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Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Monday, 26 December 2011

Boxing Day football as it happened

LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY (all times GMT)

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By Phil Dawkes
BBC Sport


2215: That is your lot for this Boxing Day from the BBC live text commentary. It's not been the most thrilling but it has given some teams plenty to think about. Manchester City better Koko B Ware as Manchester United continue to Hacksaw (Jim Duggan) into their lead at the top. Newcastle were again indebted to their very own Ba-barian. Unless Liverpool pick up soon, there could be some Dusty Rhodes ahead. And Stoke will be disappointed not to give their Rowdy Roddy fans something to really sing about. Ooooooohhhhhhh yeahhhhhhh!

2212: Make sure you join Tom Rostance again tomorrow for three more Premier League games: Arsenal v Wolves, Swansea v QPR and Norwich v Tottenham.

2210: ... because Lloydlyuchenko says so. Apparently.

Twitter
lloydlyuchenko on Twitter: "Some really quite poor wrestling puns today. and that's the bottom line..."

Stoke v Aston Villa
Stoke 0-0 Aston Villa
Mike Henson's FT snapshot:
"A match that got the scoreline it deserved as Villa take what could be a valuable point away from the Britannia."

2208: Think I better apologise for a little slip-up on the Alex McLeish title front. He's only the Villa boss. I could blame a colleague for sending that over to me, but I won't. I'm a right martyr me.

West Brom v Man City
FULL-TIME West Brom 0-0 Man City
Phil Dawkes reports: "Manchester City dropping points is a rare thing this season. Them failing to score is even rarer. Credit goes to West Brom who were outstanding at the back and fully deserve a point that their fans cheered like three. City's Premier League lead is now down to goal difference, and even that is growing smaller by the week. League on."

Sunderland v Everton
FULL-TIME Sunderland 1-1 Everton
Arindam Rej reports: "Oh dear Howard Webb. When a player mis-kicks and falls over, it shouldn't be a penalty - but Everton were awarded one for that and scored. A draw was a fair result though."

Man United v Wigan
FULL-TIME Man Utd 5-0 Wigan
Sam Sheringham reports: "Wigan will bemoan the harsh sending-off of Conor Sammon at 1-0, but United were good value for their win and are making ominous strides towards the Premier League summit."

Liverpool v Blackburn
FULL-TIME Liverpool 1-1 Blackburn
Chief football writer Phil McNulty reports from Anfield: "Steve Kean looked impassive at the final whistle but he must have been elated. Real spirit shown here by Blackburn but this result is a major disappointment for Liverpool and manager Kenny Dalglish."

Bolton v Newcastle
FULL-TIME Bolton 0-2 Newcastle
Peter Scrivener reports: "Not a game for the purists but Newcastle's travelling Oompah Loompah's will not care one bit. United took full advantage of a couple of defensive errors to earn what turned out to be a comfortable victory. Bolton manager Owen Coyle has vowed to dip into the transfer market this January, but who will he tempt to join their relegation fight?"

Chelsea v Fulham
FULL-TIME Chelsea 1-1 Fulham
Owen Phillips reports: "Chelsea will feel they had enough chances to win two games in the closing stages but their lack of urgency in the first half ultimately cost them and Fulham's spirit and organisation probably meant they deserved their slice of luck."

2204: In case you missed them earlier, he is a quick recap of today's games. Or, as Pat Sharp would put it on Fun House, let's re-run the fun...

Twitter
AP261 on Twitter: "Stoke are now 8th with 25 points.. At the same time last season Blackpool were in the same position.. now look where they are!"

Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish: "The team played well and we had some good moments. If we had more finesse in the final third we might have gone home with even more than a draw."

Stoke boss Tony Pulis: "I thought before it would be a tough game. I think Villa have got players and we did not get out of the blocks as quickly as we like to. But we are delighted with where we are and the lads have worked their socks off."

2200: And that's not all. West Brom put on a superb defensive display against Manchester City, Blackburn hit back to claim a point at Anfield, Newcastle got back to winning ways, thanks in part to that man Ba, and much, much more.

Twitter
AdamHull22 on Twitter: "What has happened to Villa's creativity under McLeish? N'zogbia looks like a carthorse these days & Agbonlahor feeds off scraps"

2157: Granted, the last 90 minutes has not been the best advert for tonight's Match of the Day, but I can assure you the earlier games are worth catching. MOTD is on BBC1 and this website at 2245 GMT. At least watch it for another cracking display from Manchester United, who are looking sharper than Jiom 'The Anvil' Neidhart's beard.

Twitter
EdelTom on Twitter: "As a Villa fan,I apologise to everyone who has just watched that. As a gesture of goodwill I will sing Xmas carols to everyone!"

Twitter
Der_Wanderfalke on Twitter: "I don't care how boring it was, we kept a clean sheet, got a point, and didn't concede from a set piece."

Twitter
Der_Wanderfalke on Twitter: "I don't care how boring it was, we kept a clean sheet, got a point, and didn't concede from a set piece."

Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne: "We have to be happy with a point, this is a very difficult place to come. We have been conceding a lot from set plays and we knew that tonight would be a big test. We can be proud of ourselves."

2147: Both teams put plenty of effort in but ultimately they didn't have anything to bring to the table. Tonight they were the Fabulous Rougeau's of the Premier League.

2144: The point for each of these sides does little to alter matters in the middle of the table. Stoke remain eighth with 25 points and Villa stay 12th with 20 points.

Twitter
AdamRathe on Twitter: "that was, quite possibly, the worst game of football I have ever seen. Thankfully, I only suffered the second half. #SCFC #AVFC"

2140: Well, that was as ugly as a Bushwhacker. Not the best way to end Boxing Day.

2137: And that is that.

2136: Added time is up...

2134: We're midway through three minutes of added time. Will we get a winner?

2133: Football can be a cruel game. And it almost was to Villa then as Stiliyan Petrov gets a head to a Stoke delivery into the box. For a moment it looks like it could drop in the goal but instead bounces clear of danger. Robert Huth, Stoke's very own Diesel, is causing serious problems with his height in the Villa box.

2130: Charles N'Zogbia has had a few chances to start showing why Villa were so keen to recuit him. But he has wasted them all. He has the chance to cross into a dangerous area, populated with Villa attackers, but instead finds only the grateful arms of Thomas Sorensen.

2129: But as in the preceeding 85 minutes, the Villa defence stand firm and block Robert Huth's attempted 30-yard drive.

2128: Here's a test for Villa. James Collins climbs over Kenwyne Jones. This will be a test for the Villa defence. It is within shooting distance.

Twitter
tomgarrard on Twitter: "Looks like both teams could do with some (Rick) Flair!"

Twitter
DanielCurry14 on Twitter: "I reckon there'll be an injury time winner. Kenwyne Jones with the Stoke Cold Stunner."

2124: The first corner is cleared behind and the second is cleared, but only as far as Stiliyan Petrov, who fires over. Villa are stepping it up now. They're looking the more likely to grab the win.

2123: Marc Albrighton earns a corner for his side, athletically jinking into the box like a young Marty Jannetty before drawing a tackle from Ryan Shawcross.

2122: Mistakes are creeping in now, but can either side capitalise. Villa could have, but they waste there opportunity as Stoke's relinquishing of possession ultimately leads to Charles N'Zogbia being teed up, but he can only fire harmlessly high and wide. Very poor.

Twitter
smr182 on Twitter: "Love the old-school WWF references, although it's clear neither team has a Mr Perfect in their ranks."

2118: Stoke's Thomas Sorensen looked a lot less assured then, though, as Chrles N'Zogbia's dipping free-kick bounces in front of him and also bounces off the keeper's chest. Luckily, a home defender is able to clear before any Villa attackers can get a goal-bound touch. There's a winner for the taking here.

2117: With Rory Delap having come on for Wilson Palacios (sorry for not mentioning that earlier), Villa now have the main throw-in man to deal with. His first effort, though, is claimed well by Brad Guzan, who has been impressive tonight.

2114: Now that was close. A Stoke corner causes Royal Rumble-esque chaos in the box with Marc Wilson getting his head to the ball but finding the crossbar before it is cleared off the line by the chest of Gabriel Agbonlahor. Jonathan Walters is unable to finish on the follow-up and Villa survive.

2110: Villa fans have seen so little of Charles N'Zogbia's quality since he joined the club but he gave them a brief glimpse then. He strikes the ball from 20 yards but it flashes just past the near post. You sense it is going to need either a moment of brilliance or a big mistake to decide this. My 4-4 prediction is looking optimistic at best.

2105: Bit cheeky from James Collins as Stoke go forward. The defender clatters into Kenwyne Jones as the forward looks to join a home attack. Naughty. The kind of trick Rick Rude would get up to when the ref was distracted. But he'd probably use a chair or something.

Twitter
joesaatchi on Twitter: "Dibiase oozed class. Walters does not. Cue Walters wondergoal."

Twitter
YashV1234 on Twitter: "Thinking liverpool should bring back emile heskey as replacement for suarez. #HeskeyTime"

2058: This is better. This is much better. There's finally some zip about the sides. The Stoke fans sense it as well as they launch into some rousing chants.

2056: Now that was a chance, and it is almost an instant impact for Emile Heskey's replacement Nathan Delfouneso. Gabriel Agbonlahor provides the impetus, tearing away down the left before crossing for his fellow striker who is in space in the box but unable to beat home keeper Thomas Sorensen, who dives wide and blocks.

2054: And again, we get closer to a chance as another cross from the right is aimed at Ted DiBiase, sorry Jonathan Walters, but Carlos Cuellar beats him in the air and heads out. The resulting corner comes to nothing.

Twitter
HeelJames on Twitter: "Gallant performance by a suffering Heskey, Villa would be 7-0 up by now had he been fully fit!!!"

2052: Better from Stoke at the start of the second half. It's a cross. It's aimed into the box. But the final part, where a fellow player gets on the end of it remains lacking. Still, we're getting there, a bit at a time.

2049: The game is back under way. Without the protagonist (just about) from the first half. We'll miss you Emile.

2048: But wait. Big blow for the visitors. Emile Heskey has had to go off to be replaced by Nathan Delfouneso. Heskey has suffered a recurrence of his Achilles problem.

2047: Villa fans should probably be feeling quite positive, though, right now. Infostradalive tell me they have not lost any of the last five Premier League away games in which they have been level at half time.

Twitter
Stevie_Pardoe on Twitter: "Anyone remembers the 9-1 between Spurs and Wigan that was 1-0 at half time or the 6-4 Spurs Reading that was 1-1. Goals coming."

2044: Alternatively, how about a 22-man over the top Battle Royale? I'm backing Jonathan Walters. He's a scrapper, like the Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase.

Twitter
AdamHull2 on Twitter: "Kenwyne Jones and Emile Heskey should just arm wrestle for the points. That would be much more entertaining to watch!"

2040: But let's not write this off just yet. Anything could happen in the next 45 minutes. I'm going for a 4-4 draw at full-time. Heskey will get all four for Villa. It is going to be the greatest second half in the history of football.

2038: In truth, we probably shouldn't have expected this half to go any other way. Stoke have only scored seven first half goals this season, while Villa have failed to score in four of their last six league matches.

Twitter
sinky2785 on Twitter: "This will be a goalfest in the second half as is common with rotten first halves."

Half time
Stoke 0-0 Aston Villa
Mike Henson's HT snapshot:
"You know when they talk about matches being great adverts for the Premier League? This has been the footballing equivalent of the Test Card. Things can only get better. Surely."

2033: After two minutes of largely uneventful added time the half time whistle blows. Unsurprisingly, it is greeted by muted applause from the home crowd. Pray for a better second 45 minutes. I am.

Twitter
Bonjourswine on Twitter: "I would say that both sides are battling to not be the first to concede... however that would be quite generous"

2028: It's raining chances all of a sudden. Well, spitting. Kenwyne Jones beats the Villa defence in the air and has a chance to run onto the ball in the area, but Brad Guzan is rapidly off his line to smother at the striker's feet. Top keeping from the USA international.

2026: Wait, something's happened. The ball is fed in to Villa's Stiliyan Petrov with a sight of goal, but he flashes his effort wide of the near post. It is not much, but it is something. In fact, in terms of chances this half, that gets the bronze medal.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Bill in Croydon, via text: "Following up on Mirih's text from 1952, I have a treble on West Brom, Blackburn and Villa to draw. 102-1 - fingers crossed."

Twitter
stevehegarty91 on Twitter: "This is the type of game that can send you to sleep at the moment. Not the best choice for TV"

2023: I'm starting to suspect the Sky cameraman is showing shots of Darren Bent to subconciously remind us what goals look like.

2020: I truly wish I could bring you goalmouth action, but there is none to talk of. I suspect this may be the worst game I have seen this season.

Twitter
Rufus_No1 on Twitter: "Emile Heskey having a good game comes around once a year, not unlike Christmas. This is it."

Twitter
Arsenes_Eyes on Twitter: "Only Premier League game shown on TV over Christmas is Stoke v Villa. Clearly we were all very naughty boys & girls this year."

2012: It was a chance as well. Dean Whitehead's delivery finds Robert Huth rising at the back post, but the big defender can only head over. That's the first time Villa have looked vulnerable and Stoke have looked threatening.

2011: The first groans and moans of frustration from the home fans is heard as Stoke ponder on the ball in midfield. Their ire is understandable as Villa have kept them very quiet. But wait. The home side have a free-kick wide right. This is a chance...

Twitter
SaintStu19 on Twitter: "Emile Heskey is having a blinder! #ComeOnEmile"

2007: Villa's Emile Heskey has been making a nuisance of himself so far this game and he has just had the best effort of the match. In fact it is the only real effort of the game. The big striker is found by Charles N'Zogbia's corner at the near post and his flicked header strikes the post.

Twitter
tomrobbo89 on Twitter: "Don't think we have the creativity to get through Stoke, will have to rely on quick, wide counter attacks on the break #avfc"

2002: Alex McLeish thrusts a supportive thumb into the air on the touchline to his charges. He does right. Villa have started well here, holding the home side at bay and quashing any hopes they had of bursting out of the blocks. Unfortunately, a good game for the neutrals this does not make.

Twitter
JamesDileva on Twitter: "Darren Bent on the sideline... reckon he's doing some online shopping on his phone?"

1959: Stoke trying to batter down the Villa door. Jonathan Walters fires a low cross in from the right but it is behind Kenwyne Jones and Villa can clear. I'm not going to lie to you, this has yet to get going.

1957: Alternatively, as my colleague Mr Rostance mentioned around lunchtime, Home Alone is on right now so if you want to live the dream you can watch that and read this.

1956: We're 10 minutes in and still no real clear-cut effort on goal. Don't panic, though, there's still a long way to go. Keep the faith.

1954: Ryan Shotton is an unhappy boy as he falls following a challenge from Stephen Warnock. Stoke's fans berate Mark Clattenburg, as does Tony Pulis but the official is unmoved.

1952: We have our first shot of Darren Bent, watching on from the sidelines. Good PR from the England man. See, he does care really.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Mihir, via text: "I don't think anyone gave Fulham, West Brom or Blackburn any hope this afternoon. I'm backing Villa for this one."

1949: And then Villa also deal with the first (you would have thought of many) long throws of the night. Emile Heskey back there defending well. Hats off to the big guy.

1947: Well, in contrast to all this set-piece chat, Villa coped pretty well with the first two. Granted, they weren't delivered with supreme quality.

1945: And we have a nice quick start from the home side, who force an early corner.

1945: Game on at the Britannia. Stoke get us under way.

Twitter
nnajiprincec on Twitter: "With stoke playing at home plus their 'set pieces' magic, Villa has a huge task ahead of them tonight. I expect a thumping."

1942: We're closing in on kick off in our final game of the Boxing Day calendar. The teams are on their way out. A whole game of football coming your way soon.

Twitter
OptaJoe on Twitter: "57% - Aston Villa have conceded the highest percentage of goals from set plays this season. Britannia."

Twitter
OptaJoe on Twitter: "61% - Stoke City have scored the highest percentage of goals from set pieces in the Premier League. Stereotype."

1938: If only there were some solid stats to back up this chat about set pieces being important in tonight's game...

Stoke v Aston Villa
STOKE v ASTON VILLA TEAM NEWS (1945)
Mike Henson reports:
"Stoke welcome back skipper Ryan Shawcross and Matthew Etherington with Glenn Whelan injured and Cameron Jerome dropping to the bench in two changes from the team that lost 3-0 to Manchester City. Emile Heskey and James Collins return at the expense of Stephen Ireland and the suspended Alan Hutton for Villa. Both club's record signings, Peter Crouch for Stoke and Darren Bent for Villa, have failed to return after illness and a thigh injury respectively.'"

Twitter
uchepatrick14 on Twitter: "if Arsenal scored you from a corner kick, then you pretty much have a set piece problem. #AstonVilla"

1934: In all seriousness, though, Bent will be missed by Villa tonight. He remains McLeish's most potent weapon, having scored 14 goals in 31 matches. McLeish has sought to play down rumours of a bust-up and impending sale, saying Bent is simply not fit.

1931: Of course, one big question tonight is has Villa striker Darren Bent picked up any decent bargains in the Boxing Day sales?

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Optimisticbob from Brum, via text: "Villa need a win like I need a day without drinking. Desperately hoping for a Villa win."

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Anon, via text: "Surprised to see woodgate given a chance after his last performance, Tony Pulis must have a lot of faith in him... please prove me wrong..."

Twitter
ryantks on Twitter: "So many negatives for Liverpool. Where is the backing for Steve Kean? Are Blackburn upset with the point or something??"

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: Full-time in the game between Birmingham and West Ham. It finishes 1-1. West Ham go second in the Championship on goal difference. Birmingham are 15th.

Stoke v Aston Villa
STOKE v ASTON VILLA (1945)
Mike Henson reports:
"Stoke manager Tony Pulis has praised his club's fans for their dedication despite an unusual Boxing Day kick-off time. 'As ever the supporters have proved their backing and pretty much sold out for the game,' he said. Meanwhile Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish is wary of the hosts' set-piece prowess. 'The players have to take up the challenge and concentrate from start to finish,' he said. 'It's something we are working hard on.'"

Twitter
DACrookster on Twitter: "This 'buy-British' rubbish that Dalglish set up is what has been our downfall. Adam, Carroll and Downing have been disgraceful."

1918: One interesting aspect about tonight's game is that Villa boss Alex McLeish has spoken about the need to cut out the conceding of "stupid goals", particularly from set-pieces. One thing they can bank on is that Stoke won't be shy of putting them to the test on that front.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: David Murphy heads in an equaliser after Pablo Ibanez wins the first header from a corner. Moments later Marlon King almost puts Birmingham ahead but his header is turned over by Robert Green.

Stoke v Aston Villa
STOKE v ASTON VILLA (1945)
Mike Henson reports:
"Stoke spent Christmas at the heady heights of eighth in the Premier League - the highest they have been at that point in the year since 1974. The Potters were beaten 3-0 by Manchester City last time out, but were on a run of four successive victories in the league prior to that defeat. Not such happy times for the visitors though. Alex McLeish's side have won only two of their last 10 matches."

Twitter
PanchoTaffy on Twitter: "When did Heskey last score?Maybe #LFC want to by him again. Must be worth about £150,000, so I guess they would pay £48mil #LFC"

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Dean in Winchester, via text: "Wonder if the men in suits are contemplating Dalglish's position in charge - can anyone see them finishing higher than 6th?"

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: Almost a comical goal for Birmingham at West Ham. James Tomkins goes to clear the ball but slices it back over his own head, taking goalkeeper Robert Green out of the game. Giant striker Nikola Zigic is under it at the back post but lacks conviction and his weak header is cleared away. West Ham lead 1-0 with 15 minutes remaining.

Stoke v Aston Villa line-ups
Stoke:
Sorensen, Woodgate, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson, Shotton, Palacios, Whitehead, Etherington, Jones, Walters. Subs: Begovic, Diao, Pennant, Upson, Delap, Wilkinson, Jerome.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Cuellar, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Albrighton, Clark, Petrov, N'Zogbia, Agbonlahor, Heskey. Subs: Marshall, Ireland, Delfouneso, Bannan, Weimann, Johnson, Gardner.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

1905: Tonight's game will kick off with Stoke five points ahead of Villa and occupying their best position at Christmas in 37 years. The Potters haven't lost at home to Villa in the league since the 1984-85 season. In contrast, Villa have taken just eight points from the last 30 available and haven't won on Boxing Day since 2005. I wonder who's favourite?

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Anon, via text: "Bolton fan: Megson was sacked with 18 points in 18 games. Coyle has 12 points in 18 games. One rule for one, one rule for another."

Twitter
FootballCircle on Twitter: "Odemwingie had a fantastic season last campaign and remained at West Brom. No reason why Ba can't remain at Newcastle United."

1858: But it is my express purpose this evening to bring you information on all things Stoke v Aston Villa, the late live TV game, eighth against twelfth, clearly Boxing Day's big clash.

Twitter
healymonster67 on Twitter: "Not that long ago Coyle was the bees knees, he was doing everything right. It's only fair he gets a chance to turn it round"

BREAKING STOKE TEAM NEWS: Peter Crouch still out. Jonathan Woodgate keeps his place in defence.

BREAKING ASTON VILLA TEAM NEWS: Speaking of strikers. No Darren Bent in the Aston Villa team. Emile Heskey plays, though, as does Gabriel Agbonlahor.

1849: I'm woefully unqualified to discuss the Ba's price-tag. I once bought Ibrahima Bakayoko for a fortune on Champ Manager*. Broke his leg second game and retired the next season in his mid-20s.
*Other football management games are available.

Twitter
janniky on Twitter: "Right Dawkes , how much would you say Ba is worth in todays market then?"

Twitter
nebs_247 on Twitter: "Come on United fantastic 5-0 thumping against Wigan. Pressure on City seems to be showing now."

1844: That's just the tip of the iceberg from today, though. The tussle at the top, the scrap at the bottom, the muddle in the middle. So much to discuss. Carry on as you were.

1842: OK, that was a cheap gag. Sorry Andy and Fernando. However, it does illustrate a major talking point from today's games, which is particularly apt as you've all been chatting about the merits of Mr Ba for the last hour. Just what is wrong with the aformentioned strikers Torres and Carroll and how will it affect Chelsea and Liverpool for the rest of the season?

1840: As Tom jogs off to raptuous applause, I give him a high 10, get my studs checked and join the action. I've been sat on the bench, biding my time to shine, just like Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres. I've been forced to watch as a team-mate excels himself, just like Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres. Finally, I've got my chance to shine, just like Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres. Now you just watch me as I put in a stellar display, just like Dimitar Berbatov.

By Tom Rostance
BBC Sport

1836: You'll all agree that that was as enthralling a Boxing Day afternoon as you can enjoy without watching an Indiana Jones film. Here to take you through Stoke v Aston Villa is Mr Phil Dawkes. Hit refresh now...

West Brom v Man City
FULL-TIME West Brom 0-0 Man City
Phil Dawkes reports: "Manchester City dropping points is a rare thing this season. Them failing to score is even rarer. Credit goes to West Brom who were outstanding at the back and fully deserve a point that their fans cheered like three. City's Premier League lead is now down to goal difference, and even that is growing smaller by the week. League on."

Sunderland v Everton
FULL-TIME Sunderland 1-1 Everton
Arindam Rej reports: "Oh dear Howard Webb. When a player mis-kicks and falls over, it shouldn't be a penalty - but Everton were awarded one for that and scored. A draw was a fair result though."

Man United v Wigan
FULL-TIME Man Utd 5-0 Wigan
Sam Sheringham reports: "Wigan will bemoan the harsh sending-off of Conor Sammon at 1-0, but United were good value for their win and are making ominous strides towards the Premier League summit."

Liverpool v Blackburn
FULL-TIME Liverpool 1-1 Blackburn
Chief football writer Phil McNulty reports from Anfield: "Steve Kean looked impassive at the final whistle but he must have been elated. Real spirit shown here by Blackburn but this result is a major disappointment for Liverpool and manager Kenny Dalglish."

Bolton v Newcastle
FULL-TIME Bolton 0-2 Newcastle
Peter Scrivener reports: "Not a game for the purists but Newcastle's travelling Oompah Loompah's will not care one bit. United took full advantage of a couple of defensive errors to earn what turned out to be a comfortable victory. Bolton manager Owen Coyle has vowed to dip into the transfer market this January, but who will he tempt to join their relegation fight?"

Chelsea v Fulham
FULL-TIME Chelsea 1-1 Fulham
Owen Phillips reports: "Chelsea will feel they had enough chances to win two games in the closing stages but their lack of urgency in the first half ultimately cost them and Fulham's spirit and organisation probably meant they deserved their slice of luck."

1824: It's been a long day of action already, so before we set our sights fully on Stoke v Aston Villa, here's what our Boxing Day reporters have made of the drama so far...

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Anonymous on text via 81111: "An aging Drogba, Anelka gone, Torres still firing blanks - Sturridge can't do it on his own. Ba WILL be at Chelsea next season!"

Twitter
Karl Girling on Twitter: "Calling Ba a 'backup striker' is disgusting! He makes Van Persie look like Michael Ricketts!"

Twitter
Alex Fraser on Twitter: "Why would Ba want to leave? Newcastle will be in the top six by the end of the season."

FOOTBALL LEAGUE UDATE: West Ham still lead 1-0 at Birmingham as the first half draws to a close. Robert Green made a smart save to keep out a David Murphy free-kick.

1806: Ben (below) - that could be the sort of chat heard inside the Newcastle boardroom in the next few weeks. I don't think the Andy Carroll transfer is necessarily the barometer of market value though to be honest.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Ben from Newcastle on text: "£8m? Get lost! I'll put it into perspective - Andy Carroll cost £35 million!"

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Sam from Walsall on text: "With Arsenal needing a backup striker and Liverpool needing one for Suarez then I can see Ba heading to one of these."

1801: Alex Jones, that is not how to barter. If I start at £8m, you don't go straight in with an Andy Carroll-sized cheque for £35m. Come on.

Twitter
Alex Jones on Twitter: "Liverpool to buy Demba Ba from Newcastle for £35m?"

1756: On a serious note, do you think any of the top six sides may take a look at Demba Ba in January? He is scoring all sorts of goals at the moment. A free-kick the other day, headers, scrappy goals like today's effort. He and Gary Cahill had a right old battle as well, he can mix it up. I'll start the bidding at, say £8m? Who will buy?

1754: Former Aston Villa striker Dion Dublin has waded into the Demba Ba debate. He tells Final score: "Centre-halves are now beginning to fear Demba Ba. He's left-footed, right-footed and good in the air."

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Bolton fan John on text, via 81111: "Fed up of every game bring the biggest of the season, sort it out Owen Coyle or let someone else sort it. Out of time."

1752: Blackburn manager Steve Kean is not talking like a man who has any plans to be moving on - he's already planned his January shopping. "I think we need four [players] and if we can get them quickly, together with lads coming out of the medical room, I think we can climb the table quickly," he said. "If we can get established players in and get them bedded into the team then that can only be good for everybody."

FOOTBALL LEAGUE UPDATE: In the late Championship kick-off, Carlton Cole has given West Ham an early lead at Birmingham, as the Hammers look to move back into second spot having been displaced by Middlesbrough.

1745: As if Josh (below) would need reminding, but Tony Pulis' side are still to come tonight as their clash with Aston Villa kicks off at 1945. There is the potential for plenty more talking points before the evening is done.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Stoke fan Josh on text, via 81111: "Why on earth did we not let Demba Ba sign for us!? We said he failed a fitness test, he's looking great to me!"

1741: Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson on the Conor Sammon red card: "I thought it was a softish one in that I don't think the boy acted intentionally. He's a big aggressive lad, and I think he has thrown his arm. Michael has not made a meal of it which is good and he left the decision for the referee to make. It was a bit harsh, I have to say that."

1740: Wigan manager Roberto Martinez on Conor Sammon's sending-off at Old Trafford: "The game was taken away from us, the sending off is a very unfortunate decision. Michael Carrick and Conor Sammon were fighting for the action. All Conor was trying to do was be strong and earn possession of the ball. To give a red card for that is unnecessary. He was fighting to get position. Football is a contact sport but to give a red card just killed the game."

1737: That Everton penalty was one of the worst decisions I've seen all season. You can see it - as well as all the other action - in tonight's Match of the Day at 2245 on BBC One and on this website. Tune in.

1736: Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill: "I was obviously unhappy with the penalty. The players that were heavily involved with it were more upset. Howard [Webb] must have thought there was contact there but there was clearly no contact. It's disappointing because it has a major bearing on the game."

Twitter
Jack Anniky on Twitter: "Demba Ba has got to be one of the best signings this season. On a free and he has scored 14 goals. Give him the number 9!"

1731: Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed the latest in his side's long line of defensive injuries, as Jonny Evans will be out for two weeks with a calf injury. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling missed the Wigan win with illness, while Rio Ferdinand "felt his back".

1729: Everton manager David Moyes has admitted that his side were lucky to be given that penalty at Sunderland, and also says that "This has been the toughest season since I've joined the club." The Toffees are into 10th now but remain short of goals - they've only bagged 18 in 17 games.

1728: Bolton manager Owen Coyle: "We started the game slowly but then grew into it but we have shot ourselves in the foot. It's hard to take but it was self inflicted. The home game against Wolves will be the biggest game of our season."

1726: Newcastle manager Alan Pardew after his side's win at Bolton: "We had round pegs in round holes. We had centre-half Mike Williamson back and he was my outstanding player. We've done terrific so far and now it's about trying to improve in the second half of the season."

1725: Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish: "This interview has been done before. The goals against is good, the chances we create are good, but we can't keep saying we have come up against an inspired goalkeeper. We have to have the belief when we get in there. If we do that will make it easy for us. In most of our home games we should have walked away with all three points, we can only do what we do right and keep creating those chances."

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Mihir on text, via 81111: "Well the title race is really on now. What an end to the year this is shaping up to be."

Twitter
Dara Sheahan on Twitter: "I am currently ham-fisted, too. Mmmmm. Crimbo sandwiches. :)"



Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Tom on text: "Re: Anonymous: Just like Berbatov's hat-trick against Liverpool with that delightful overhead?"

1716: Blackburn manager Steve Kean: "We were disciplined in defence and created quite a few chances on the break. In the second half, sometimes you need great saves and lucky breaks. I am proud of the lads. I think we showed that if we keep our discipline we can come to places like this and dig out results."

1715: West Brom boss Roy Hodgson: "It was always going to be tough. We know how good they are and we would have to be at our best. I'm very pleased that we kept our shape and discipline. We almost sneaked it at the end on the break, but I'm not unhappy with a point."

LEAGUE TWO UPDATE: Top side Crawley Town lost 2-1 against Gillingham with a red card for each side but Cheltenham could not fully capitalise as they drew 0-0 against Shrewsbury. Northampton's 3-2 defeat at home to Burton Albion means they drop into the bottom two. Torquay beat Paolo di Canio's Swindon side 1-0 and Bradford enjoyed a thumping 3-0 win over Crewe.

LEAGUE ONE UPDATE: Leaders Charlton extend their lead at the top as Danny Green scores in injury-time to give the Addicks a 3-2 victory over Yeovil, as Sheffield Wednesday suffered a surprise defeat at Walsall. Stevenage romped to a 6-1 win at Colchester to move into a play-off position and there were wins for Huddersfield, Bury and Wycombe.

CHAMPIONSHIP UPDATE: Middlesbrough jump into second spot with a narrow 1-0 win against Hull and Reading overcome Brighton 3-0. Blackpool beat Barnsley 3-1 with Matt Phillips scoring a hat-trick for Ian Holloway's men. At the bottom, there was a priceless victory for Coventry over Bristol City. Elsewhere, Leicester salvaged a draw against Ipswich and there were wins for Burnley and Peterborough.

Twitter
Olly Layton on Twitter: "It's been Arsenal's day today. Chelsea and Liverpool drawing at home to teams they should beat. The 8-2 defeat to United seems far away now!"


Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Anonymous on text, via 81111: "Watch the Man U fans start proclaiming Berbatov as the best striker in the league. He only scores against bottom three sides with 10 men."

1705: My ham-fisted mathematics aside, what do you make of that lot then? Very much Manchester United's day you have to think while Blackburn keep Bolton in real trouble at the bottom. Tweet your shout to the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @TJRostance or text in via 81111 (UK)

Twitter
Giles Harwood on Twitter: "Anders Lingegaard now has 5 clean sheets in 5 league appearances, starting to look like a bit of a prospect."

1700: Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini: "Today was difficult. We knew this before the game. When you a play a team with all players behind the ball at home, if you don't score in the first half it's not easy, you don't have any space. When we have a chance we should score but maybe we were too slow in the first half. It is impossible to score three or four goals for 38 games. There will be some moments in the year when you won't score. We did everything today and wanted to win, but couldn't."

1658: As 479 of you have pointed out as well, the 6-1 win at Old Trafford for City equates to a 10-goal difference, not five. Maths was never my strong point you see...

1655: Great drama again in the top flight then. How Blackburn have gone from losing at home to Bolton to holding Liverpool in a few days is beyond me - though Mark Bunn's goalkeeping has a lot to do with it. It was business as usual for Manchester United, while Manchester City failed to find the vital touch in front of goal.

1654: FULL-TIME Bolton 0-2 Newcastle


1654: FULL-TIME Liverpool 1-1 Blackburn


1654: FULL-TIME Sunderland 1-1 Everton


1652: And there is Liverpool's chance - twice! First of all Mark Bunn makes a phenomenal save to deny Andy Carroll, before moments later Daniel Agger's header is cleared off the line. Inches. We are talking about inches.

1651: FULL-TIME Man Utd 5-0 Wigan

1651: We are still playing in the other four Premier League games so there remains time for Liverpool to salvage a win.

1649: So two dropped points for Manchester City on what could be an important day at the top of the table. I make it five goals currently between the two Manchester sides - or a 6-1 win at Old Trafford, if you will...

1649: FULL-TIME West Brom 0-0 Man City

1646: We are into stoppage-time across the country and Edin Dzeko becomes the latest Manchester City forward to go close but his header is wide. West Brom are camped in their own penalty area here.

1644: Fine save from Blackburn keeper Mark Bunn to keep out a Stewart Downing header. Another frustrating afternoon at home for the Reds on the cards here.

Twitter
Gary Carr on Twitter: "Can Newcastle fans now start discussing Demba Ba in the same breath as Andy Cole?"

1642: It's all getting a bit desperate for Manchester City at the Hawthorns as David Silva sees his shot brilliantly saved by Ben Foster - but he was offside. City continue to monopolise possession but West Brom are defending superbly.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Text from anon: "Great to see Berbatov back and scoring. Last season's joint top scorer and he can't get a game this season."

1640: Chance for Liverpool as Andy Carroll sends a header narrowly wide from a fine delivery from Jose Enrique. The striker could have done better having out-jumped Grant Hanley. Kenny Dalglish has thrown on Craig Bellamy in place of Maxi Rodriguez for the hosts.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Manchester United goal: They had two very strong penalty appeals waved away before this one is given, and it's the softest of the lot. Park Ji-sung is tripped by Antolin Alcaraz but it looks just outside the area to me. Dimitar Berbatov pays no attention and casual as you like, passes the ball into the corner for his hat-trick.

1637: GOALFLASH Man Utd 5-0 Wigan (Dimitar Berbatov hat-trick)

PENALTY TO MANCHESTER UNITED

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Manchester United goal: Manchester United in rampant mood now as Antonio Valencia drills in against his former club. A corner was half-cleared to Michael Carrick, who plays in Valencia on the right-hand-side of the box and he thrashes a shot into the far corner.

1634: GOALFLASH Man Utd 4-0 Wigan (Antonio Valencia)

Someone has struck the woodwork
1633: West Brom are inches from taking the lead at the Hawthorns. Jerome Thomas strikes an angled shot from 25 yards which smashes into the bottom of Joe Hart's right-hand post and bounces clear of danger.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: In the Championship, Leicester are still behind at the King Power Stadium to Ipswich, while it's still goalless between Middlesbrough and Hull. In League One, Yeovil have taken a surprise 2-1 lead against Charlton through Paul Huntington and Bury have pulled level against Scunthorpe. In League Two, Gillingham have turned it around against Crawley Town and now lead the top-of-the-table side 2-1 with a Jo Kuffour brace.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Newcastle goal: Killer double-blow from Newcastle. Paul Robinson gives the ball away cheaply and is made to pay as Gabriel Obertan skips into the area before cutting the ball back for Demba Ba to bundle in off the underside of the crossbar. Clinical from the in-form striker.

1630: GOALFLASH Bolton 0-2 Newcastle (Demba Ba)

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Newcastle goal: Newcastle take the lead thanks to some delightful technique from Hatem Ben Arfa. Ryan Taylor arrives on the overlap to cross from the left and Ben Arfa crashes it in on the bounce. Beautiful strike.

1628: GOALFLASH Bolton 0-1 Newcastle (Hatem Ben Arfa)

1626: Big moment for Liverpool fans this, as Steven Gerrard returns to the pitch in place of Charlie Adam. He almost creates a goal with his first touch but Maxi heads his free-kick over the top. Back at Old Trafford, Javier Hernandez sees a close-range shot blocked.

1624: Manchester City continue to knock on the West Brom door - but can find no way through. As it stands, their lead over rivals Manchester United would be down to goal difference alone. Perhaps in a bid to increase their numbers, United bring on Wayne Rooney against Wigan...

1622: Comedy moment at the Reebok as Ivan Klasnic shows good skill and quick feet to work an opening in the Newcastle penalty box but he falls over his own feet before getting the chance to shoot. Klasnic was booked in the first half and glanced nervously over his shoulder as referee Peter Walton awarded a free-kick for a dive - but common sense prevailed.

1622: As you would expect - or demand - Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill was livid about that Everton penalty. BBC Football Focus pundit Dion Dublin backs him up: "Having seen the replay I'm not sure it was a penalty. Leon Osman just kicks the floor. There was no contact whatsoever. I would have felt guilty if my team had been awarded a penalty there."

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Anfield: "Anfield is now wide awake after the post-Christmas slumber following Maxi's equaliser. Blackburn manager Steve Kean not so happy and has been in deep discussion with the fourth official Martin Atkinson."

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: The match between Aldershot and Southend has been abandoned because of floodlight failure. Southend led 1-0 at the break when the lights went out.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Manchester United goal: Seconds after Manchester United call for a penalty when Javier Hernandez is pulled down in the area, Dimitar Berbatov increases the home side's lead. He collects a pass from Antonio Valencia, spins beautifully to lose his man before unleashing a good old-fashioned toe-poke into the net.

1617: GOALFLASH Man Utd 3-0 Wigan (Dimitar Berbatov)

1615: West Brom have been completely on the back foot against Manchester City, but they could well have just snatched the lead. Unfortunately for them, Shane Long's header at the back post from Jerome Thomas' cross goes wide. City immediately counter and David Silva shoots at Ben Foster.

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Jimmy Armfield at the Hawthorns: "Manchester City seem to be lacking a bit of width here and bringing on Adam Johnson might well be in Roberto Mancini's mind."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Liverpool goal: Blackburn's resistance does not last long in the second period as Martin Skrtel loops a header to the back post and Maxi Rodriguez climbs above the defence to head in. Game on.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Everton goal: Everton are handed a huge gift here from referee Howard Webb in the form of a very, very soft penalty. Leon Osman dribbles his way into the area and goes down as he looks to shoot. However, the midfielder kicks the floor - there is no challenge anywhere near him. Poor refereeing, but a confident spot-kick as Leighton Baines thumps it home.

1610: GOALFLASH Liverpool 1-1 Blackburn (Maxi Rodriguez)

1609: GOALFLASH Sunderland 1-1 Everton (Leighton Baines)

PENALTY TO EVERTON

1607: Bolton defender Gary Cahill - who seems to be off to Chelsea next month - is having a right ding-dong with Demba Ba. Cahill is sporting a black eye after an early altercation and has just gone right through the back of the Newcastle man. What you would term 'a reducer.'

1606: The first chance of what could prove to be a long half at Old Trafford falls to Manchester United as Park Ji-sung sees his header well saved by Ali Al-Habsi and is unable to pounce on the loose ball. Patrice Evra is now playing at centre-back for United.

1603: Wigan have thrown Franco di Santo on at the break, while Jonny Evans is withdrawn by Manchester United. Steven Gerrard, Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt are all out and warming up for Liverpool. They'll all be on soon if there's no breakthrough.

1601: West Brom v Manchester City is the first of our five games to return - we're off...

Twitter
Dean Talbot on Twitter: "I don't Adam and Eve it, Blackburn winning?"

Tom Kniveton on Twitter: "Need Ben Arfa on, too big a gap between midfield and strikers, Best too wasteful #nufc"

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Anonymous on text: "Blackburn are obviously gonna play better away from home. No stadium in England will give them as bad an atmosphere as in Ewood Park."

1556: What a 45 minutes for Blackburn boss Steve Kean coming up here. Liverpool looked fairly toothless in that opening half but have the firepower to come back and win this. They do have Steven Gerrard on the bench as well...

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: George Boyd's goal puts Peterborough ahead against struggling Nottingham Forest in the Championship, where Burnley are also ahead against Doncaster. In League One, Wycombe are 2-1 up against Exeter, but a win is still not good enough for them to climb out of the relegation zone and Charlton are being held against Yeovil. In League Two, leaders Crawley Town are 1-0 up against Gillingham as are Bradford through a goal from Nakhi Wells at Valley Parade.

1553: While all that was going on, Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has been reacting to speculation he will have £140m to spend in January: "That story is not true", he said. "Whatever transfer business we do, we will do it quietly but we won't do a lot in the transfer market and not with that amount of money."

Half time
Man Utd 2-0 Wigan
Sam Sheringham's HT snapshot: "Manchester United are almost home and hosed in this one after referee Phil Dowd gave them a late Christmas present in the form of a harsh red card for Wigan frontman Conor Sammon.""

Half time
Liverpool 0-1 Blackburn
Chief football writer Phil McNulty's HT snapshot from Anfield:
"Anfield is stunned into silence by Blackburn's goal. Liverpool, as usual at home this season, have had plenty of possession without making the most of it. May call for Steven Gerrard this one."

Half time
Sunderland 1-0 Everton
Arindam Rej's HT snapshot: "You've got to feel sorry for Everton who have dominated but, yet again, just can't put the ball in the net. Stephane Sessegnon is looking razor-sharp on the counter-attack - which is how Sunderland pinched their goal."

Half time
Bolton 0-0 Newcastle
Peter Scrivener's HT snapshot: "Not too much for the Oompa Loompah's in the Newcastle end to sing about. It's been a first-half of poor passing, mis-timed tackling and neither side managing to retain possession for more than a few seconds at a time. If ever a game needed a goal..."

Half time
West Brom 0-0 Man City
Phil Dawkes' HT snapshot:
"City's possession was Barcelona-esque and West Brom are keeping it real but this is no El Classico. Neither side have created much, with the few shots we have had from outside the box. Surely a better second half beckons."

1549: HALF-TIME Sunderland 1-0 Everton

1548: HALF-TIME Bolton 0-0 Newcastle


1548: HALF-TIME Liverpool 0-1 Blackburn


1548: HALF-TIME Man Utd 2-0 Wigan

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Blackburn goal: What about this for an upset. Morten Gamst Pedersen swings in a corner from the right and Charlie Adam - stationed at the front post - can only shin the ball into the roof of the net in front of a stunned Kop.

1546: HALF-TIME West Brom 0-0 Man City

1546: GOALFLASH Liverpool 0-1 Blackburn (Charlie Adam OG)

BBC Final Score pundit Matt Holland: "The ball came up and bounced in front of Conor Sammon. He raised his hands to protect himself. It is a yellow card at most for me."

1545: Bolton's Martin Petrov stings the palms of Newcastle keeper Tim Krul with a 20-yard free-kick, but the game remains goalless as Leon Best wastes a header at the other end.

1544: Liverpool's penalty appeals after an apparent trip by Mark Bunn on Maxi Rodriguez are cut short by the linesman flagging for offside. Replays suggest the referee's assistant was a little hasty with Luis Suarez in front of the last defender, but Rodriguez just about in line as the pair raced onto Stewart Downing's pass.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: Good news for Preston fans out there, especially those who might have read our earlier update where we rather got ahead of ourselves and suggested that North End had lost 3-2. Young striker Jamie Douglas, an 85th-minute substitute, notched the equaliser for PNE deep into injury-time.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Manchester United goal: Man Utd take no time at all to make their extra man count as Dimitar Berbatov thrashes in a second. Darron Gibson's cross from the right is helped on by Javier Hernandez and while Berbatov's first touch is not great, he has the time to turn and plant a left-footed drive into the net from close range. Game over?

1541: GOALFLASH Man Utd 2-0 Wigan (Dimitar Berbatov)

Red card
Wigan sending off: Conor Sammon is shown a straight red card for backing into Michael Carrick. He raises his left hand into Carrick's face, but you've seen stronger challenges go unpunished. Harsh on Wigan, whose task looks even harder now.

RED CARD FOR WIGAN (Conor Sammon)

Twitter
Fergus Milligan on Twitter: "Typical Liverpool - always creating chances, failing to convert. We need a poacher."

Alex Weston on Twitter: "After Chelsea vs Fulham result today I think Spurs will finish above Chelsea now and their title chances are over now."

1535: Royston Drenthe cracks a long-ranger just wide for Everton, who are well on top at Sunderland, while Wigan are enjoying a good spell at Old Trafford. Ronnie Stam - any relation of former United man Jaap? - is getting in behind Patrice Evra at will.

1534: Mario Balotelli has the ball in the net for Manchester City - but he's offside. Not that Balotelli ever looks happy, but he looks particularly unhappy with that one. The correct call though. City frustrated at the moment.

BBC Final Score pundit Dion Dublin: "Martin O'Neill has got belief back in the Sunderland players again - he does it wherever he goes. There is quality at the club and he is the man to bring that out."

1531: Blackburn goalkeeper Mark Bunn produces a good reflex save to deny Andy Carroll at Anfield, getting a hand up quickly to smother the striker's poked shot from inside the six-yard box. Everton come close to a leveller when Leon Osman lifts a shot over from 20 yards.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Anfield: "Liverpool's Luis Suarez getting plenty of shooting practice in the first 20 minutes at Anfield - but nothing on target. All a bit subdued on and off the pitch at the moment and Blackburn manager Steve Kean will like it like that."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Sunderland goal: The home side take the lead against the run of play. Stephane Sessegnon cuts through the middle before offloading to Jack Colback on the left of the area. He cracks in a low shot which is deflected up and over Tim Howard by the lunging Sylvain Distin.


1528: GOALFLASH Sunderland 1-0 Everton (Jack Colback)


1527: My apologies for the clanger there, of course Everton are playing at Sunderland. Back at the Hawthorns, Vincent Kompany feeds the ball to Sergio Aguero on the edge of the box and his low cross gives David Silva a clear view of goal, but the Spaniard scoops his first-time shot over the bar. Manchester City are up to Barcelona levels of possession here.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE UPDATE: In the Championship, Lee Bowyer puts Ipswich 1-0 up at Leicester and Reading lead against Brighton by the same scoreline. In League One, Stevenage and Scunthorpe are both ahead. In League Two, it's an eventful start at Sixfields where Northampton took the lead in the first minute, Burton equalise straight from the kick-off, the home side then retake the lead before having John Johnson sent off. Excitement or what!

Yellow card
1524: A let-off for Manchester United as Jonny Evans is shown a yellow card for a studs-up challenge on Jordi Gomez. That could easily have been red for the only recognised centre-half on the pitch for United. Gomez takes the free-kick, but it's dire.

1522: He's the man of the moment and Luis Suarez goes close twice in as many minutes for Liverpool. The Uruguayan fires just wide after wriggling free in the box having planted a previous chance into the side netting after good work from Maxi Rodriguez and Glen Johnson. Blackburn hang on.

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Jimmy Armfield at the Hawthorns: "Man City have had the majority of the possession but every now and again West Brom provider a reminder that they are in this game."

1519: Straight back to the Stadium of Light where there's a great Everton chance. Royston Drenthe's corner picks out an unmarked Louis Saha, who produces a poor, close-range header that goes wide of the mark. He looked like a man who's out of form with that effort.

1518: Everton are well on top against Sunderland but Seb Larsson shows his set-piece a threat with a good, long free-kick which is met by a Titus Bramble header. It's too weak though and Tim Howard gathers safely.

1517: Penalty shout for Manchester United - and one you'd expect to see given. Javier Hernandez goes down under the challenge of Antolin Alcaraz but is waved on. Moments later a Nani cross is scrambled away as United turn the screw.

1516: Newcastle close to breaking the deadlock at the Reebok Stadium. Ryan Taylor's 25-yard free-kick bends round the wall and is heading into the bottom corner until Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen leaps to his left to push the ball away.

Twitter
Jake Gorton on Twitter: "Great result for Fulham and a good way to comeback after the horror show against United last week. Things looking up for Jol."

Saqueeb Rajan on Twitter: "Walk in the Park type of goal for United."


1515: As you would expect at the Hawthorns, Manchester City are largely on the front foot with West Brom defending deep. Most of the play has been in the Baggies half, but there has been little for home keeper Ben Foster to do as yet.

1513: Wigan have hardly touched the ball at Old Trafford so far, with Conor Sammon ploughing a particularly lone furrow up front for them. But as I write it - a chance! Ronnie Stam crosses from the right but Sammon is unable to add the finishing touch at the back post. He should have done better there.

1512: Not much to shout about at the Reebok so far as Bolton and Newcastle scrap out a dour 10 minutes. James Milner heads a cross wide for Manchester City at West Brom, while Liverpool dominate at Anfield.

1511: Everton, and Tim Cahill in particular, have been criticised for a lack of goals. But they almost put that right as Cahill pounces on a long ball then shoots from eight yards - only for Kieran Westwood to restore his own confidence with a decent save.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Man Utd goal: The floodgates are opened at Old Trafford. Patrice Evra is met by minimal resistance as he gets through to the byeline, and from his accurate cutback Park Ji-sung sweeps into the roof of the net from eight yards. Composed finish.

1508: GOALFLASH Man Utd 1-0 Wigan (Park Ji-sung)

1506: Speaking of goalkeepers, almost a clanger from Kieran Westwood in the Sunderland goal as a Phil Neville throw goes over his head but he is able to recover.

1505: Charlie Adam lines up a snap-shot from range but the Liverpool man fires it straight at Mark Bunn. The deputy goalkeeper could have a busy afternoon for Blackburn you fear.

1502: First sighter of goal at the Hawthorns as Chris Brunt swivels and hits a scorcher from 25 yards which is just wide of Joe Hart's far post. Bold start from West Brom.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE UPDATES: In the Championship, leaders Southampton extend their lead at the top of the table with a 2-0 triumph over Crystal Palace, while Derby and Milwall both won 1-0 against Leeds and Portsmouth respectively. In League One, MK Dons enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 victory at Leyton Orient and in League Two, Dagenham & Redbridge's 3-0 win at home against Barnet takes them out of the drop zone, meaning troubled Northampton fall in.

Whistle
1500: And we are off and running in all five games now...

West Brom v Man City
WEST BROM v MAN CITY TEAM NEWS
Phil Dawkes reports:
"West Brom make one enforced changed from the team that beat Newcastle 3-2 five days ago with defender Billy Jones replacing the injured Steven Reid at full-back. Manchester City make four changes, only one of them enforced: Pablo Zabaleta starting at right-back in place of Micah Richards, who has been unable to shake off a calf injury. Manager Roberto Mancini also starts defender Kolo Toure, midfielder James Milner and striker Mario Balotelli. Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry and Adam Johnson drop to the bench."

West Brom v Man City
West Brom: Foster, Jones, Olsson, McAuley, Shorey, Brunt, Scharner, Mulumbu, Thomas, Long, Odemwingie. Subs: Fulop, Dorrans, Jara Reyes, Dawson, Thorne, Cox, Fortune.
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Toure, Kompany, Clichy, Toure Yaya, Milner, Nasri, Silva, Aguero, Balotelli. Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Dzeko, Johnson, Savic, Barry, De Jong.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

Sunderland v Everton
SUNDERLAND v EVERTON TEAM NEWS
Arindam Rej reports: "Does Tim Cahill deserve a place in the Everton team? After being dropped in midweek, it seemed that manager David Moyes thought the answer was 'no'. But the Australian is back. Marouane Fellaini and injured Seamus Coleman miss out as Sylvain Distin comes in, meaning Johnny Heitinga is likely to be pushed up to midfield in a 4-4-1-1. Sunderland's team is far more clear cut - unchanged from their dramatic defeat of QPR."

Sunderland v Everton
Sunderland: Westwood, O'Shea, Bramble, Brown, Bardsley, Larsson, Cattermole, Vaughan, Richardson, Sessegnon, Bendtner. Subs: Carson, Gardner, Kilgallon, Colback, Ji, McClean, Elmohamady.
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Distin, Jagielka, Baines, Drenthe, Neville, Heitinga, Osman, Cahill, Saha. Subs: Mucha, Bilyaletdinov, Stracqualursi, McFadden, Gueye, Barkley, Vellios.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

Man United v Wigan
MAN UTD v WIGAN TEAM NEWS Sam Sheringham reports: "Manchester United's teamsheet has more of an April Fool's Day than a Boxing Day feel to it as Sir Alex Ferguson pulls a line-up from left-field. Just when he was being talked of by Ferguson as a "pivotal" midfield player, Michael Carrick lines up at centre-half, with Antonio Valencia at right-back. Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez are up front with Darron Gibson and Park Ji-sung in a new-look midfield. Wigan, in contrast, are unchanged from their 0-0 draw with Liverpool."
Man Utd v Wigan
Man Utd: Lindegaard, Valencia, Evans, Carrick, Evra, Park, Gibson, Giggs, Nani, Berbatov, Hernandez. Subs: De Gea, Rooney, Welbeck, Rafael Da Silva, Macheda, Diouf, Fryers.
Wigan: Al Habsi, Stam, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa, Jones, Diame, McCarthy, Gomez, Moses, Sammon. Subs: Pollitt, Gohouri, Crusat, Watson, Di Santo, McArthur, Rodallega.
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)


Liverpool v Blackburn
LIVERPOOL v BLACKBURN TEAM NEWS
Chief football writer Phil McNulty reports from Anfield:
"Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard returns on the bench after an ankle injury, while £35m striker Andy Carroll gets the opportunity to make a mark from the start and take advantage of Blackburn's fragile confidence. Blackburn have suffered a blow with goalkeeper Paul Robinson ruled out with a calf injury. Mark Bunn deputises."

Liverpool v Blackburn
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Maxi, Henderson, Adam, Downing, Suarez, Carroll. Subs: Doni, Gerrard, Kuyt, Carragher, Shelvey, Kelly, Bellamy.
Blackburn: Bunn, Lowe, Samba, Hanley, Pedersen, Henley, Dunn, Nzonzi, Hoilett, Formica, Yakubu. Subs: Kean, Petrovic, Rochina, Blackman, Goodwillie, Vukcevic, Morris.
Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

Bolton v Newcastle
BOLTON v NEWCASTLE TEAM NEWS
Peter Scrivener reports: "Bolton have changed both full-backs after beating Blackburn last time out. Dedryck Boyata comes in for Gretar Steinsson while Paul Robinson replaces Marcos Alonso. Sam Ricketts is back in the squad for the first time since rupturing his Achilles in February and David Wheater is also on the bench after serving a four-game ban. Newcastle centre-back Mike Williamson makes his first appearance since injuring his ankle in August while midfielder Yohan Cabaye returns after a one-match ban and Ryan Taylor is in at left-back for the injured Davide Santon."

Bolton v Newcastle
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Boyata, Cahill, Knight, Robinson, Mark Davies, Reo-Coker, Muamba, Petrov, Klasnic, Ngog. Subs: Bogdan, Eagles, Sanli, Kevin Davies, Ricketts, Pratley, Wheater.
Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Ryan Taylor, Obertan, Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Ba, Best. Subs: Elliot, Ben Arfa, Perch, Shola Ameobi, Sammy Ameobi, Vuckic, Ferguson.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)

1454: Standby for all your team news and line-ups for the 1500 games...

1453: Well, well, well - what do we all make of that one? Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @TJRostance or text in via 81111 (UK)


1452: FULL-TIME Chelsea 1-1 Fulham


1450: Didier Drogba sends in a free-kick from 30 yards but again David Stockdale is on hand to turn it over the top.

1449: We are into the first of three minutes of added time and Fulham substitute Pajtim Kasami has a chance but hits it straight at Petr Cech.

1445: Fine save again from David Stockdale as he tips over a Raul Meireles header. Chelsea's corner causes panic as John Terry hits the ground, but no penalty is given, Another corner, and another good save from Stockdale who tips out Didier Drogba's flick.

1443: Into the last few minutes now and Fulham are looking good to hang on for a point. This is certainly a far more robust showing than the one they put in against Manchester United in midweek.

Twitter
Chief football writer Phil McNulty on Twitter: "Plenty of white Luis Suarez t-shirts similar to those worn by Liverpool's players before the game at Wigan dotted around Anfield today."

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Alan from Edinburgh on text: "Hope Fergie realises that by resting Rooney he has just ruined the Boxing Day preparations for thousands of Fantasy Football managers."

1438: Chelsea pushing hard for the winner now as Raul Meireles takes aim from the corner of the box and curls his shot narrowly wide of the far post.

1436: First sighter for Didier Drogba as he collects a fine ball over the top from David Luiz but can only shoot at David Stockdale. That was a magnificent pass from Luiz, cut through the Fulham back four in one long punt.

1435: If you all hit refresh now for me, you'll be able to watch today's Final Score at the top of the page. Top stuff.

BREAKING TEAM NEWS: Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard returns to the bench after an ankle injury.

BREAKING TEAM NEWS: Tim Cahill returns for Everton at Sunderland, who are unchanged.

1431: Good tracking back from Fernando Torres as he wins the ball from Clint Dempsey on halfway. With Didier Drogba set for a trip to the Africa Cup of Nations soon Chelsea are desperate for him to find his form.

1428: Second change for Chelsea as Fernando Torres is handed a reprieve and Didier Drogba comes on for Daniel Sturridge.

Twitter
Rohan Ricketts on Twitter: "Ashley Cole just got chopped like an onion. Lovely bit of skill from Ruiz."

Damian Johnson on Twitter: "Freakishly mild at Old Trafford for Man Utd v Wigan. No Phil Jones after head knock. Carrick at centre back. Wigan unchanged."

1423: Fine double save from David Stockdale denies Chelsea. First he tips over a Daniel Sturridge effort from 20 yards and from the corner, John Terry's header is flicked toward goal by Florent Malouda, but Stockdale is able to claw it out.

BREAKING TEAM NEWS: Andy Carroll comes into the Liverpool team alongside Luis Suarez for the visit of Blackburn.

1419: Here comes Frank Lampard as he is again substituted by Andre Villas-Boas. Lampard has been quiet today and he is switched for Florent Malouda.

BREAKING TEAM NEWS: Michael Carrick starts in defence for Manchester United in place of the injured Phil Jones. Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck are rested as Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov start up front. Mario Balotelli starts for leaders Manchester City at West Brom.

1417: That has really put the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons. Chelsea really should have dealt with that to be honest, it was poor from Ashley Cole and Petr Cech to allow the ball across.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Fulham goal: I told you it was all Chelsea. Poor defending from the hosts sees Fulham level. Bryan Ruiz turns Ashley Cole far too easily and is allowed to drill a cross in for Clint Dempsey to tap in from a yard out. Dempsey got inbetween David Luiz and John Terry to smuggle that one in.

1414: GOALFLASH Chelsea 1-1 Fulham (Clint Dempsey)


1409: Chelsea well on top now as Daniel Sturridge floats in a great cross which is nicked away from the waiting Fernando Torres. John Terry fires a shot in from the following corner but Fulham get it away.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Chelsea goal: There we go, that's more like it. Ashley Cole crosses in from the left for Fernando Torres. The striker takes it down with his back to goal but the ball gets away from him and Juan Mata pops up to take the ball off him to lash in left-footed. Crisp finish from the forward.

1405: GOALFLASH Chelsea 1-0 Fulham (Juan Mata)

1404: Chelsea kick us off with, I hope, some increased vigour. Someone get us a goal out there.

1403: No sign of any changes at Stamford Bridge as the players emerge onto the pitch.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Darren from Bristol on text: "Let's get rid of Paul Buckle now"

1358: Chelsea hero and former TV legend Jimmy Greaves is out on the pitch at Stamford Bridge. Unfortunately he was presenting something and not warming up though. I'd give him the last half hour if this game doesn't perk up.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE UPDATE: In the Championship, leaders Southampton are ahead courtesy of a solitary strike from Guly do Prado against Crystal Palace. Prince Buaben's goal for Watford is cancelled out by an own goal from Adrian Mariappa with the game against Cardiff finishing 1-1. In League One, MK Dons lead 1-0 at half time against Leyton Orient and in League Two, the Bristol Rovers manager Paul Buckle is under increased pressure as his side relinquish a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at home to basement club Plymouth.

West Brom v Man City
WEST BROM v MAN CITY (1500)
Phil Dawkes reports:
"Top of the tree at Christmas for the first time since 1929, with only one league defeat all season and a goal difference 10 better than their nearest rival, Manchester City have every reason to be jolly. Having only won twice at home all season, West Brom would pull of a huge shock if they beat Mancini's men today. But then, not many expected them to win at Newcastle five days ago. Can the Baggies upset even bigger odds?"

Sunderland v Everton
SUNDERLAND v EVERTON (1500)
Arindam Rej reports: "Martin O'Neill's positive imprints are already visible in Sunderland's play; they're attacking more confidently and defending more resolutely. Dead-ball specialist Seb Larsson is on form for O'Neill's side, who have snatched two last-gasp wins in three games. Breaking down Everton will be a bigger test as David Moyes's men have allowed fewer shots on target than any Premier League team. Everton are struggling to score though, so Moyes has - rightly - put pressure on Louis Saha to deliver."

Man United v Wigan
MAN UTD v WIGAN (1500) Sam Sheringham reports: "Manchester United have put damaging defeats to Manchester City and Basel firmly behind them in a sizzling run of Premier League form, which has seen them close to within two points of their "noisy neighbours". The smart money is on an eighth win in nine games for United, with Wigan having lost all 13 of their encounters with the Red Devils. But Roberto Martinez's men are on a decent trot of their own, losing only one of their last six and drawing with Chelsea and Liverpool in their two most recent games."



Liverpool v Blackburn
LIVERPOOL v BLACKBURN (1500)
Chief football writer Phil McNulty reports from Anfield:
"Life does not get any easier for Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean, subjected to heavy abuse from his own supporters during and after the 2-1 defeat at home to fellow relegations strugglers Bolton on Tuesday. They prop up the Premier League table and face a Liverpool side determined to bounce back from being held to a goalless draw at Wigan."

Bolton v Newcastle
BOLTON v NEWCASTLE (1500)
Peter Scrivener reports: "How times change. Bolton moved up to fourth after thrashing Newcastle 5-1 in last season's corresponding game in November. A similar result today could see the Trotters jump up to fourth from bottom. Bolton traditionally dominate this fixture with seven wins out of their last eight at home to Newcastle, including both previous Boxing Day games. But the Trotters have won just once at the Reebok Stadium this season and the Magpies are keen to get their season back on track after picking up just two points in their last six games. "

1349: Yep, not great at the minute at Chelsea. Luckily we've got plenty more action to look forward to later. Here's what our reporters are looking forward to in the 1500 kick-offs...

Half time
Chelsea 0-0 Fulham
Owen Phillips' HT snapshot: "It's pretty lacklustre fare at Stamford Bridge with just a couple of half-chances for both sides. Surely it has to improve after the break. Doesn't it?"

1347: HALF-TIME Chelsea 0-0 Fulham

1344: Bright move at the other end for Fulham, but again there is a lack of a meaningful finish. Kerim Frei dances inside two challenges on the touchline before picking out Moussa Dembele in the area, but the striker's header is poor and straight at Petr Cech. David Luiz takes a shot from 30 yards but causes no danger.

1342: Juan Mata lifts a free-kick into the area but it's easy for Fulham to deal with. Martin Jol will be delighted with the lack of scares in this half. Chelsea must do better after the break.

1338: Wind may have taken the roof off at Tranmere but there's no danger of the same happening here. This is one of the quietest Premier League games I've heard in a while. Danny Murphy sprays a pass out of play and instantly berates those ahead of him for a lack of movement.

Twitter
Matt Hodgkinson on Twitter: "Definitely a change in the style of David Luiz's defending. Not diving in and fewer adventures forward. Good signs."

1331: Oriol Romeu reluctantly pops a shot over the top from 25 yards after a lack of options for him in the final third. Better from Jose Bosingwa again as he whips in a really dangerous ball but Daniel Sturridge can't get on the end of it. Chelsea cranking it up as reach the half-hour mark.

1330: Jose Bosingwa swings in a great cross - but Fulham right-back Stephen Kelly makes a solid header to get the ball away. If Didier Drogba fancied the whole day off, he may be disappointed at this rate.

1328: Here's some breaking news for you, Tranmere v Rochdale in League One has been called off after strong winds damaged the roof at Prenton Park.

1327: Speculative effort from Moussa Dembele as the Fulham forward shoots across the face of goal but Petr Cech is able to watch it go by to safety. The visitors having a lot of the ball at the minute with Danny Murphy pulling the strings in midfield.

1324: John Terry gets away with a handball on the halfway line before going on a David Luiz-style charge up the field. There's no end product though and Fulham get the ball back. We've seen next to nothing from the key attacking men so far.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
DD on text: "Worst present? I got a Star Trek book that was volume two of a trilogy. I hate Star Trek, and don't have volumes one or three."

BBC MOTD on Twitter: "Shearer reckons Torres will get a couple of goals this afternoon."

1320: Fulham are giving the ball away at will here, with Fernando Torres the latest recipient. He cuts inside onto his left foot before shanking a horror of a shot over the top.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: Bottom club Plymouth have pulled a goal back through Warren Feeney and now trail Bristol Rovers 2-1, while Dagenham & Redbridge lead 1-0 against Barnet. We are still scoreless in the Championship and League One.

1318: It's opened up now, with Daniel Sturridge shooting wide at one end before Fulham almost break in through Kerim Frei. There are goals in the air at last I feel.

1317: And now a big chance for Chelsea. Fulham carelessly concede possession in their defensive third, and Juan Mata floats a gem of a through-ball into Fernando Torres. Torres does everything right, killing the ball beautifully on his chest before crashing a volley goalward. Only a fine save from David Stockdale prevents the opening goal.

1315: There it is, the first real chance of the day. Stephen Kelly crosses well from the right and Orlando Sa gets there ahead of Jose Bosingwa but can only head over the top. Big miss for the visitors.

1313: Fulham have a sniff again as Orlando Sa almost gets through but David Luiz does well to get across and make a challenge. This game is in dire need of a chance or challenge or something to bring it to life. Very dull so far.

1310: We have a shot on target - and it comes from Fulham. Clint Dempsey chances his arm from 25 yards and Petr Cech gets down well to tip the ball around the post. Decent save from the keeper.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Adam from Exeter on text: "My odd present... woks. Plural. Both wrapped together. Who needs two woks for Xmas?!?"

Yellow card
1308: The first booking of the day goes to Clint Dempsey for a cynical tug on Raul Meireles. I won't lie to you, this one hasn't got going yet. For those of you on Torres-watch, I don't think he's touched it yet.

1305: Fulham are lining up with Orlando Sa on his own through the middle, supported by Clint Dempsey and Bryan Ruiz. Could be a case of Chelsea trying to break down a stubborn Fulham defence here, the visitors haven't set up overly ambitiously.

1303: Chelsea spraying the ball around in fine style, with Frank Lampard at the heart of it. Lampard has scored five goals on Boxing Days of the past, way off the record holder though. Robbie Fowler scored on this day no less than nine times.

Whistle
1300: Fulham kick-off to get Boxing Day in the Premier League up and running.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Will from Cambridge on text: "I'll swap Mr. Jol my new pristine copy of 'I, Partridge' for a Chelsea win today. Deal?"

1255: The teams are in the tunnel at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea looking to go above Tottenham in third place, for the time being at least. Spurs aren't in action until tomorrow evening when they head to Norwich.

Chelsea v Fulham
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Meireles, Romeu, Lampard, Sturridge, Torres, Mata. Subs: Turnbull, Drogba, Malouda, Lukaku, Ferreira, McEachran, Kalou.
Fulham: Stockdale, Kelly, Hangeland, Senderos, John Arne Riise, Dempsey, Murphy, Frei, Dembele, Orlando Sa, Ruiz. Subs: Etheridge, Sidwell, Baird, Kasami, Hughes, Etuhu, Briggs.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

Twitter
Guy Mowbray on Twitter: "Boxing Day sales at Trafford Centre + over 70,000 at Old Trafford = very busy M60 later!"

Match of the Day on Twitter: "Arsenal's game might have been called off, but we've still 7 matches in the Premier League today. Match of the Day, 10.45pm."

FOOTBALL LEAGUE UPDATE: It's all looking festively cheery for Bristol Rovers boss Paul Buckle at the minute. There was some chat that he might get the boot with defeat to Plymouth this afternoon but they are currently 2-0 up thanks to a Matt Harrold brace. Oxford are also up at AFC Wimbledon.

1241: All very friendly at the Bridge with Martin Jol and Andre Villas-Boas sharing a laugh and a joke on the touchline. I think they're discussing bad presents, with Jol looking furious about missing out on the Alan Partridge biography.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Mike from Notts on text, via 81111: "Torres must score today. He looked sharp before his needless red card against Swansea and has harshly not had a look in since but with Drogs leaving for Africa soon Nando needs to prove to the rest of the team he has what it takes. I reckon two for Torres in a 4-1 win."

1235: What do we think about Fernando Torres starting then? If ever a man was due a goal, it's him. I've rarely seen a striker's confidence seemingly disintegrate so fast. Apart from Andriy Shevchenko of course. Must be something in the water at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea v Fulham
CHELSEA v FULHAM TEAM NEWS
Owen Phillips reports: "Misfiring £50m striker Fernando Torres gets the chance to impress as Chelsea make three changes from the side that drew with Tottenham last time out. Didier Drogba drops to the bench, Frank Lampard is recalled as Ramires is banned and David Luiz replaces the injured Branislav Ivanovic in central defence. Fulham also make three changes from their last fixture. Stephen Kelly replaces Chris Baird at right-back, Kerim Frei comes in for his league debut and Orlando Sa also starts."

Chelsea v Fulham
CHELSEA v FULHAM (1300)
Owen Phillips reports: "Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas insists his side are on the up despite falling 11 points behind leaders Manchester City. "We have shown extreme levels of resilience without dropping a level of performance," he said. "It's all good signs." Fulham boss Martin Jol says his side will not hide behind a defensive wall following their home hammering against Manchester United. "We've learned from this," Jol said. "We have to do better, be more aggressive. And if we have the ball, we must take the game to them.""

Injured Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden on Twitter: "Walked to the gym with my sister this morning only for it to be closed haha, gutted! She decided to run up and down stairs, I settled for a Starbucks!"

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Anonymous on text via 8111: "RE: Bad presents, my Dad got a friend who'd just had jaw surgery a box of toffee. Shockerholic. In the pub about to go see Derby gub Leeds 4-0. Merry Christmas indeed."

Twitter
Opta Sports on Twitter: "4 - Fernando Torres has scored more Premier League goals for Liverpool in 2011 than he has for Chelsea (3). Forlorn."

Chelsea v Fulham
CHELSEA v FULHAM (1300)
Owen Phillips reports: "Fulham like nothing more than turning over west London rivals Chelsea and desperately need a boost. The 5-0 home drubbing against Manchester United and the fact they lie just four points above the relegation zone mean a first win at Stamford Bridge since 1979 will be even more welcome than a Boxing Day gift of trousers with an elasticated waist. But the Blues must win to keep alive their slim title hopes and in recent weeks have shown glimpses of their best form, beating Manchester City and drawing at Tottenham."

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Jon from Exeter, on text via 81111: "As odd presents go, the ironing board I received yesterday must be up there with the best of them. Even surpasses the wheelbarrow the other year."

1221: Chelsea fans may be interested to hear that the Special One himself was on Radio 4 this morning. Jose Mourinho said: "My passion is England and my next step will be to go back and, if possible, go and stay for a long time." Next Machester United manager?

BREAKING TEAM NEWS: Bobby Zamora is left out of the Fulham side again by manager Martin Jol.

BREAKING TEAM NEWS: Fernando Torres starts for Chelsea against Fulham, with Didier Drogba on the bench. Frank Lampard also starts while David Luiz returns in defence.

1215: Don't forget, Arsenal's scheduled game with Wolves has been put back a day due to the tube strike. I realise this is probably a bit short notice if you were setting off from Wolverhampton, but if you were stupid enough not to realise and are on the edges of London already, please get in touch. Share your pain.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Matt from Stockport on text, via 81111: "Missus has hit the sales. Leaving me with FIFA, beer and the live text. Better than Christmas day itself. I'll be suitably tanked upon her return."

1208: I also want to hear about your present disasters. Someone out there has received a shocker of a gift and I want to know what it was. I did alright to be honest, though my day was soured when I missed out on a perfect score in a 90s music quiz by failing to recall the work of Montell Jordan. I'll never forgive myself.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Jan Harding on text via 81111: "Thank goodness the footy is back on - I was getting withdrawal symptoms, nearly got the Subbuteo out!"

1203: Football fever has hit Telford already, where the kick-off against Wrexham has been delayed by 10 minutes due to crowd congestion. The match will now start at 1210.

Twitter
Arthur on Twitter: "Fulham to beat Chelsea 4-1, Wigan 6-1 United, and WBA to smash City 8-2. You heard it here first."

1205: But today isn't all about us, it isn't even all about the football. It's all about you and your views. Are you a Wigan fan off to Old Trafford? Have you caused a massive family argument for choosing Northampton v Burton over visiting the in-laws? Are you going to live the dream by watching Home Alone later whilst simultaneously reading live text commentary from Stoke? Let's hear it. Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @TJRostance or text in via 81111 (UK).

1200: And, you'll be delighted to know, we here on the BBC Football desk are also the ultimate in dedicated professionals. Just as players up and down the land are expected to come in for training on Christmas Day and maintain a balanced diet, we were in for a 90-minute speed typing session at 9am yesterday and kept the Baileys count down to single figures. Thank us later...

1158: Plenty going on then. We may spend all year moaning about how little work footballers do for their monstrous salaries, but fair's fair - they put in a shift at Christmas. While you lot are in the middle of 10 days off work, filling your time solely with eating and drinking, our Premier League boys are facing the second of four games in 10 days either side of the festivities. They're practically Saints.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: Plenty of early kick-offs on this busy day of Boxing Day football. In the Championship, Watford entertain Cardiff with leaders Southampton at home to Crystal Palace. Millwall face Portsmouth and Derby welcome Leeds. In League One, Leyton Orient and MK Dons face off as Preston host Carlisle at Deepdale and in League Two, it's Bristol Rovers v Plymouth, AFC Wimbledon v Oxford United, bottom club Dagenham & Redbridge at home to Barnet and Hereford face Port Vale. You can get to a game and still be back in plenty of time for Madagascar 2. Magical day on the cards.

Twitter
Daniel Whyley on Twitter: "Hello second best footballing day of the season (after the last day of the Premier League, obviously)."

1150: You may have a mountain of washing up to attend to, or a child desperate to get to the toy shop, but stay right here as we have got a packed day in store for you. Chelsea v Fulham kicks us off at 1300, and I'll bring you all the team news as soon as we have it. There are seven Premier League games in total today, culminating in a televised classic at the Britannia as Stoke host Aston Villa (1945). We have got to be talking Only Fools & Horses viewing figures for that one. North of 20m, surely?

1145: You're full of chocolate and turkey, the house looks like you've been burgled, the TV schedules are packed with animation or comedies from the 1970s - yep, it's Boxing Day alright. But fear not, for we have the perfect escape route for you all - a solid 10-hours plus of the finest live text commentary your licence fee can buy. Go pour yourself a Buck's Fizz and join me on the other side...




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Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 26 Dec 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man City 18 38 45
2 Man Utd 18 33 45
3 Tottenham 16 13 35
4 Chelsea 18 15 34
5 Arsenal 17 8 32
6 Liverpool 18 7 31
7 Newcastle 18 3 30
8 Stoke 18 -10 25
9 West Brom 18 -7 22
10 Everton 17 -2 21
11 Norwich 17 -4 21
12 Aston Villa 18 -4 20
13 Fulham 18 -5 19
14 Sunderland 18 0 18
15 Swansea 17 -5 18
16 QPR 17 -14 16
17 Wolves 17 -13 15
18 Wigan 18 -20 14
19 Bolton 18 -19 12
20 Blackburn 18 -14 11

see also
Boxing Day football photos
26 Dec 11 |  Football


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