ends with Ashley Young rattling in a shot strong and straight which Radek Cerny holds.

1349: A chance maybe for QPR to grab a consolation. A free-kick in a good position out on the right and Joey Barton over the dead ball.

1346: United stroking the ball about nicely with Javier Hernandez sweeping the ball wide and then getting his bonce to Chris Smalling's cross. His header flies over the top, but that miss won't matter this afternoon. These three points are already firmly in Sir Alex's back pocket.

Twitter
S_Chowdhury10 on Twitter: "Man Utd so sloppy up front, seriously needs to be fixed. But all the build-up play's beautiful and fast. Yum."

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Loftus Road: "All very sedate now in the closing stages at Loftus Road. Game won and Manchester United fans serenading the QPR manager with chants of "Warnock For England" - that wouldn't be dull would it?"

1341: Southampton are beginning to settle at Fratton Park with Adam Lallana looking particularly threatening. But there is still to be a chance that could even rate as good as a half-chance.

Twitter
QPR chairman Tony Fernandes on Twitter: "Adel looking quite sharp. We have played well in patches. We just got to put the goals away."

BBC Radio 5 live
Former Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington is at Loftus Road for BBC Radio 5 live: "QPR have given it a go in the second half but, since United got that second goal, the game's fallen into a bit of a lull and United are in command."

1339: QPR press forward but are leaving themselves vulnerable to a United sucker punch. Ryan Giggs sets Nani scampering down the left on a swift counter and the Portuguese's attempt to return the ball into Giggs's path is only a little off-radar.

1337: Sir Alex Ferguson takes advantage of a break in play to make a change while Adel Taarabt is given a touch of treatment for a blow to the head. Wayne Rooney makes way for Ryan Giggs.

ASTON VILLA v LIVERPOOL (1405 GMT)
Chris McKenna reports: "How both of these teams would love to give their fans an early Christmas present. Liverpool need a victory to keep up their hopes of a top-four finish and have to start scoring more regularly with just 18 league goals. However, Kenny Dalglish has never won at Villa Park as Liverpool manager. Alex McLeish would love to give the Aston Villa fans something to cheer about. Villa may be 10th but a lack of consistency has some supporters questioning if the Scot is the right man for the job - a win today could alleviate some pressure."

1333: A glaring miss from DJ Campbell as fellow substitute Adel Taarabt dips a shoulder and clips over an absolute peach of a cross. The striker has a side-foot volley from all of six yards, but the ball slips up and over the bar. Head-in-hands time.

1332: As I'm sure you've noted, with Steven Gerrard, Lucas and Jay Spearing all missing for Liverpool, a chance has opened up in midfield for Jonjo Shelvey, who starts at Villa Park. Last week Shelvey picked up a Football League Young Player of the Month award after excelling on loan at Blackpool. He told BBC Sport about his desire to make a first-team place his own at Anfield - and that starts today.

Twitter
England fast bowler and Ashes winner Jimmy Anderson on Twitter: "About to arrive in the Big Smoke. Going to watch Spurs v Sunderland and then on to Ally Pally for the darts tonight."

1330: It's furious and feisty at Fratton Park with some crunching tackles - including a lunging challenge by Dean Hammond on Greg Halford that could easily have resulted in a card - but no chances of note so far.

1329: Carrick's goal was his first in 70 Manchester United appearances, his last one coming in the Carling Cup in January 2010 when United beat Manchester City 3-1 in the Carling Cup. His last Premier League goal came on 30 December 2009 in United's 5-0 win over Wigan.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1328: The visitors look more likely to add to their lead than to be pegged back. Phil Jones strides forward to edge of the box aand sees his shot skip up against the post.

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown at Fratton Park on BBC One: "Portsmouth just need to improve in the final third but I've been impressed with the way they have passed the ball - they've been just as good as Southampton so far."

1324: DJ Campbell and Adel Taarabt come on for Heider Helguson and Shaun Wright-Phillips for QPR.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1322: Javier Hernandez joins the fray, well ahead of schedule in his comeback from his ankle injury, in place of Danny Welbeck and almost has a tap-in with his first touch. Jonny Evans's header comes back off the post and narrowly evades the lurking Mexican.

BREAKING TEAM NEWS Aston Villa v Liverpool: Darren Bent misses out for Villa with illness, while Jonjo Shelvey makes his first start of the season for Liverpool.

BBC Radio 5 live
Former Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington at Loftus Road on BBC Radio 5 live: "Michael Carrick got the ball off Joey Barton far too easily. It was a very strong run and he took the responsibility on himself to shoot and score."

United goal: Midfielder Michael Carrick picks the ball up in midfield, darts between two QPR players and just keeps on running. Alejandro Faurlin can't keep with him and the former Hammer pulls the trigger on the edge of the box. Radek Cerny will be disappointed as he hits the deck prematurely and the shot sneaks beyond his right hand and in at the near post.

1313: GOALFLASH QPR 0-2 Man Utd (Carrick)

1311: Danny Welbeck has his arms outstretched appealing for a free-kick after he flops to the floor, attempting to round Danny Gabbidon down the left wing. Nothing doing from Howard Webb though.

1309: United threaten on the counter and briefly have three-on-three. They can not quite work the equation out in their own favour though and Neil Warnock can relax on the hosts' bench.

1307: Lovely quick feet from Nani and the winger has heads spinning amongst the QPR defence. His attempt to thread a ball through the narrowest of corridors to Wayne Rooney in the six-yard box is a little too clever for its own good though.

1303: Wayne Rooney is hunting a repeat of his early first-half strike, jinking right and left before thumping a shot straight down Radek Cerny's throat.

1302: The action gets going at both Loftus Road and Fratton Park.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Anon, via text: "Why does everyone keep banging on about this 'only for a few hours' malarky? Arsenal are the form team in the league with the league's top scorer in the form of his life...Man City aren't exactly assured of points!!"

1258: A quick manual refresh should bring live video coverage of the south coast Clasico into view at the top of this page for UK users. There is a cheeky bit of 5 live sports extra also on the right-hand side for your enjoyment as well.

PORTSMOUTH v SOUTHAMPTON (1300)
Portsmouth captain Liam Lawrence returns to the side after an ankle injury for his first start since early November. Luke Varney, who was injured in last Saturday's win at Burnley, misses out as he has failed to recover from a knee problem - the only change from the line-up at Turf Moor. Southampton make just the one change from the side that surrendered their 100% home record last time out. Goalkeeper Kelvin Davis makes a welcome return from a calf injury in place of Bartosz Bialkowski, who gifted Blackpool their second goal in Saturday's 2-2 draw.

PORTSMOUTH v SOUTHAMPTON (1300)
Portsmouth manager Michael Appleton says the fact his side have won their last two games will mean nothing in Sunday's south coast derby. "Southampton are favourites because they are top of the league," Appleton told BBC Radio Solent. "I'm sure they will say they are underdogs because they have lost a couple of away games and we are on good form - it's just playing the game really." Southampton boss Nigel Adkins told BBC Radio Solent: "Three points are very, very important but derby games are special and need to be won. Can you control ourselves in the arena but show the passion as well?"

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Craig in Aberdeen, via text: "As a Utd fan I have to say that Carrick is playing some of his best football in a few years, still a lot of work for him to do to though."

BBC Radio 5 live
Former Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington at Loftus Road on BBC Radio 5 live: "It's been really entertaining in terms of chances. It should be out of sight as far as Manchester United are concerned, who haven't taken a number of good opportunities. But QPR, for all their frailties, are still in this game."

Half time
HALF-TIME QPR 0-1 Man Utd
Chief football writer Phil McNulty's HT snapshot from Loftus Road:
"Manchester United will feel a return to the top of the Premier League - if only for a few hours - should be assured after creating so many chances. QPR, however, are still well in this and showing plenty of spirit and endeavour."

1246: HALF-TIME QPR 0-1 Man Utd

1246: A strong finish to the half from QPR as Jay Bothroyd sweeps in a teaser of a low cross and a stretching Jamie Mackie is within inches of applying a scoring touch.

1244: More good work from Jamie Mackie earns the hosts another corner. This time it is Chris Smalling who sees off the danger for United though.

1243: Nope, Phil Jones hacks clear at the second opportunity after a clumsy attempt to control Joey Barton's set-piece on his chest.

1242: Corner for QPR, three minutes till the break, can they get a reply here?

Twitter
SportsAgentAC on Twitter: " What a great open game at Loftus Road so far! Hope the rest of today's games can live up to this one!"

1241: Danny Welbeck creates a bit of room for himself in the box as he shapes to shoot before deciding otherwise. But he dawdles and the challenges snap in before he can get an effort away.

BBC Radio 5 live
Former Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington at Loftus Road on BBC Radio 5 live: "Patrice Evra is a player I like a lot, but every time Jamie Mackie gets the ball he's taken Evra to the cleaners. If I was QPR I'd be looking to get the ball out to Mackie so he can take Evra on."

Twitter
Everton FC's Phil Neville on Twitter: " Phil Jones reminds me of a young Roy Keane."

1236: QPR get a bit of breathing space with a half-chance of their own as Heidar Helguson's shot from the edge of the box catches a flick of a deflection off Chris Smalling on the way through forcing David De Gea into an improvised clearance with his left boot.

1233: This intense period of pressure from United continues yet still the Hoops survive. Nani weaves his way to the byeline to set up Wayne Rooney, but the striker's shot is blocked on the line. Radek Cerny then gets a big strong hand up to divert Antonio Valencia's follow-up behind.

1231: United are continuing to pile the pressure on the QPR defence and Phil Jones has another excellent chance. A defence-splitting pass from Rooney played Jones in and he races clear but Cerny reacts quickly to come off his line and throw himself in front of the shot and make the save.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1230: United pressing for a second and they are not very far away there at all. Jonny Evans nods against the bar after Danny Welbeck's flick-on takes Radek Cerny out of the equation from a corner. He should probably have done better, but just fails to get enough downward nod on it.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Loftus Road: "Wayne Rooney's goal gave Manchester United the perfect start but one or two hints of encouragement for QPR, particularly in the frailty of Patrice Evra, who looks uncomfortable under pressure."

Yellow card
1227: Danny Gabbidon is a mite late getting his tackle in on Antonio Valencia and earns a yellow card for leaving his studs imprinted on the United man's ankle.

1225: Danny Welbeck has the ball in the net, but he is pulled back by the linesman's flag. United are looking dangerous on the break.

1223: Wayne Rooney misplaces a pass and apologises to his team-mates giving a good chance to look at that thickening thatch. It really is coming on nicely.

Twitter
InfostradaLive on Twitter: "Wayne Rooney has now scored three Premier League goals within the first minute, joint most equalling Jason Euell."

Yellow card
1220: Uproar on the United bench as Matthew Connolly slides in on Wayne Rooney, dumping the striker on the turf. QPR counter as the ball breaks free and Jay Bothroyd curls a shot just over the top from the edge of the area. Rio Ferdinand is particularly unhappy and has his name taken by referee Howard Webb from his persistent complaints.

1217 A delicate little lay-off from Wayne Rooney puts the ball into the path of the surging Michael Carrick, but the midfielder can't quite untangle his feet quick enough to get a shot away in the box.

1215: For all the talk of crisis at Manchester United, they would go top of the table if they can hang onto this early lead. See what is possible without the Champions League as a distraction?

Twitter
jwellsmusic13 on Twitter: "It could turn into a long afternoon for QPR if they don't switch on rapidly."


1210: Frantic stuff in the opening stages in west London. Nani sets off on a mazy dribble he makes it into the box, but is eventually ushered down a cul-de-sac by the QPR defenders around him.

BBC Radio 5 live
Former Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington at Loftus Road on BBC Radio 5 live: "Fantastic first five minutes here. Manchester United look really, really bright. They're knocking the ball around comfortably. Wayne Rooney did magnificently to score his header. It's a great boost for United to have Javier Hernandez on the bench and warming up."

1207: QPR are roused to a response as Shaun Wright-Phillips cuts in off the left flank, but skys a long-range effort well over the top. Heidar Helugson is not far away with a header from Joey Barton's corner shortly after either.

1205: United are on the attack again and this time it's Danny Welbeck with a chance to double their lead but his bundled effort is parried clear by QPR keeper Radek Cerny.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Manchester United goal: Fifty-three of your English seconds gone and Wayne Rooney scores his first Premier League goal against QPR and his 16th of the season in total. The England striker wins an aerial duel, nodding the ball out to Antonio Valencia on the wing and then cantering into the box to meet the Ecuadorian's cross with a precise header.

1201: GOALFLASH QPR 0-1 Man Utd (Rooney)

1200: Off and running, bang on time at Loftus Road.

1159: The teams are out. Captains, referee, linesmen, mascots, both child and big and furry, line up for a pre-match snap.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Loftus Road: "QPR boss Neil Warnock rails against the temptations to question Manchester United after their recent Champions League exit, saying: "It's not many weeks since all the media were writing Man United off - don't they realise that's what spurs Sir Alex on? Yet if they beat us they go back on top of the league, even if only for a few hours." United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has been impressed by QPR's start to life back in the Premier League and said: "They invested the right way and brought players in. The owners and Neil Warnock realised that if you're in the big league you've got to get better players and that gives them a better chance, no doubt."

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson: "Berba's back on the bench, and three are back to fitness. You hope that you get through this winter programme without anyone getting injured, because there are so many games. It's an important time, and if in the New Year we're top of the league or near we'll be delighted, because the second half of the season always brings us some promise."

QPR boss Neil Warnock: "We're disappointed that Anton Ferdinand's missing out. He's had a consistent season, which you need from your centre halves. We're not going to shut up shop. We're going to try to give the fans a game. This is what the Premier League is all about; games at Loftus Road against Manchester United."

PORTSMOUTH v SOUTHAMPTON (1300 GMT)
"So, anyone up for some nice, relaxing, incident-free, pre-Christmas footie? If so avoid the feast on offer at Fratton Park where table-topping Southampton visit their fiercest of fierce rivals Portsmouth. Never one for the faint-hearted, their first league meeting since a Premier League game in April 2005 promises to be especially electric. Pompey, despite their latest cash woes, are chasing a third consecutive win and can put daylight between themselves and the bottom three while Saints, who are seeking a first league victory at Portsmouth in 35 years, can restore their three-point lead."

Infostrada Sports on Twitter: "Wayne Rooney has scored in the Premier League against 28 different clubs. QPR are one of the four current PL clubs he hasn't scored against."

1150: For Neil Warnock's side Paddy Kenny is on the bench, but Radek Cerny continues in goal after his heroics against Liverpool last weekend. He could be a busy man again today.

1146: That Manchester United midfield looks like it will consist of Phil Jones and Michael Carrick in the middle with Nani and Antonio Valencia on the wings. For all the injuries and absences, will that do enough of a job for the champions today? Joey Barton will be looking forward to hastening calls for United to splash the cash on the likes of Benfica anchorman Javier Garcia.

Twitter
RedJamesH on Twitter: "Loftus Road could be a tough assignment for Man Utd but a win is crucial to put pressure on City. This is a key period."

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Anon, via text: "With Berbatov and Hernandez on the bench, united's front line suddenly looks much more formidable. Still defensive worries though, with Vidic, and the Da Silva twins out, and Evans starting."

1136: Southampton boss Nigel Adkins on his side's trip to Portsmouth: "It will be great going down to Fratton Park, I'm really excited about it. It is a special game. Derby games like this really mean something."

Twitter
Wojciech Falenta on Twitter: "Good to see Helguson back for QPR. Proper centre forward."

QPR v MAN UTD (1200 GMT)
Chief football writer Phil McNulty reports from Loftus Road:
"Manchester United are unchanged for their visit to Loftus Road but Javier Hernandez returns on the bench, alongside Dimitar Berbatov, who also returns after injury. For the home side Heidar Helguson and Matthew Connolly return in place of Tommy Smith and the injured Anton Ferdinand."

QPR v MAN UTD (1200)
QPR: Cerny, Gabbidon, Bothroyd, Faurlin, Mackie, Traore, Connolly, Barton, Young, Helguson, Wright-Phillips Subs: Kenny, Orr, Hill, Derry, Taarabt, Campbell, Smith.
Manchester United: De Gea, Evra, Jones, Ferdinand, Evans, Rooney, Smalling, Carrick, Nani, Welbeck, Valencia. Subs: Berbatov, Giggs, Park, Hernandez, Young, Lindegaard, Fryers
Referee: Mr H Webb (S Yorkshire)

1127: The Observer tell how Sunderland striker Nicklas Bendtner has released a heartfelt letter to the Danish press apologising for a string of off-the-field scrapes. Meanwhile the Sunday Mirror reveal that Carlos Tevez has taken another pop at Manchester City. This time it is musical.

1125: The Roy Keane interview, a quick manual refresh should get that link below working by the way, was not the only piping hot story served up by the Sunday papers on this chilly morning.


1123: Half-time out in Japan and Cesc Fabregas has added another for Barcelona. I reckon we can leave those Catalans to the latest episode in their remorseless plunder of the world's footballing silverware now and concentrate on matters closer to home.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Loftus Road: "Plenty of pre-match chat in the Loftus Road press room about the brilliant interview with Roy Keane in the Sunday Times (subscription required) outlining the comprehensive breakdown of his relationship with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Keane, who prompted an angry reaction from Ferguson after criticising United following their Champions League exit against Basel, reveals how he turned down an invite to the Scot's 25th anniversary dinner and accuses him of failing to stand by him in difficult times towards the end of his Old Trafford career. It is sad that two such iconic figures in United's history now have such a badly fractured relationship, but Keane will know as well as anyone how ruthless Ferguson can be once he has decided United can live without them. As someone with a close connection to Ferguson at Old Trafford has just said: "That's Roy's bridges burned at Old Trafford - not that there was much left to burn anyway."

QPR v Man United
QPR v MAN UTD (1200 GMT)
Chief football writer Phil McNulty reports from Loftus Road:
"Manchester United travel to Loftus Road with renewed encouragement after Manchester City's defeat at Chelsea saw the gap at the top of the Premier League close to only two points. Sir Alex Ferguson's resources have been further depleted by the loss of Darren Fletcher for the forseeable future to a stomach illness. QPR boss Neil Warnock enjoys nothing better than rattling the cages of the giants and he will regard the visit of the champions as another chance to state his side's Premier League credentials."

BREAKING MANCHESTER UNITED TEAM NEWS: Sir Alex Ferguson's side are unchanged for their visit to Loftus Road but Javier Hernandez returns on the bench alongside Dimitar Berbatov, who also returns after injury.

Everton's Phil Neville on Twitter: "What a day of football on tv today-from 11.30 today I ain't moving off the sofa!!"

Twitter
BBC Sport's Dan Walker on Twitter: "I've got a lot of time for Portsmouth v Southampton being called El ClassiCoast. Beautiful."

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Twitter
1110: I'm sure you have a view or two on the day's action. You can tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @mikehensonbbc or text in via 81111 (UK). As Public Enemy put it back in the day, bring the noise.

1106: That is not all though. Oh no. We have a blockbusting south coast derby in the Championship. Portsmouth v Southampton is coming at you every which way from 1300 - live via BBC One, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and, for UK users, in some lovely video at the top of this page. While Celtic will hope to take a chunk out of Rangers' lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League when they take on fourth-placed St Johnstone. Sheer footy gluttony.

1103: There is more than enough football to get your teeth into on our own fair isle though. This is how today is going to pan out:
QPR v Manchester United (1200)
Aston Villa v Liverpool (1405)
Tottenham v Sunderland (1500)
Manchester City v Arsenal (1610)
Mouthwatering, no?

1100: Morning all, good to have you back. It is an early start for the champions of England today as Manchester United take on QPR at high noon. But the champions of Europe and South America are already up and running in Japan in the World Club Final. Barcelona v Santos, or Lionel Messi v Neymar as it is being hyped, is under way. The Argentine is enjoying the best of it so far. Barcelona lead 2-0 with Messi and Xavi on the scoresheet inside the first half-hour.



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Premier League results

18 Dec 2011 23:59 UK


Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 18 Dec 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man City 16 35 41
2 Man Utd 16 23 39
3 Tottenham 15 13 34
4 Chelsea 16 15 32
5 Arsenal 16 7 29
6 Liverpool 16 7 29
7 Newcastle 16 2 27
8 Stoke 16 -7 24
9 Norwich 16 -4 20
10 Aston Villa 16 -3 19
11 Fulham 16 0 18
12 Swansea 16 -4 18
13 West Brom 16 -8 18
14 Everton 15 -3 17
15 QPR 16 -13 16
16 Sunderland 16 -1 14
17 Wolves 16 -13 14
18 Wigan 16 -15 13
19 Blackburn 16 -13 10
20 Bolton 16 -18 9

see also
Sunday's football photos
18 Dec 11 |  Football


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