Arsenal take on second-placed Manchester United after Mario Balotelli's last-gasp penalty gives Premier League leaders Manchester City victory over Tottenham in a thrilling game.
LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY (all times GMT)
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By Chris Bevan
1850: Right, this seems like a good time to bid you all farewell. I heartily recommend you watch Match of the Day 2 at 2245 GMT (on BBC Two and this website in the UK) for all the action, goals, and fall-out from today's two top-flight matches - there are plenty of talking points from the last few hours, but the upshot is that Manchester City are three points clear of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table, and Tottenham are five points further back in third. Arsenal are in a different race altogether, for fourth place, and remain five points behind Chelsea. Thanks for keeping me company today, and cheerio for now.
From Anon, via text: "Arsenal are now as close to Wolves in the table as Man City. Oops."
kej1968 on Twitter:
"Last time Arsenal lost by six, today we lose by one. Does that mean we are improving?"
From Butch, Didcot, via text: "Re 1826. Couldn't agree with you more. Watched the game with total strangers in an Oxford pub and at least three people said 'Gazza' straight after that slide."
FULL-TIME Arsenal 1-2 Man Utd Jamie Lillywhite reports: "A third successive defeat for Arsenal which leaves them five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the race for Champions League places. In contrast United fulfilled their objective and stay in touch with Manchester City at the top of the table."
FULL-TIME Man City 3-2 Tottenham Phil McNultyreports from Etihad Stadium: "Mario Balotelli, for all the chaos that follows him, kept his cool amid the mayhem to give Manchester City a crucial injury-time win against Spurs. Devastation for Harry Redknapp's team after such a stirring fightback."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on seeing his decision to take off Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Andrey Arshavin being booed by Gunners fans: "In last 15 to 20 minutes we had players who have given everything, players like Oxlade-Chamberlain and he was playing on the left and it didn't work out. You do not need to agree with it (the decision), you can understand that. I dont know how many thousands of substitutions I have made over the years, the fans do not always agree with them. I make decisions and I stand up for them, that's it."
1835: To sum up the texts and tweets that are flooding in, there are lots of frustrated Gunners fans out there and lots of people seem unhappy with Mario Balotelli too. That boy just cannot stay out of the headlines can he? By the way, he celebrated his penalty winner in slightly more animated fashion than his trademark 'bothered' style, but not by much.
From Bradybunch1967, via text: "I predict Wenger will go at the end of this season, as will RVP. We will be struggling to make the Europa League at this rate."
From 1frustratedgooner, via text: "Arshavin will get the boos but Wenger lost us that game. The Ox could easily have lasted extra time the way he was playing, and even if he had to come off it should have been Benayoun sent on. Terrible management and very sad to see from someone of his calibre."
From Hamid, Newcastle fan, via text: "Today's results were perfect from Newcastle's point of view. After our collapse in the second half yesterday, the pain is going away knowing we are still level on points with Arsenal."
From Phil, Birmingham, via text: "Looks like A Very Depressed Gooner hasn't realised that Wenger never 'sees' anything. So how would he notice that Arshavin has been useless for months now?"
1826: I'm just watching more replays of Manchester City's win over Spurs. The more I see it, the more Jermain Defoe's late, lunging miss, reminds me of that moment in the Euro 96 semi-final against Germany when Paul Gascoigne almost got on the end of a cross inside the six-yard box. Almost.
OptaJoe on Twitter:
"3 - Arsenal have lost three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since April 2007. Barren."
1823: By the way, United are apparently "optimistic" that Phil Jones only twisted his ankle before being stretchered off in the first half today, but there is no news yet on Nani, who hobbled off before the end. More on both of those injuries when I hear about them.
More from Sir Alex Ferguson, on the margin of his side's win over Arsenal: "It was an amazing amount of chances we had considering we were at the Emirates. To only score two is a bit disappointing. In the first half we should have rammed home our advantage. Winning after City won their game was the important thing. And we've done it the right way, being adventurous and positive. I'm delighted with that."
stivylad on Twitter:
"Think it's time for Wenger to get a job upstairs in some honorary position. Perhaps giving out the biscuits."
I had him serving the drinks at 1212...
From Conor, United fan, via text: "So no-one is going to give United any credit? We played them off the park in the first half and should have had four or five by the end. Its time to stop moaning, Arsenal fans, and start supporting your team."
1813: News from the Africa Cup of Nations now. Ivory Coast kicked off their campaign with a 1-0 win over Sudan thanks to a Didier Drogba header, but it was far from easy. Still, they temporarily top Group B with Burkina Faso facing Angola at 1900 GMT.
You can follow a live text commentary of that game, here.
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson on his side's title chances following their win over Arsenal: "I think it is going to be hard for both us and City to collapse in the run-in now. It was a disappointing result for Spurs today, they didn't deserve that and at the moment we're (City and United) both ahead of our other rivals and we just have to keep on City's coat-tails."
From A Very Depressed Gooner, via text: "Wenger really screwed up today. If he didn't realise that the reaction from the crowd taking Ox off and leaving Walcott on didn't question his decision, then we are doomed for the rest of the season. He must, must, see what the rest of us see. But he seems to either decide to not acknowledge it or seek to change it."
1810: So, two substitutions in today's two matches had two very different outcomes, didn't they? Mario Balotelli won the game for Manchester City. Arguably, Andre Arshavin lost it for Arsenal. Gunners fans certainly seem to feel that way, anyway...
From anonymous Arsenal fan, via text: "Wenger lost all of our momentum taking Oxlade-Chamberlain off, the team clearly thought it was a poor decision. RVP won't be staying at a club who won't be top four. "
From Alex, fuming Arsenal fan, via text: "Hope Arshavin never represents Arsenal again. Worse than playing with 10 men."
BBC Radio 5 live
pundit Pat Nevin after Manchester United's win at the Emirates: "It was a deserved victory. They were tactically and technically better than Arsenal. Arsenal gave their absolute best but the talking point will be 'why take Oxlade-Chamberlain off just when you've got back into the game and scored the equaliser'? I think that was a huge mistake by the manager. He was their best player."
1802: Well, it was a BIT closer than the first leg in August, but Manchester has still come out on top against north London. Today's 5-3 win completes a resounding 18-6 aggregate victory and surely leaves us with a two-horse race at the top of the Premier League table? Thoughts? Tweet the commentary via the hashtag
or text in via 81111 (UK).
From Anon, via text: "Re 1619. teekae88 - what's your girlfriend's predictions for next week? She's a potential gold mine!!"
From Cramer, via text: "Why does Wenger take off Arsenal's best player and put on a player who has been nothing but useless for six months? Valencia wouldn't have got round Ox as easily as Arshavin for that second goal. Awful from Wenger."
1757: FULL-TIME Arsenal 1-2 Man Utd
1757: United do break dangerously, through Wayne Rooney, but he dwells too long on the ball and the chance is gone. I don't think they need a third goal, though, because time is almost up...
1755: Arsenal are camped in the United half and hoisting balls into the box. Robin van Persie almost gets on the end of one, and Per Mertesacker does nod down another. It cannons off Jonny Evans and there are inevitable shouts for a penalty. Replays show it hit his chest.
1752: We will have five minutes of stoppage time at the Emirates. Per Mertesacker will stay up front for Arsenal until this game is finished, but that means they are leaving a lot of space at the back for United counter-attacks. Watch this space.
From Anon, via text: "Two Parks on the park at the Emirates tonight."
1749: There is a very muted atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium following that second United goal, apart from the noise the travelling fans are making. Arsenal need a goal but they are only collecting yellow cards at the moment - Robin van Persie and Tomas Rosicky have both gone into Mike Dean's book.
1747: Another change for the Gunners as Chu-Young Park replaces Aaron Ramsey. Arsenal are back to square one, and have just six minutes of the 90 to score again and avoid a third-straight league defeat. United, as things stand, are back to within three points of Manchester City at the top of the table.
United goal: Oh dear. This is part of the reason Arsenal fans were so unhappy to see Andrey Arshavin being introduced. He does not even get close to Antonio Valencia as he cuts in from the right and, eventually, feeds Danny Welbeck inside the Arsenal area. Wojciech Szczesny is hopelessly exposed and can do nothing to stop Welbeck from quickly restoring United's lead.
1742: GOALFLASH Arsenal 1-2 Man Utd (Danny Welbeck)
1740: We're having another delay for treatment, because Theo Walcott clattered into a post as he tried to get on the end of a Nico Yennaris cross. Walcott looks a bit groggy, but he is back on his feet.
BBC Radio 5 live
pundit Pat Nevin on Arsenal's equaliser at the Emirates: "Robin van Persie has done fantastically well - but Sir Alex Ferguson will be furious. Rafael flies forward unnecessarily and gets caught up the field. Arsenal are clever enough to play into that area and, despite Valencia's efforts to cover, Oxlade-Chamberlain puts in a neat, little ball for Van Persie. He had a lot to do and it's a fantastic finish."
1739: United have made a couple of changes too. Nani limps off to be replaced by Paul Scholes, and Ji-Sung Park is on for Rafael, who replaced Phil Jones in the first half. We have just under 15 minutes left and the score is 1-1. Who fancies some late drama here to go with what we saw in Manchester earlier?
1737: That's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's final contribution of this game because he is being brought off, to be replaced by Andrey Arshavin. The Gunners fans don't seem to agree with that decision and let Arsene Wenger know in no uncertain terms. Robin van Persie, who revealed a t-shirt in honour of his grandad's 91st birthday after scoring, doesn't seem to agree with it either.
Arsenal goal: Arsenal are level, and they have Laurent Koscielny to thank for it. He nicks the ball off Rafael to stop a swift United break and starts an attack that ends when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain cuts to feed Robin van Persie. The Dutchman, who is probably still smarting from that uncharacteristic miss, makes no mistake this time, finding the gap between the diving Anders Lindegaard and the inside of his left-hand post with a precise low finish.
1732: GOALFLASH Arsenal 1-1 Man Utd (Robin van Persie)
1730: United seem to have weathered the storm, and are definitely sniffing around for a second goal. They go close again, when Danny Welbeck gets behind their defence (again), and Wojciech Szczesny has to dash from his line to deny him. The ball escapes from his grasp, though, giving Welbeck a chance to send the ball back into the danger zone, but he fails to find a team-mate. Szczesny needs treatment but is fine to continue, and deals with the resulting corner too.
1726: Forget holding out, United are almost further ahead. Danny Welbeck outpaces Per Mertesacker and flicks the ball past Wojciech Szczesny... His shot is going in, too, but Mertesacker just has the legs to get back and hack it off the line. Just. Welbeck could have gone down for a penalty there, to be fair to him, but he wanted the goal. He nearly got it too.
1724: No respite for United at present. Arsenal come forward again and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain flashes a low shot a fraction wide of Anders Lindegaard's right-hand post. Less than half an hour left for them to find an equaliser, or for United to hold out.
1722: Maybe attack is the best form of defence for the Gunners? Arsenal get behind the United defence again, and the home fans appeal for a penalty when Nani throws himself in the way at Tomas Rosicky's snap-shot. Nothing doing for referee Mike Dean, although replays show it did hit Nani's arm. It was tucked into his body, though, so not much he could do about it?
1718: Mind you, the Gunners stil look fragile at the back. Nani catches them napping from a throw-in and his pull-back finds Antonio Valencia in space in the area. Valencia has time to take a touch but scuffs his first-time effort and it fails to trouble Wojciech Szczesny.
1716: This is turning into a decent response by Arsenal. They still trail but Aaron Ramsey's rising drive only just clears the bar after a neat build-up. The Gunners are maintaining the pressure too, but can they make it count?
SamBorni on Twitter:
"Talk about throwing a kid in at the deep end. Best of luck Yennaris, it's only Evra and Nani."
From Anon, via text: "MAYBE the worst United team. DEFINITELY the worst Arsenal team in years."
1713: An amazing miss this, especially when you consider who the guilty party is. Tomas Rosicky pounces on Chris Smalling's slip and advances on goal before unselfishly squaring for Robin van Persie in front of goal. An equaliser looks certain as Van Persie composes himself for his shot... but he smashes it hopelessly wide. Very unlike him. Somehow, United still lead 1-0.
1710: Breathe again, Arsenal fans because Robin van Persie is back on. The Gunners are enjoying a bit of possession too.
1708: Not the start Arsenal needed to the second half. Robin van Persie is down, and needs treatment after landing awkwardly as he challenges Patrice Evra. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger looks on nervously, hoping his side's talisman is fit to continue.
1707: Right, we are back under way at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal need a dramatic improvement on their first 45 minutes, while United will hope for more of the same.
1705: A change for Arsenal at the break, and it is not much of a surprise that it is Johan Djourou, who had a terrible first-half, is being replaced. Teenager Nico Yennaris is on instead.
From Anon, via text: "Do Arsenal want fourth? The worst United team in years and we still don't have enough to beat them. Spend Wenger, SPEND!!"
From Ben, via text: "Arsenal counting the days until Giggs' retirement? Aged 38 and tearing them apart (again)."
BBC Radio 5 live
pundit Pat Nevin at the Emirates: "Arsenal have a huge problem now. This is playing precisely into Manchester United's hands. They can sit back and pick Arsenal off on the break because Arsenal have got to attack more now. It's a huge advantage for Manchester United."
1657: Ah! Apologies for my typo at 1641, when I seem to suggest referee Mike Dean brought down Wayne Rooney in the box. No wonder he wanted a penalty if that was the case. It was actually Alex Song was who involved - apologies to conspiracy theorists everywhere.
HALF-TIME Arsenal 0-1 Man Utd Jamie Lillywhite's HT snapshot: "A moment to forget for a misfiring Arsenal in stoppage time, the evergreen Ryan Giggs sending a perfect cross for Antonio Valencia, who outjumped the taller Thomas Vermaelen at the far post"
BBC Radio 5 live
pundit Pat Nevin on Arsenal's Alex Song avoiding a yellow card at the Emirates: "Mike Dean said to Song 'you've raised your elbow' and he knows Song has raised his elbow. But he's not given him a card. That's unusual. It seemed an obvious card to me."
1651: HALF-TIME Arsenal 0-1 Man Utd
Man Utd goal: It has, as they say, been coming. Ryan Giggs has time to pick out Antonio Valencia with his pinpoint cross from the left, and Valencia rises above Thomas Vermaelen to power his header home. On the balance of play, the visitors fully deserve their lead.
1648: GOALFLASH Arsenal 0-1 Man Utd (Antonio Valencia)
1647: Ouch! Alex Song is lucky to escape a yellow card after leading with his arm as he goes for a high ball with Wayne Rooney. But Aaron Ramsey does end up in Mike Dean's book when he catches Ryan Giggs, and Rafael soon follows him when he pulls back Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. In the middle of all that, Tomas Rosicky tries his luck from long range and is hopelessly off target - still, that was Arsenal's first effort on goal for quite a while.
1644: Arsenal have been under the cosh for a while now, and Robin van Persie has been feeding on scraps up front. United, in contrast, are wasteful. They threaten again when Johan Djourou allows Nani to advance into the area from the left flank, but the Portuguese winger's attempt to curl the ball inside the far post does not come off. Two minutes to go until the break and it remains 0-0.
1641: Arsenal are still being pegged back and United striker Wayne Rooney wants - in fact demands - a penalty when he goes down under the slightest of touches from Alex Song. Replays suggest it was more of a dive than anything else, so maybe Rooney is ill-advised to continue his protest with referee Mike Dean. I'm told Rooney has not been booked in the Premier League this season, which is a surprise given how much back-chat he gives referees.
1638: More pressure from United and the cracks are beginning to appear in the Arsenal defence when Patrice Evra gets into the box this time. Evra finds Nani with his cut-back, and his first-time shot is creeping inside Wojciech Szczesny's near post until the Pole sticks out a big paw to keep it out.
BBC Radio 5 live
pundit Pat Nevin at the Emirates: "I still can't see who are the favourites in this game. There was a fear that the teams would cancel each other out. To a certain extent they've done that."
1635: Half an hour gone, and it is as we were: 0-0, and a very closely-fought contest. United are sending some dangerous balls into the Gunners box while Arsenal are showing some promise when they get Aaron Ramsey on the ball. Nothing happening for them yet though, and United have the edge in terms of possession and pressure.
1630: United get behind the Arsenal defence for the first time, with Danny Welbeck briefly escaping Laurent Koscielny. Not for long, though. The Arsenal defender is quick enough to recover and does enough to put off the United striker, who lashes at the bouncing ball and is well off target with his shot.
1626: Hmmmm. Theo Walcott will not have convinced Yinka (below) here, either. After some nice play from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who jinks in from the right, he feeds Walcott inside the area. But Walcott doesn't seem to be expecting the pull-back and blasts his hopeful shot a long way high and wide.
From Yinka, Bristol, via text: "I still need scientific evidence that Walcott does have a football brain, because he doesn't show it."
1626: Better by United, who have upped the ante in the last couple of minutes. Nani bends in a dangerous cross from the left and Arsenal are glad to clear it behind. The visitors keep the pressure up when the resulting corner is only half cleared and Ryan Giggs should do better from the opposite flank... but his low delivery is dealt with by Wojciech Szczesny at his near post.
1621: United and Arsenal are both neat and tidy rather than direct and dangerous so far. Plenty of possession for both sides, but no real chances to speak of. After 20 minutes, it is still 0-0.
From Chris, Manchester, via text: "Second best in Manchester? United's trophy cabinet says different. Good to see the competitiveness of teams such as Spurs this season."
teekae88 on Twitter:
"My girlfriend predicted City to win 3-2 with all goals in the second half! For your information she also predicted United to win 2-1."
1619: Yep, Phil Jones is being stretchered off, and Rafael is coming on. Fabio Capello didn't make it to Etihad Stadium today because he is at the Emirates. He did have seven England players on the pitch to look at - now he has got six.
1618: Not great for United defender Phil Jones this. He slips as he tries to jockey with Theo Walcott, who is running at him down the left and lands painfully on his left ankle. Walcott wastes the opening, as he fails to spot Robin van Persie has come short for the pull-back, and instead slams the ball into a crowd of defenders. But Jones is still getting treatment and I'm not sure if he can continue.
From Anon, via text: "Re Balotelli. Don't know how Joey Barton can talk about fouling, considering his history. City were class today great win for the team!"
Jay93THFC on Twitter:
"Ian W - if that was on a Man City player Mancini would have been pedantic. Imaginary cards and toys out the pram."
From Anon, via text: "If Balotelli did it on purpose he would have looked where Parker was. If you watch his head and not right foot he never looks at him. Oh, I'm a Sheff Wed fan before anyone starts."
1614: Theo Walcott is the next Gunners player to have a pop. Again from the edge of the area, and again easily kept out. Walcott's next contribution isn't quite so positive, with his wayward pass bouncing about 10 miles away from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain when Arsenal have a man over on the right. It runs straight out of play.
1611: Aaron Ramsey, who had a shocker in his native Wales against Swansea last Sunday, is the first Arsenal player to test Anders Lindegaard, with a shot from distance which is straight at the Dane. A comfortable save.
From Ed, Birmingham, via text: "Arsenal v Man U, the second best team in North London playing the second best team in Manchester. How times change eh?"
1609: It's been quite a cagey opening to this game, but then it was the same at the Etihad earlier, and we know how that one ended up... Plenty of time for fireworks, even without Mario Balotelli to provide them.
1607: United come forward for the first time and Wayne Rooney and Nani combine well, with Rooney trying to play in Ryan Giggs on the left of the area. Johan Djourou slides in to deny the Welshman.
1604: We have got live commentary of this one from the Emirates on BBC Radio 5 live - just give this page a manual refresh if you want to listen. On the pitch, Arsenal have made the brighter start, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain nicking the ball of Phil Jones on the left and almost finding Robin van Persie with his low cross. Jonny Evans makes the vital clearance.
1558: The players have been waiting in the tunnel at the Emirates for an awfully long time. They are walking out now, though. Just like at Etihad Stadium, there is a full house in north London for this one.
From Ian W, Man City fan, via text: "People - including footballers and pundits - need to calm down. It seems Mario has been condemned already. It is not certain that it was an intentional stamp at all."
From anon, via text: "Maybe if Harry started brandishing imaginary cards we'd have seen Balotelli sent off for that stamp on Parker. Once again, World Cup final referee Howard Webb robs Spurs. Shouldn't be allowed to ref another Tottenham match."
More from Spurs boss Harry Redknapp on
BBC Radio 5 live
: "It was a great comeback from us and we showed character. From then on I could see us winning it. But that's football - that's the way it goes. It was a great game for the fans. But we're disappointed."
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp on
BBC Radio 5 live
: "Balotelli has kicked Scott Parker in the head purposely. He's back-heeled him in the head. I don't know why you would do that on a football pitch. It's there for everybody to see."
1555: So, bearing in mind this game used to decide Premier League titles until recently, how much would Arsenal fans enjoy making win another one a lot more difficult for their old rivals Manchester United? Or is the blue half of Manchester just as unpopular at the Emirates, because they keep nicking Arsene Wenger's players?
1551: Got your breath back yet? I hope so, because kick-off at the Emirates Stadium is only 10 minutes away. Is this a must-win game for United now, or still a must-not-lose.
Lawro thinks it is the latter,
saying: "Sir Alex Ferguson recognises that, sometimes, you have to settle for a draw against the other big teams and I think he will be of the opinion that 'we don't get beat'."
Manchester City boss David Platt, speaking to BBC Sport about his side's win over Spurs because manager Roberto Mancini has lost his voice: "Mario has got that ability to put a penalty like that way. With penalties he's got full confidence in himself, he looks at the keeper and tries to make the keeper make a mistake. I haven't seen the incident with Balotelli so I can't comment on it until I see it. If we continue to amass points and carry on winning we'll be tough to beat, but it doesn't change anything in terms of the title race."
QPR skipper Joey Barton on Twitter:
"Just seen Bale's goal. Great strike. Seen Balotelli incident, doesn't look great on replay. Those Super Sleuths at FA HQ won't miss that? Will they?"
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson speaking after seeing Premier League leaders Manchester City snatch a last-gasp win over Spurs to extend their lead at the top of the table: "What we've got to do is to make sure we keep on City's coat-tails. So many things happen in football and so we just have to make sure we do our job properly and keep on plugging away at them."
From MUTD4EVA, via text: "Is that the end of Spurs' title challenge? Still seems there's that final touch missing to make them PL champions - finishing and luck."
ARSENAL v MAN UTD (1600 GMT) Jamie Lillywhite reports: "Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says it would be a disaster if his team fail to qualify for the Champions League: "For me it would be," he says. "Because I want to play with the best. We want to be in there, in the top four, and to play in the Champions League, and anything else would not be good enough. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says matches against Arsenal have changed since the infamous bust-up in the tunnel between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira. "It has not been anything like that in the last three years. It has calmed down. Arsene Wenger has a different type of player now. They are younger but they are still trying to do the same things.They still try to entertain and play the football their way."
Manchester City midfielder James Milner on his side's win over Tottenham: "This is a massive win for us - they've been playing really well. We knew it would be a really tough game. It was an exciting game for the neutral but we'll want it a bit more boring next time! We took our foot off the gas and gave them one sloppy goal. They're a good team and we gave them a sniff. We need to learn for that and try to keep it tighter. We should have controlled the game better than we did, and it was a really great penalty at the end there by Mario."
ARSENAL v MAN UTD TEAM NEWS Jamie Lillywhite reports: "There are three changes for Arsenal from the side beaten at Swansea last weekend. Thomas Vermaelen, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky into the starting line-up and Ignasi Miquel, Yossi Benayoun and Andrei Arshavin out. There is no place in the matchday squad for Thierry Henry who failed a test on his calf. Manchester United also make three changes, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones return in defence, Rio Ferdinand and Rafael miss out. In midfield Ryan Giggs replaces Paul Scholes, who is on the bench."
From JJ, annoyed Manchester United fan, via text: "Balotelli should not have been on the pitch. Since coming on he ruined that game. Unlucky Spurs!"
From Gutted Spurs fan, via text: "It's all very well enjoying Balotelli's idiocy but when he kicks someone's head whilst they are on the ground you have to question him."
1536: We haven't heard the last of this though. I've just seen that incident where Mario Balotelli caught Scott Parker again, and he is a very lucky boy not to get a red card. That was a bit nastier than I thought at first glance. The question is, did referee Howard Webb see it? And why did he ignore it if he did?
Manchester City matchwinner Mario Balotelli asked if he felt any pressure before he took the penalty: "No. I felt nothing. I was calm, like every time I shoot a penalty."
Arsenal v Man Utd line-ups Arsenal: Szczesny, Djourou, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Rosicky, Song, Ramsey, Walcott, van Persie, Oxlade-Chamberlain. Subs: Almunia, Park, Squillaci, Arshavin, Benayoun, Miquel, Yennaris. Man Utd: Lindegaard, Jones, Smalling, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Nani, Rooney, Welbeck. Subs: De Gea, Berbatov, Park, Hernandez, Fabio Da Silva, Rafael Da Silva, Scholes. Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
Machado_AM on Twitter:
"Crushed...no way that City deserved all three points. Is this the kind of luck a team needs to win the title?"
GodArsenal on Twitter:
"King only made one mistake and cost Spurs the game. Savic made numerous mistakes but didn't cost City the game. Cruel game."
ARSENAL v MAN UTD (1600 GMT) Jamie Lillywhite reports: "Hard to ignore the 8-2 at Old Trafford when the teams last met but both teams have more pressing matters to attend to. Defeat for Arsenal would leave them languishing five points away from the final Champions League place, and a loss for United is almost unthinkable after Manchester City's win over Tottenham."
From Rachel Tyrrell, agonised Spurs fan, via text: "Feel like crying and I haven't cried since Italia 90."
1525: Amazing. So much to take in from Etihad Stadium. Should Mario Balotelli have even been on the pitch to win and take that penalty? Spurs probably don't know how they lost that - they probably should have won it. But City are six points clear at the top of the table - over to the Emirates then, to see how Arsenal and Manchester United intend to match that little lot.
1524: FULL-TIME Man City 3-2 Tottenham
Man City goal: So cruel on Tottenham but this game always promised us some last-gasp drama. It delivered too. Ledley King makes a mess off his challenge as Mario Balotelli tries to latch on to a bouncing ball in the box. Howard Webb points to the spot and Balotelli steps up to slot home the winner from the spot. In a word - WOW!
1521: GOALFLASH Man City 3-2 Tottenham (Mario Balotelli pen)
1520: It was a definite penalty. Ledley King brought down Mario Balotelli with a clumsy challenge. Balotelli is going to take it too...
1520: PENALTY to Man City
1518: Incredible. Stefan Savic's poor control lets Tottenham in and Gareth Bale is away down the left. He sends in a perfect cross for Jermain Defoe too... but Defoe, charging in at the back post, lunges to reach it... but at full stretch he cannot quite divert it on target, and the ball rolls an inch wide. That looked a certain goal until the very last second.
1517: There will be four minutes of stoppage time in Manchester. Both sides look scared of losing this...
1515: City are doing all of the attacking but they have to be careful here. As anyone who remembers their last-gasp defeat by Sunderland will tell you, you can try to win a game so hard that you end up losing it. Time for a Tottenham change, which reflects their approach in the last few minutes - Steven Pienaar is on for Aaron Lennon.
1514: Tottenham seem happy to sit back now, and they have some defending to do when David Silva dances into space on the edge of the box. He feeds Mario Balotelli, who is not slow to shoot, but his deflected effort loops up into the air and is easily dealt with by Brad Friedel.
1512: City's turn to enjoy a bit of possession but their attempt to build up some pressure ends when Scott Parker blocks Mario Balotelli's shot and is accidentally caught by the striker's flailing leg. Replays show Balotelli caught Parker with his heel afterwards too, but I'm not sure that could be classed as intentional. Anyway, Parker is having treatment on the sidelines... and has just jogged back on.
1507: Mario Balotelli has been quiet since coming on, but he makes an impression on Benoit Assou-Ekotto here, sliding in late on the Tottenham defender. That's a yellow card. Ten minutes left at the Etihad and it remains 2-2.
1506: I guess this is when we find out what both these teams are made of. Who wants the three points the most? At the moment Tottenham are looking most likely and City get a bit of a let off when Jermain Defoe gets past Joleon Lescott but delays too long before trying to pull the ball back for Gareth Bale, allowing Lescott to nip in and clear.
1503: A good spell by Tottenham, this. Gael Clichy has to improvise to head Gareth Bale's bouncing cross over his own bar with Aaron Lennon waiting behind him. From the resulting corner, Joleon Lescott tangles with Younes Kaboul and is lucky referee Howard Webb doesn't spot him throw an arm into the Tottenham defender's face. Play continues, and Aaron Lennon jinks into the area before his deflected low shot is saved by the diving Joe Hart.
1459: Both sides think they can win this now. City have had a flurry of corners but Tottenham have just forced one at the other end when Benoit Assou-Ekotto's low cross was blocked by Stefan Savic. Again, they play it short and the home side struggle to clear their lines. Luka Modric has a pop from 25 yards or so, and is only a fraction off target.
1455: Right, two changes to tell you about after all those goals. For City, Mario Balotelli is on for Edin Dzeko. For Tottenham, Jake Livermore is on for Rafael van der Vaart... who does not seem too happy as he trudges off. With 20 minutes left, we are all-square at Etihad Stadium. Plenty of time for a winner, but who will get it?
Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Etihad Stadium:
"Unbelievable swing in fortunes and emotions here. Manchester City fans singing "we'll score when we want" as their side go two up - now the song is coming back at them as Spurs respond magnificently with two quick goals."
Tottenham goal: Wow. The goals keep coming at Etihad Stadium - we are up to four in the last 10 minutes now. It means Spurs are level, and in style too, with Gareth Bale showing exquisite technique to meet Luka Modric's pass on the edge of the area and expertly bend it into the top corner. There is no saving those.
1452: GOALFLASH Man City 2-2 Tottenham (Gareth Bale)
1450: This game just got very lively, very quickly didn't it? Immediately after that Jermain Defoe goal, David Silva slid Edin Dzeko clear for the Bosnian to blast over when he should have at least found the target. If that's not exciting enough for you, Mario Balotelli is about to come on .
Tottenham goal: Hold on to your hats, because Tottenham are not two goals behind for long. Just a matter of seconds in fact. Stefan Savic had done well in the first hour of this game but he has a shocker here, only finding Jermain Defoe with his horribly short back-header, intended for Joe Hart. Defoe cannot believe his luck, rounding the keeper to slot home.
1447: GOALFLASH Man City 2-1 Tottenham (Jermain Defoe)
Man City goal: Spurs are suddenly at sixes and sevens and are soon two goals down. Younes Kaboul does well to put David Silva's cross behind but, from the resulting corner, Edin Dzeko flicks on Samir Nasri's cross and Joleon Lescott, arriving at pace, bundles the ball over the line. Just.
1445: GOALFLASH Man City 2-0 Tottenham (Joleon Lescott)
Man City goal: Out of nothing, City make the breakthrough. David Silva, unsurprisingly, is the architect, slipping the ball through to Samir Nasri - who has ghosted in from the left, behind Kyle Walker and Younes Kaboul. Nasri has got a bit of stick from a few people for his form, or lack of it, recently but he makes no mistake with the finish, turning to blast his shot past Brad Friedel and into the net. A great finish.
1442: GOALFLASH Man City 1-0 Tottenham (Samir Nasri)
1440: Yep, Tottenham seem to sense they could nick a goal here. They are still reluctant to actually put corners into the box and instead play the ball out to Gareth Bale, who is waiting to shoot. His effort is blocked, but Spurs continue to probe and Bale should do a lot better from Luka Modric's pullback after a neat build-up. Instead, the Welshman mis-kicks and the chance is gone.
From Sach, Spurs fan, via text: "Difference is on the bench City have Mario and Johnson who can change a game. Spurs have nobody."
1439: Another sniff for Tottenham when City give the ball away cheaply... and the home side are grateful that James Milner is there to mop up as Gareth Bale looks to sprint towards goal. This game is not exactly opening up, but there are chances about.
1438: Tottenham break forward, and they have a few men in advanced positions too. It's a shame then, that, Rafael van der Vaart elects to shoot from about 30 yards out, and blasts woefully over.
1437: Roberto Mancini's men keep up the pressure and fire a couple of crosses into the Tottenham box. Brad Friedel deals with the first one but there are shouts for a penalty from the second, when Benoit Assou-Ekotto inadvertently uses his hand to block Micah Richards' centre. Referee Howard Webb is not convinced - nothing given.
1435: City launch the first attack of the second period, but Younes Kaboul snuffs it out, shepherding the ball out of play with Sergio Aguero lurking. Kaboul seems to be limping but I am pretty sure he will be alright.
1431: Just watching some replays of a robust challenge from Scott Parker on Micah Richards, that ended with the pair of them shaking hands. The home fans waved some imaginary cards then, but no-one else did, which is good to see. Anyway, the second half has just got started with no changes from either side.
From Janis, Notts, via text: "Assou-Ekotto lost one of his favourite boots and didn't want to lose the second. So he bought a completely different replacement. Hero."
Der_Wanderfalke on Twitter:
"Richards and Walker not as good as Johnson? At what? Curling? Rapping? Johnson is so inferior it hurts when it comes to football."
1428: It's safe to say Tottenham are missing Emmanuel Adebayor, but what this game really needs is Mario Balotelli. A good thing he's on the bench for City, really. Should Roberto Mancini bring him on now, or will he keep us waiting? And will he make the difference? Let me know. Tweet the commentary via the hashtag
or text in via 81111 (UK).
From Sam in Reading, via text: "Tight game so far, I predicted a draw at the start and my prediction still stands. A draw would be brilliant for me as a Man Utd fan. Draws us closer to City but also makes sure Tottenham don't get too close to us."
Former England left-back and
BBC Radio 5 live
pundit Michael Gray at the Etihad Stadium: "There's only really been one chance and that came from Sergio Aguero. Other than that with all the flair on show we've not seen the skills yet. Both sides have played good football but around the 18-yard box there's not been that quality."
jadhamizan on Twitter:
"Spurs can use the flanks & ping all the crosses they want, but if their target is Defoe, it's not going to produce anything."
Bish_Aries on Twitter:
"Re Anon 1339. Neither of them, Richards or Walker, are as good as Glen Johnson in my opinion."
Spurs fan tomboxy on Twitter:
"The gap between Defoe and the midfield is as big as the gap between the supporters and the pitch at the Etihad. Sort it out 'Arry."
1416: HALF-TIME Man City 0-0 Tottenham
Former England left-back and
BBC Radio 5 live
pundit Michael Gray on why Tottenham defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto is wearing a different coloured boot on each foot: "When you go out there you try on different boots and wear what feels right. He probably just wants to be comfortable. But his feet look like a rainbow."
1414: I think Micah Richards is keen to show Fabio Capello that he should be in the England squad, (well, he would be if Capello is actually watching). Richards has been up and down the right flank about 100 times so far today, flying in this time to challenge Benoit Assou-Ekotto. City are committing men forward and trying to build up a head of steam before the interval but they won't with shooting like this - Edin Dzeko blazing over from 25 yards out.
1410: Five minutes to go until the break, and 0-0 is about right at the moment. Tottenham have contained City easily enough and not done enough with the ball when they have broken forward. This game needs a goal for it to really get going, I think.
pwnoble on Twitter:
"Things I don't understand: What has happened to Nasri? Why is Lennon highly-rated? Gareth Barry plays for the league leaders?"
From Anon, via text: "Re 1340. If you were Capello would you be cold and wet at the game or sat in front of the fire? For once looks like he's got a tough decision right.... all for six million quid."
1406: ... well, it SHOULD have been dangerous. With Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart standing over the ball, about 25 yards out and near the left-hand corner of the box. Younes Kaboul steps up to blast it about 10 miles over the bar. It would be an understatement to say that Spurs boss Harry Redknapp was unimpressed by that.
1405: Joleon Lescott blocks off Gareth Bale as he looks to surge into the box, conceding a free-kick but getting away without a booking. Still, this is dangerous...
1404: Tottenham's wingers have switched flanks, with Gareth Bale now operating on the right. The visitors have responded to that spell of City pressure by stringing together some passes themselves, but they cannot make the final ball into the area count. That's been the story for them so far today after a lot of promising build-up play.
1402: Another sniff for City, and in fact it's their best moment so far. It comes after some superb play by Micah Richards, to nick the ball off Scott Parker, charge forward and play in Sergio Aguero on the edge of the area. David Silva is waiting unmarked to Aguero's left but he chooses to check back inside and let fly himself, shooting straight at Brad Friedel, who saves with his legs.
Former England left-back and
BBC Radio 5 live
pundit Michael Gray on the movement of the full-backs at the Etihad Stadium: "It surprises me - it's Tottenham's full-backs who are pushing forward more. But both Manchester City full-backs are trying to get forward as well."
1400: City come forward again, and this time Brad Friedel has to be off his line quickly to dive at the feet of Edin Dzeko, who is looking to latch on to Samir Nasri's delicate through-ball. Almost half an hour gone and this game is still tense, still 0-0, and still in the balance.
1357: Great play by City striker Sergio Aguero, who seems to be going nowhere as Younes Kaboul shepherds him out into the left-hand corner, but then swivels to leave his marker for dead. Aguero then feeds David Silva to fire a low angled shot wide of Brad Friedel's post. Not the greatest finish, to be honest.
1354: This battle between speed-merchants Aaron Lennon and Gael Clichy is an interesting one, especially with Clichy on a yellow. It's Lennon who gives away the foul this time, barging Clichy over as he chases a ball into the box. That was pretty blatant.
Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Etihad Stadium:
"Lots of arm-waving from Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini. Not the imaginary cards but lots of orders for his side at they attempt to make inroads into a Spurs side that is competing very well. Scott Parker relishing the 50-50s in a tight game."
DanielKnightt on Twitter:
"Aguero always has to take one more touch when he doesn't need to. Great player but do think he's slightly overrated."
1353: Tottenham's first corner sees them play it short and then out to Gareth Bale. In the absence of Emmanuel Adebayor, they don't really have a target man in the area to aim for at set-pieces. Anyway, City clear their lines as far as Scott Parker, who tries his luck from about 30 yards out and sees his daisy-cutter roll harmlessly wide.
Jamiearsenaluk on Twitter:
"Interesting watching Clichy and Nasri play. You think they would look more motivated playing Spurs - both look pedestrian."
1349: City's turn to come to the fore. They are a bit more patient with their possession, but they have just fashioned their first opening. Samir Nasri plays in David Silva down the left and Sergio Aguero is poised to hammer Silva's pull-back goalwards, until Edin Dzeko gets in his way at the near post. That happened at the DW Stadium on Monday night too.
From Nick, Waltham Cross, via text: "I fear the universe may collapse as a result of the sheer Superness of this most Super of Super Sundays. I'm surprised Superman himself isn't presenting the coverage."
1346: Tottenham are definitely looking more dangerous at the moment, especially when Gareth Bale is on the ball. This time he leaves Micah Richards on his backside to send over a low cross from the left, but none of his team-mates are near it. After 15 minutes at Etihad Stadium, it is still 0-0 but there are signs this game might be coming to the boil.
1343: Spurs have shaded possession in the last few minutes, but here comes City and Sergio Aguero. He makes space for a shot on the edge of the box, and sees his effort deflect off Ledley King for the corner... which (ex-Arsenal midfielder) Samir Nasri hits straight at Aaron Lennon, who was standing about 10 yards away. That was in front of the Tottenham fans too - I think they enjoyed it.
1341: Silly stuff by City left-back Gael Clichy, who concedes a throw-in near the half-way line and then stops Kyle Walker from taking it quickly. That's a yellow card, which isn't a great thing to have when Walker and Aaron Lennon are going to be running at you for the next 80 minutes. Not sure what Clichy was thinking, really, because City had enough men back.
1340: Is England coach Fabio Capello at this game? I mean, he really should be.
From Anon, via text: "Will today answer the question of who should be England's right-back? Richards or Walker?"
1339: Better by Tottenham, who have started to open up a bit. Another good interception by Stefan Savic sees him nick the ball off Gareth Bale after he had darted inside Micah Richards down the left... but Spurs have got pace down the opposite flank too, with Kyle Walker surging down the right and being fouled by Gael Clichy. Tottenham take the free-kick short, though, and Jermain Defoe is crowded out.
1337: There's a bit of pressure on City's stand-in centre-back Stefan Savic today, but he does well enough here to hold off Jermain Defoe as they chase a Benoit Assou-Ekotto ball over the top. His clearance wasn't great but City have enough men back to avert the danger. This has been a very cagey opening from both teams to be honest.
1335: City get David Silva on the ball for the first time, on the edge of the Spurs area. He could feed Sergio Aguero inside the box but elects to go wide for Samir Nasri, who makes a bit of a mess of his first touch out on the left and cannot stop the ball running out of play.
1333: Plenty of scrapping going on in the midfield in the early stages... that is where this game is going to be won and lost.
1331: Tottenham get us started.
From anon, via text: "Spurs's fortunes today rely on what team turns up, if it's the team that drew against Wolves on Saturday then it could be another disappointing day for us, however if it's the team that beat Arsenal and humbled Liverpool earlier on in the season then I really fancy our chances! Coys!"
1327: The City and Spurs players emerge from the tunnel at a Etihad Stadium, which is a 47,000-sell-out today. This is going to be a cracker, and it is about to get under way. Strap yourselves in folks...
1325: Interesting to see Nedum Onuoha on the bench for City today, despite QPR having reportedly agreed a fee to sign him. A sign of City's defensive problems, really, although Onuoha is a very decent centre-back or right-back - better than Stefan Savic for my money.
From Anon, via text: "Re 1322. You've got to look at the individual battles, in my mind Spurs are better man for man against a City team without Kompany and Yaya... Richards Vs Bale, Clichy Vs Lennon, Barry Vs Parker, Milner Vs Modric...Spurs to win, surely?"
Bolton captain Kevin Davies on
BBC Radio 5 live
about Tottenham's renaissance under Harry Redknapp: "It's a lot more difficult for teams like Bolton to beat them - a lot more difficult then it certainly has been. If you think back to when Harry took over they were in the bottom three. He's spent money and brought in some fantastic players - but he's done a fantastic job."
1322: Micah Richards versus Gareth Bale is just one of a number of intriguing personal duels that will be fought out over the pitch today. Both teams have lots of ball players midfield, so the people charged with keeping their creativity in check will be just as important. Step forward Gareth Barry and Scott Parker as the main men for either side in those roles.
jOrDs44 on Twitter:
"Micah Richards is the perfect right-back to deal with Gareth Bale. His strength and speed should effectively stop his threat."
1318: Right then. Kick-off at Etihad Stadium is fast approaching. It's been a wet, blustery day so far in Manchester, but bits of blue sky are fighting to get out from behind the grey clouds. Basically, we've seen a bit of everything weather-wise... and I've got a feeling City and Spurs are going to serve up the same. All-out attack? Nervous defending? Pretty passing? I'm sure we will see all three over the course of the next couple of hours. Oh, and I just hope we are talking about the football later, not referee Howard Webb...
From Anon, via text: "Talk of Savic's weaknesses, but what about Nasri? He has been poor all season. Time to prove some critics wrong."
Infostrada Sports on Twitter:
"Harry Redknapp has lost 21 of 25 career Premier League visits to the city of Manchester. His 1st ever PL defeat as a manager came with West Ham at Man City in Aug 1994."
sanj06 on Twitter:
"A few years ago City v Spurs was your average Premier League game! Now it's England's newest 'Big Match'. How times have changed."
Suspended Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany speaking at Etihad Stadium before kick-off on Sky Sports: "For us it is important to get a result but it is more important for United and Spurs to get a result. I would never rule anyone out of the title race but if we get our result and the result at the Emirates Stadium goes our way it will be an incredible weekend for us. We've not allowed the other teams any room to breathe and we're confident we can do that right until the end of the season."
From Anon, via text: "Re Lee, a proud Spurs fan. United's wage structure has absolutely nothing to do with our debt. If you look at the turnover to wages ratio, United have one of if not the best wage structure in the league. Get your facts right before criticising other teams."
From Tom from Kent, via text: "Re 1219. 1) no-one. 2) no-one. 3) Man utd - a return to the more disappointing bore draws between the big teams - I hope I'm wrong though!"
aliwarwicker on Twitter:
"Man City's defence today doesn't look like one of a title winning side. Spurs' midfield could rip holes in it."
1305: As SamHandwich22 says, nippy little goal machine Jermain Defoe is obviously not a like-for-like replacement for target-man Emmanuel Adebayor, who has played such a big part leading the line for Tottenham this season. Defoe will need a lot more help to help the ball stick up front, so it will be interested to see how Harry Redknapp makes up for that. Plenty of attacking talent in that Spurs team, though.
Man City v Tottenham line-ups Man City: Hart, Richards, Savic, Lescott, Clichy, Barry, Milner, Silva, Aguero, Nasri, Dzeko. Subs: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Johnson, Kolarov, Onuoha, De Jong, Balotelli. Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Parker, Modric, Bale, Van der Vaart, Defoe. Subs: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Bassong, Dawson, Kranjcar, Livermore, Pienaar. Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)
From R Walsh in Notts, via text: "Spurs need to target Savic today if they are to win. He has been very average Kompany for Lescott over the past few games!"
SamHandwich22 on Twitter:
"Concerned about 'Arry's lack of tactical awareness. Can't stick with 4-4-1-1 if Defoe is playing up top."
elliotgriffiths on Twitter:
"Spurs' selection is maybe a sign that Redknapp doesn't trust Dawson's fitness quite yet - Kaboul's pace is more suited to City's mini men anyway."
1255: I'm told Tottenham haven't lost a Premier League game when Ledley King has played since August 2010, when they were beaten by Wigan. Bodes well for Spurs today then? Well, sort of. King's injuries mean that, although that run has lasted 17 months, it only includes 15 games. Still, this is an attacking line-up by Tottenham - Harry Redknapp said he would go for it, and that team suggests they will. We shall see, though.
From Swans fan Sam in London, via text: "Re Lawro at 1245. Spurs - best midfield in the Prem? Rubbish!! Swansea midfield all day long!!!"
MAN CITY v TOTTENHAM TEAM NEWS Chief football writer Phil McNulty reports from Etihad Stadium:
"Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has Ledley King back in central defence with Michael Dawson dropping down to the bench while, as expected, Jermain Defoe replaces Emmanuel Adebayor - who cannot play as he is on loan from parent club Manchester City - in attack. Micah Richards is back in defence for City in place of Pablo Zabaleta in their only change from Monday's win at Wigan. And Roberto Mancini goes with Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko up front."
From Lee, a proud Spurs fan, via text: "Re Tom, Proud Gooner. Spurs have bought sensibly! Our only 'flop' is Pavlyuchenko and I'd still choose him over Arshavin any day! We have a wage structure in place so we don't get in debt like United. Yet we still attract big names like Van der Vaart and Parker! Spurs have played as a team and no matter the result I am proud of our team! We now hold a big shadow over ALL London teams. Jealous much?"
From Rob in Sheffield, via text: "Re 1219. 1) Man City 2) Man City (Arsenal win) 3) Man City. Don't think that was too biased."
From Rob, Spurs fan in Balham, via text: "Re proud gooner Tom. Spurs have spent within their means just like Arsenal. Don't take the high ground when your wage bill is much higher than ours. However I support Arsenal against Chelsea and Man City as I also believe they're morally bankrupt so hopefully you'll do the same for Spurs today."
OptaJoe on Twitter:
"58 - Man City have taken 58 points from a possible 60 in their last 20 Premier League home games and won the last 15 in a row. Fortress."
BREAKING TOTTENHAM TEAM NEWS Just two changes by boss Harry Redknapp. Ledley King replaces Michael Dawson at the back, while Jermain Defoe is in for the ineligible Emmanuel Adebayor up front.
From Harold, proud Londoner, via text: "Re Tom, proud Gooner pauper. Are you mad? Spurs are just as poor as Arsenal, they're not morally bankrupt at all. This is plain incorrect. I'm hoping both sides win."
1245: Lots of predictions coming in for today, but are we expecting many goals?
Lawro and Chelsea-supporting comedian Omid Djalili,
who went head-to-head on this week's Premier League games, don't - and go for a total of three between them. As far as the game at Etihad Stadium goes, Lawro says: "Tottenham have the best midfield in the Premier League but I think Roberto Mancini will change his team to cope with that and I just think that City might sneak this."
From John, Man Utd fan, via text: "Re BezDez21. Only clear as day to most disillusioned City fans. 1) Man City, 2) Man Utd, 3) Man Utd"
From Ollie in Castle Leazes, via text: "Re 1219. 1) Tottenham 2) Arsenal 3) Tottenham - Do I sound like an optimistic Leeds fan?"
MAN CITY v TOTTENHAM (1330 GMT) Chief football writer Phil McNulty reports from Etihad Stadium: Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp delivered a few well-chosen words in the direction of his opposite number as they attempt to apply pressure to Manchester City at the top of the table. He said: "I quite like Roberto Mancini and I certainly don't blame him for spending the money he has. I would if I was in his position. But you have to accept that with it comes pressure and rising expectations." Mancini, in turn, has dismissed hopes of a repeat of City's 5-1 win at Spurs at the start of the season, saying: "That was five months ago, their second match of the season and it was totally different. You know when you start the season anything can happen. Now it is different and I think Tottenham are one of the best teams."
From Disgruntled Arsenal fan, via text: "Re 1212. You obviously aren't that sorry! Arsenal will hopefully be throwing those drinks over United this afternoon."
BREAKING MAN CITY TEAM NEWS Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero start up front, and Stefan Savic continues alongside Joleon Lescott at the back, with Micah Richards returning to the starting XI. Full line-ups and Spurs news with you very shortly.
From Tom, proud Gooner pauper, via text: "Re 1212. A very apt, if completely condescending, analogy. If we are the butlers for the title, that is because of the obscene wealth of the others clubs - and Spurs are very much a part of that with the way 'Arry has spent. They may not be letting us polish any silver in the near future, but at least we're not morally bankrupt!"
From Geoff, Plymouth, via text: "1) Spurs, 2) Man U, 3) Spurs. As Del Boy says 'he who dares wins'."
From Mark in Northern Ireland, via text: "Re 1219. 1) Tottenham 2) Arsenal 3) Man United.
BezDez21 on Twitter:
"Re 1219. 1) Man City 2) Arsenal 3) Man City. Should be clear as day to most people."
1229: Yep, Peter Crouch has been the decisive factor the last two times City and Tottenham have met in Manchester - scoring at
the right end in 2010
the wrong one a year later.
In the absence of Emmanuel Adebayor today under the terms of his loan from City, I'm surprised Harry Redknapp hasn't tried to bring Crouch back from Stoke in the hope he completes his hat-trick...
MAN CITY v TOTTENHAM (1330 GMT) Chief football writer Phil McNulty reports from Etihad Stadium: "This fixture has sealed Champions League places for Tottenham and Manchester City in the last two seasons - today at The Etihad the Premier League title is the main item on the agenda. City will be looking to build on their return to victory at Wigan on Monday, while Spurs boss Harry Redknapp knows defeat will deliver a large dent to the growing belief at White Hart Lane that they can be serious players in the title race. Big stakes."
Manchester United winger Nani told
on Saturday that his side's
thumping 8-2 home win over Arsenal in August
will have no bearing on today's Emirates clash: "They are playing at home this time and their motivation will be different. They will want to show that the 8-2 result was wrong."
From Anon, via text: "Re 1205. I am currently horrified by hysteria! Going to be trying to write an essay on the outbreak of hysteria in 19th century France while simultaneously following the day's football."
1219: What are we expecting today then? I want to know three things from you lot: 1) Who will win at Etihad Stadium, 2) who will win at the Emirates Stadium and 3) who will win the Premier League title. Tweet the commentary via the hashtag
or text in via 81111 (UK).
1216: Whatever happens this afternoon, it will have to be pretty remarkable to outdo the results of that crazy day in August when Manchester beat north London 13-3 on aggregate. Back in the days when United seemed to be saying to City 'whatever you can do, we can do better', Sir Alex Ferguson's men watched
City thump Tottenham 5-1
at White Hart Lane before
demolishing the Gunners at Old Trafford,
to start a wave of Twitter jokes that Arsenal fans would no doubt 8-2 see again.
1212: Sorry, I don't mean to be rude about Arsenal's title chances, but you have to admit they look pretty remote after the Gunners suffered back-to-back losses in their last two league games against
to leave them 15 points behind leaders Manchester City with 17 games left. Starting today, Arsene Wenger's men still have to play the top three at the Emirates Stadium between now and May, and none other than
Wayne Rooney thinks they can still win the league...
but they are more likely to just help decide who does - in other words, the only reason they are at today's party is because they are serving the drinks.
1208: Yep, there are only two top-flight games this afternoon but the next few hours will have a huge say in the destination of the title. Can Manchester City handle the pressure at the top? Will Tottenham make a statement of intent by winning at Etihad Stadium? Could Manchester United start their charge to the finish line by beating one of their fiercest enemies on their own patch. Oh, and Arsenal are playing as well.
1205: Hello. Do you hate hyperbole? Are you horrified by hysteria or do you detest delirium? If so, you're in the wrong place. Welcome to THE biggest day of the Premier League season so far.
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