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By Phil Dawkes
1954: Well, it's been a pretty stunning start to 2012. Let's just hope it is a sign of a cracking year to come. We could have had ourselves five 2-1 scorelines but Villa didn't get the memo. And we could have had five away wins but for Fulham not reading the script. However, what we did get was five superb games. And you can't ask for much more than that. Join Tom Rostance tomorrow night for what promises to be another great night of football. I'll see thee.
FULL-TIME Aston Villa 0-2 Swansea Bruce Pope reports: "A Happy New Year indeed for Swansea, who finally win away in the Premier League. Villa might have beaten Chelsea on Saturday but they had no answer to Nathan Dyer."
FULL-TIME QPR 1-2 Norwich John Sinnottreports: "Joey Barton's dismissal proves costly for QPR. Having given QPR the lead, Barton is red-carded and Norwich come from behind to win 2-1 at Loftus Road. Rangers have now picked up just two out of 24 points. Worrying times for Rangers."
FULL-TIME Wolves 1-2 Chelsea Owen Phillips reports: "Frank Lampard popped up with a vital, vital winner and although Chelsea left it very late, few could argue they deserved to win an absorbing game which just about keeps them in the title race. Just about."
FULL-TIME Fulham 2-1 Arsenal Marc Higginson reports: "Wow, what a finish. Fulham deserved victory for the way they turned the tide after being totally outclassed in the first half. Penalty or no penalty, Arsenal's capitulation was predictable as they slowly retreated in the second half."
Fulham boss Martin Jol on rumoured Zamora rift: "I love all my players, especially when they score and work hard. Sometime you have to provoke players and they can provoke us. The only thing I want is for him to score goals and win games for us like he did today."
Fulham boss Martin Jol: "It was a great feeling. We have conceded a few late goals ourselves but the confidence was high. The first 20-25 minutes we made it too easy for them. You have to match up and try to take the game to them. They looked tired but I think we deserved it. After the sending-off we pushed and pushed. Maybe we were a bit lucky to score the winner but that is what you get if you work hard. Even before the sending-off we had many more attempts on goal and more possession. If you are 1-0 down you have to try to play your football."
From Nick in London, via text: "This result just emphasises our need to spend both up front and at the back this month. Still, not even throwing away more soft points can dampen my excitement for the potential return of the king! Thierry Henry 14"
From Anon, via text: "Regarding the Arsenal players' tiredness, can I point out that Fulham have a small squad, have fielded basically the same team for the last month, injury permitting, and also have played about 3,472 million games in a season that started in June!"
jbutler23 on Twitter:
"Probert had a poor game today but we can't blame him for the defeat. We let #FFC put pressure on us by not taking key chances"
Wenger, when asked if Philippe Senderos' foul on Gervinho should have been a penalty: "200 %. But we know we don't get penalties. There was one against QPR and one today. It is unfortunate to lose a game like that because the game should have been over at half-time. We were unlucky today and the referee played a massive part in this game."
Wenger on the Gervinho penalty claim: "It was a joke. When Djourou got booked first they tried to get him a second yellow and the referee was naïve enough to give it. It should have been a foul to us."
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "We missed many chances and had some bad decisions from the referee today. The two together made the difference."
1937: Whether it was tiredness amongst the Arsenal players, as the below text suggests, or not, something definitely changed from the first half to the second. Arsenal bossed the first 45 and should have scored more than the one they did get. But Fulham were completely rejuvenated after the break and took the game to the visitors. I am going to say it: it was a true game of two halves.
silviodifede on Twitter:
"Arsenal was clearly tired in 2nd half: many players played all the matches in this period. They had less energy than Fulham."
From Anon, via text: "Martin Jol is doing a fantastic job for Spurs this season! Thanks Martin!"
1933: Phew. Well, I've caught by breath now after that finish. And what a finish. Where does it leave us with regard to the table? Well, Arsenal are fifth with 36 points from 20 matches, a point behind fourth-placed Chelsea and two ahead of sixth-placed Liverpool. Fulham move up to 13th, eight points ahead of the relegation zone with 23 from 20 games.
WalkmanAdan on Twitter:
"Forget the red for a moment , game should have been buried if it wasnt for Walcott and Gervinho shocking display in final 3rd."
From Dan, via text: "Got exactly what we deserved. We've been far too complacent when 1-0 recently and I hope this teaches us a lesson."
Devi_Kun on Twitter:
"Terrible arsenal performance second half no desire, no passion, laborious, fulham deserving the win."
From Anon, via text: "And that my friends is why the Prem is THE football league, unpredictable. Well done Fulham from a happy scouse."
1925: And whoever said Jol and Zamora had fallen out. The big hug they just gave each other on the pitch suggests otherwise.
1925: Arsene Wenger strides across the pitch with a face of disgust and anger. Martin Jol on the other hand beams with delight. This is his first Premier League win over Wenger and it tastes sweet for the Dutchman.
1922: And that is it. It is all over.
1922: Would you believe it?!! Arsenal can't. Stephen Kelly's cross is headed back across goal where Bobby Zamora is lurking to fire into the bottom corner. They have been on the receiving end of last minute goals this season but Fulham have just massively benefitted from one. What a return for Bobby Zamora. It's a stunning end to a gripping match.
1919: GOALFLASH Fulham 2-1 Arsenal (Bobby Zamora)
1919: Moussa Dembele weaves his way into a shooting opportunity but when his shot comes from 25 yards it is high and wide.
1918: We're into added time. Fulham probing for an opening.
1917: It comes to nothing though as Tomas Rosicky can do nothing with his finish.
1916: But wait, Arsenal are coming forward...
1915: We've got two minutes of normal time to go and it is all Fulham.
1913: You can't say Fulham don't deserve this. An Arsenal defender gets a head on a Fulham corner but only as far as Philippe Senderos, whose header back across goal is then nodded in by the onrushing Steve Sidwell. Arsenal undone by two former Gunners. Now can Fulham find a winner that looked highly unlikely at half time.
1911: GOALFLASH Fulham 1-1 Arsenal (Steve Sidwell)
AdamRathe on Twitter:
"Even the infamously moaning Arsenal can't have any complaints with that red card. #FFC deserve at least a draw here."
1909: In response to the red card, Arsenal send on defender Sebastien Squillaci for Aaron Ramsey. This could be a long 10 minutes for the Gunners.
Arsenal red card: Well this has put the cat amongst the pigeons. Clint Dempsey's pass through to Bobby Zamora never reaches it's target as the striker is held back by Johan Djourou. It's the Arsenal man's second bookable offence, receives a yellow and then red card and he has to make the long walk over the pitch to the tunnel for an early bath. It's back to the wall time for the Gunners now. Just over 10 minutes to go.
RED CARD FOR ARSENAL (Johan Djourou)
1904: Superb save! Wojciech Szczesny comes to Arsenal's rescue. The ball is barely under control in the box but is still flicked wide to Bryan Ruiz who has a clear sight of goal. His low shot is struck well but is too close to the keeper who blocks with his legs. Quite simply, Ruiz should have scored and Fulham should be level.
1900: You have to say Fulham are the better side now. They've completely reversed the tide from the first half and Arsenal are on the back foot. Looks like Yossi Benayoun is going to come on for the Gunners. It is Gervinho who makes way after a completely anonymous second half display.
brhymer on Twitter:
"I'm at a night beach supposed to be having fun but Arsenal just don't me to have my phone in pockets.constant refreshes! COYG."
1857: Fulham make their first substitution. Kerim Frei comes on for Danny Murphy. Can the talented teenager make a difference?
JamesHarro on Twitter:
"The Gunners don't really deserve to be ahead Fulham have played really well in the last 20 minutes."
1854: Oooooohhhh, that's even closer. Bryan Ruiz crosses from the left into the box where Clint Dempsey rises above his marker to head inches wide of the far post. Arsenal are not so much playing with fire as dancing around and taunting it.
1852: Oooh, so close. Wojciech Szczesny comes out to claim a Danny Murphy floated free-kick from off the heads of Fulham attackers in the box but misjudges it and then must watch in anguish as the ball goes behind him from a Philippe Senderos header. Luckily for the keeper, the ball goes just wide of goal. Will Arsenal be left to rue their missed chances? They are playing with fire.
1848: Alex Song's foul on Clint Dempsey gives Steve Sidwell a free-kick to work with and he almost uses it to maximum effect, striking just over from 30 yards. They are definitely competing better now Fulham, and also looking more dangerous around the Arsenal box when the openings come.
1844: The second half isn't quite as break-neck as the first, but then that is because Fulham are seeing more of the ball. It's a bit more even than it was before the break.
jeffreysbrooks on Twitter:
"Fulham look a top-10 side on the pitch but they lie 15th on the table. They have quality but need consistency."
Anon via text: " If Man U win the league I'll eat my limited edition Charlie George wig"
1840: His end product has been poor so far, but that was the worst of the lot from Theo Walcott. He has acres of time and space to pick out a team-mate with a cross from the right but instead hits a low cross that Fulham clear with ease. Must do better, Theo.
SidhuXIV on Twitter:
"Once the Arsenal full-backs are back plus a a full fit @JackWilshere there sure to be up there with the league leaders"
1838: The second chance of the half goes to Fulham as well, but Steve Sidwell cannot get over his header from a John Arne Riise cross and it goes over the bar. Encouraging signs for the Cottagers. They haven't got in behind the Gunners full-backs much but they're looking to do so now.
1835: The first chance of the half is for the home side as Bryan Ruiz strikes at goal with his laces. It's a comfortable save for Wojciech Szczesny, though.
From Anon, via text: "If any London club wins the premier league this year I will eat my limited edition Manchester united George Best top. If all goes to play Chelsea and arsenal will not be in the top 4."
1832: And we are under way again.
1832: Arsene Wenger having to jog over the pitch to reach the dugout. He's still got a yard on him the 62-year-old.
1830: The Fulham players are out on the pitch. Just waiting for Arsenal now.... Oh, there they are.
HazardAko89 on Twitter:
"Coquelin has impressed me the most so far, a right footed midfielder playing at left back and not looking one bit out of place"
AhmedNisar101 on Twitter:
"fulham have still got a chance they are playing good football esp zamora and ruiz still 45 mins to go come on fulham :D"
1824: The signs are not good for Fulham at the moment. Arsenal have won the last 10 Premier League matches in which they have led 1-0 at half-time. Although, if that earlier text is correct, this means Fulham will probably win... but now I've said that Arsenal will win... and now, oh forget it.
Crippto89 on Twitter:
"Really good game at Craven Cottage. Feel Fulham could do with a bit more pace down the wings."
From Jon, Worcester, via text: "Henry is certain to get on the end of some of these Arsenal attacks, all they need is someone to finish."
Fulham 0-1 Arsenal Marc Higginson's HT snapshot: "It seems only David Stockdale stands between Arsenal and a convincing victory. Fulham need to start putting some tackles in, they are being passed off the pitch by the classy Gunners."
1817: And that is half-time.
1816: David Stockdale is having a cracking game. He saves well from Aaron Ramsey's angled drive from 20 yards. It wasn't his toughest save of the afternoon but it was done with maximum efficiency.
From Alex in London, via text: "Phil, it always seems that every time one of you says something, the reverse always happens. Maybe you can tell everyone that Fulham haven't scored two goals at home in three games and that that figure doesn't look like changing! "
1813: And this is the danger such wastefulness presents for the away side: Fulham can always snatch something despite being largely outplayed. John Arne Riise's cross is headed wide by Bobby Zamora to give Arsenal a scare thay could easily have avoided with greater efficiency at the other end.
1811: Minutes later it is Theo Walcott again spurning a good chance as his shot from 25 yards is going well wide until it is deflected into the arms of David Stockdale off a Fulham defender's boot.
1809: This isn't an original comment but I can't help but notice just how casual Arsenal look when they carve openings. It is almost as if the ease with which they are capable of doing so brings with it an air of complacency. The latest culprit is Theo Walcott who shoots over after being found by Robin van Persie's clever flick.
mattyharibo on Twitter:
"Arsenal looking very good so likely to spurn a number of good chances trying to walk the ball in before Fulham peg them back"
1804: And again Fulham come forward. Bobby Zamora's flick pass gives Bryan Ruiz an opening down the right but before he can pull the trigger Alex Song's tackle diverts the ball behind. Should have been a corner but a goalkick is given.
1802: Typical. Just as I say Fulham haven't had a kick they almost have a very significant kick. Bryan Ruiz shows some superb dribbling skills to find an opening on the edge of the area but fires his shot inches wide. So close to an equaliser from nowhere.
1759: Arsenal looking very good at the moment. A second goal looks like a matter of time. Poor Fulham have hardly had a kick in the last 10 minutes.
1755: How is it not now 2-0 to Arsenal. Answers on a postcard to 'David Stockdale competition'*. The Fulham keeper makes a superb save to deny Aaron Ramsey's 10-yard shot before then, somehow, composing himself to tip Alex Song's follow-up on to the post. Awesome keeping from the Fulham, er, keeper. *Competition entirely fictitious.
Arsenal goal: Once again, an away team is ahead in the Premier League. The ball is worked to Aaron Ramsey, who stands up a cross that is slightly deflected by finds the head of Laurent Koscielny and then the back of the net.
1751: GOALFLASH Fulham 0-1 Arsenal (Laurent Koscielny)
QPR manager Neil Warnock: "The linesman saw him headbutt Bradley Johnson. So they give what they saw. He has guessed if I'm honest. Who says cheats don't prosper? Bradley has conned him. We feel we have run over a few black cats. I can't say how proud I'm of them. The heads are together, but I don't think Joey would have gone down. I'm not surprised Bradley has gone down . It changed the game completely. Shaun Wright-Phillips did well. But we got punished and we feel a bit aggrieved. I think we should be 10th or 11th with the chances we've had. We should be positive, but we have to finish teams off and have a bit of luck with officials."
1750: If you were waiting to hear what Neil Warnock had to say about today's defeat by Norwich, then wait no longer...
1746: At the other end John Arne Riise's cross is yards ahead of Bobby Zamora, who would have a clear sight of goal had the ball reached him. I wouldn't say it is full-on end-to-end but it's interesting stuff without doubt.
1745: Gervinho is being given the chances, but he is doing nothing with them. This time he charges forward and is released down the left by Robin van Persie, but as Philippe Senderos converges, Gervinho opts for an extra touch and then tumbles under a tackle. The penalty shouts are waved away. First viewing makes me think it wasn't a spot kick, but replays have planted some doubt. Bit of controversy to chew over.
1741: Fulham look such a different side when Bobby Zamora is playing. The big striker attempts a low effort, which is saved by Wojciech Szczesny. Zamora has already shown he is going to be a handful for the Arsenal defence.
1740: Now that was a great chance for Gervinho. Robin van Persie swings over a corner and his strike-partner is waiting unmarked at the back post but can only plant his volleyed effort past the post. Great chance, terrible miss.
1738: Following on from his first Tweet,
is now having a little vent on the site. Here is what he's had to say so far: "I'd be 1st to apologise if I'd reacted. Cannot apologise as I know I've not head butted anyone. Disappointed for the lads and the fans. "Well feel for the officials, they've been conned. Admitted to me at HT they never saw it. I was pulled back 1st, then kicked 2nd! "Linesman definitely never saw it, all he seen was Johnsons reaction. My head dosent move forward at all. Ridiculous decision seen 25 replays. "Make ur own minds up when u see it. The games gone!"
1735: Now Fulham do look to attack, but Danny Murphy can only put a speculative effort over the bar from 25 yards. Still, it's an effort and the home team are up and running.
1734: Arsenal again threaten as Robin van Persie's low shot from distance is saved by David Stockdale. Fulham not really got going yet, but Arsenal are looking in a positive mood.
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy: "I'm livid and I get sick of talking about our spirit. Let's get points and talk about a well-earned point and not back-handed praise for getting back in the game and my team running about, which is a pre-requisite."
Liam Ketley on Twitter:
"Gutted Frei isn't starting for us, the boy is something special. Spoke to him on Fulham Road after Chelsea game, lovely guy too."
1732: First chance for Arsenal and it is blazed over the bar by Gervinho from 22 yards. Positive start from the visitors.
1730: Arsenal fans singing Thierry Henry's name as the game kicks off at Craven Cottage. He's coming home apparently. The striker is expected to play against Leeds in the FA Cup on 9 January.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis: "It was a fantastic game, end to end stuff. In the first half we played really well and could have come in with a couple more goals. Their set pieces were very good and caused us all sorts of problems. After that they loaded everything in there and we had to defend for our lives."
Blackburn manager Steve Kean: "We're kicking ourselves because we feel it is a big missed opportunity. The second goal was a tough one - we should have dealt with it better. In the second half there was wave after wave of attack from us and I thought we deserved something."
Andrew Whyley on Twitter:
" Van Persie starts yet again for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger getting desperate? And people say Liverpool are a one man team."
1727: The teams are on their way out at Craven Cottage.
QPR's Joey Barton on Twitter:
"Well feel for the officials, they've been conned. Admitted to me at HT they never saw it. I was pulled back 1st, then kicked 2nd!"
1725: Here we go, first post-match Tweet from the account of Mr Joey Barton...
Norwich midfielder Anthony Pilkington on his side's team spirit: "It's always been there - even before I arrived at the club. It's a great dressing room and that it comes from the staff and the fans. We have a good competition for places. All we are looking for is to stay above that relegation line at the end of the season."
kej1968 on Twitter:
"Surprised no changes in the AFC team. AOC, Benayoun or Park. Team looked a bit tired on Saturday so need fresh faces"
1721: You may be interested to know that Arsene Wenger is unbeaten as a manager in Premier League fixtures against Martin Jol. The Frenchman has won four and drawn four against Jol.
FULHAM v ARSENAL TEAM NEWS (1730 GMT) Marc Higginson reports: "Arsenal's defensive problems have forced Arsene Wenger to play midfielder Francis Coquelin in defence against Fulham, while Gervinho is in to replace Andrey Arshavin. Fulham have brought in Bobby Zamora and Steve Sidwell to boost their attacking options."
1718: If I could just ask you to refresh your page, you will get rid of what is now a totally redundant piece of video at the top, what with Final Score being all finished and the like.
From Sam, a VERY disgruntled Wolves fan, Wolverhampton., via text: "Typical. Absolutely typical, beaten by the referee against a top team AGAIN. The FA need to clamp down on this blatant favouritism; Milijas sent off last week for a tackle not nearly as bad. "
From Dan, Birmingham, via text: "88th and 97th minute goals! Simon grayson lives to see another week, not sure whether to be happy about it or not though.... ."
patfenelon6 on Twitter:
"#villa shockingly bad. McLeish makes some terrible decisions but the players were disgraceful today"
Dan from Formby via text: "Utter relief that Lamps bagged the winner then. Torres played a big part in the team as well.. Supporting Chelsea will be the death of me!"
Infostrada Sports on Twitter:
" Lampard scored his 15th #EPL goal in the last 5 mins of a match. Only 3 players have more goals in this period, with Shearer leading at 23."
From Baz, via text: "They say the 'old guard' is what AVB needs to get rid of before he can start shaping the team. Those 'old' players just saved his job."
FULHAM v ARSENAL (1730 GMT) Marc Higginson reports: "Arsene Wenger believes opposition teams tend to raise their game against the Gunners. 'I am expecting a tough game,' he said. 'You can see that everybody finds a good motivation against Arsenal. Everybody organises well, stops us from playing and that will happen again at Fulham.' Cottagers manager Martin Jol has demanded a more incisive cutting edge from his side. 'That has maybe been a bit of our problem this season,' he said. 'We have played some very good games, but even when we defended well, we could not score at the right times. That is what we have to do. But whatever happens, we will still play our football.'"
Norwich manager Paul Lambert: "I might be a bit naive, but I always think the lads can win and I think we deserved it today. We had a lot of the ball and the triple substitution and going to the back three helped us stretch the game and go at them. Our record against QPR is very good, they are hard to play against at Loftus Road, but we were excellent. I didn't see Joey Barton's red card, but sending offs can work for you and go against you at times."
1706: Four Premier League games, four away wins. I doff my cap to Swansea, Norwich, Chelsea and Stoke. And suggest Fulham watch their back in a bit.
FULHAM v ARSENAL (1730 GMT) Marc Higginson reports: "Even if they find it tough going against a stubborn Fulham side today, Arsenal are best advised to keep at it. Nine of the last 20 goals that the Cottagers have conceded have been scored in the 88th minute or later. Is that coincidence, or is a June start to their Europa League campaign catching up with them? The Gunners have quietly gone about restoring themselves as a top-four team, following their 8-2 hammering at Old Trafford in August. The last time they were in west London, the Gunners shocked Chelsea 5-3 - Robin van Persie scoring two goals in the last five minutes. Fulham defenders, you have been warned."
Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard: "It's a massive win. Everyone knows we are having a tough time but the determination shone through and I think we deserved it. The character showed as we battled through to the end and that is what the players are all about. We have resilience because we have players who have been here and won medals. I hate looking at the table and seeing us not challenging for the top spot and that is where we have to get back to."
From Tom in London, via text: "All away teams taking all 3 points, bodes well for the Arsenal"
Fulham v Arsenal Fulham: Stockdale, Kelly, Hangeland, Senderos, John Arne Riise, Dembele, Murphy, Sidwell, Ruiz, Zamora, Dempsey. Subs: Etheridge, Baird, Orlando Sa, Gecov, Duff, Hughes, Frei. Arsenal: Szczesny, Djourou, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Coquelin, Song, Arteta, Walcott, Ramsey, Gervinho, van Persie. Subs: Almunia, Rosicky, Squillaci, Arshavin, Chamakh, Benayoun, Miquel. Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)
FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: West Ham have drawn level with Southampton at the top of the Championship following their narrow victory over struggling Coventry. The Saints and Middlesbrough crashed to heavy defeats against Brighton and Blackpool respectively. It's been a bad afternoon for Sheffield United too, with the Blades suffering a 3-2 defeat to Carlisle in League One. There were no such worries for triumphant Sheffield Wednesday and MK Dons, however. In League Two, Accrington put four past Macclesfield and Oxford held the leaders Crawley. Second-placed Cheltenham took full advantage of that slip, while Torquay won the Devon derby at Plymouth.
SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE LATEST: Celtic swept aside Dunfermline 3-0 at East End Park to retain their two point lead over Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premier League table. The Ibrox side were victors at home to third-placed Motherwell - Sone Aluko getting his first goal for Rangers in the 3-0 win. Elsewhere, Kilmarnock recovered from a goal down to beat St Mirren 2-1, and Aberdeen picked up three points with a 2-1 defeat of Dundee United at Tannadice.
Butch in Didcot via text: "Cancel that last text regarding AVB getting the sack. The old guard has kept him from adding to youth unemployment in the UK just yet!"
1654: It is also now full-time at Loftus Road and Villa Park where Norwich and Swansea came, scored and took the points.
1652: And that is literally the last touch at Molineux as the final whistle blows.
1652: Wow! Frank Lampard is the match-winner for Chelsea, but special mention must also go to Petr Cech who has just preserved his side's lead with a superb instinctive tip-over from Kevin Doyle's header.
1652: It is all over at Ewood Park. Stoke take the points courtesy of a 2-1 win. The final whistle is greeted with disgruntled groans rather than outright ire at Rovers or manager Steve Kean.
Harry Cheatle on Twitter:
"If QPR drop into the relegation zone then surely the owners won't wait long before sacking Warnock, he needs a result and soon."
BBC pundit Mark Bright on Final Score: "They might as well fine Wolves boss Mick McCarthy now for what he will have to say after the match because he will be incensed that Frank Lampard is still on the pitch to score."
1650: There is a pause in the action at Villa Park to allow Bradley Guzan treatment, after the goalkeeper gets a boot in the face bravely saving at the feet of Joe Allen. That nose does look a bit painful.
Chelsea goal: Unbelievable! Chelsea had it in the bag, then looked like they'd let it slip and now they appear to have snatched glory. Fernando Torres' pass finds Ashley Cole out wide and his pinpoint cross is converted from close range by Frank Lampard. The midfielder wheels away to celebrate a point being proved and AVB punches the air with delight. The Chelsea emotional rollercoaster carries on as normal.
1647: GOALFLASH Wolves 1-2 Chelsea (Frank Lampard)
Norwich goal: After picking up a late point against Fulham last time out, Norwich may have got all three with another smash-and-grab at Loftus Road. Elliott Bennett knocks a deep cross back into the path of Steve Morison who sweeps home from six yards out.
Wolves goal: Penny for AVB's thoughts now. Matt Jarvis chips the ball to the back post from a central position, where Steven Fletcher is waiting to head across goal allowing Stephen Ward to hammer home from 12 yards out. Wolves celebrate, AVB stares towards the heavens. The pressure cooker cranks up another notch.
1643: GOALFLASH Wolves 1-1 Chelsea (Stephen Ward)
1641: GOALFLASH QPR 1-2 Norwich (Steve Morison)
1641: Steve Kean has had a tough enough time from his club's fans without his players getting in on the act as well. Morten Gamst Pedersen slips and cleans up his manager on the touchline. The Scot smiles it off.
1639: There's claret on show at Ewood Park as Ryan Shawcross comes off worse in an aerial challenge with Chris Samba. Like Blaine from Predator the defender ain't got time to bleed as he tries to soldier on. Referee Lee Mason disagrees and makes him change his shirt.
FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: It's turning into a bad day for the top two in the Championship. Ten-man Southampton are 2-0 down at Brighton and Middlesbrough are losing 3-0 to Blackpool. Third-placed West Ham can capitalise if they maintain their 1-0 lead over Coventry. Huddersfield's League One promotion bid has been boosted by a 2-1 lead at Notts County, while, in League Two, Oxford are beating the leaders Crawley 1-0 and Torquay are 2-1 up in the Devon derby at Plymouth.
1636: Would you believe it?! Yakubu has had the golden touch of late but when Chris Samba's flick on from a long throw reaches him three yards out he can only poke the ball against the leg of Jonathan Woodgate on the line before the ball is cleared. It remains 2-1 to Stoke.
1632: So far it has been a very good day to go travelling as a Premier League team. We don't have a single home side in front. Plenty of time for that to change, though. Hold on to your hats, especially at Blackburn where the weather does not look pretty.
1631: Norwich make a triple substitution as they look for a successful end to their game with QPR. Paul Lambert replaces Adam Drury with David Fox, Grant Holt with Steve Morison and Simon Lappin with Wes Hoolahan. The momentum is with the Canaries at the moment at Loftus Road but it remains 1-1.
1630: Chelsea are looking dangerous on the break at Molineux and Ramires almost adds a second after showing great pace on the right but Wayne Hennessey makes a decent stop at his near post. The Blues are clearly desperate to grab a second and close out this game.
1629: Villa fans are booing manager Alex McLeish's decision to bring off Stephen Ireland. Marc Albrighton is his replacement.
Blackburn goal: Now we've got a game on at Ewood Park. Just as the heavens open and dump a load of sleet, a corner from the right causes chaos in the Stoke box, which is started by a Grant Hanley nod-on and sees Yakubu have a swing before David Goodwillie is able to force the ball over the line from two yards out. That's his first Premier League goal and it has given his side a chance.
1622: Lots of huff and puff from Villa as they strive to get back into the game against Swansea. Not enough quality from the home side, though, and the Swans' 2-0 lead is looking secure at the moment.
Rory Carter on Twitter:
"Chelsea players celebrate with AVB. Meireles, Luiz, Ramires leading the way. All Portuguese speaking. Language barrier?"
1619: Peter Crouch looks determined to get a hat-trick at Ewood. The big striker tries another shot that flies past the post. Stoke playing some nice stuff now (no jokes!).
1618: QPR's Joey Barton is now sitting in the stands, wearing a black hat and Rangers tracksuit top. Contemplating a Tweet perhaps? Back on the pitch, QPR are holding their own against Norwich and are close to regaining the lead as Adel Taarabt curls a free-kick against the post. Goalkeeper John Ruddy got a crucial touch to turn it onto the woodwork.
FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: Southampton's Ricky Lambert has been sent-off for the Championship leaders against Brighton, while Middlesbrough are 2-0 behind at Blackpool. In League One, Bournemouth have gone 2-0 up against Wycombe and top-of-the-table Charlton are beating Brentford in the delayed kick-off at The Valley. In the basement division, Gillingham's play-off charge looks set to continue after they took the lead at home to Aldershot.
Chelsea goal: How big a goal will this prove to be for Chelsea and their manager Andre Villas-Boas? Juan Mata's corner from the left is not cleared by Wolves and Ramires is on hand to put a rising shot past home keeper Wayne Hennessey. The Chelsea players charge to the touchline to celebrate with their beleaguered boss. Ah bless.
1612: GOALFLASH Wolves 0-1 Chelsea (Ramires)
SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE LATEST: The second-half is underway in the SPL, with leaders Celtic easing to victory with a 2-0 lead away to bottom side Dunfermline. Rangers have edged in front of third-top Motherwell, with David Healy repaying the decision to give him a rare start by scoring the only goal. However, Rangers, who left out Nikica Jelavic amid speculation about the striker's future, have also lost Kyle Lafferty to injury. Meanwhile, Kilmarnock have come from behind to square 1-1 with St Mirren, while Dundee United are ahead against Aberdeen thanks to Jon Daly's early strike.
1611: Another chance for Stoke at Ewood. Peter Crouch almost nabs himself a match ball as a Jonathan Woodgate's cross finds its way to the striker at the far post, but his instinctive volley flies over the bar.
From Alex, QPR fan via text: "Barton's red card was based on reputation. It was completely 50:50 between him Johnson yet only Barton gets sent off. If you send off one you have to send off the other. Linesman didn't move and didn't even have a full view of the situation. So QPR now have to suffer because a ref has sent off a player based on his reputation."
1610: That's a special moment for Wayne Routledge. He is on his seventh top-flight club and has now, at last, scored his first Premier League goal. Wayne, I salute you.
Swansea goal: Swansea make a superb start to the second half by increasing their lead. Once again, though, Villa contribute as Brad Guzan's poor clearance allows the away side to come forward. Wayne Routledge's run and cross sets up Danny Graham in a crowded box and after his effort hits the post, Routledge is on hand to smash the ball into the far corner. Stamford Bridge seems a long time ago now for Villa.
1605: GOALFLASH Aston Villa 0-2 Swansea (Wayne Routledge)
1604: Wolves sensing they can maybe get some joy down the wings against Chelsea as Matt Jarvis is brought on for Anthony Forde.
1602: We're back under way at Ewood, and after a short delay the other three Premier League games kick off again.
1600: Players are heading back out at Ewood. Can Blackburn rally and prevent another potential full-time abuse session for manager Steve Kean?
Infostrada Sports on Twitter:
" QPR's @joey7barton has now been sent off in the #EPL for 3 different clubs. The PL record is 5 by Carlton Palmer."
trickymicky123 on Twitter:
"Peter Walton losing control, Chelsea losing shape, Wolves looking to close down hard. This game isn't going to end 10 v 10."
From Tom, QPR fan at Loftus Road, via text: "The refereeing at Loftus Road is appalling! NCFC are getting free kicks for nothing, Barton red was very harsh, given that 2 NCFC players were squaring up to him, and the ref's just had a go at Kenny for time wasting on a goal kick when the ball's still in the stand! Luck like this, we're down. Disgraceful!"
Aston Villa 0-1 Swansea Bruce Pope's HT snapshot: "Villa may have to make some changes if they are to contain Nathan Dyer, who has been the driving force in a dominant first half for Swansea. Villa have rarely threatened, with James Collins' looped header from a corner the best they have to show for their efforts."
FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: Nottingham Forest are enjoying a 2-0 lead against fellow Championship strugglers Ipswich in the Championship, while Cardiff are 3-1 up against Reading. In League One, Sheffield United have pulled back to 2-2 against Carlisle and Bury are beating Walsall 2-1. Yeovil have the West Country bragging rights at the moment, thanks to a 1-0 lead against Exeter. Promotion-chasing Southend are in front against Dagenham in League Two, while two-goal Accrington are in pole position against Macclesfield.
QPR 1-1 Norwich John Sinnott's HT snapshot: "Not much football to report on, but bags of drama at Loftus Road after Joey Barton scored and was then sent off with Anthony Pilkington then equalising for Norwich. At the end of the first half Shaun Derry spends some time having his say to referee Neil Swarbrick. Incendiary."
Blackburn 0-2 Stoke Sam Sheringham's HT snapshot: "Is Peter Crouch making a late charge for England's Euro 2012 squad? Two fine goals from the beanpole striker - his 100th and 101st in league football - have brought Blackburn crashing back down to earth"
Wolves 0-0 Chelsea Owen Phillips' HT snapshot: "Chelsea could be left to rue not making the most of their undoubted dominance in the opening 25 minutes and as the match has got increasingly spiky, Wolves have started to threaten more and wasted two great chances. Feisty, fun and very much in the balance."
1547: It is half time now in all four Premier League matches. QPR players remonstrate with referee Neil Swarbrick as they leave the pitch.
Opta Joe on Twitter:
"3 - On the three previous occasions that @joey7barton has been sent off in the Premier League; his side have gone on to lose. Temper."
BBC Final Score pundit Garth Crooks on Joey Barton's red card: "Joey Barton was winning me over. I was really sceptical when he first moved to QPR but he seemed to be rehabilitating himself. He is captain, he scored the goal today, but that was senseless. Where are his responsibilities? It is a real, real shame."
Stoke goal: Big trouble for Blackburn now. Stoke strike and again it is that man Peter Crouch, who is well-placed off his marker to receive a cross from Matthew Etherington and slam a shot past Mark Bunn. A minute later the half-time whistle goes to mild disapproval from the Blackburn fans.
Norwich goal: What a costly red card that now appears to be for QPR. Minutes after Joey Barton is sent off, Norwich equalise. Anthony Pilkington collects a pass from Bradley Johnson and dances across the face of goal before firing in left-footed from 20 yards.
1541: That man Yakubu, he really is a handful. Both literally and figuratively. Blackburn deliver a long ball forward into the box where Chris Samba is waiting to head down to the striker, who holds up, turns superbly but fires just wide. As has been the case for most of this season, the Nigerian remains Rovers' most potent weapon.
QPR red card: QPR have the lead against Norwich, but now they are down to 10 men as Joey Barton is given his marching orders for an off-the-ball clash with Bradley Johnson. The Norwich man held his face for a bit, suggesting some sort of contact and the referee's assistant appears to have sealed Barton's fate with some no doubt illuminating chat for the ref.
RED CARD FOR QPR (Joey Barton)
BBC pundit Garth Crooks on Final Score on Wolves v Chelsea: "The decisions that referee Peter Walton is making are infuriating for the players, he is to blame for this situation. He has to get hold of this game."
1534: Nathan Dyer continues to torment Villa, leaving Stephen Warnock sprawling in his wake before teeing up Danny Graham - although his shot is well saved by Bradley Guzan.
1534: It's all happening at Molineux. From the Cole foul Wolves almost take the lead as Adam Hammill's delivery is headed against the far post by Roger Johnson. It's their first effort on goal and the best of the game so far. Seconds after that an unmarked Stephen Ward heads wide from eight yards following another well-delivered free-kick.
1531: It's getting a bit feisty at Molineux. Ashley Cole is the latest to go into the box for a series of fouls, the last a swinging kick around the body of Kevin Doyle as the striker looked to control the ball. Looks like Doyle has gone into the book for retaliation as well.
BBC pundit Mark Bright on Final Score: " We have to go back to Wolves against Arsenal where Nenad Milijas got sent off for a tackle that was not nearly as bad. Lampard got up and was apologising straight away, but he has got away with it because for me it is straight red card."
1528: Apropos out of nothing but Norwich's Simon Lappin trending on Twitter. Nicknamed the "King of Spain" he is making his Premier League debut for Norwich.
1527: Blackburn are trying hard to get back into the game against Stoke. Chris Samba sees a shot from the edge of the area tipped wide by Thomas Sorenson. Stoke still lead 1-0, thanks to that early Peter Crouch goal.
1526: Frank Lampard is getting stuck in at Molineux, not neccessarily in a good way. He lunges in studs-up on Adam Hammill but pulls out just before contact to probably save himself from anything more than a yellow card.
BBC pundit Dion Dublin on Radio 5 live: "Frank Lampard and Raul Meireles are sitting in between the Wolves midfield and the centre-backs do not know whether to come or not. I think the defenders need to come out and squeeze them a little bit more. The quality of Chelsea is taking over the game at the moment."
FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: It's been a perfect start to the afternoon for Sheffield Wednesday, who have stormed into a 2-0 lead against Tranmere. Even better, from an Owls perspective, is their neighbours and promotion rivals Sheffield United being 2-1 down at Carlisle. In the Championship, Cardiff are beating Reading 2-0, while Doncaster and Peterborough also hold leads. Accrington have scored the only goal of the afternoon in League Two so far, against Macclesfield.
Infostrada Sports on Twitter:
"Norwich have now equalled Bolton's PL record from 2009/2010 of failing to keep a clean sheet in their first 20 #EPL matches of a season."
1522: Peter Crouch is on fire at Blackburn. Not literally, that would be terrible. The big striker picks up the ball outside the box and fires goalwards. It looks like it is just on target, but lacks genuine power and Mark Bunn makes a save low down to his right.
1520: There is nothing like a couple of early away goals to kick an afternoon into life. Well done football, keep it up.
Stoke goal: Blackburn came into this game on a high, but they've ahd a set-back as Dean Whitehead's chip forward from a central position is chested down by Peter Crouch and fired in at the near post. That is the big striker's 100th league goal of his career and his seventh of this season.
BBC pundit Garth Crooks on Final Score on Blackburn's disallowed goal: "I can't see anything wrong with it. There seems to be no evidence for disallowing it at all. I'd love to know why the referee made that decision."
QPR goal: QPR take the lead with just about their first meaningful attack of the match, Joey Barton converting with a precise low strike from Clint Hill's cross. No doubt we'll be reading about that on Twitter later.
BBC pundit Garth Crooks on Final Score: "How 90 minutes of good football at Stamford Bridge goes up in smoke. Stephen Warnock is a sound player, but he has to play the way he is facing."
1514: Frank Lampard also looks to have a point to prove for Chelsea this afternoon. He could have made that emphatically but for Richard Stearman, who slides in superbly to deny the midfielder a clean strike. Moments later, Ramires fires wide from 20 yards. Chelsea well on top.
1512: Nearly two to Swansea, as Andrea Orlandi is allowed to advance on the Villa goal before whistling a left-foot shot just wide of the post.
1511: Double dose of drama at Ewood Park as Chris Samba rattles the crossbar with a header from a corner, and then finds the net with another header, only for the goal to be disallowed for a foul by Yakubu on goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen. Looked a harsh decision.
1511: GOALFLASH QPR 1-0 Norwich (Joey Barton)
1510: Is that a sign that Fernando Torres is up for this for Chelsea. Two Wolves players collide allowing the Spanish striker to play a good ball into Juan Mata, but his attempted chip is saved by Wayne Hennessey and the ball goes across goal before being cleared.
BBC pundit Garth Crooks on Final Score: " Is that the sound of ice cracking at Chelsea? You look at AVB and he has left Drogba out of the squad, Torres has been unconvincing. I think the momentum has to come from him if Chelsea are to turn things round."
Swansea goal: Swansea make a superb start at Villa Park and the home side have contributed to their own undoing. Stephen Warnock dallies on the ball, allowing Nathan Dyer to nip in before baring down on goal and finishing into the far corner.
1504: GOALFLASH Aston Villa 0-1 Swansea (Nathan Dyer)
SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE: With the match at Inverness postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, there are four more games in Scotland's top-flight on Monday, including Aberdeen at Tannadice, where they take on Dundee United. The Dons can level on points with United if they can manage another elusive away win. Dunfermline host league-leaders Celtic at East End Park having failed to win a home match all season. Rangers will be hoping their recent run of poor form doesn't extend to three defeats on the bounce when third-placed Motherwell visit Ibrox and it's a mid-table battle at Rugby Park when St Mirren make the trip to Ayrshire to play Kilmarnock.
1502: Early chance for Wolves. Jose Bosingwa gives ball away and David Edwards shoots from 25 yards but it is too tame and Petr Cech makes a comfortable save. Sloppy start from the away side but they get away with it.
1500: All four 1500 GMT Premier League matches are under way.
1458: At Ewood Park the home fans clap their side onto the pitch. So they should as well after the last two results they have earned.
1457: QPR chairman Tony Fernandes, wearing full length leather coat, is talking and shaking hands with the club's fans. Yesterday Fernandes tweeted. "On my way to london. Watch norwich. Some shopping for players." In the other camp, Norwich fan Stephen Fry has taken a break from dominating the Christmas television schedules to support the Canaries at Loftus Road. For the fashion conscious among you, Fry has gone for an old school yellow and green scarf.
Kris Guttierez on Twitter:
"I understand playing Mata in the middle, but dropping top goalscorer Danny Sturridge, I hope AVB knows what he's doing "
Cal Bryne on Twitter:
"No Malouda in the Chelsea squad? Surely a sign that he's gonna be the next to follow Anelka out the door at Stamford Bridge"
ASTON VILLA v SWANSEA (1500 GMT) Bruce Pope reports: "The Villa boss has also told his players to refocus after their Stamford Bridge heroics: 'Swansea are in a rich vein of form. They are a good side and we will certainly not underestimate them just because we have beaten Chelsea. That counts for nothing. The best thing we can do now is go and win this game on the back of the victory at Stamford Bridge.' Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers believes their performances away from home have deserved a victory, but is not going to let it get on top of them: 'I feel that once we get that (away) win, then psychologically that'll really help us. But I don't want to worry about it and certainly the players won't worry about it. We understand where we're at, we can't get any worse that's one good thing!'"
BLACKBURN v STOKE (1500 GMT) Sam Sheringham reports: "Stoke boss Tony Pulis has expressed sympathy with his Blackburn counterpart Steve Kean as he battles to win over the club's supporters. 'If they want to vent their feelings afterwards, fine,' said Pulis. 'But when they are doing it when the game is going on, it is doing their players no good at all and it is doing Steve no good.' Meanwhile Kean has revealed the secret to striker Yakubu's brilliant form. 'There are times when we need to give him an extra recovery day because of the amount of mileage he is doing,' he said. 'We don't ask him to run to the channels. We just ask him to play the width of the box. We know if we can give him good service, he can get himself some goals.'"
QPR v NORWICH (1500 GMT) John Sinnott reports: "QPR manager Neil Warnock has been champing at the bit for the January transfer window to open. 'I've been looking forward to it for a number of weeks if I'm honest,' said Warnock. 'We're playing alright but we need three or four.' A centre half, two forwards, a midfielder and a keeper are reportedly on Warnock's wish list with a loan deal for Manchester United's Frederico Macheda close to agreement according to the player's agent. Norwich boss Paul Lambert is also keen to bring in some new faces this January, but admits there can be little complaint about the current squads efforts so far this campaign. 'I am delighted with the effort and where we are sitting, as I have said before that people would have put us in the bottom three at this time of year,' said Lambert."
WOLVES v CHELSEA (1500 GMT) Owen Phillips reports: "Wolves manager Mick McCarthy is convinced that
will prove to be a 'fabulous' signing. 'He's a terrific young player. He is an all-action, tough-tackling midfield player who can get about and pass it,' McCarthy said. Meanwhile Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas insists he is not overly worried by his side's
recent defensive shortcomings.
'If there is something to correct, we need to regain that confidence in the way we build up from the back,' he said. 'It's an easy thing to solve with players of this technical ability.'
1452: You've got your teams, now let's hear from some of today's chief protagonists...
ASTON VILLA v SWANSEA TEAM NEWS (1500 GMT) Bruce Pope reports: "Darren Bent is fully recovered after a thigh problem and returns to the Aston Villa starting line-up after coming off the bench to score in the 3-1 win at Chelsea. Captain Stiliyan Petrov has been passed fit despite hobbling off late on at Stamford Bridge. Swans make seven changes from the 1-1 draw against Spurs, with Angel Rangel, Steven Caulker, Leon Britton, Kemy Agustien, Wayne Routledge, Danny Graham and Andrea Orlandi coming in - Orlandi gets his first start in the top flight."
BLACKBURN v STOKE TEAM NEWS (1500 GMT) Sam Sheringham reports: "Blackburn boss Steve Kean makes just one change to the team which stunned Manchester United at Old Trafford last time out, with fit-again David Dunn replacing Ruben Rochina. Gael Givet is on the bench following his corrective surgery for an irregular heartbeat. Stoke's Tony Pulis gives his pack a good shuffle after the 2-2 draw with Wigan. Jonathan Woodgate, Ryan Shotton, Dean Whitehead and Glenn Whelan come in for Andy Wilkinson, Jermaine Pennant, Rory Delap and Wilson Palacios. "
From Andrew, London, via text: "So, how do the supporters of teams that have only had a 48-hour gap between games feel, when their rivals are getting 3 or 4 days? As an Arsenal fan, I'll tell you: not happy, not happy at all. So there you go."
WOLVES v CHELSEA TEAM NEWS (1500 GMT) Owen Phillips reports: "Wolves make five changes from the side that drew with Bolton on Saturday with midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong making his debut. Adam Hammill also comes in and Kevin Doyle replaces Steven Fletcher up front. As promised Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas freshens things up, recalling both Fernando Torres and Frank Lampard to the starting line-up and seemingly switching to five across the middle with Juan Mata playing off fellow Spaniard Torres. Jose Bosingwa also returns at right-back but Didier Drogba and Daniel Sturridge are not even on the bench."
William Feech on Twitter:
"Whose bench would you rather have - Chelsea's or Wolves's? Villas-Boas could do with filling his shopping trolley this month."
QPR v NORWICH TEAM NEWS (1500 GMT) John Sinnott reports: "There are five changes to each side at Loftus Road. Paddy Kenny, Clint Hill, Anton Ferdinand, Shaun Derry and Heidar Helguson come into the QPR side, with Federico Macheda on the bench. Norwich manager Paul Lambert brings in Adam Drury, Simon Lappin, Simeon Jackson, Elliott Bennett and Grant Holt."
1437: I once forgot our teams kit for the under-15s I used to play for. Everyone blamed me when we lost 8-1. I blame my mum for lovingly cleaning it, hanging it out to dry, ironing it and then hiding it in the larder.
gibbo290989 on Twitter:
"I forgot the kit whilst managing a U'18 team. 45 mins late for KO. Game ended 5-5. Button in for a thriller?"
1424: Apparently, Burton Albion will be wearing their away kit at home against Hereford today as the United kit man forgot to pack their strip. Begs the question; what else did the kit man have to do today other than make sure he brought the kit?
Aaron Wakelin on Twitter:
"If Steve Kean is welcomed with more boos today he should go all Super Mario and reveal a "Why Always Me?" t-shirt."
1422: We're getting early signs via Twitter that both Fernando Torres and Frank Lampard will start this afternoon for Chelsea. Torres gets to put his new year's resolution into action: just be better and that.
From Andrew, via text: "Spare a thought for those of us who are revising on this bank holiday. By revising, I mean reading BBC live text, begging for an update to aid my procrastination."
SCOTTISH FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: The misery continues for Hibernian as Pat Fenlon fails to overturn a Hearts winning streak that has now extended to nine Edinburgh derby victories. The Tynecastle side may be in disarray off the pitch in terms of their finances, but on the pitch they dominated Hibernian supremely. An early strike from Ryan McGowan put the visitors on the road to victory and not even a Marius Zaliukas own-goal could derail them as Andy Webster and Rudi Skacel's strikes finished off the match for a comfortable 3-1 win. Hibs remain second-bottom on 15 points, while Hearts up to fourth on goal difference ahead of St Johnstone.
QPR v NORWICH (1500 GMT) John Sinnott reports: "Last season's Championship winners QPR are fourth from bottom as they face the side that finished second in English football's second tier. Norwich are five points ahead of QPR in this first season back in the Premier League for both sides. Watch out for the Canaries aerial ability. Paul Lambert's team have now scored more headed goals this season (12) than any other team in the top flight."
BLACKBURN v STOKE (1500 GMT) Sam Sheringham reports: "After picking up four points from Christmas trips to Anfield and Old Trafford, could cheers replace boos when Blackburn manager Steve Kean and his players step out at Ewood Park for the visit of Stoke today? The heroic 3-2 victory over Manchester United lifted Rovers off the foot of the Premier League table and they could even climb out of the bottom three with victory today if other results go their way. Eighth-placed Stoke, who beat Blackburn 3-1 at the Britannia in November, are a tough nut to crack though, having lost only one of their last seven league games."
ASTON VILLA v SWANSEA (1500 GMT) Bruce Pope reports: "Aston Villa have lost their last three home games and that statistic might suggest today is a good chance for Swansea to claim their first away win of the season. But when you consider those defeats were to Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, and that Villa won 3-1 at Chelsea on Saturday, then the Swans could face another tricky away day. Swansea did hold Alex McLeish's side 0-0 when they last met at the end of November, while the Welsh team have Steven Caulker back after the on-loan defender sat out the 1-1 draw against parent club Tottenham."
1415: Right, let's see what our fantastic reporters have to say about today's 1500 GMT Premier League matches.
From Danny, via text: "Hope Arsene Wenger rotates the team for today's game. I think he should even rest RVP!"
Race_Goer on Twitter:
"Really fancy Wolves to do the business against Chelsea, this fixture finished off Ancelotti last season so AVB watch out!"
1411: Never fear 09kellawaylou et al. If there is even a hint of a Frimponging I'll tell you all about it. In fact, I may demand someone here in the office be put on Frimpong watch.
davidoff_7 on Twitter:
"Spare a thought for those of us at work on this Bank Holiday. By work I mean, sitting & reading BBC live text."
1405: The problems at Chelsea may be deeper than you think if the
Sun's take on matters
is anything to go by. The paper paints AVB out to be a right proper Scrooge by refusing China-bound striker Nicolas Anelka a place at the table for the club Christmas dinner. The rest of the squad came to the striker's rescue, though, by taking him out to a swanky restaurant instead. Apparently they had "a great time". AVB: slammed.
Jagga14 on Twitter:
"in my opinion the next 5 games for chelsea is a real test of avb's ability to overcome difficult times"
sampresland on Twitter:
"with a bit of luck QPR could have been 10 points better off, too many missed chances and late goals, 2-1 QPR 2day need a win."
gilbertdowding on Twitter:
"Fully expecting Steve Kean to walk out to rapturous applause at Ewood. Turns out it was all just a gruelling test..."
LEAGUE TWO PREVIEW: Forget City-United, Liverpool-Everton, or even El Clasico - the only derby that matters in Devon this season is the one being played out between Plymouth and Torquay at Home Park this afternoon. Points are crucial for different reasons, with Argyle staring at relegation out of the Football League and Torquay eyeing a new year dash at the play-offs. Leaders Crawley will not fancy a difficult trip to Oxford United, who are unbeaten in four matches. Cheltenham are ready to pounce on any slip-ups, but they too will not have it all their own way at Port Vale.
Former Everton midfielder Barry Horne on Gary Ablett: "We had some good years playing at Everton together. He was so brave to make the move having been so successful at Liverpool. He was regular at Liverpool and a great contributor and it can't have been easy to come to Everton but he was successful there as well. He had a wonderful left foot, was fantastically cool and was a natural athlete. He was extremely versatile, could play anywhere on the left or at centre-half and never complained about where he was asked to play. He was a very, very understated person and such a genuine, generous man. He had a great sense of humour and was just a very giving. It was a pleasure to play with him."
FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: It's half-time in the Football League's early kick-offs, and Leicester fans might have been tempted to do a jig after Sol Bamba put their side 2-0 up at in-form Crystal Palace. However, Jonathan Parr pulled one back for the hosts just before the break to ensure a competitive second half. It's all-square in the Lancashire derby at Spotland, with Rochdale's Daniel Bogdanovic cancelling out Luke Jervis's opener for Preston.
From Alex Skulnick in Manchester, via text: "Going by recent results it would be folly to bet against 5 draws today! You heard it here first!"
LEAGUE ONE PREVIEW: The two Sheffield clubs are leading the chasing pack behind Charlton, but the second-placed Blades look to have it tough today with a visit to face Carlisle. However, Danny Wilson's men inflicted Carlisle's last league defeat back in November. Wednesday host Tranmere, looking to preserve their unbeaten home record. Les Parry's men will be buoyed by breaking a poor run of form with victory over Bury on Friday. At the bottom of the division, John Sheridan will be hoping a trip to his former club Oldham will inspire his relegation-haunted Chesterfield side to a first victory since September 17.
Ncfcmik on Twitter:
"Massive game for QPR and Norwich. I'm going 1-2 to Norwich could be the game they both look back on in May and say what if"
SCOTTISH FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: Two goals within a minute have set alight the Edinburgh derby. Ryan McGowan headed in from close range following a corner for his first goal for Hearts, but Hibs equalised immediately after the kick off and Marius Zaliukas sliced his attempted clearance into his own net from a Danny Galbraith cross.
CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW:Brighton, who have lost their last four matches, will be fearing a backlash against leaders Southampton at the Amex Stadium. The Saints lost their proud home record to Bristol City on Friday and will be hoping to keep second-placed Middlesbrough at bay. Boro, who are unbeaten in five matches, face a tough trip of their own, to Blackpool. They last beat the Seasiders 1-0 at Bloomfield Road in March 1987, in the old Third Division. Matters at the top and bottom of the league will be affected by the clash between West Ham and Coventry at Upton Park. The Sky Blues are the only team in the division without an away victory, but their recent run of results, which has lifted them from the bottom, gives them hope of an upset.
extraahTBS on Twitter:
"If Steve Kean gets booed when he walks out at Ewood Park today, then he may as well give up."
1340: Yep, Norwich are currently sitting pretty in 11th, with Neil Warnock's men dangerously close to the relegation zone six places worse off. In November, City beat the Super Hoops 2-1 at Carrow Road. That extended to four the number of league games QPR have failed to beat Norwich and also the number of matches Neil Warnock has failed to beat Paul Lambert.
1336: The last of the 1500 kick-offs is a tussle between two of the promoted teams: QPR and Norwich. With the former having won the Championship last season and with greater spending power, many expected QPR to be above Norwich at this point in the season. Not so.
From James Hitchings-Hales in Cardiff, via text: "There's always that one Chelsea fan predicting that unlikely Torres hat trick... Let's be honest, Heskey is more likely to get it."
Wcafferky on Twitter:
"All Blackburn need is a win & for 1 of Wolves, Swansea or QPR to lose, their GD is enough to lift them from the drop zone."
1329: As for Blackburn... well, they got a little,
insignificant 3-2 win at Manchester United.
A win that not only gives them a valuable three points, but also makes under-fire manager Steve Kean look a whole lot better and gives them the kind of confidence boost to not only tackle Stoke today but also that big relegation shadow that has been looming over them most of the season. No big deal then.
FOOTBALL LEAGUE UPDATE: Neil Danns has put Leicester City into an early lead at Crystal Palace, while Preston are also in front thanks to Jake Jervis at Rochdale. The young striker is making his North End debut after signing on loan from Birmingham yesterday.
1325: Yes, Stoke drew 2-2 with Wigan on Saturday. It was a bit of a rollercoaster for the Potters, who were losing with 15 minutes to go, winning with five minutes to go and ended up drawing. Tony Pulis' men are unbeaten in their last two visits to Ewood Park.
1322: Where do we start with Blackburn v Stoke? I mean, it's not like one of them pulled off a truly stunning result last time out to potentially set their season on an entirely different course to where everyone thought it was heading...
From Alex, Villa fan, via text: "Stevie Ireland to dominate Swansea today! The man is back!"
1315: However, the stats don't help us pick out an obvious winner. Villa have lost their last three Premier League home matches, while Swansea haven't won away in the top flight since 1982 - a run of 31 matches. A 0-0 draw anyone?
1312: When Aston Villa played Swansea back in November, it
That result was the first time a game between the two had finished goalless - surely we're not going to have a repeat this afternoon?
SCOTTISH FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: A typically franetic Edinburgh derby ends all square at half-time, but visitors Hearts should have been ahead. Mehdi Taouil sliced wide and went off injured in the process. Then, shortly before the break, fellow midfielder Ian Black had a penalty saved by Graham Stack after the goalkeeper had pulled down Stephen Elliott following a Callum Booth error.
1308: As we're talking Premier League, don't forget that our resident prediction meister Mr Mark Lawrenson has been
at it again for today's fixtures.
For the record, Lawro has gone for a 1-1 draw between Wolves and Chelsea. He's also precicting wins for Villa, Blackburn, Arsenal and QPR today.
1303: Much like Midlands rivals Villa, Wolves will be scrapping tooth and nail for the points today. The good news for Mick McCarthy's men is that they know how to score at home, having done so in each of their last six Molineux matches. The bad news is that those goals have only helped them win two of those games.
From Anon, via text: "AVB needs 2 stamp his own authority on the squad like Mourinho. Getting rid of Lampard and the rest of the old guard and bringing in players like Hulk and Moutinho would be good."
_Ian_D_ on Twitter:
"It's always a shame when the players from your childhood start passing away, First Speed, now Ablett. RIP to both Gary's."
From Anon, via text: "AVB needs 2 stamp his own authority on the squad like Mourinho. Getting rid of Lampard and the rest of the old guard and bringing in players like Hulk and Moutinho would be good."
1255: We've also got a full programme of fixtures from the Football League and I'll be bringing you the latest on those throughout the afternoon.
1251: Speaking of today's football, we've got five Premier League matches to bring you, four of those at 1500 GMT before Fulham host Arsenal at 1730. OK, so there aren't any of those games a certain other broadcaster would define as "super" (or, as it's Monday, probably "mega") but we do have some highly-intriguing encounters to mull over, watch and then dissect in detail.
From Bertie from Wales, via text: "As a Man Utd fan for 50 years, I always had great respect for Gary Ablett, what a lovely man. And a great sportsman, rip gary, you will be missed by all."
1247: We have already received a lot of messages and Tweets from you about Ablett. If you would like to add to those, or would like to discuss today's football, you can Tweet the commentary via the hashtag
or text in via 81111 (UK).
1244: We have spoken to a number of ex-team-mates of Ablett and people from the world of football, who have given
tribute to the former central defender.
They are a testimony to a fantastic professional and a highly-respected and decent man.
1241: It is a sad day for English football, particularly for fans of Liverpool, Everton, Birmingham and Stockport, following
the passing away of Gary Ablett
at the age of 46 following a battle against non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
1238: Many thanks Mike. If you would like to refresh your page now you'll get an updated byline at the top of this page.
By Mike Henson
1236: Time for me to take my leave.
will expertly guide you through the action from here on in. Enjoy.
From Rob S Arsenal fan, via text: "Worried about todays match after being only being only top 4 team to win over the weekend - hope we aren't due an upset!"
Solomon Hayes on Twitter:
"Swansea have struggled away from home and will struggle against a Villa side back from defeating Chelsea. 2-1 Villa."
1226: It is
goalless after six minutes or so
in that derby between Hibernian and Hearts at Easter Road. Crystal Palace v Leicester in the Championship and Rochdale v Preston in League One get the Football League programme under way at 1300. But let's have a little look at how you lot think the Premier League action, which will set sail at 1500, is going to pan out...
SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE LATEST: Hearts manager Paulo Sergio has ended the club's ban on speaking to the media by talking to BBC Radio Scotland and Sky television ahead of the Edinburgh derby with Hibernian. The Tynecastle outfit introduced the ban on 22 October, expressing disappointment at newspaper coverage of recent financial trouble at the club.
1214: The tributes have continued to come in for Gary Ablett, whose death, at the age of 46,
was announced this morning.Pat Nevin, an Everton team-mate and opponent of Ablett's, has described him as "a lovely, lovely guy." "It says something that I enjoyed playing against him even in the Merseyside derby, which is one of the most stressful games in world football, because he was just such a nice guy," he added.
FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: Manchester United's giantkillers, Crystal Palace, have started to transfer their Carling Cup form to the league - winning three of their last four Championship games. In today's early kick-off they play a Leicester side looking for their first victory since the end of November. In League One, we have a Lancashire derby to look forward to as Rochdale host Preston North End. Neither side is in particularly good form, but relegation-threatened Rochdale, who sacked manager Steve Eyre before Christmas, did pick up a creditable draw at Walsall on Saturday. Preston, meanwhile, know a run of good results will propel them into the promotion shake-up.
Ben Paige on Twitter:
"Can't see many goals in the Premier League today...can see quite a few draws though."
From Anon, via text: "Upsets are called upsets for a reason. Chelsea are going to stroll past Wolves today."
1203: So dare you make any predictions on the Premier League today? How comfortably would boss Andre Villas-Boas be sitting in the Chelsea hotseat should his side home unstuck against Wolves? Will Villa fans take Alex McLeish to heart if his side beat Swansea and climb into eighth? You can tweet the commentary via the hashtag
or text in via 81111 (UK).
1156: In other news north of the border, Inverness Caledonian Thistle's match at home to St Johnstone, due to get going at 1400, has been postponed with snow and slush making the pitch unplayable.
SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE LATEST: Is there a better way to bring in the New Year than an Edinburgh derby in the home of Hogmanay? Today's early kick-off in the SPL sees Hearts make the trip across the city to Easter Road to play their arch-rivals Hibernian. The men in green and white haven't beaten the Jambos since 2009 and their last win in any competition was in October. Can Pat Fenlon earn his first victory since taking over from Colin Calderwood?
1151: It is those little details that are particularly affecting when someone has gone...
Former Liverpool defender and BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson on team-mate Gary Ablett who died last night: "He was my boot boy, around 1981, and my first memories of him are as a really nice lad, who was very polite and respectful of the senior pros. He was a tall, thin, gangly lad but he was a great runner. One of the lads nicknamed him Seb, after Sebastian Coe."
1135: That won't be the last bit of business during the window and here at BBC Sport
we have rounded up 50 players
whose names will churn out of the rumour mill over the next month. Whether their signatures appear on contracts at new clubs is a whole different matter obviously.
1127: In other, less important, business the transfer window is open and QPR have moved early to bring in Manchester United striker Federico Macheda on loan until the end of the season.
Former Liverpool striker Ian Rush on Gary Ablett: "He summed up what Liverpool people are all about. He gave 100% to the team and my favourite memory of him was after the 1989 FA Cup final - he was so proud to win something for the team. Off the pitch, he was the perfect gentleman. He had a lovely family, which he brought up really well, and he was such a respectable person. If he could help you with anything, he would."
1116: There will be plenty more reaction to come I'm sure on Gary Ablett's death as the news filters through to football folk throughout the country and particularly in the north west.
Sam Woodcock on Twitter:
"RIP Gary Ablett I met him once when Everton played Lincoln City in a league cup match he seemed a very nice bloke."
Liverpool FC on Twitter:
"The staff of Liverpool FC would like to send our condolences to the family & friends of Gary Ablett, who died, aged 46, last night."
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