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Live - Premier League

Arsenal 1-0 Bolton
Aston Villa 2-1 West Brom
Everton 2-0 Hull
Fulham P-P Blackburn
Middlesbrough 1-1 Sunderland
Newcastle 2-2 West Ham
Portsmouth P-P Man City
Stoke 0-0 Liverpool


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By Jonathan Stevenson

1932: Time to quit, but be sure to come back tomorrow, there are a couple of tasty-looking games for sure. Match of the Day is on BBC One and this website at 2215 GMT and Alan Green is taking your calls right now on BBC Radio 5 Live on 606. Have a good night.

1930: "Collective gasps of breath around the Britannia after those two late escapes - then delight at a deserved point for Stoke.

"Liverpool would not have merited the win and will see this as an opportunity lost, but let's give credit to Stoke as well. A great effort in a great atmosphere.

"The familiar glint will be in Sir Alex's eye after that."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at the Britannia Stadium

1926: Rory Delap is still the king of Player Rater, with a pretty average mark to be leading on - 7.26. Liverpool's Lucas is the villain of the piece on your eyes, with a frankly embarrassing 3.19. Feel free to carry on voting.
Rate the players

1924: "Fair play to Stoke. We were awful and they deserved at least a point."
RedForever20 on 606
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1923: Full-time Stoke 0-0 Liverpool

1922: One minute left.

1920: Jamie Carragher punts the ball forward, Fernando Torres flicks it on and Steven Gerrard fastens on to it, but his shot - on the stretch - clips the outside of the post. Agonising.

1920: We are into three minutes of injury time. I wonder if Rafa is just starting to regret his little outburst yesterday?

1919: Steven Gerrard swings over a corner from the left that is too high for everyone and it drifts out for a goalkick.

1918: Danny Pugh comes on for Stoke in place of Dave Kitson, who can count himself a little unlucky not to have scored today.

1916: "Has Torres touched the ball yet?"
elnino12 on 606
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Probably not, no.

1914: Touch of the Alessandro del Piero's about that one, as Steven Gerrard curls a free-kick from wide out on the left of the penalty box against the top of the crossbar with Thomas Sorensen helpless.

1912: Liverpool get possession in the Stoke half and Lucas promptly hits it straight back to Thomas Sorensen. What a wretched performance.

1910: "How much do we miss Alonso? I'm so frustrated watching Lucas."
Dave, LFC fan, via text on 81111

1908: My word, they don't get much closer. Glenn Whelan curls it beautifully goalwards, but it misses the top corner by a fraction of an inch. Great effort.

1907: Stoke bring on Liam Lawrence for debutant Matthew Etherington, who gets a good hand from the locals.

1906: Lucas is booked for a clumsy foul on Dave Kitson. The free-kick is 25 yards out, central. Great opportunity.

1906: Ryan Babel comes on for Liverpool in place of the ineffective Yossi Benayoun.

1904: "So bored of the expression "anti-football". Stoke aren't anywhere near as good as Liverpool. What should they be doing? Title-winning sides grind results out at places like this. Liverpool might yet do that. We'll see."
Mr. Goo on 606
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1903: Rory Delap launches another throw from the left and Dave Kitson times his run to perfection, rising high but glancing the ball just over Pepe Reina's crossbar. So, so close.

1859: Ryan Shawcross goes down with cramp. Twenty minutes plus stoppages remain at the Britannia Stadium.

1859: "Four corners, three taken short. I wonder if Liverpool really want to win today."
Anonymous, via text on 81111

1856: Matthew Etherington is booked on his Stoke debut for a foul on Jamie Carragher.

1854: Javier Mascherano spanks a shot miles over the bar - maybe he should ask Diego Maradona for some shooting tips.

1854: Referee Lee Mason shows Steven Gerrard a yellow card for taking a free-kick too quickly.

1852: "Torres time - and not a moment too soon. An immediate reaction from Liverpool's fans, and Benitez will be hoping it is followed by one from his team. Stoke have been untroubled so far in this half."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at the Britannia Stadium

1851: "Stoke fans are a credit to football. It sounds like Liverpool have gone to play in Greece or Turkey. I hope they stay up."
bigjedhammerhead on 606
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1850: Fernando Torres comes on for Albert Reira, we've played for an hour.

1848: Fernando Torres is receiving his instructions at the Liverpool bench. "Score us a goal, son" would probably be the best advice.

1847: It's a cracking atmosphere at Stoke, from both sets of fans. They deserve a goal, all of them.

1846: "If Stoke don't win the game, they deserve to go down."
Mike, Halesowen, via text on 81111

1844: Steven Gerrard is seeing a little bit more of the ball now, but he doesn't win a free-kick on the edge of the Stoke box after two lovely one-twos with Lucas and Yossi Benayoun.

1842: Stoke put Liverpool under some concerted pressure again, first from a Rory Delap throw and then a cross from the right, but Jamie Carragher defends it brilliantly and the Reds clear their lines.

1839: Unbelievable. Pepe Reina kicks the ball straight to Dave Kitson and the striker goes around the goalkeeper, only to shoot wide from a tight angle. He will be gutted he's missed, what a chance.

1837: "Fernando Torres has gone through an energetic work out during the interval under the watchful eye of three members of Liverpool's backroom staff. He even took the spotlight away from a giant, but out of breath, cigarette being used as part of Stoke's anti-smoking campaign. Took some doing I can tell you."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at the Britannia Stadium

1836: Fernando Torres has started going through his paces on the touchline. I hope he warms up properly, he'll need to in this weather.

1835: Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt get the last Premier League half of the day up and running.

1832: "Very clever by Rafa! Players of that quality coming off the bench will definitely bring goals against Stoke. A guaranteed goal/assist from one of the substitutes."
18 years, 1 Love FOOTBALL on 606
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1828: "£60m on three players and all are fit and on the bench. Did I mention I've got three Ferraris but keep them in the garage. Rafa, please don't go back to your old days!"
Arron from a cold Finchley, via text on 81111

1825: When Sammy speaks, people listen: "Time, then, for the only rater that counts - the, erm, Player Rater. Stoke's Rory Delap is putting the rest to shame with an uber-respectable 7.29, while Jamie Carragher is top of the Liverpool charts on 7.00. Lucas is lagging, mind, on 4.88 - who has he upset, then?"
Rate the players

1821: "Liverpool are in a fight here and Stoke's fans are letting them know it. The second half will be a tremendous test of physical and mental strength for the Premier League pace-setters - while Stoke need to discover a cutting edge to turn possession into goals.

"Rafa Benitez has the ultimate cutting edge on the bench in the shape of Fernando Torres. If it is still goalless after an hour and Stoke continue to flourish he must be utilised - in fact I would use him before."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at the Britannia Stadium

1819: Half-time Stoke 0-0 Liverpool

1817: Lucas gives possession away and is bundled to the floor by Richard Cresswell - a hard but fair challenge. The Brazilian has lost the ball far too many times this half so far.

1815: "I've had a dream. Sorensen saves a penalty, it goes out to Etherington, he crosses and it hits Kitson's back and goes in. One-nil to Stoke - 93rd minute."
Santa, via text on 81111

1813: Liverpool have barely been out of their half recently. Stoke keep pumping balls into their box and, like so many visiting teams at the Britannia Stadium this season, Liverpool do not look comfortable defending them at all.

1810: "With the title there for the taking it seems a very strange team choice from Benitez. There is only one goal threat in the entire Liverpool team and he, Gerrard, is unsurprisingly being double-marked. Where are the match-winners like Torres, Keane and Babel?"
CptSensible on 606
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1808: Not sure Diego Maradona will be that impressed by the performance of his Argentina captain Javier Mascherano - he's hauled up for a foul on Matthew Etherington, he's not having the best of games so far.

1805: Liverpool just cannot get hold of the ball at the moment - I can't remember the last time Steven Gerrard got involved. They need to ride out this storm because Stoke look really dangerous.

1802: Stoke really are bossing things now and Ryan Shawcross heads into the net - but he is offside and the assistant referee's flag goes up.

1800: "Stoke are as committed as ever and have unsettled Liverpool, but the league leaders are crafting openings and look dangerous.

"Word on the atmosphere inside the Britannia. Too often clubs leave it behind when they move to new premises - not here. A superb Premier League feel with supporters loving every second of the top flight experience.

"Wonder how long Benitez will resist the lure of the technical area?"
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at the Britannia Stadium

1758: Liverpool started the game far brighter, but Stoke have really come into it in the last 10 minutes and they are putting the leaders under some real pressure at the moment.

1755: Richard Cresswell thinks he should have a foul just outside the Liverpool box after tussling with Sami Hyypia, but referee Lee Mason waves it away.

1754: Liverpool work another good opening and Dirk Kuyt forces Thomas Sorensen to save with his right-foot shot from an angle.

1753: "His rant about Fergie, both Torres and Keane on the bench - I think it's say to say that Rafa may be losing the plot."
Paddy in Belfast, via text on 81111

1750: Liverpool work a good opening for Jamie Carragher down the right but his cross is straight at Thomas Sorensen. I'm not a fan of Carragher at full-back. Some people are just out-and-out centre-backs, and he's one of them.

1748: "I wonder what Diego Maradona makes of Rory Delap's long throw-ins?"
I crave 4 total football on 606
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1745: "Cagey start but a worrying sign for Stoke boss Tony Pulis. He has warned about the dangers of failing to track Steven Gerrard wandering just behind Liverpool's striker - and he is finding space already. Pulis is stalking the touchline anxiously. Too much Liverpool possession for his liking."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at the Britannia Stadium

1743: Rory Delap's first long throw fails to trouble Liverpool, but the ball is pumped back into the Reds box and although three players look offside, the flag stays down and Delap rifles a left-foot shot against the underside of the bar from eight yards, Richard Cresswell not able to convert the rebound.

1741: "As you know we were about to bring in Calum Davenport from West Ham but that didn't happen at the last minute, so I can only apologise for messing people about."
Bolton manager Gary Megson

1739: Wonderful cross from the left from Albert Riera after some lovely one-touch passing from Liverpool and Dirk Kuyt gets in front of keeper Thomas Sorensen, but directs his header wide.

1739: Liverpool have only visited the Britannia Stadium once before, in 2000, when they won 8-0 in the League Cup. Sami Hyypia was one of the scorers that day. They've started well tonight, too, the league leaders.

1735: Glenn Whelan wastes the chance, curling it comfortably over the crossbar. Poor.

1734: Bit rusty, that challenge from Martin Skrtel, he is all over Dave Kitson and Stoke have a free-kick 25 yards out.

1734: "Although Rafa sounded like seven year old throwing a tantrum, everything he said is true. Favourable fixtures and getting away with murder, Fergie needs to be taken down a peg or two. And that doesn't mean a laughable £10,000 fine!"
Declan, Blackburn, via text on 81111

1732: Diego Maradona and Rafa Benitez share a lovely little cuddle pre-kick-off and Stoke get us under way at the Britannia.

1728: "That was the most dreadful game of football I've ever been to, and it was pretty much arctic out there. But at least Arsenal got the three points."
Martin, London, via text on 81111

1726: "There is one rule for Ferguson and another for the rest of the Premier League, it's been happening for years. I think the controlled style of Rafa's reaction was excellent and very effective."
NiallSF on 606
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1723: Salif Diao pulled a calf muscle in the warm-up, that's why he's not playing. Pesky warm-ups.

1722: Salif Diao must have, ahem, got injured in the warm-up, so Glenn Whelan comes into the Stoke team.

1719: So. Should Rafa Benitez be punished by the FA for his quite remarkable outburst against Sir Alex Ferguson on Friday? Or was he right - does Fergie get away with murder? I'd like to hear your thoughts. I really would.

1715: "The atmosphere is building at a freezing and misty Britannia Stadium, with Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez's pre-match tirade against Sir Alex Ferguson still the hot topic. The general verdict appears to be this - win the league and Rafa's a genius, but lose it and his outburst will be seen as the season's watershed moment."
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at the Britannia Stadium
FA to review Benitez complaints

1712:Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez resists the temptation to recall Fernando Torres to the starting line-up despite the Spaniard's goalscoring return from the bench in the FA Cup win over Preston last week. But Benitez does find a place for towering defender Sami Hyypia and Martin Skrtel makes his first appearance since October. A much-changed Stoke hand a debut to midweek signing Matthew Etherington as they look to bounce back from their demoralising FA Cup exit at the hands of Hartlepool.

1709: "Torres and Keane both on the bench for Liverpool in a must-win game for the Reds. I can't wait to see how this match unfolds. I hope Rafa knows what he's doing. Come on Liverpool!"
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Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Higginbotham, Delap, Amdy Faye, Diao, Etherington, Cresswell, Kitson.
Subs: Simonsen, Griffin, Olofinjana, Whelan, Lawrence, Tonge, Sonko.
Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Hyypia, Skrtel, Aurelio, Benayoun, Leiva Lucas, Mascherano, Riera, Gerrard, Kuyt.
Subs: Cavalieri, Dossena, Keane, Torres, Babel, Plessis, El Zhar.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

1704: Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write: Diego Armando Maradona is the guest of honour at Stoke today. That's why I love football.

1700: "How on earth did Cisse put a back-heel over the bar?!"
Jon, Leeds, via text on 81111

Jon, all will be revealed on Match of the Day on BBC One and on this website at 2215 GMT.

1657: What a massive goal that Nicklas Bendtner one could be for Arsenal's season, a real lifeline for their Champions League prospects. Meanwhile Everton roll on, but today's beaten side at Goodison, Hull, could soon find themselves in trouble. They are only seven points above the drop zone.

1654: Full-time Arsenal 1-0 Bolton

1654: Full-time Middlesbrough 1-1 Sunderland

1654: Full-time Everton 2-0 Hull

1654: Full-time Newcastle 2-2 West Ham

1652: Jonas Gutierrez is denied a chance to win it for Newcastle thanks to a brilliant last-ditch tackle from Matthew Upson at St James' Park.

1652: "I've been saying all along Healy is the man to turn Sunderland's season around. Keane and now Sbragia had left him out for about three or four months until a few mins ago, when he races on and waves his magic wand straight away. Get the message Ricky!"
Steve in Belfast, via text on 81111

1649: "I love Bendtner, he's a legend, he shouldn't leave..."
Donald Donaldson on 606
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1646: Amazing clearance from Adam Johnson at Boro off the line from Carlos Edwards' header, before Djibril Cisse back-heels inches over.

1646: Kevin Davies has an immediate chance to equalise but shoots straight at Manuel Almunia from eight yards.

1645: GOAL Arsenal 1-0 Bolton
They've kept ploughing away but finally Arsenal get the breakthrough, Robin van Persie crossing from the left of the penalty area and the much-maligned Nicklas Bendtner sliding in at the far post to stick the ball in the net.

1644: Sebastien Bassong makes a great last-ditch challenge to prevent Carlton Cole getting in a shot at Newcastle.

1640: GOAL Middlesbrough 1-1 Sunderland
David Healy has only been on the pitch for about two minutes, but he's done the trick, scampering away down the right and crossing for Kenwyne Jones to slot home from close range. Bragging rights still very much up for grabs.

1638: GOAL Newcastle 2-2 West Ham
He may look utterly ridiculous with his hair (check it on MOTD tonight), but he's done the business. Damien Duff swings over a cross from the left and Andy Carroll rises high to head into the top corner from close range. Really good nod, that and his first Premier League goal.

1637: "Arsenal need Arteta. Now."
GD, via text on 81111

1635: Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner has come on for Emmanuel Eboue and his first touch is a header at Jussi Jaaskelainen from close range. He did well to get to it, but will probably think he should have scored.

1634: "Not even Bolton's bus can withstand 20 minutes of this onslaught surely!"
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1632: Arsenal are piling pressure on now and Kolo Toure forces Jussi Jaaskelainen to make a good save with his shot from outside the box.

1631: Robin van Persie hits the post as Arsenal nearly break the deadlock, the Dutchman perilously close to scoring with his close-range, low, right-foot shot.

1628: Drama at Newcastle. Referee Alan Wiley has disallowed a goal for the hosts after Lucas Neill sliced Fabrico Coloccini's cross from the right horribly into his own net - but Michael Owen was adjudged to have pushed James Collins. Would have been a belting own goal.

1625: Samir Nasri slides Emmanuel Adebayor clean through at Arsenal, but the big striker takes too long to shoot and his effort is blocked by a stretching Andy O'Brien. Poor.

1624: Boro's Didier Digard can take no more - he's got a massive bump on his head, it's a very bad blow. Matthew Bates comes on in his place. Meanwhile at Arsenal, Carlos Vela comes on for Abou Diaby.

1623: Charles N'Zogbia comes on for Newcastle. I'm surprised he can even be bothered to play for them. Kind of him, isn't it?
N'Zogbia ready to leave Newcastle

1622: So far, Bolton have got exactly what they want out of the Arsenal game. Over an hour gone and the home team remain frustrated, unable to find a way through the massed ranks of defenders.

1621: "I know things aren't going well, but I just wish the Emirates crowd would get behind the team."
Tim, Arsenal fan, via text on 81111

1619: "No on-field team talk this time, but they probably deserved it. Hull have been rubbish."
dr_elementary on 606
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1617: Kieran Richardson has gone off for stitches at Boro after he went up for the ball with Didier Digard and ended up headbutting the Middlesbrough midfielder. Richardson was booked and Digard has a big bump on his forehead.

1615: GOAL Newcastle 1-2 West Ham
Herita Ilunga floats over a ball into the Newcastle box and Carlton Cole controls the ball superbly before rifling an unstoppable left-foot shot high past Shay Given into the roof of the Magpies net. Stunning, stunning finish and a fourth in four games for the striker.

1613: Bolton have their first attempt on the Arsenal goal, but Matty Taylor's header provides Manuel Almunia with a very comfortable save.

1613: "Liverpool fans will be happy. Felliani booked and will miss both derby games. Ref lost the plot. Moyes should have took Maro off at half-time and everyone knows it."
Rich, gutted at Goodison, via text on 81111

1611: Marouane Fellaini has picked up his 10th booking of the season and he will now miss two matches for Everton. He's played 20 games, and been booked in half of them. Silly boy.

1609: Magnificent save from Shay Given, he really is a sensational keeper. West Ham are dominating at the moment and Jack Collison thinks he has scored from close-range before Given somehow scrambles across his line to claw the ball away.

1607: Under way at Arsenal as well.

1606: Craig Bellamy tangles in the Newcastle box with two defenders and as he takes possession of the ball, Sebastien Bassong wraps his arm around Bellamy's head and hauls him to the floor. It's a penalty, but referee Alan Wiley waves it away.

1605: Craig Bellamy and Michael Owen are having a good old natter at St James' Park - do you think Manchester City is the subject of their chat? They are under way, as are Everton and Hull.

1604: Back under way between Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

1602: If Arsenal do not win today and Everton do, the Toffees will narrow the three-point gap to the fifth-placed Gunners. It's a very big 45 minutes for Arsene Wenger's team against Bolton. Again.

1600: "Arteta had a short quiet spell for a few months, but my word is he on top form now. Great player. The upcoming Merseyside derbies are looking very, very tasty now."
DannHarvey on 606
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1557: "Crikey, this is a shocking game... even for the super whites fans! Maybe the floodlights will stay off and we can get warm again in the north London pubs!"
Salty the Trotter, via text on 81111

1553: Hull are heading for their fourth straight defeat, Bolton have parked the bus, Stewart Downing has gone crazy celebrating Boro's goal and Craig Bellamy has added a million to his transfer fee. That's what has just happened. And aren't Everton absolutely brilliant without strikers? Absolutely brilliant.

1550: Half-time Arsenal 0-0 Bolton

1549: Half-time Newcastle 1-1 West Ham

1549: Half-time Everton 2-0 Hull City

1548: Half-time Middlesbrough 1-0 Sunderland

1546: GOAL Everton 2-0 Hull
Everton double their lead as Mikel Arteta steps up to lash a stunning free-kick past Boaz Myhill from about 30 yards on the stroke of half-time.

1546: GOAL Middlesbrough 1-0 Sunderland
Afonso Alves flicks the ball to Stewart Downing down the Boro right and he surges forward before crossing for the Brazilian to rifle into the net from the edge of the box.

1543: West Ham nearly take the lead, Mark Noble racing through and forcing a fine save from Shay Given, with the angle beating Craig Bellamy who puts the rebound into the side-netting.

1541: Abou Diaby smashes the ball straight into the face of Ricardo Gardner and the Jamaican needs a little bit of treatment for that. Johan Elmander limps off and is replaced by Mustapha Riga. Just three left on the Bolton bench now.

1541: "With Craig Bellamy scoring against his former club, now I'm waiting for Nicky Barmby to score against Everton. It is in the stars, isn't it?"
Toffee In Exile on 606
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1539: There isn't much to shout about at Middlesbrough so far, with both teams looking bereft of confidence. Chances at a premium, it needs a bit of quality to get it going.

1537: "Martin Atkinson is the worst ref going."
Chris at a mild Goodison, via text on 81111

1535: Geremi's free-kick is blocked by James Collins and the ball falls for Newcastle's Jonas Gutierrez to fire just wide from 10 yards.

1534: Some of the floodlight lamps have gone out at Arsenal. It's not a problem yet, but potentially could be later when it's properly dark. Dear oh dear.

1533: "I rated Michael Turner very highly in the air, but it would seem that he is being 'owned' by Fellaini. Interesting..."
DannHarvey on 606
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1529: GOAL Newcastle 1-1 West Ham
Aren't some players absolutely brilliant when the transfer window re-opens?! Scott Parker slips in Craig Bellamy and the Welshman takes a touch and clips a gorgeous finish past Shay Given in the Newcastle goal. Super finish.

1528: Marouane Fellaini heads wide from a smashing Tim Cahill cross from the right. Hull cannot get near the giant midfielder in the air.

1526: Danny Guthrie floats over a lovely cross to the back post at Newcastle and Andy Carroll heads into the side-netting from three yards out - he should do better.

1524: "(See 1505) Steve Harmison should be very familiar with ridiculous coach and captain scenarios being a regular attendee of that place."
Louis, Sunderland, via text on 81111

1523: Tuncay blazes over from 25 yards. Not many chances at the Riverside so far in a typically keenly-contested derby.

1520: GOAL Newcastle 1-0 West Ham
Poor defending and it costs West Ham a goal. Jose Enrique finds Michael Owen outside the box and as he shapes to shoot, James Collins slips and Owen drills his shot into the near corner from the edge of the area with Robert Green only managing to get a slight touch on it.

1519: GOAL Everton 1-0 Hull
What on earth is the assistant referee doing allowing that? Leighton Baines swings over a cross from the left and Marouane Fellaini heads home from close range. But he was standing two yards offside. Silly.

1517: It's very scrappy at the start at Everton, visitors Hull more than holding their own at Goodison Park at the moment.

1515: Samir Nasri picks out Robin van Persie in the Arsenal box and the striker flicks the ball up before volleying a couple of inches over the crossbar. Arsenal are on top against a very defensive Bolton.

1514: Michael Owen latches on to a Jonas Gutierrez cross and does his marker before firing a low shot against Robert Green's far post from an angle.

1513: "Marouane Fellaini has to be signing of the season anyone agree??"
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1511: Newcastle think they should have a penalty as a cross hits the arm of James Collins, but referee Alan Wiley turns their appeals down.

1510: Steed Malbranque is the first man in the book at Boro for a high tackle, before Stewart Downing forces a routine low save from Marton Fulop from the edge of the box.

1509: Hull's Kamil Zayatte took an early blow from Marouane Fellaini at Everton and he is sporting a black eye with blood coming out of his nose, too.

1507: "Eight Arsenal players are wearing gloves, nine including Almunia. Strangely our Brazilian Denilson isn't. Only their goalie is. But it is freezing."
Marc, East Stand, via text on 81111

1505: England fast bowler Steve Harmison is watching Newcastle play West Ham, I wonder what he makes of the ludicrous captain/coach situation this week. Also, Nicky Barmby is being vociferously booed by Everton's fans every time he gets the ball on his first return to Goodison Park since leaving all those years ago.

1503: Goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen is indeed fit enough to start the game for Bolton at Arsenal. Sorry for the scare, Trotters fans.

1502: The games at Middlesbrough and Arsenal are both now under way.

1501: The announcement of Stewart Downing's name gets loud cheers at The Riverside, complete with banners begging for the winger to stay. Under way at Everton and Newcastle.

1457: "I feel sorry for West Brom because they play some of the best football in the Premier League but they don't score! If points were given for actual football they'd get my vote."
Jack in Reading, via text on 81111

1453: Word on the street is that Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen may have picked up an injury in the dreaded warm-up, ahead of their game at Arsenal. Not 100% sure whether he plays, but will keep you posted.

1451: "Villa really have got the knack of getting the three points in tight matches, they have to be favourites for the fourth spot now."
Desolation_row on 606
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1447: Sammy's gone and dipped into the old Player Rater to find out what the blazes is going on. Here's what the blazes is going on: "Even a spirited second-half display can't seem to rescue West Brom's flagging playing ratings - and Scott Carson is baring the brunt of the fans' frustration, languishing as he is on a frankly embarrassing 3.54. Villa's Ashley Young tops the charts with 7.84 meaning no player manages to 'bust the eight'. Of course, that could all change with your involvement…"
Rate the players

1444: "I know everyone hails every Arsenal youngster as the next Thierry Henry, but does this squad not look incredibly thin to anyone now Fabregas is out? Bendtner is the only recognised first-team player on the bench!"
Chris in Liverpool, via text on 81111

1440: "I really enjoyed that, good game of football to watch and West Brom will maybe feel if they had gone for it a little bit more in the second half they could have got something from it. Perhaps they'll learn from it."
BBC Radio 5 Live's Graham Taylor

1438: Full-time Aston Villa 2-1 West Brom

1437: West Brom could have had two penalties there, but neither probably is one. First Roman Bednar tussles with Luke Young and then Ashley Young tackles Robert Koren, but the Baggies only get a corner, which comes to nothing.

1435: Roman Bednar is booked for remonstrating with an assistant referee and the ref. Into injury time.

1434:Arsenal centre-back Kolo Toure returns from injury and is named captain in the absence of Cesc Fabregas, while Johan Djourou and Denilson also come back into the team. Bolton are without suspended captain Kevin Nolan, while Chris Basham makes his full debut. They have so many injuries, boss Gary Megson names only four substitutes.

1433: Great chance to wrap it up for Villa after a fabulous run and cross down the left from Ashley Young and Gabby Agbonhalor brilliantly brings the ball down, only to lash a right-foot shot wide of the far post from 12 yards.

1432: Newcastle are without the suspended Nicky Butt so Geremi comes in for him, while Jonas Guiterrez replaces Charles N'Zogbia. Shola Ameobi has failed to recover from a hamstring injury so 20-year-old Andy Carroll makes his first start at St. James' Park. Valon Behrami, Lucas Neill, Matthew Upson and Man City target Scott Parker all return to the West Ham team.

1432: "Only four subs for Bolton and Basham playing - sort it out Megson."
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1430: Carlos Cuellar comes on for Steve Sidwell as Villa look to shore things up in the closing stages.

1428: West Brom are putting some serious pressure on Villa but they just cannot work that all-important opening. Six minutes plus stoppages left.

1426: "In a time when everybody fears for the security of their job, David James must be laughing. He's got a job for life as the England keeper!"
Tony in Hull, via text on 81111

1424: Stewart Downing is given an immediate chance to win back the Middlesbrough fans after having a transfer request turned down in the week as he starts against Sunderland, but fellow wantaway midfielder Gary O'Neil is out with a hamstring injury, while Jeremie Aliadiere also misses out. Kieron Richardson passes a late fitness test on an ankle injury to start for Sunderland, while Steed Malbranque returns after being rested in the FA Cup.

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Djourou, Clichy, Eboue, Diaby, Denilson, Nasri, Adebayor, Van Persie.
Subs: Fabianski, Vela, Ramsey, Wilshere, Bendtner, Bischoff, Gibbs.
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Basham, Shittu, Andrew O'Brien, Samuel, Taylor, Muamba, McCann, Gardner, Elmander, Davies.
Subs: Bogdan, Riga, Fojut, Obadeyi.
Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)

1422:Everton manager David Moyes makes just one change from the team that started against Macclesfield in the FA Cup, Maroune Fellaini coming in for Victor Anichebe in attack. There are six changes for Hull from the FA Cup draw with Newcastle and the most notable sees former Everton forward Nicky Barmby replacing Daniel Cousin.

1420: Borja Valero is taken off by Tony Mowbray and Kim comes on.

Newcastle: Given, Taylor, Coloccini, Bassong, Jose Enrique, Gutierrez, Guthrie, Geremi, Duff, Owen, Carroll.
Subs: Harper, N'Zogbia, Xisco, Kadar, Edgar, LuaLua, Donaldson.
West Ham: Green, Neill, Collins, Upson, Ilunga, Behrami, Parker, Noble, Collison, Cole, Bellamy.
Subs: Stech, Boa Morte, Mullins, Faubert, Tristan, Tomkins, Di Michele.
Referee: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire)

1419: Chris Brunt's shot hits the wall and Robert Koren's follow-up is sliced horribly high and wide.

1418: The yellow card comes out and Martin Laursen accepts his punishment for a blatant shove on Jay Simpson after a lovely turn from the youngster. Chris Brunt fancies this one - it's to the right of the box.

Middlesbrough: Turnbull, McMahon, Riggott, Wheater, Pogatetz, Sanli, Digard, Walker, Arca, Downing, Alves.
Subs: Jones, Taylor, Mido, Emnes, Huth, Bates, Johnson.
Sunderland: Fulop, Chimbonda, Nosworthy, Ferdinand, Collins, Malbranque, Whitehead, Richardson, Diouf, Cisse, Jones.
Subs: Colgan, Tainio, Edwards, Murphy, Yorke, Reid, Healy.
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

1415: Steve Bennett has a little word with Chris Brunt for a naughty trip on Steve Sidwell, but keeps his cards in his pocket. We haven't had one yet - in a local derby, with 71 minutes on the clock. Great stuff.

Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines, Osman, Arteta, Neville, Pienaar, Fellaini, Cahill.
Subs: Nash, Van der Meyde, Castillo, Rodwell, Jutkiewicz, Anichebe, Gosling.
Hull: Myhill, McShane, Zayatte, Turner, Ricketts, Mendy, Ashbee, Marney, Geovanni, Barmby, King.
Subs: Duke, Doyle, Fagan, France, Halmosi, Boateng, Cousin.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)

1411: We're halfway through the second half and there is still very much all to play for. Villa need another goal to make sure of this one, but West Brom might just fancy a point. They're playing well enough.

1409: James Morrison has picked up an injury and he is replaced by Chris Brunt, who has a lovely left foot, in case you were wondering.

1408: "What are the chances that Carson will succeed David James as England's resident comedy goalkeeper?"
William, via text on 81111

1407: Luke Young's cross from the left is headed away at the far post by Paul Robinson with James Milner waiting for a chance to head home.

1404: Nigel Reo-Coker slices a shot horribly wide from about 22 yards, before the television camera pans to the stand where the legendary figure of Cyrille Regis is looking on.

1403: "(See 1354) Is there anyone out there who Rob Styles hasn't annoyed this season? Dodgy penalties, incorrect decisions - the man is slowly turning himself into a new national hate figure! Him and Mike Riley have probably got a bet on."
Ginger Capello on 606
Join the debate on 606

1400: Roman Bednar is flying - why wasn't he playing to begin with? He takes on allcomers and fires in a fierce shot from an angle on the right that hits Brad Friedel and Villa manage to clear.

1359: This has turned into a cracking game and the next goal, if there is one, will probably prove decisive.

1358: Gareth Barry heads the corner into the side-netting. Meanwhile, Villa's second has now officially been given as a Scott Carson own goal. So for those of you hammering me for suggesting that might happen, there you go.

1356: Great save - Scott Carson has redeemed himself there. Ashley Young plays a magical one-two with Gareth Barry down the left and Young's cross is flicked goalwards by Steve Sidwell, Carson plucking the ball out of the top corner.

1354: James Milner plays a sensational volleyed pass into the path of Ashley Young on the inside left channel and Young's goalbound, curling shot is parried away by Scott Carson.

1354: "Rob Styles should probably avoid the 8 Bells on Putney Bridge on his way home. He's not flavour of the month with a pub full of Rovers fans who set off at 0700 to find the pitch inspection taking place at 1315. Ridiculous."
NotHappyRover, via text on 81111

1352: GOAL Aston Villa 2-1 West Brom
We have a game back on here. A ball is floated into the Villa box, Roman Bednar heads it back to James Morrison and the talented midfielder turns Martin Laursen before firing in via a slight deflection from the edge of the box.

1351: Gabby Agbonlahor does Jonas Olsson for pace and his left-foot shot is deflected by the defender into the side-netting. Villa could just pick the Baggies off all half with their two-goal advantage. Dangerous times for the visitors.

1349: Back under way at Villa Park, with Bednar replacing the ineffective Luke Moore.

1348: Roman Bednar is coming on for West Brom in the second half.

1345: "Just checked my sat-nav. It can't find a route to Aston Villa's goal either."
2o-DeMoN-o9 on 606
Join the debate on 606

1342: Here's Sammy with some Player Rater chat: "West Brom may be trailing by a couple of goals at half-time, but their loan striker Jay Simpson is still feeling the love - he's on the very cusp of an eight on 7.88. Ashley Young and Gareth Barry are getting their fair share of winter warmth as well, but Scott 'The Rot' Carson's mark is plummeting faster than the value of the pound. Get involved and kill, ooh, literally seconds."
Rate the players

1339: "(See 1331) If ever Blackadder is resurrected, Will Dear would be an ideal foil for Captain Darling: "What's that Dear?" "Pardon Darling?"
Cen, via text on 81111

1335: "West Brom are struggling to handle Villa at corners and free-kicks. They have had so much possession, but there is never any end product and they must rectify that."
BBC Radio 5 Live's Graham Taylor

1333: Half-time Aston Villa 2-0 West Brom

1332: Stiliyan Petrov controls the ball 25 yards out and attempt a dipping volley, but doesn't quite catch it right and it bobbles wide.

1331: "Stevo, can you please give a shout out to my friend, Will Dear? It's his birthday today and I know he always reads the BBC live text. He's a season-ticket holder at Chelsea, but would swap it all for one lunch date with Caroline Cheese!"
Simon, Islington, via text on 81111

Aah, quite literally a dear friend.

1328: Make no mistake, that goal will be attributed to Scott Carson, but at the moment the Press Association are giving it to Gabby Agbonlahor. They'll change their minds, no doubt. James Milner fires over from outside the box - this could get nasty for West Brom.

1326: GOAL Aston Villa 2-0 West Brom
It's Wembley, England v Croatia all over again - what a total shambles from Scott Carson. Gabby Agbonlahor speeds down the left and races into the penalty area, he tries to pick out a colleague with a ball across the box and somehow Carson deflects the ball into his own net via his left arm. A proper blooper.


1321: Good chance for the Baggies this time, with Paul Robinson sending over a fine cross from deep on the left and James Morrison heading straight at Brad Friedel.

1317: Golden chance and should be 2-0. James Milner does well down the right and picks out Steve Sidwell with his cross, but the former Reading man can only side-foot wide from eight yards.

1316: A pitch inspection is taking place at Craven Cottage right now, with referee Rob Styles set to decide whether Fulham v Blackburn can go ahead.

1315: West Brom are easily the better team in possession, but when they get to the final third it's as if they do not know what to do. Villa on the other hand are clinical at creating chances, as Gareth Barry heads James Milner's shot at Scott Carson.

1313: "Pompey have completely shot themselves in the foot with this under soil heating problem. Now they're going to have to face Man City with Robinho back, and heaven knows who else they will have signed. I really thought they could have won today, now I'm not so sure."
SinghSing on 606
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1310: Brilliant stuff from Ashley Young, driving down the left and cutting inside, unleashing a fabulous curling shot around Scott Carson that bounces just the other side of the far post. That would have been a stunning goal.

1309: "Stevo. Be prepared for Andy Carroll's monstrosity of a hair do should he start for Newcastle today."
A fellow Stevo, essay writing in Newcastle, via text on 81111

1307: West Brom carelessly give the ball away and Gareth Barry sets up Steve Sidwell to test Scott Carson with a left-foot drive from 25 yards.

1305: My colleague Sam tells me that Villa have won every single game this season when they have taken the lead. I hope no-one's told Tony Mowbray.

1303: GOAL Aston Villa 1-0 West Brom
Pressure on the Baggies goal for the first time and they show their defensive frailties. Steve Sidwell twice has headers cleared off the West Brom line and the ball eventually falls to Gareth Barry, who swings in a cross that Curtis Davies heads in. Davies, who played for WBA, decides not to celebrate.

1303: Ashley Young scampers away down the left and his cross is way too long, but Paul Robinson isn't sure who is behind him at he puts it behind for a corner.

1300: Lovely approach play from the Baggies, who have settled much the better of the teams. Jay Simpson tees up Robert Koren and his cross is deflected goalwards, Brad Friedel getting across well to make the save.

1259: "A Premier League club having a match postponed because their under soil heaters aren't good enough... I thought this was supposed to be the best league in the world? Sort it out Portsmouth."
BoisterousCitizenTom on 606
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1256: Ashley Young nutmegs Carl Hoefkens down the Villa left but the Belgian gets back well to tackle Young, who goes down far too easily looking for a free-kick once again. After last week at Gillingham, you'd have thought he might be a bit more careful today.

1254: Villa fail to adequately clear a corner from the West Brom right and Borja Valero curls a shot over the crossbar from about 14 yards.

1253: "Perhaps Pompey should have asked Rafa Benitez to come down and sort out the pitch? Would have saved a fortune on electricity."
Mo in Jedburgh, via text on 81111

1250: Gloves - there are a lot of them on show at Villa Park. Full marks to those players who haven't donned hand wear or long sleeves - Gareth Barry among them.

1248: Jay Simpson shows a lovely turn of pace to get inside the Villa box, but his cross is deflected behind by Martin Laursen. What a great chance this is for Simpson to show what he can do.

1246: Today's Premier League action is under way.

1244: "Dear Stevo. My university has been cruel enough to schedule an exam for this afternoon, and so I will be missing the majority of today's games! Please help me through this troubling time by granting me an easy Liverpool win later. Thanks."
Joe, via text on 81111

1242: Warm-up injuries - the bane of this season. The curse has struck again, but fear not - unless you're a fan of referees. Mike Riley has a back problem and he will not be able to officiate (fussily) today, so Steve Bennett takes over.

1240: "I tell you what it is cold, its dropped down to the mid-20's here in Bahrain! Had to think about swapping shorts for trousers!"
illustriousArabScot on 606
Join the debate on 606

1236: I've got to be honest, in the sub-human temperatures we're experiencing at the moment, one things has warmed the cockles of my heart, and that is Rafael Benitez's controlled rant at Sir Alex Ferguson in his pre-match news conference on Friday. I bet Fergie enjoyed it too, mind. I think we might be hearing a fair bit more about that one.
Benitez lays into rival Ferguson

1233: "Come on Simpson, score for your Gooners and we can jump ahead of Villa!"
Marc, Amersham, via text on 81111

1230: Stevo's Predos:
Aston Villa 3-0 West Brom
Arsenal 3-2 Bolton
Everton 2-1 Hull
Fulham 1-1 Blackburn
Middlesbrough 0-0 Sunderland
Newcastle 2-1 West Ham
Stoke 0-3 Liverpool
Lawro's predictions

1227: "We're not winning games at the minute so to go to Manchester's going to be a tough game. But I think if we win there it will give us a lot of confidence to push on and have a little bit more confidence in us as a team to win the league. I'd always say if you're ahead of Man Utd then you win the league."
Chelsea defender Ashley Cole on BBC One's Football Focus

1225: "It's not only cold in England, Stevo. Here in Madrid it's -2 at one o'clock in the afternoon and it was snowing all day yesterday. Have we ever seen this in Spain?"
Real_number1fan on 606
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1222: Aston Villa make four changes from the side that beat Gillingham in the FA Cup, with captain Martin Laursen and Gareth Barry back after injury and Gabriel Agbonlahor and Luke Young recalled. West Brom hand a full debut to on-loan Arsenal forward Jay Simpson, James Morrison is back after missing the FA Cup tie against Peterborough and Paul Robinson is recalled at left-back in place of Marek Cech.

1219: So the last time the Baggies did triumph in their neighbours' back yard it was, of course, May 1979, a remarkable time to be alive in the UK. Margaret Thatcher had just become Britain's first woman prime minister, milk cost 13p a pint, Art Garfunkel was at number one with Bright Eyes and a little team called Nottingham Forest were crowned European champions.

Aston Villa: Friedel, Reo-Coker, Davies, Laursen, Luke Young, Sidwell, Petrov, Barry, Milner, Agbonlahor, Ashley Young.
Subs: Guzan, Harewood, Delfouneso, Knight, Shorey, Cuellar, Gardner.
West Brom: Carson, Hoefkens, Barnett, Olsson, Robinson, Morrison, Koren, Greening, Borja Valero, Simpson, Moore.
Subs: Kiely, Cech, Bednar, Brunt, Beattie, Kim, Donk.
Referee: Steve Bennett (Kent).

1213: First on the agenda is the small matter of a West Midlands derby between what seems like everyone's second team Aston Villa and West Brom, fighting for their lives at the wrong end of the table. West Brom have not won at Villa Park for 30 years - so you could say they're due.

1211: In the interests of personal safety, I'm urging you not to go outside today. It is absolutely freezing. I mean, I'm no weather expert, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't the coldest day of all time. So unless you're going to Villa Park, the Emirates, Goodison Park, Craven Cottage, the Riverside, St James' Park or the Britannia Stadium, stay where you are, and get stuck in right here. Text me on 81111, and join the debate on 606.
Join the debate on 606

1208: Before I get too carried away with today's action, I must tell you of a postponement. In the Premier League - I know! Referee Mike Dean called it all off at Portsmouth this morning, so their match against Manchester City will be played at a later date. According to the Pompey website, a dozen diesel heaters were hired to blow hot air on the Fratton Park pitch this week, but all to no avail.

1205: No cupsets on the agenda today, no recently-appointed managers watching from the stands as their new team pulls off a seismic shock against a side from a higher division (a rare East Midlands mention in a Premier League context this season). We're back to basics, and there's nothing more basic than the urgent need to pick up as many points as possible.

1200: It's a marathon, not a sprint; Midlands/Tees-Wear derby bragging rights; players going back to haunt their old clubs; under-pressure managers; a proper six-pointer; Arsenal's inability to cope with Bolton's physical threat; Rory Delap's infamous throws causing havoc for another top team at the Britannia.

Ah, the Premier League is back, in all its cliche-riddled glory. After a cup-enforced 11-day absence, we are ready to go again. Apart from Manchester United, every team is at least halfway through the campaign, and every team has an awful lot to play for. It might just be the most interesting season we have had for a very, very long time.

Barclays Premier League Table
01 February 2010 22:00
    P GD PTS
1 Chelsea 23 38 54
2 Man Utd 24 36 53
3 Arsenal 24 32 49
4 Tottenham 24 20 42

5 Liverpool 24 16 41

6 Man City 22 14 41
7 Aston Villa 23 13 40
8 Birmingham 23 -1 34
9 Everton 23 -1 32
10 Blackburn 24 -15 28
11 Fulham 23 -2 27
12 Stoke 22 -7 26
13 Sunderland 23 -10 24
14 Wigan 22 -23 22
15 West Ham 23 -9 21
16 Bolton 22 -15 21
17 Wolverhampton 23 -21 21

18 Burnley 23 -23 20
19 Hull 23 -26 20
20 Portsmouth 22 -16 15

see also
Arsenal 1-0 Bolton
10 Jan 09 |  Premier League
Aston Villa 2-1 West Brom
10 Jan 09 |  Premier League
Everton 2-0 Hull
10 Jan 09 |  Premier League
Middlesbrough 1-1 Sunderland
10 Jan 09 |  Premier League
Newcastle 2-2 West Ham
10 Jan 09 |  Premier League
Stoke 0-0 Liverpool
10 Jan 09 |  Premier League

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