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Page last updated at 18:39 GMT, Saturday, 14 January 2012

Saturday football as it happened


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By Chris Bevan

1818: Right then, it's time for me to bid you farewell. For a feast of top-flight action make sure you watch Match of the Day at 2220 GMT (on BBC One and this website in the UK) and all the goals from the lower divisions in the The Football League Show immediately afterwards at 2340 GMT (ditto). Thanks for keeping me company for the past few hours - I'm back tomorrow for Newcastle-QPR and Swansea-Arsenal but cheerio for now.

1815: It is half-time at Vicarage Road, where Watford are level at 1-1 with Reading. For news of what happens in the second-half of that one, check out our minute-by-minute commentary, here.

More from Sir Alex Ferguson, on bringing 37-year-old Paul Scholes back to the club: "He's a fantastic player - some of the press have been very negative about him, which I don't understand. Some of the younger players have been in awe of him in training."

Here's the Match of the Day running order for later: 1. Spurs/Wolves, 2. Man U/Bolton, 3. B'burn/Ful, 4. Chel/Sund, 5. WBA/Nor, 6. Villa/Eve, 7. Liv/Stoke.

theDavid_Nevitt on Twitter: "Paul Lambert for manager of the year. Four more wins and that's 40 points! And this is from a Newcastle fan loving Pardew."

Daniel_Waite on Twitter: "Re Steve Kean on Yakubu. For every time a manager defends his player by saying "he hasn't got a bad bone in his body" I'd be a millionaire."

1804: Reading are level at Vicarage Road, after scoring at the right end this time. Hal Robson-Kanu finds space down the left and swings over a searching cross which finds the highly-rated Jimmy Kebe to head home at the far post. Watford 1-1 Reading

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From anonymous, via text: "As a Villa fan, it's McLeish's comments (below) which make me question his management. If Albrighton had made that mistake under O'Neill then he would have given positive comments to the press and told Marc to keep his head held high. Mcleish however, critices him as solely to blame for Everton's equaliser and will probably drop him for the next game. Quality player - not enough playing time from the gaffer though."

It's a little bit unfair to lay into McLeish for this - yes he did criticise his player but those were the stand-out quotes from his post-match interview and I'm told he did go on to say that Albrighton has improved a lot for him in the last few weeks.

1755: We've had a goal in tonight's late Championship game at Vicarage Road, and it was a good one too... Reading defender Shaun Cummings sliding in to expertly poke the ball home at the far post. It's just a shame it was in his own net, really. Troy Deeney had beaten the offside trap to escape down the right for the Hornets and, from his low cross, Cummings inexplicably turned the ball past Adam Federici. Watford lead 1-0.

BBC Final Score Garth Crooks on Norwich: "I've been very impressed - not just with Paul Lambert but with his team as well. They don't overdo things. The glory days seem to be coming back for them - they have a very strong fan base."

Full time
FULL-TIME West Brom 1-2 Norwich
Michael Da Silva reports: "Roy Hodgson concluded that West Brom only have themselves to blame - and he's not wrong. But hats off to Norwich, the counter-attack kings."

Full time
FULL-TIME Tottenham 1-1 Wolves
Kevin Darling reports: "A great point for relegation-threatened Wolves but a real opportunity missed for title-chasing Tottenham."

Full time
FULL-TIME Man Utd 3-0 Bolton
Alistair Magowan reports: "Paul Scholes might not be dictating matters like he used to, but he showed that age has had no effect on his timing."

Full time
FULL-TIME Liverpool 0-0 Stoke
Mike Henson reports: "Liverpool's lack of attacking bite at Anfield ensures they continue to inflict more pain on home fans than visiting defences. Mission accomplished for Stoke and Tony Pulis."

Full time
FULL-TIME Chelsea 1-0 Sunderland
Owen Phillips reports: "Chelsea rode their luck at Stamford Bride as Sunderland missed three staggeringly good late opportunities. Fernando Torres still can't score but Frank Lampard still can and the Spaniard's stunning volley did at least lead to the England midfielder's matchwiner."

Full time
FULL-TIME Blackburn 3-1 Fulham
Tom Rostance reports: "What a win for Blackburn who had 10 men for over an hour and still looked the more dangerous team throughout. Say what you like about Steve Kean but his team clearly believe in him. Losing Yakubu for three games will be a huge blow though. As for Fulham, apart from a 10-minute spell in the second half they lacked any bite."

Full time
FULL-TIME Aston Villa 1-1 Everton
Chris McKenna reports: "Aston Villa will feel hard done by having had the lead but it is Everton who had the better of the chances and could have gone home with more than a point had it not been for Shay Given's steady hands."

1746: Right, time for a quick reminder of what exactly happened this afternoon...

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson on Paul Scholes's goalscoring return to Old Trafford in their 3-0 win over Bolton: "He's a great player. Some of the press has been negative about [his return] but that's probably because it's United but he's still a fantastic player. He's been in intensive training the last few weeks to get back to where he was today, and today he showed what he's had for the last 10 years. It was an important goal."

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill is left frustrated by his side's narrow defeat by Chelsea: "It was a fantastic second half. We created clear-cut chances and we are wondering how we managed not to come away with something. We had enough chances to have won three games. The performance was excellent."

1740: A few stats to digest at the end of frenetic afternoon of football: Paul Scholes (at 37 years and 59 days old today) overtook Bryan Robson to become the oldest English goalscorer for Manchester United in the Premier League, Steve Fletcher's goal for Wolves was the 1000th ever conceded by Tottenham in the PL era and they become the first team to reach this milestone. And after Liverpool's failure to score for the seventh time this season, they have drawn seven of their 11 home matches. They have scored 24 goals in their 21 PL matches - their fewest at this stage of a top fight season in 20 years, since scoring 24 goals in old Division One in 1991-92.

From Andy in London, via text: "RE anonymous (at about 1400 GMT). Promise I'm not only admitting it now we've won, but that was me. Glad to hear (someone in) the media getting behind teams regarding Venky's. About time the distinction was appreciated between fans in love with the clubs, and those who just want to hurl abuse at Kean."

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From Matt in Bolton, via text: "On Dalglish's comments below, if Agger was injured then surely its a straight swap for Carra - why bring in 2 defenders? Very negative. We need a goalscorer and more pace throughout the side."

Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish on his side's draw with Everton: "I'm disappointed we didn't hold on. I had a good feeling we would. It's such a shame that Marc Albrighton tracked Victor Anichebe back but just didn't do the final thing to stop him. We are gutted by that. It's a good learning experience for him. It hurt us a wee bit by not getting the three points."

-Robbo_ on Twitter: "So after City's 93 minute defence of the FA Cup we have had Spurs' 93 minute title challenge."

From Rovers fan Dan in Blackburn, via text: "Great performance by the lads today. Think Grant Hanley by getting games under his belt is improving every game. Hope that this result will give the team confidence and more consistent performances."

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From Will Rider, via text: "Just coming back from the Bridge. Torres was truly sublime. The bicycle kick was exceptional, his movement was sharp and his commitment was unwavering. Long live Fernando!"

Silas Heys on Twitter: "Hopefully Blackburn fans now see the team can get us out of this mess. Pre-match protests v short-sighted if the team then wins."

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: Watford are currently taking on local rivals Reading in the late fixture in the Championship. Elsewhere on a very eventful afternoon, top of the league Southampton cruised to a 3-0 victory over Nottingham Forest, who have managed one win in their last nine games. West Ham held on to secure a 1-0 away win at Portsmouth and Birmingham smashed six goals without reply against Millwall. Cardiff failed to find a breakthrough against a stubborn Doncaster side who held on to a 0-0 draw to claim a vital point in their fight against relegation. Another promotion hopeful, Middlesbrough, had an even worse afternoon, losing 2-0 away at Burnley, who claimed their first victory of 2012. Ipswich and Blackpool played out a four-goal thriller to end their match 2-2. Leeds managed to scrape a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace.

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish explains his side's 5-4-1 formation in their drab draw with Stoke: "That change in formation was to do with what we had at our disposal. Daniel Agger has an injury we need to manage so it was forced on us a bit." And on the Reds' failure to break down the Potters: "We had plenty of possession but we need a wee bit more of an attacking edge up front. If you get an opening you need to take your chances and we could have been a little bit more creative with our possession."

Blackburn boss Steve Kean on Yakubu's red card in his side's win over Fulham: "Maybe it was difficult for the referee but the Yak hasn't got a malicious bone in his body and if he goes for the ball it's with the intention of winning it. We'll have a look at that. You need to look at each challenge on its own merit. There's nothing nasty in him." And on climbing out of the relegation zone for the first time since September. "It's nice to be out of the bottom three. Today again the fans were great."

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: In League One, Charlton remain top after beating in-form Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 at Hillsborough. Sheffield United go three points clear of their city rivals with a 3-0 win at Bury. Preston held on to win 3-2 at home against Wycombe with new North End boss Graham Westley watching from the stands. Managerless Stevenage might have lost Westley but they made their promotion intentions clear with a thumping 5-1 away victory against Rochdale. Huddersfield secured a late 1-0 win against a solid Oldham side at home.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: In League Two, a stunning 5-2 win for Southend away to lowly Northampton ensured they go top of the pile, overtaking a Crawley side who failed to break down a stubborn Bristol Rovers. Cheltenham also jumped ahead of Crawley with a fine 2-0 victory at Aldershot. Plymouth managed to win 2-1 at home against Burton Albion but remain in the relegation zone. Fellow strugglers Barnet climbed the table this afternoon with a resounding 3-0 win at Accrington.

1720: By the way, I'm pleased to report Blackburn boss Steve Kean did not get any stick today, even before his side went out and beat Fulham with 10 men. Today's protest by Rovers fans was all about The Venky's - and rightly so as far as I'm concerned.

BBC Final Score Garth Crooks on Blackburn's win: "They went down to 10 men with what was for me a dubious sending-off. But David Dunn had an outstanding game and now they're out of the bottom three."

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Rupert, Wolves fan in London, via text: "Spurs fans moaning about decisions? Try looking at the atrocious decisions against Wolves this season! What goes around... "

Scottish Premier League update: Celtic are back at the top of the table thanks to a jittery 2-1 win over Dundee United. Hearts played nearly 80 minutes with 10 men but overpowered St Mirren 5-2 - Rudi Skacel bagging a hat-trick - while Inverness won at Motherwell thanks to Gregory Tade's powerful strike. Aberdeen and Kilmarnock served up a goalless snoozefest and Dunfermline are now four points adrift at the bottom after losing 3-2 to nearest rivals Hibernian.

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas on signing Bolton defender Gary Cahill: "Gary passed his medical and should be our player soon." And on Alex's reported exit to QPR: "No news. There has been some approaches from Premier League clubs including QPR, but nothing to report."

Stoke boss Tony Pulis on Liverpool's tactics and his side's 0-0 draw at Anfield: "When we got the Liverpool team it looked like they would play with three centre halves so we made some adjustments and in the short time it took for us to discuss it and transfer it to the pitch the lads did brilliantly. They are a very, very good side Liverpool, so it is a great result. Four points against Liverpool over the season and we are doing somersaults. The attacking side was a little disappointing for us because we got in good positions but gave the ball away."

Chelsea fan HingiSeles on Twitter: "We got very lucky to get away with a win there : Sunderland deserved a draw from this ! We still are struggling, very worrying"

From anonymous Liverpool fan, via text: "We must be the least creative and slowest team in the prem. Cant unlock defences well enough and again Kenny's signings must be questioned. performances today."

mattercus on Twitter: "Poor decisions AGAIN cost Spurs more points. Disallowed goals that should have stood could ruin our season."

ross_1996 on Twitter: "typical Spurs I am soon as we start to blow our own trumpet, we go and ruin it! Gutted."

1709: If today was a let-down for Tottenham, it was a crushing disappointment for Liverpool fans. What did you make of Kenny Dalglish's tactics for a start? Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @chrisbevan_bbc or text in via 81111 (UK).

Bolton boss Owen Coyle on his side's defeat at Old Trafford: "3-0 was bit harsh on us. United had one or two chances in the first half and we had the penalty save, but in the second half we had some good opportunities and took a grip and the second goal was a huge turning point."

From Tottenham fan, via text: "Tough to take - Wolves deserve credit for doing all they could to get a result, but there's no way to deny that their goal resulted from a refereeing error, and Spurs had a goal disallowed the same way. Frustrating."

I must admit didn't see Tottenham's disallowed goal (scored by Emmanuel Adebayor) referred to here, but I'm told it was quite a clear-cut decision, with the striker stood in front of the keeper. Harry Redknapp might disagree - several Spurs fans clearly do. Another reason to watch Match of the Day later.

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"MJF via text: "If Defoe wants away can someone give him the directions to Anfield please? Thanks."

1701: So, Paul Scholes scores goals (or one anyway) to help Manchester United move level on points at the top of the table with leaders Manchester City, but Tottenham miss out on the party after being held by Wolves. I think Spurs will complain about the corner that led to Wolves' taking the lead and Emmanuel Adebayor's disallowed offside goal but they were strangely lethargic and short of ideas going forward at times today. And, when they did get their act together, they found Wayne Hennessey in fantastic form.

Michael Carrick on Paul Scholes' goalscoring return in Manchester United's 3-0 win over Bolton: "It was fitting that he scored on his first start back. It was great to have him back because he's such a great player. He fitted right in and although he was blowing a bit after an hour it was great to have him in the side."

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From Rami, via text: "Did anyone expect anything other than a 0-0 at Anfield? Very uninspiring lineup = very uninspiring performance. Too much respect shown to Stoke from Kenny."

1655: FULL-TIME Tottenham 1-1 Wolves

Full time
1654: FULL-TIME West Brom 1-2 Norwich

1654: FULL-TIME Man Utd 3-0 Bolton

Full time
1653: FULL-TIME Liverpool 0-0 Stoke

1653: FULL-TIME Chelsea 1-0 Sunderland

Full time
1652: FULL-TIME Blackburn 3-1 Fulham

1652: FULL-TIME Aston Villa 1-1 Everton

1651: Another head in hands moment for Martin O'Neill as another chance is wasted by Sunderland. Nicklas Bendtner gets on the end of a ball into the box but Petr Cech is off his line and does enough to put him off, with the Dane firing wide. Chelsea are hanging on to their lead by the skin of their teeth.

1650: There should be more than hope for Sunderland - they should be level. The superb Stephane Sessegnon raids down the right this time and his cross finds substitute Craig Gardner at the near post... like James McClean before him, he should score... but his first time shot is wide of the target.

1648: Is there still hope for Sunderland, who trail 1-0 at Stamford Bridge? Chelsea still haven't put this game to bed and although the hosts are looking a bit more secure following the introduction of Michael Essien, Sunderland, who now have Connor Wickham on, are taking more and more risks and still asking questions of the Chelsea rearguard.

1646: Off to Anfield now where we are seeing lots of huff and puff from Liverpool, but not much quality in the final third from Kenny Dalglish's men. Stoke look like they will be leaving with a point.

1644: A few teams in need of a Hollywood finish - will we see one at Villa Park? Robbie Keane is off the bench to make his debut as Villa chase a winner.

1643: Spurs have brought on Jermain Defoe to add some much-needed attacking impetus and the (reportedly) wantaway striker immediately sees his effort saved by the legs of Wayne Hennessey. That was their first sniff for quite a while.

Scottish Premier League update:Celtic were cruising at 2-0 in the first half but a goal from John Rankin has pulled Dundee United right back into the game. Ten-man Hearts have edged 3-2 ahead against St Mirren thanks to a second goal from Rudi Skacel and a Gregory Tade shot has given Inverness the lead at Motherwell. You can follow a live text commentary of all those games, here.

Man Utd goal: Manchester United can breathe easy now. Michael Carrick receives the ball square from Ryan Giggs, and calmly passes the ball into the corner of the net with his left foot from 20 yards. Lovely finish.

Blackburn goal: I was just about to write how well Blackburn were doing with 10 men, and then this happens Steven NZonzi clips a lofted pass over the Fulham defence and Mauro Formica has time to let the ball bounce and bury his shot into the corner. A quality finish. Those 10 men are now 3-1 up.

1640: GOALFLASH Man Utd 3-0 Bolton (Michael Carrick)

1640: GOALFLASH Blackburn 3-1 Fulham (Mauro Formica)

Norwich goal: This is a breakaway goal that the Baggies would be proud of. Grant Holt, who is far from your orthodox tricky winger, surges down the left and sends over an inviting cross for Steve Morison to power home an unstoppable header.

1637: GOALFLASH West Brom 1-2 Norwich (Steve Morison)

Saagar Kalelkar on Twitter: "Maybe Blackburn needs to start playing with 10 men more often to motivate themselves and play better ;) - I say with irony"

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: In League One, second-place Sheffield United continue their impressive form by taking the lead against Bury through a Richard Cresswell goal. There are plenty of goals for Stevenage this afternoon as midfielder Lawrie Wilson scores twice after the break and Luke Freeman also finds the net to stretch their advantage to 4-1.

1635: A big, big chance for Liverpool, who have been desperately short of invention and creativity today. Jose Enrique's deflected cross finds Dirk Kuyt unmarked in front of goal but he is off target with his header. What a waste that was. Still 0-0 at Anfield.

1633: Nope, Danny Welbeck cannot continue - he pulled his hamstring while stretching for the shot. Javier Hernandez is on instead. Wayne Rooney is fine though, despite hurting his shoulder as he fell in the build-up.

Man Utd goal: Huge apologies to Bolton fans for brazenly tempting fate. Wayne Rooney plays in Danny Welbeck on the edge of the area and he gets enough on his stretching first-time shot to beat Adam Bogdan (who I am definitely not going to award the goal to this time). Both United players were injured in the process, mind.

1631: GOALFLASH Man Utd 2-0 Bolton (Danny Welbeck)

1630: Still just the one goal for United against Bolton, and they are living a tad dangerously. Just after Rafael da Silva clears a looping Gretar Steinsson header off the line, Paul Scholes, 37, makes way for the youthful Ryan Giggs, who is 38.

Everton goal: It's all-square at Villa Park too. Landon Donovan plays a perfectly-timed ball through to Victor Anichebe who beats the offside trap before calmly slotting past Shay Given.

West Brom goal: After three-and-a-half hours the Baggies' goal drought is finally over, after Daniel Ayala fells Jerome Thomas inside the area and Shane Long, who has just come on, cheekily sends John Ruddy the wrong way from the spot for their first league goal of 2012.

1627: Sunderland's best chance to equalise comes... and goes. Stephane Sessegnon starts the move, releasing Seb Larsson down the right and his pull-back finds James McClean arrving unmarked at the back post. He must score... but scuffs his shot wide of the target. Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill has his head in his hands, and so does every away fan at Stamford Bridge.

1626: GOALFLASH West Brom 1-1 Norwich (Shane Long pen)

1625: GOALFLASH Aston Villa 1-1 Everton (Victor Anichebe)


1622: It is pretty tight and pretty tense at Stamford Bridge. Both sides are claiming penalties - and both could have been given. For Chelsea, Torres looks to have been felled in the box by John O'Shea but referee Phil Dowd plays on and Juan Mata's shot is saved. And, at the other end, Nicklas Bendtner seems to be pushed by Ashley Cole, but again, Dowd ignores the protests.

1620: Plenty of Baggies possession against Norwich, but they are not doing much with it. The Canaries look comfortable at 1-0 to the good.

Fulham goal: It's been coming, because Fulham have done nothing but attack since that David Dunn goal. Danny Murphy picks out Damien Duff inside the area, who brings down the ball on his weaker right foot and surprises everyone by having a pop... his shot goes through Martin Olsson's legs and beats a stationary Paul Robinson.

1617: Spurs are well on top now, and they would be ahead but for a double stop from Wayne Hennessey - who denies first Luka Modric, and then Aaron Lennon. News from Anfield too, where Andy Carroll is on for Stewart Downing... and has just had a wrestle with Robert Huth at a corner.

1616: GOALFLASH Blackburn 2-1 Fulham (Damien Duff)

Villa goal: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Darren Bent cannot quite connect with Marc Albrighton's curling cross from the right but Stephen Ireland, who flicked it in the first place, retrieves the ball immediately and finds Bent, who swivels to finish.

DTkickiner on Twitter: "Scholes & Henry Score Before Andy Carroll And Fernando Torres In 2012."

1612: GOALFLASH Aston Villa 1-0 Everton (Darren Bent)

Tottenham goal: Spurs are level, and it's another cracking strike. Gareth Bale tees up Luka Modric on the edge of the box and his fierce drive flies betwen Wayne Hennessey and his right-hand post.

1610: GOALFLASH Tottenham 1-1 Wolves (Luka Modric)

1608: Two top-drawer saves here. Emmanuel Frimpong brings a diving stop from Tottenham keeper Brad Friedel with a rasping effort. And, at Villa Park, Shay Given is at it again, keeping out Marouane Fellaini's header from a hoisted Leighton Baines' free-kick.

Blackburn goal: Erm, so much for a rearguard action by Blackburn. They surge forward from kick-off and, athough David Goodwillie's shot is blocked, the ball falls for David Dunn to smash home his first-time shot.

1606: GOALFLASH Blackburn 2-0 Fulham (David Dunn)

1606: They have just kicked off at Blackburn too.

1604: And at The Hawthorns, White Hart Lane and Stamford Bridge too. At Old Trafford, United are back on the attack, and Patrice Evra has just headed over from a Nani corner.

1602: We are back under way at Anfield, Old Trafford and Villa Park...

From Devspur, via text: "Spurs being robbed again. Clear Wolves contact and not a corner. Adebayor onside when Bale goal disallowed."

From anon, via text: "Re 1550. I'm watching the Liverpool v Stoke game and I'm still wondering where all the goals are."

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: Meanwhile, In League Two, table-toppers Crawley are being held by Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium. Leyton Orient are leading at the break against Chesterfield through Irish striker Dave Mooney's goal. Northampton, apparently on the up under new boss Aidy Boothroyd, lead Southend 2-1.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: In the Championship, Crystal Palace took the lead inside eight minutes against Leeds at Selhurst Park through a Chris Martin thunderbolt. Andy Gray put Barnsley in front against Leicester City after 12 minutes but the Foxes hit back through a Lloyd Dyer goal three minutes later. Top-of-the-table Southampton and second-placed West Ham are both leading 1-0 away from home. Meanwhile in League One, Charlton are leading against Sheffield Wednesday through a goal by captain Johnnie Jackson at Hillsborough. Managerless Stevenage find themselves in front against Rochdale through a goal by Luke Freeman. Graham Westley left Stevenage for Preston, who are currently tied 1-1 with Wycombe.

Scottish Premier League update: Celtic lead Dundee United 2-0 at the interval, thanks to goals from Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama. Hearts and St Mirren have shared four goals in an incident-packed match at Tynecastle and Dunfermline and Hibs are locked at 1-1 in a crunch match at the foot of the table. No goals at Motherwell or Aberdeen. You can follow a live text commentary of all the 1500 GMT SPL games, here.

Half time
West Brom 0-1 Norwich
Michael Da Silva's HT snapshot: "West Brom have been all over Norwich, but are hit by a sucker punch just before the break. Roy Hodgson must feel like banging his head against the advertising hoardings again."

Half time
Tottenham 0-1 Wolves
Kevin Darling's HT snapshot: "One corner, one goal for Wolves and Spurs can feel rightly peeved because I don't think that corner should have been given. But they do say it's tough at the top (or within three points of it)..."

Half time
Man Utd 1-0 Bolton
Alistair Magowan's HT snapshot:
"Bolton's resistance is finally broken by the returning Paul Scholes, who scores his first goal since 22 August 2010 against Fulham. Welcome back."

Half time
Liverpool 0-0 Stoke
Mike Henson's HT snapshot:
"A familiar feel for Anfield regulars as their side enjoy plenty of possession but look powder puff in attack. A seventh draw in 11 home matches looks the likeliest outcome"

Half time
Chelsea 1-0 Sunderland
Owen Phillips' HT snapshot: "Sunderland started promisingly but Chelsea, with the classy Juan Mata once again a key figure, are now dominating possession and territory and looking dangerous, although not altogether watertight."

Half time
Blackburn 1-0 Fulham
Tom Rostance's HT snapshot:
"Blackburn look set for a rearguard action in the second half as they took the lead moments before half-time thanks to a trademark Morten Gamst Pedersen free-kick. It had been an open half up to that point despite Yakubu's deserved red card."

Half time
Aston Villa 0-0 Everton
Chris McKenna's HT snapshot: "Everton began the game bright with Louis Saha going close but Aston Villa won't be too displeased and with Robbie Keane on the bench, there might be another comeback headline."

Blackburn goal: Erm, who saw this coming. Not me. Completely against the run of play, Morten Gamst Pedersen steps up to curl a trademark free-kick into the bottom corner and 10-man Rovers are ahead. They are also out of the relegation zone as things stand. Maybe Steve Kean will be signing a few more autographs at the final whistle.

1550: It is half-time in every Premier League game. I am still ruing 1) Awarding Paul Scholes' fairytale comeback goal to Adam Bogdan and 2) wondering where all the goals were at 1543. Two MASSIVE errors.

1549: Apologies, I chose the wrong ginger hero at Old Trafford after getting so carried away with Adam Bogdan's string of stops. It was, of course, Paul Scholes who put United ahead.

1548: GOALFLASH Blackburn 1-0 Fulham (Morten Gamst Pedersen)

Man Utd goal: This one WAS in the script. David Wheater blocks Nani's cross but Wayne Rooney is first to the loose ball and fires the ball across goal, where Danny Welbeck helps it on for Paul Scholes to sweep home. Nothing Adam Bogdan can do about that one.

1547: GOALFLASH Man Utd 1-0 Bolton (Paul Scholes)

Norwich goal: Wham! This one is right out of the Jeremy Goss guide to thumping volleys for the Canaries. After a sweeping move forward, Wes Hoolahan picks out Andrew Surman at the back post, where he smashes it past a helpless Ben Foster. A cracking strike.

1544: GOALFLASH West Brom 0-1 Norwich (Andrew Surman)

1543: Not many goals about as we approach half-time, mainly thanks to Adam Bogdan's heroics for Bolton at Old Trafford. They are trying at Villa Park, though, where Darren Bent ghosts in behind John Heitinga to meet Marc Albrighton's cross but his header flies over... just before Gabriel Agbonlahor tests Tim Howard with a long-range effort.

1541: It's not often I'd say this but my money is on Fernando Torres scoring today - his confidence has come flooding back since he hit the bar to set up Chelsea's goal, and this time he cleverly spins into space on the edge of the area before sending a low shot fizzing a yard wide of the post. The Blues still lead 1-0.

1540: More Fulham pressure. Danny Murphy's free-kick from the right is headed toward the top corner by Philippe Senderos but Rovers captain Paul Robinson makes a stunning one-handed save to turn the ball away.

1537: Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan, who is wearing an orange kit to match his ginger locks, is at it again, this time keeping out a Wayne Rooney free-kick and continue to frustrate United. No sign of a Tottenham reply yet, in terms of clear-cut chances anyway, and Dave Edwards has actually just wasted a great chance to extend Wolves' lead when he spooned his shot wide from 15 yards out.

1536: Chelsea are seeing more of the ball but Nicklas Bendtner is still being a real handful for the Blues defence. Stephane Sessegnon, who is working just as hard, slips the Dane clear and his low angled shot skids a yard or so wide of the sprawling Petr Cech. Unlucky.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1534: In that flurry of missed penalties, red cards and surprise goals for Wolves, I forgot to tell you that Bobby Zamora had hit the post with a header for Fulham. The Cottagers are pressing hard against 10-man Blackburn now.

1532: Tottenham, incidentally, are unhappy about the decision to give Wolves the corner that led to their goal. I'd like to see it again before I make my mind up.

1531: It's even-stevens at Villa Park but Everton are definitely creating the better chances. Villa keeper Shay Given has to be alert again, to deny his own player this time, as Louis Saha misses a header and Stephen Warnock comes in at the back post, inadvertently forcing a smart reaction save from Given to keep the score at 0-0.

1530: Chelsea are a goal up and starting to turn the screw after that bright start by Sunderland, who are struggling to break out of their own half. Juan Mata has just had a long-range free-kick saved by Simon Mignolet and the Spaniard is becoming increasingly involved for the hosts.

Scottish Premier League update: Celtic are en route to a swift return to the top of the table, with early goals from Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama against Dundee United. Hearts skipper Marius Zaliukas packed a lot into his 12 minutes at Tynecastle, scoring after 52 seconds then conceding a penalty and picking up a red card as they are locked at 2-2 with St Mirren. Dunfermline are ahead in the basement battle with Hibs thanks to an Andy Kirk header. You can follow a live text commentary of all the 1500 GMT SPL games, here.

1529: Adam Bogdan is having a stormer for Bolton, keeping out Danny Welbeck this time, and keeping the score at 0-0 at Old Trafford. Liverpool are being frustrated too - this time Martin Skrtel's low ball just eludes Charlie Adam in front of goal - that is as close as the Reds have come in the first 30 minutes. Just a quick reminder that if you give this page a manual refresh then Final Score will magically appear at the top of the page.

1527: West Brom are again denied by John Ruddy, who comes out to deny Simon Cox after a neat exchange between Peter Odemwingie and James Morrison. Plenty of chances, but still no breakthrough at The Hawthorns.

Red card
Blackburn red card: A painful one this. Yakubu sees red as he rakes his studs into the knee of Danny Murphy as the pair contest a bouncing ball. The Nigerian was very high as he made that challenge and can have few complaints.

Wolves goal: This wasn't in the script. Matt Jarvis sends over a corner and although Brad Friedel keeps out Roger Johson's corner, Steven Fletcher is on hand to bundle home the rebound from close range. That was Wolves' first attack too.

Someone has won a penalty
Man Utd missed penalty: Adam Bogdan is dodgy from 90 yards but unbeatable from 12. The Bolton keeper springs to his right to superbly stop Wayne Rooney's spot-kick, correctly given after Zat Knight brought down Danny Welbeck in the area.

1523: RED CARD Blackburn's Yakubu

1522: GOALFLASH Tottenham 0-1 Wolves (Steven Fletcher)

MISSED PENALTY by MAN UTD (Brilliant save from Bogdan to deny Wayne Rooney)


1520: Everton are coming into the game at Villa Park. Tim Cahill fluffs a volley right in front of goal, before Shay Given, on his return from injury, shows no signs of cobwebs as he pulls off a superb save to deny Louis Saha's powerful header from Leighton Baines' free-kick.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1519: Still no goals at The Hawthorns, but plenty of goalmouth action. Norwich's turn to hit the woodwork sees Baggies keeper Ben Foster comes out to hoof out a loose ball, but his clearance ricochets off Norwich striker Steve Morison and hits the base of the post. That would have been embarrassing for Foster it it had gone in.

1517: The first glimpse of goal for Liverpool as a corner skims through a ruck of players in the penalty box but catches Charlie Adam by surprise at the back post. With the goal beckoning in front of him, the ball rebounds harmlessly off the former Blackpool man's thigh and is hoofed clear by the Stoke defence.

Mark Lawrenson
BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Mark Lawrenson at Old Trafford: "On too many occasions one simple ball has beaten the entire Bolton back four. When Manchester United move the ball quickly with one-touch football it is very difficult for any team to cope with, let alone Bolton."

Someone has struck the woodwork
Chelsea goal: Fernando Torres won't come much closer to ending his goal drought than this. He swivels to spectacularly smash Juan Mata's cross towards goal... and it comes back off the underside of the bar before hitting Frank Lampard and flying over the line. I don't think Lampard knew too much about that. In the stands, soon-to-be-Chelsea defender Gary Cahill quite enjoyed that.

1515: News from Villa-Everton where the home side have just tested Tim Howard from a long-range Stiliyan Petrov free-kick. And United are still well on top against Bolton. Wayne Rooney and Antonio Valencia work another opening and when the Ecuadorian pulls the ball back only a timely David Wheater interception prevents Danny Welbeck pouncing

1513: GOALFLASH Chelsea 1-0 Sunderland (Lampard)

1512: Fernando Torres sends a tame header wide for Chelsea and the Spaniard has also just clocked up 13 hours without a goal for club or country.

1511: Fair to say there are not many fans in Ewood Park today. They have missed a decent start by Blackburn. David Dunn latches onto a Yakubu flick but his shot is blocked, and the ball falls for Junior Hoilett to curl an effort straight at David Stockdale in the Fulham goal. The Cottagers are giving as good as they get though.

1509: Over to Anfield now. Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson appear to be the two players tasked with getting forward in support of lone frontman Dirk Kuyt in a 5-4-1 Liverpool formation shorn of the banned Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll on the bench. Stoke are holding out comfortably at the moment. Steven Gerrard is sitting deep in that midfield, not playing off Kuyt as some of you thought.

1507: Sunderland are first to threaten at Stamford Bridge. A stunning run by Stephane Sessegnon almost sets up an opener, but the much-criticised Jose Bosingwa does brilliantly to clear the danger before it reaches James McCLean.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1507: West Brom go even closer at The Hawthorns. Peter Odemwingie lets fly from 25 yards out with a fierce shot that Norwich keeper John Ruddy claws on to the bar. Great save.

1505: Tottenham are making the early running against Wolves, and Luka Modric has just gone close to opening the scoring. After a neat move, the Croat fires a whisker wide from the edge of the area.

1503: The official line from Blackburn is that Chris Samba is ill. I'm not so sure. Anyway, back to the action and, back to Old Trafford where we have seen another sniff for United. Michael Carrick's inch-perfect pass releases Danny Welbeck but his first-time shot brings a great stop from Adam Bogdan.

James Mason on Twitter: "The talk in the Blackburn press room is that should Samba go...PSG, Spurs, Chelsea and QPR are all interested parties.

1501: We are now under way in every Premier League game. Our first chance of the day went to United, with Nani surging forward before prodding his shot wide from the edge of the area. Ominous for Bolton.

1459: A rare sight at Ewood Park - Blackburn boss Steve Kean signing an autograph... must be his mum. A far more familiar sound at Old Trafford, where Paul Scholes' name is greeted by a massive cheer at kick-off.

From David in Cardiff, via text: "Interesting but clever formation from Dalglish! Enrique and Johnson used as wing backs to get behind the Stoke defence, essentially more of a 3-5-2."

I guess we are about to find out...

From Mossmyster 95, via text: "It looks as if Chelsea are going with a 4-5-1. Mata just behind Torres with lampard and Ramires on either side. Pretty decent. But again there is the point of Chelsea needing a creative midfielder. Someone with spark in that midfield - that way Torres can work again as he did at liverpool with Mascherano, Alonso and Gerrard."

1455: Here's the last word on Gary Cahill's move from Bolton too and, no, it doesn't involve a parade today. He completed his medical at Chelsea's Cobham training ground on Saturday morning and will be unveiled as a Chelsea player on Monday. The paperwork is nearly finalised and he will available for next Saturday's Premier League game away against Norwich.

1453: Nothing like nice crisp sunny winter's day, with a full football programme, is there? It is perfect weather for a pre-match walkabout and Aston Villa are marking Doug Ellis's recent knighthood today with the former chairman out on the pitch waving to fans before kick-off.

1449: Right, that's all out team news done and dusted. Just 10 minutes to go until this party really gets started. Until then, here's a stat courtesy of Infostrada Sports. If Frank Lampard scores for Chelsea today it will be the 100th different PL match in which he has found the net. He will become the third player to achieve this feat for a single club after Thierry Henry (123) and Alan Shearer (115).

Liverpool v Stoke
Mike Henson reports: "Liverpool's
record signing Andy Carroll drops to the bench with Dirk Kuyt preferred up front while Jamie Carragher makes his first Premier League start since October. Sebastian Coates and Martin Skrtel also start in a five-man rearguard while Charlie Adam, Dirk Kuyt and Jose Enrique reclaim starting spots. Stoke boss Tony Pulis puts his faith in Peter Crouch who comes in for Kenwyne Jones with winger Matthew Etherington recalled to forge the bullets for the former Liverpool striker. At the back Thomas Sorensen is back between the posts in place of Asmir Begovic while full-backs Jonathan Woodgate and Marc Wilson pass late fitness tests."

BBC Radio 5 live
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 live, Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp again insists he wants to focus on Spurs' title bid rather than thinking about a future job as England manager: "It's a great opportunity to manage your country but it's a difficult job. Until I get offered the job I haven't got that decision to make."

TrueBlue1979 on Twitter: "Does this mean Scholes and Henry will have another testimonial when current contracts end?"

Chelsea v Sunderland line-ups
Cech, Bosingwa, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Lampard, Romeu, Meireles, Ramires, Torres, Mata. Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Malouda, Lukaku, Sturridge, Hutchinson, Bertrand.
Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Kilgallon, O'Shea, Richardson, Larsson, Cattermole, Vaughan, McClean, Sessegnon, Bendtner. Subs: Westwood, Turner, Gardner, Wickham, Ji, Meyler, Elmohamady.
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

Chelsea v Sunderland
Owen Phillips reports: "Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien is fit to take his place among the substitutes after six months out following knee surgery and top scorer Daniel Sturridge is also on the bench after a hip injury. But the Blues name an unchanged side from their last league outing, the 2-1 away win over Wolves. Phil Bardsley and Sebastian Larsson both start for Sunderland, the only two changes from the side that thumped Wigan in their last Premier League match. Nicklas Bendtner is fit to lead the Sunderland attack after missing the FA Cup win over Peterborough. "

Tottenham v Wolves
Kevin Darling reports: "Tottenham make just the one change from their midweek win over Everton and it's a significant one. Scott Parker is back after three games out with a knee injury, replacing Jack Livermore in central midfield. Wolves make four changes from their last league match: Kevin Foley, Michael Kightly and Matt Jarvis all start, while Steven Fletcher is the lone striker."

Tottenham v Wolverhampton line-ups
Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Parker, Modric, Bale, Adebayor, Van der Vaart. Subs: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Defoe, Bassong, Kranjcar, Rose, Livermore.
Wolverhampton: Hennessey, Foley, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Kightly, Frimpong, Henry, Jarvis, Edwards, Fletcher. Subs: De Vries, Elokobi, Stearman, Ebanks-Blake, Hunt, Milijas, Doyle.
Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

Adam Clatworthy on Twitter: "Looks like Liverpool are playing a bold 5-5-0 formation at home against Stoke. Exciting."

Unless Jamie Carragher is playing in midfield, it looks like 5-4-1, with Dirk Kuyt on his own up front. Not exactly ambitious. But I suppose those are cavalier tactics compared to the 9-0-1 formation that Reds boss Kenny Dalglish employed in the second half against Manchester City in the Carling Cup on Wednesday night.

Blackburn v Fulham line-ups
Robinson, Lowe, Hanley, Givet, Olsson, Nzonzi, Pedersen, Dunn, Petrovic, Hoilett, Yakubu. Subs: Bunn, Formica, Rochina, Goodwillie, Vukcevic, Morris, Henley.
Fulham: Stockdale, Kelly, Senderos, Hangeland, John Arne Riise, Murphy, Dembele, Dempsey, Duff, Zamora, Ruiz. Subs: Etheridge, Sidwell, Johnson, Kasami, Hughes, Frei, Davies.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)

Blackburn v Fulham
Tom Rostance reports:
"There is no sign of Chris Samba in the Blackburn squad to fuel rumours of his imminent sale, but Rovers are boosted by the return of goalkeeper Paul Robinson after four games out. David Dunn and Yakubu also return to add some guile to the the attack. Fulham boss Martin Jol makes just one change with Damien Duff back against his former club"

Scottish Premier League update: Rangers are back at the top of the table thanks to Nikica Jelavic's brace against St Johnstone. However, Celtic will leapfrog their old rivals if they beat Dundee United in Glasgow later today. You can follow a live text commentary of all the 1500 GMT SPL games, here.

Man Utd v Bolton
Alistair Magowan reports:
"So Paul Scholes makes his first Manchester United start since 22 May last year against Blackpool. How long will he last in this game? Jonny Evans and Rafael da Silva also come in for Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, while Anders Lindegaard remains in goal. Bolton make five changes to the side which drew with Macclesfield in the FA Cup in what looks like a five-man midfield. David Ngog is back in the side as is Mark Davies, Fabrice Muamba, Gretar Steinsson and Sam Ricketts."

Man Utd v Bolton line-ups
Man Utd:
Lindegaard, Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Nani, Rooney, Welbeck. Subs: De Gea, Berbatov, Giggs, Park, Hernandez, Fabio Da Silva, Pogba.
Bolton: Bogdan, Steinsson, Wheater, Knight, Ricketts, Eagles, Reo-Coker, Muamba, Petrov, Mark Davies, Ngog. Subs: Lynch, Sanli, Kevin Davies, Klasnic, Pratley, Boyata, Riley.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)

West Brom v Norwich line-ups
West Brom:
Foster, Jara Reyes, McAuley, Dawson, Shorey, Morrison, Scharner, Mulumbu, Thomas, Odemwingie, Cox. Subs: Fulop, Mattock, Long, Dorrans, Thorne, Tamas, Fortune.
Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Whitbread, Ayala, Naughton, Johnson, Pilkington, Surman, Hoolahan, Morison, Jackson. Subs: Steer, Drury, Crofts, Holt, Fox, Bennett, Wilbraham.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

West Brom v Norwich
Michael Da Silva reports: "West Brom are boosted by the return to fitness of Youssouf Mulumbu, Paul Scharner and Jerome Thomas but are without Jonas Olsson, who picked up an injury in training. FA Cup hat-trick hero Simon Cox keeps his place in the side, with Shane Long forced to settle with a place on the bench. Norwich make four changes to the side that thumped Burnley in the FA Cup last week, with Bradley Johnson, Anthony Pilkington, Kyle Naughton and Steve Morison coming in. Seven-goal Grant Holt is on the bench."

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Anon via text: "Surely the biggest news do far is the cancellation of the MK Dons - Carlisle match an hour before kick off. Gotta feel for all our fans who left Carlisle at 8am for this one!"

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From KT in London, via text: "Essien is on the bench! So good to have such a brilliant player back."

Liverpool v Stoke line-ups
Reina, Johnson, Coates, Skrtel, Jose Enrique, Carragher, Adam, Henderson, Gerrard, Downing, Kuyt. Subs: Doni, Aurelio, Carroll, Shelvey, Kelly, Flanagan, Bellamy.
Stoke: Sorensen, Woodgate, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Delap, Whelan, Palacios, Etherington, Walters, Crouch. Subs: Begovic, Jones, Fuller, Pennant, Whitehead, Wilkinson, Jerome.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

OptaJoe on Twitter: "0 - Stoke have never won away in the league v Liverpool in 48 games (D9 L39), a top-flight record for winless games at a single club. Woe."

1426: Still no sign of that Gary Cahill parade at Stamford Bridge, BUT Michael Essien is back on the bench for Chelsea this afternoon, and could feature for the first time this season after six months out with a knee injury.

Aston Villa v Everton
Chris McKenna reports: "As he confirmed on Friday, Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish hands Shay Given his starting spot back in place of Brad Guzan after six weeks out with a hamstring injury. Gabriel Agbonlahor in place of Emile Heskey is the only other change to the side that knocked Bristol Rovers out of the FA Cup last weekend. If Robbie Keane is to make his Villa debut it will be from the bench but his fellow countryman Darron Gibson makes his first appearance for Everton as one of three changes by David Moyes from their defeat in midweek to Tottenham with Royston Drenthe and Shane Duffy also coming in. "

Aston Villa v Everton line-ups
Aston Villa:
Given, Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Clark, Petrov, Albrighton, Ireland, Agbonlahor, Bent. Subs: Guzan, N'Zogbia, Delph, Keane, Cuellar, Bannan, Gardner.
Everton: Howard, Neville, Heitinga, Duffy, Baines, Donovan, Gibson, Fellaini, Drenthe, Cahill, Saha. Subs: Mucha, Anichebe, Bilyaletdinov, Stracqualursi, McFadden, Gueye, Vellios.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

opc100 on Twitter: "I think Gibson will be a huge success at Everton. Never made the grade at Man Utd but he's got bags of talent."

1419: News from The Hawthorns too - defender Jonas Olsson misses out for West Brom, having failed to shake off a thigh injury.

1418: We are off to Anfield for breaking team news now, and there is no start for out-of-form Liverpool striker Andy Carroll who is left on the bench for the visit of Stoke. The Reds prefer Dirk Kuyt in attack with Jamie Carragher and Uruguayan Sebastian Coates brought into a five-man defence.

Scottish Premier League update: Scottish Premier League update: Rangers are back in front as Nikica Jelavic taps in his 17th goal of the season. St Johnstone midfielder Murray Davidson makes a real mess of a defensive header, forcing keeper Peter Enckelman to tip the ball onto the crossbar and into the path of the Croatian striker. You can follow a live text commentary of that game, here.

West Brom v Norwich
Michael Da Silva reports: "Norwich boss Paul Lambert has led his side to ninth in the table but this week revealed the club's struggle to attract some star quality. "People have the wrong perception of the money Norwich have got to spend," said Lambert. "You hear funds are available all the time, but when you look at the prices we can't compete with that. We are nowhere near"

Tottenham v Wolves
Kevin Darling reports: "Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp marked Spurs' elevated status in the title race by indulging in a spot of Fergie-esque mind games with big spending rivals Manchester City, saying: "City are where they are because of Sheikh Mansour… Spurs are not third because someone has slapped a bundle of money on my desk." Wolves manager Mick McCarthy can't buy a win but remains defiant: "I don't think we should be where we are. I think we should have more points. If that is anyone else's opinion, they are only agreeing with me. No problem."

1414: Some Blackburn team news now. Apparently Chris Samba phoned in sick for training yesterday, and he is not in their starting XI. Some good news for Rovers fans, though, in that Paul Robinson is back in goal - although Mark Bunn did a fine job in his absence. Their opponents Fulham bring Damien Duff back into their team at Ewood Park.

1411: Ah, I'm now hearing Gary Cahill might not complete his move to Chelsea today. Which means we won't get a 'Gary Cahill Parade' either. Disappointing.

Brenton Dinham on Twitter: "Think today is the day of upsets. Close eyes should be at Liverpool, and the Bridge. Watch Stoke City and Sunderland."

1409: MORE BREAKING TEAM NEWS Shay Given returns in goal for Aston Villa after a six-week lay off, and new signing Darron Gibson makes his debut for Everton.

1407: BREAKING TEAM NEWS Lots of it coming in. Paul Scholes starts for Manchester United against Bolton today. And Scott Parker has recovered from his knee injury and is back in the Tottenham starting line-up against Wolves.

1406: We already know Bolton defender Gary Cahill is at Stamford Bridge - the word is that Chelsea will announce they have signed him today, and possibly parade him on the pitch. I'll keep you posted.

Man Utd v Bolton
Alistair Magowan reports:
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has defended his decision to recall Paul Scholes this week, and the 37-year-old could play a part against Bolton. 'Paul has trained really hard and is looking very good,' he said. Bolton boss Owen Coyle might not have this game down as a point-winner despite seven from their last 12, and his season's targets are simple. He said: 'Come the end we must not be in the bottom three."

Liverpool v Stoke
Mike Henson reports:
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalgish knows his team are in for a physical battle against Stoke. "Every team brings a different problem and we have to deal with the problems we anticipate they'll bring," he said. "But they've also got to deal with our strengths and we've got a lot of them." It's a landmark for Stoke boss Tony Pulis as he clocks up 400 games in charge of the Potters. "You couldn't ask for a better stadium in which to mark it," he said. "The important thing is we do ourselves justice."

From anonymous, via text: "Re 1355. Venky's out and Kean out are pretty different. I for one am behind Kean, players are keen on him (I never excuse puns) and given the correct resources and backing I'm sure he could do a good job. Venky's, on the other hand, seem to be worse than useless."

Scottish Premier League update: Completely out of the blue, St Johnstone are level after a Marcus Haber header takes a cruel deflection off Rangers defender Carlos Bocanegra. You can follow a live text commentary of that game, here.

Chelsea v Sunderland
Owen Phillips reports: David Luiz is the latest Chelsea player to come out in support of under-fire manager Andre Villas-Boas. "Later on, you are going to be talking loads about him and how wonderful he is, I'm sure," Luiz said. Villas-Boas, meanwhile is still targeting the title. "It's good Tottenham are in the running, because they can make it messier," he said. Sunderland counterpart Martin O'Neill has relegation on his mind despite their recent good form: "We could lose and drop six places. But we hauled ourselves into a pack of teams that I am quite convinced wouldn't be looking in any other direction than over their shoulder."

BBC Radio 5 live
Chelsea legend Kerry Dixon on the title race, speaking on BBC Radio 5 live: "The money has to be on Spurs to be the top London club this season. Chelsea need to improve if they want to be top four. They will be favourites for it though with Arsenal and Liverpool the others."

LJ Willson on Twitter: "So many 1500 kick offs in the Prem today it's like being back in the 90's. Might even watch all the updates on teletext!"

Er, I think you mean Ceefax, don't you?

Blackburn v Fulham
Tom Rostance reports:
Blackburn boss Steve Kean is well aware that his side must avoid a poor start if they are to find three much-needed points this afternoon. "It would be great to get ahead at home," he said. "In out last two home games we have been two goals down at half-time and left ourselves a mountain to climb." Fulham boss Martin Jol believes Rovers pack a threat. "They have good players on the ball if you let them play," he said. "We have to try and get a result."

1355: Blackburn fans are holding a 24 hour protest against Rovers' owners, the Venky's, at Ewood Park today - although I thought they had been protesting for about five months now? Still, at least it's a nice day for it, and I suppose those supporters can always wrap up in their 'Kean Out' banners if they get a bit chilly later.

Henry Peel on Twitter: "RE 1338- I bet all Bobby George's gold that Henry will score again while at Arsenal."

Aston Villa v Everton
Chris McKenna reports: "Alex McLeish predicts Robbie Keane will be his Thierry Henry and make a scoring comeback to the Premier League today against Everton. "It is more likely that he will make an impact like Thierry Henry did for Arsenal so Robbie won't start. He'll just come on and score instead!" With fans unhappy with Everton's investment on players, David Moyes will be hoping the money he has spent on Darron Gibson will prove to be wise expenditure. "I can see a hunger. He (Gibson) is a young player and wants to prove himself."

From Mark in Northampton (and about a million other people), via text: "Re Joe Farley and the MLS takeover, I'd say the odds on those three players scoring today is ridiculously high, particularly as Arsenal aren't playing until tomorrow!"

BBC Radio 5 live
Former Liverpool winger John Barnes speaking on BBC Radio 5 live about the Luis Suarez racism affair: "There are lots of questions that need to be asked. The dialogue on the problem has to continue. There has to be a classification of what is and isn't allowed. You can't be ambiguous about what you can and can't say. For supporters, you're not allowed to make monkey chants but can you scratch your arm pits? It's a difficult situation but one that football has to deal with."

Alan Shearer
More from Alan Shearer on the title race: "It wouldn't surprise me if Manchester United win it. With the old wily fox Sir Alex Ferguson in charge, I wouldn't be surprised if they pipped Manchester City and Tottenham."

Ade M on Twitter: "Congrats to @jimmywalker001 who will break the record number of appearances by a #Walsall player today #bbcfootball #loyalservant."

1338: I also spoke to Lawro this week, who is willing to make a sportsman's bet with you lot that Thierry Henry won't score again for Arsenal in a competitive match. He and darts legend Bobby George also made a few predictions about the weekend games: Fittingly, they both go for trebles all round for the top three, who they think will score three goals apiece.

BBC Radio 5 live commentator Jonathan Legard on Twitter: "Welcome to Stamford Bridge, Gary Cahill. Just walked past me and the #cfc shop in a smart suit and tie #noquestionsasked."

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: Finally, in League Two, second-placed Southend, fresh from their 3-0 home win over Port Vale travel to struggling Northampton, who won 2-1 away to Morecambe in their last match. The Cobblers will be hoping to continue their good start to 2012 and move away from the relegation zone. Cheltenham will take on struggling Aldershot at the Abbey Business Stadium as they look to cash-in on any slip-ups by table-toppers Crawley, who travel to Bristol Rovers. Fifth-placed Shrewsbury, held to 1-1 draw against Northampton in their last game, take on sixth-placed Gillingham in what has all the makings of a tightly-contested encounter.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: In League One, third-placed Sheffield Wednesday will hope to leap-frog rivals Sheffield United, but will need to defeat run-away leaders Charlton at Hillsborough to have any chance of that. Huddersfield have ambitions of automatic promotion this season but they face a tricky match against Oldham Athletic, who were praised for their battling performance against Liverpool in the FA Cup. MK Dons versus Carlisle has all the makings of a close encounter as both sides hope to cement their play-off credentials.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE LATEST: In the Championship, relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest face a tough task at home against table-toppers Southampton, who are still seething from their 3-0 defeat away to Brighton in their opening game of 2012. Crystal Palace, fresh from their midweek Carling Cup semi-final first-leg win over Cardiff, take on a Leeds United side who will be hoping to continue their recent good form and push Reading, Hull City and Blackpool for a play-off position. Derby take on bottom-of-the-table Coventry, who are yet to win away from home after suffering nine defeats and three draws on their travels.

1332: Not before time, here's what is going on in the Football League today too. Starting in the Championship...

BBC Radio 5 live
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre speaking on BBC Radio 5 live about how the club is dealing with the Luis Suarez racism affair: "I think it goes without saying it has been a difficult time for everyone at the club. The key for us is that this club wants to fight racism and discrimination. It's been a difficult period but we will get through it. This football club is the most successful in England and perceived for a lot of positive things. The perception of how we are or been over past few weeks is not how we want it."

Dan Hough on Twitter: "As a Ref; I was taught that a two-footed challenge is always a dangerous situation for the other player and should be a red."

Joe Farley on Twitter: "Odds on Robbie Keane, Landon Donavon and Thierry Henry scoring today? MLS takeover!"

West Brom v Norwich
Michael Da Silva reports: "The orders for West Brom today are simple - score. The Baggies are without a goal in their last three Premier League games and, should Norwich keep them out again, it will equal the longest ever scoreless run in the division."

Tottenham v Wolves
Kevin Darling reports: "There's a new kind of pressure on Tottenham today. After hovering gamely below the Manchester clubs all season - plucky outsiders with games in hand - the title race now looks three-horsed. On form, Wolves should be brushed aside. Mick McCarthy's side are winless in seven, with three points from a possible 27 on the road but manager Harry Redknapp's main concern will be keeping his players grounded amid uncharted levels of expectation."

Man Utd v Bolton
Alistair Magowan reports:
"The last time Manchester United lost back-to-back league games in March 2011, they snuck past Bolton in the next one with a Dimitar Berbatov winner in the 88th minute. This time, Owen Coyle's side will be without Gary Cahill, who is on the verge of joining Chelsea, but a draw could see them exit the bottom three and they will hope to capitalise on United's second carelessness against Manchester City last Sunday."

Liverpool v Stoke
Mike Henson reports:
"Kenny Dalglish's side will be buoyed by a Carling Cup win at Manchester City in midweek but the Reds' troubles this season have all stemmed from a failure to pick up league wins at Anfield. Swansea and Norwich are among six teams to leave Merseyside with a draw and Dalglish's side may find it tough to break down Stoke this afternoon. The Potters could move to within two points of Liverpool with a win and all eyes will be on striker Peter Crouch - who scored 40 goals for the Reds during his three-year spell at Anfield."

Chelsea v Sunderland
Owen Phillips reports: "Resurgent Sunderland must fancy their chances of getting at least a draw against an inconsistent and somewhat fragile Chelsea side. Defensive frailties and a worrying habit of conceding late goals means the Blues' confidence appears brittle. But they have shown real quality in patches and maybe, just maybe, Fernando Torres will benefit from an extended run and finally show his class. However, five wins from seven under Martin O'Neill - including victory over leaders Manchester City - means things up looking swell for an ever-improving Black Cats after a depressing start. Intriguing."

Blackburn v Fulham
Tom Rostance reports:
"Blackburn's miraculous win at Manchester United on New Year's Eve has been all but forgotten after back-to-back defeats to Stoke and Newcastle and even a win this afternoon may not be enough to lift Rovers out of the relegation zone. Fulham destroyed Charlton in the FA Cup last weekend and have been in fine form since a thrashing by United over Christmas, drawing with Chelsea and beating Arsenal. However Martin Jol's side have picked up just one win and scored just six goals on the road all season."

Aston Villa v Everton
Chris McKenna reports: "On the back of two league defeats, David Moyes won't be relishing this clash as the Toffees have only picked up one win in Premier League history at Villa Park which came back in 2005. However, Alex McLeish's Villa have not been a force at home this season with five defeats on their patch already which sets this up to be an interesting affair. Irishmen Robbie Keane and Darron Gibson could make their debuts for the respective sides, but will it be Villa or Everton who get the rub of the green? "

1323: Right, time to take a closer look at our SEVEN 1500 GMT top-flight kick-offs...

Scottish Premier League update: A goal in Scotland to tell you about. Rangers are ahead in Perth thanks to the predatory skills of Nikica Jelavic, who was sharp enough to get a vital touch on Sone Aluko's deflected strike. You can follow a live text commentary of that game, here.

PrestwichBlue on Twitter: "Re Wiley's comment about consistency over 90 minutes. The thing is we're not even getting that at the moment."

From Ed in Marlborough, via text: "Could the Adebayor loan deal to Tottenham potentially backfire on Man City's title bid given the role he has played at Spurs this season?"

It certainly looks that way, as surely they cannot have seen Spurs as title rivals when they agreed to that? But some people might say it would be 'typical' City if their own player were to deny them the title...

1312: Ah, it seems some of you have noticed a 'small' error in my sentence at 1250 where I say "Hansen feels Tottenham's title bid can be traced back to them refusing to let Luka Modric join Tottenham in August". *coughs* I think I might have to hold my hands up for that one... sorry. Now changed.

Alan Shearer
Former England captain Alan Shearer on Spurs' title bid on Football Focus: "Tottenham are fantastic to watch and they have a chance of winning the league. They have become everyone's second team because of the way they play football. But they now face a different pressure as people expect them to win. Can they handle it? We'll have to see."

Everton captain Phil Neville on Twitter: "Villa Park today, my favourite away ground - let's hope it still is at 4.45pm!"

Mike Flynn on Twitter: "The rules of tackling in football are easy, play the ball and don't try and break your opponents leg. Glen Johnson should've been booked."

From Dave, Sunderland fan, via text: "Just wanted to mention Fraizer Campbell who is travelling down with the squad today after being out for 18 months with two bad knee injuries. He is hoping to play some part. Good luck Fraizer."

1304: Thing is, the referees aren't sticking to the letter of the law, are they? Glen Johnson did get away with it. Unless you agree with Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish's argument that Johnson's 'tackle' was an interception rather than a challenge. My head hurts, to be honest.

BBC Radio 5 live
Tottenham's assistant boss Kevin Bond speaking on BBC Radio 5 live on the two-footed tackling debate: "It certainly seems that the laws have changed since I was playing football. The letter for the law, both (Kompany and Johnson) were sendings off. However, my view would be that neither were a sending off. It looks a harsh decision but it is the law and the referees are abiding by it. But I could have understood if they let them away with it."

1259: Fair to say that tackling is THE hot topic of 2012 so far. I think one of the reasons there are so many different opinions on it, is because no-one really knows what the rules are. We've seen that with the reaction to the Vincent Kompany (red card) and Glen Johnson (not even a free-kick) tackles. Some clarity would be helpful, no?

Former Premier League referee Alan Wiley on Football Focus on the tackling debate: "Players and managers should expect consistency within 90 minutes of a game but when you go from referee to referee you will get different interpretations. Referees have to take into consideration whether a challenge endangers an opponent, the speed of the challenge and the distance a player dives in from."

From Tom in Luton, via text: "Re 1229. We can't compare this Spurs side to that of '61. You were allowed to tackle in those days!"

1255: Incidentally, when I collected the thoughts of 30 BBC pundits, commentators and journalists back in August, only Alan Shearer even tipped Tottenham for the top four. And that was only because he couldn't make up his mind between Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool for fourth. It's fair to say Harry Redknapp's men have very much gatecrashed this party, but did any of you lot see it coming?

Alan Hansen
1250: I spoke to Alan Hansen on Thursday and he feels Tottenham's title bid can be traced back to them refusing to let Luka Modric join Chelsea in August. "You also need to give Modric some credit in this, because he wanted to move to Chelsea," Hansen said. "A lot of players in his situation would have sulked and let it affect their performances but Modric has been terrific. He might still leave in the summer, but what he has done is give his best shot for Tottenham this season, which is tremendous to see."

From Hector in London, via text: "It's good to see a good row of 3 o'clock kick-offs, just like the old days, Come on Spurs!"

Former Blackburn midfielder Robbie Savage on Football Focus: "QPR must have impressed Mark Hughes with their ambition, and he spends money very wisely. In Blackburn he was in a similar position in the league and picked up bargains in Chris Samba, Craig Bellamy and Roque Santa Cruz. Hughes will keep QPR in the Premier League."

1245: Plenty else to talk about in the run-up to kick-off too, but let's start with a transfer tit-bit. BBC Sport understands that QPR have agreed a fee with west London rivals Chelsea for Brazilian defender Alex. A decent signing that, if it all goes through.

From anonymous Tottenham fan, via text: "We can't compare this Spurs team to the 1961 team until they win something, if we're still close to the Manchester teams after March then the title will be a real possibility."

AdrianDonohue1 on Twitter: "Re 1229. We Spurs fans know its all going to go pear-shaped at some point, so we have our feet firmly on the ground."

From Jonathan in West London, via text: "Thrilled that Spurs are being talked about so highly, but of course now thoroughly expecting us to lose to Wolves today! Hope the side will still keep improving though - Adebayor is an outstanding player even when not scoring, but still feel the side needs a more explosive finisher to reach it's full potential and maybe better that '61 side."

From Ian in Ipswich, via text: "Re 1229. Chris, no and no. Better than 61? Nowhere near, yet... "

Mike Flynn on Twitter: "Re 1229. I can't see us winning the title, pessimism comes naturally to us Spurs fans. Best side I've seen in my 21 years by far though!"

1237: This is what we have to look forward to in the top flight today - how does seven 1500 GMT kick-offs sound?
Aston Villa v Everton
Blackburn v Fulham
Chelsea v Sunderland
Liverpool v Stoke
Man Utd v Bolton
Tottenham v Wolves
West Brom v Norwich
It's like a good old-fashioned Saturday afternoon, actually - in fact, it could be 1990 again. Plenty going on in the Football League too of course, but more of that in just a tick.

Scottish Premier League update: What's happening north of the border? Well, Rangers' lunchtime game St Johnstone has just kicked off, and all eyes will be on Saints striker Francisco Sandaza, who has rejected the chance to agree a pre-contract deal with Ally McCoist's side, according to his manager Steve Lomas. At 1500 GMT, league leaders Celtic host Dundee United, Hearts are at home to Kilmarnock, Inverness visit Motherwell and Aberdeen meet Kilmarnock. There is also a crunch game at the foot of the table, with Dunfermline taking on fellow strugglers Hibernian at East End Park.
You can follow a live text commentary of the Rangers-St Johnstone game, here.

1229: For my money, David Pleat's 1987 Tottenham team (with Clive Allen's goals, and the skills of Chris Waddle and Glenn Hoddle) would give this Spurs team a better game. But what do I know? Two questions for you - is this the best Spurs team of all-time (even better than 1961?) and will they win the title? Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @chrisbevan_bbc or text in via 81111 (UK).

1224: It was 1990 when Tottenham last finished in the top three, let alone managed a title bid. That was under Terry Venables when the likes of Paul Gascoigne, Gary Lineker and, er, Pat van den Hauwe were in their line-up. Is the current Tottenham team better than that one? "I feel my side would be better," says Redknapp. "That means we shouldn't fear anyone this year."

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp on Football Focus: "At the start of the year getting into the Champions League looked tough but we have got into a great position. We are being talked about as potential champions but there are still 18 games to go. It's not impossible but the six at the top are all capable of putting a run together."

1219: Back to today's action, and does anyone else think it has taken a bit TOO long for Tottenham to be accepted as genuine title contenders? Because that's what they are, and they have been playing out their skin since the end of August, not just the last few weeks.

BBC Radio 5 live
1217: There is also an in-depth piece on Liverpool to look forward to on BBC Radio 5 live at 1300 GMT, with Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre talking about how the club is dealing with the Luis Suarez racism affair. Again, you can listen to that right here on this page.

1214: Before we go any further, give this page a manual refresh now. That way you can watch Football Focus, which is also on BBC One, live on this page. Done? Nice work.

1208: Yep, wins for Manchester United (at home to Bolton) and Tottenham (who host Wolves) today, will see them join Manchester City (who go to Wigan on Monday) level on points at the summit. Replacing Roberto Mancini's side outright on goal difference might be a tad trickier, mind... United need a 11-0 victory, Spurs would have to score 22 times without reply. Still, I wouldn't rule it out.

1205: Afternoon folks. So, who fancies a three-way tie at the top of the Premier League table tonight? As if this season wasn't tasty enough...

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Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 14 Jan 2012 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man City 20 40 48
2 Man Utd 21 32 48
3 Tottenham 21 18 46
4 Chelsea 21 15 40
5 Arsenal 20 8 36
6 Liverpool 21 6 35
7 Newcastle 20 4 33
8 Stoke 21 -9 30
9 Norwich 21 -4 28
10 Everton 21 -4 25
11 Sunderland 21 3 24
12 Aston Villa 21 -4 24
13 Swansea 20 -3 23
14 Fulham 21 -6 23
15 West Brom 21 -10 22
16 Wolves 21 -14 18
17 Blackburn 21 -12 17
18 QPR 20 -16 17
19 Bolton 21 -21 16
20 Wigan 20 -23 15

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