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Page last updated at 18:19 GMT, Sunday, 15 March 2009

Premier League as it happened

SUNDAY RESULTS
Chelsea 1-0 Man City
Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham


GOALFLASHES AND MAJOR INCIDENTS (all times GMT)

606: DEBATE
To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111. (Not all contributions can be used)

By Sam Lyon

1815: So a good day in London, then. Chelsea close the gap on their title rivals with victory over Manchester City, while Tottenham finish the day nearer seventh spot than the bottom three after beating Aston Villa. The other winners of the day? Arsenal. I suggest their fans might put rivalry to one side and buy their Tottenham mates a thank-you pint of the laughing juice tonight.

There's a long way to go this season yet, though, and it's still all to play for. Thanks for your company today, folks, don't forget to tune into Match of the Day 2 tonight at 2200 GMT on BBC Two and here on this very website for all you UK users for your round-up of a sensational weekend's football. I'm off to learn how to spell Ghanaian and remind myself who the Aston Villa keeper actually is. Nice one.

"That's a great, crucial, win against a good Villa side. The manager has brought in a few new players and I think you're seeing the foundations being built of a top side here. Jermaine Jenas, for me, was outstanding today but, to a man, we are working hard and we can push on from here now, I'm sure."
Tottenham defender Jonathan Woodgate

"I have never in my life appreciated Spurs anywhere near as much as I do today... God bless you Spurs, for today at least. I feel ill."
Torn gooner via text on 81111

1759: An excellent win for Tottenham, that, and their bid for Premier League survival continues to go from strength to strength. Aston Villa, meanwhile, have to hope their form improves - and soon - if they are to pip Arsenal and Everton to that fourth spot. A look at their run-in suggests they will have to do it the hard way...

"So can someone tell me if deliberately getting themselves out of the Uefa Cup has helped Villa's chances of getting that fourth spot?"
Ojay_Ojay on 606
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1755 - FULL-TIME: Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham

1754: Spurs keep the ball in Villa's half nicely but the hosts snatch back possession and there's time for one more attack...

1751: Excellent work from Robbie Keane as he hassle and harries Luke Young into the error and that keeps the ball away from the Tottenham end.

1750: Spurs look to hold the ball down in the corner with Aaron Lennon, but Villa steal the ball back and they are throwing everyone forward now.

1747: Four minutes plus injury-time remaining, by the way, and this is set up for a real frantic finale.

1745 - GOAL: Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham
Lifeline for Villa as James Milner swings in a doozy of a cross from the right and John Carew, beating Jonathan Woodgate in the air, bangs his header home off the underside of the bar.

1744: Out of nothing, Gareth Barry finds himself all alone in the Tottenham box but his attempt to hook in with his back to goal is tame and Heurelho Gomes collects comfortably.

1743: Jamie O'Hara comes on to replace Luka Modric for Tottenham.

"Tottenham have been terrific as a team in this second half, creating plenty and nullifying Villa's attacking presence brilliantly."
Ex-Wales international Robbie Savage on BBC Five Live

"Is Ashley Young still in the dressing room having his halftime cup of tea? Because he hasn't been visible on the pitch since the whistle."
Gunner-Daniel on 606
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1740: A terrific interception from Ledley King prevents John Carew pulling the trigger centre of goal, 12 yards out. Meanwhile, Gabriel Agbonlahor - to a chorus of ironic cheers from the home fans - is replaced by Nathan Delfouneso. Harsh from the Villa fans.

"How strange is this league? I think Spurs are not only safe - can't rule them out for the last Europa League spot!"
Alex, Merseyside via text on 81111

"This game shows why Tottenham fans rate Ledley King so highly. He just breathes confidence across the back."
Sam, Nottingham via text on 81111

1736: Aaron Lennon, who has been excellent again for Tottenham here today, sends over a delicious-looking cross between the Villa defence and Brad Friedel, but no Spurs player is pushing to get on the end of it and the chance goes awry. Villa starting to look desperate, though there's plenty of time for that to change...

1733: With Villa pushing forward, Robbie Keane is enjoying plenty of space between the home midfield and defence and he pulls a fine save out of Brad Friedel with a neat drive from 20 yards.

1731: After impressing so far in this match, Heurelho Gomes looks a little vulnerable in the Spurs goal all of a sudden with John Carew and Emile Heskey pressing for each and every cross. Still, a wasted Gareth Barry free-kick amounts to nothing.

"Re: 1716 - Unless the Frenchman in London was watching the rugger!!!!!"
SE via text on 81111
England v France match report

"Aston Villa are going 100% direct now, with Heskey and Carew up top. Maybe they need that to get a goal but it's not rocket science!"
Ex-Wales interntional Robbie Savage on BBC Five Live

1726: Stilian Petrov tries his luck from range and Heurelho Gomes parries it away nervously. The Brazilian actually did well to keep that out with the ball bouncing awkwardly, but it took a clearance from Ledley King to prevent John Carew scoring on the follow-up.

1725: Aston Villa don't appear too aware of how they are lining up in defence just yet, with Reo-Coker now left-back and Luke Young centre-half.

1723: Tottenham work it well again down the right-hand side and Aaron Lennon gets the ball to Luka Modric, whose drilled shot is beaten away well by Brad Friedel.

1722: It looks like Nigel Reo-Coker has gone to centre-half and James Milner right-back. No, seriously.

1721: Martin O'Neill decides now is the time to mix it up and he's pulling no punches, replacing defender Zat Knight with frontman John Carew.

1716: Close! Spurs are full of verve and purpose now, and Aaron Lennon drills a bullet of an effort at goal, the ball zipping millimetres over the bar with Brad Friedel motionless.

"Somewhere in London, a wide grin resides on a Frenchman's face."
MU-Blade on 606

"RE: 1710 - yep, a real fox-in-the-last-quarter-of-the-six-yard-box he is!"
6OrMoreCharachters on 606
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1713: That's Bent's 15th goal of the season, by the way, though it is only the second league game he has scored in since November. He has plenty of critics the Spurs frontman, but he knows where the goal is.

1710 - GOAL! Aston Villa 0-2 Tottenham
Just as in the first half, Tottenham strike early and Aston Villa will be scratching their heads again. Aaron Lennon surges into the Villa box and, after Wilson Palacios's effort is parried by Brad Friedel, Robbie Keane turns the rebound goalwards for Darren Bent to turn it in from all of six inches. He's lethal from there, don't you know.

1708: A couple of early corners for Aston Villa but neither come to anything.

1705: Back at Villa Park and the players emerge from the tunnel for the start of the second half. It can't repeat the blistering pace of the first half... can it?

1701: BREAKING NEWS
Word reaches us that Chelsea playmaker Deco could be out for the season with a recurrence of his hamstring injury, sustained in today's 1-0 win over Manchester City. Blues boss Guus Hiddink says: "He was fit and worked hard, but after 20 or 25 minutes he had this problem again, so he will be out again for a while. I think Deco will not be recovered very shortly. He'll have to be very fit to come back this season. I have my doubts to be honest, but let's see what happens."

1659: What a half that was, then. Villa have battered the Spurs backline over and over, and yet it is the visitors who lead at half-time. To be fair, Spurs' centre-half pairing of Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King have been terrific and they created three fine chances on the break - but you have to think the visitors must find an answer to Ashley Young's pace and trickery in the second half or pay the price.

1655: Time for Macca the Stat - I love him, you love him - "Funny old half, wasn't it? Things are even stranger over in Player Rater land where Aaron Lennon (8.42) is your star man, followed by Jonathan Woodgate (7.76) and Robbie Keane (7.58). Ashley Young can only wonder what he has to do to please you folks, as he ponders his rating of 6.82. Why not head over there and have a little play?"
Rate the players

"Spurs living very dangerously the dying minutes of the first half. I must confess my heart was in my throat."
ElSquirrel on 606
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1650 - HALF-TIME: Aston Villa 0-1 Tottenham

1649: Crossbar! Gareth Barry sends in a terrific cross and Emile Heskey beats Ledley King in the air, only to see his brilliant header crash off the bar.

1648: Stilian Petrov side-foots a shot goalwards but it's too tame and Heurelho Gomes saves easily in the Spurs goal.

1646: Well, for all their dominance, Villa could easily be 2-0 down as Jermaine Jenas forces the error and plays Luka Modric into the box and the Croatian forces a smart stop from Brad Friedel with a fierce strike. Darren Bent is unhappy as the ball could easily have been pulled back to him 12 yards out unmarked, there.

1643: Ashley Young - who hasn't really done much this half, bless 'im (cough) - again creates problems with his pace, but his shot is wayward again and Tottenham survive.

1639: Gabriel Agbonlahor receives the ball in the box and looks to turn and shoot, but Jonathan Woodgate does brilliantly to get a foot in and clear the danger.

1637: Well, you can't say it wasn't expected - 35 minutes in and Harry Redknapp replaces Didier Zokora with Vedrun Corluka. Ashley Young might not worry too much, though, given that Corluka has the pace and turning circle of the HMS Belfast.

1635: A brief - and rare - spell of possession for Spurs ends with Jermaine Jenas's shot finding its way comfortably to Brad Friedel via a deflection. Villa storm up the other end and Ashley Young - who else? - sends a curling effort wide.

1631:I belong to Nasri (see below) really does have a point, because Ashley Young has Didier Zokora on toast at the moment. Vedrun Corluka gets warming up on the touchline.

"I think Zokora needs to come off."
I belong to Nasri on 606
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1628: More pressure from Aston Villa - this time with a series of set-pieces - but Heurelho Gomes and Jonathan Woodgate in turn cope well and the danger is cleared.

1625: Didier Zokora believes he has found a way to stop Ashley Young - studs up, waist-high tackles. Unfortunately for him Steve Bennett spots it and gives him a deserved yellow card. Up against Young for 65 more minutes and on a booking? Ouch.

1621: Despite trailing by a goal, Villa have actually started this match very well - in particular Ashley Young, who is working Didier Zokora over nicely on the left wing. Another break from the youngster ends with Jenas clearing behind with a last-gasp lunge and, if it goes on like this, you have to think the hosts won't be behind for long.

1616: Robbie Keane releases Darren Bent with a terrific pass and after the striker cuts inside, the ball falls to Jermaine Jenas, whose long-ranger is brilliantly blocked.

1613: It's Didier Zokora's turn to be roasted as Ashley Young tears into the Tottenham box from the left wing, but Heurelho Gomes turns Gareth Barry's shot away from goal.

1611: This match is already more open than a hungry teenager's fridge door and Stilian Petrov blazes a long-ranger narrowly over Heurelho Gomes's crossbar as Villa respond. Moments later and Emile Heskey just fails to turn Ashley Young's cross goalwards - a blistering start to the match.

1608: Cracking football again from Spurs, who have started very well. Luka Modric and Darren Bent both have shots blocked by some desperate Villa lunges and the home fans breathe a sigh of relief when Wilson Palacios's follow-up is intercepted by Zat Knight,

1605 - GOAL: Aston Villa 0-1 Tottenham
The boy has been on fire recently and Aaron Lennon is the man of the moment again. The flying winger roasts Luke Young down the right-hand side and whips in a great cross that Brad Friedel can only palm straight to Jermaine Jenas, the midfielder heading in from close range to give Spurs the dream start.

1604: An early Aston Villa attack is hauled back for offside against Emile Heskey and moments later Gabriel Agbonlahor does the same. The latter was very, very close and it's a risky ol' game if Spurs are going to play that way to counter Villa's pace I'll wager.

1601: Aston Villa get us under way.

"Do I dare say it? C'mon Spurs, do us Gooners a favour!"
Curl It Like Wilshere on 606
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1557: Right then, Villa may have stumbled of late, but their home record against Spurs suggests they might just get back to winning ways today. On the flip side, Tottenham have looked decent under Redknapp and they might fancy their chances here. It's a packed Villa Park crowd, a tough game to call, and we're moments away from kick-off.

1553: "I think we've had continuity and consistency since I've been here - we've only had six league defeats since then so we're in good form. Villa were in Dubai in midweek, while we went to Cheltenham! But it was a good day out, the boys were terrific, and we're bang up for this game."
Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp

"As a Newcastle fan, I think you're being generous with Premier League survival for Tottenham based on this match. Still, lulling them into a sense of false security, like your style Sam."
Alan W, Wiltshire via text on 81111

"Re: Newcy Brown - Spurs have one of the most English teams in the league! Dawson, Woodgate, King, O'Hara, Jenas, Lennon, Bent, Bentley, Huddlestone, Campbell, Defoe all regulars!"
kendall128 on 606
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1542: "We've been away this week (in Dubai) and I think it will have done us good. We really have to concentrate on ourselves in the coming weeks and not worry about Arsenal or Everton, or anyone else. We just have to eke out as many points as we can and I believe - and the players believe - we can get that fourth spot."
Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill

"Why does everyone want Spurs to win? I'm cheering for Villa as they have a predominantly English squad and play good football."
Newcy Brown on 606
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1538: Nigel Reo-Coker returns to the Aston Villa starting line-up in place of Curtis Davies, in the only change to the side beaten by Manchester City last time out. For Tottenham, Didier Zokora takes the place of Vedran Corluka, who drops to the bench. Benoit Assou-Ekotto replaces Pascal Chimbonda, who is not even on the bench.

1537: Right, let me hit you with some knowledge. Villa have lost only once at home to Spurs in 20 league matches, but they are without a win in six games in all competitions and have won just twice in their last nine home ties. Tottenham are on their longest unbeaten run all season - four matches. Oh, and Martin O'Neill has only got the better of Harry Redknapp as a manager once in 13 meetings. So it's all set up for a comfortable home win, then.

"I can see Tottenham sneaking this one. Aaron Lennon is on top form at the moment and I think he'll make all the difference - but without a natural left winger in the Tottenham side, Ashley Young will have freedom to roam. It will be close."
Good Ol' Loyle Doyle on 606
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1531: And right on cue, the Villa-Tottenham teams drop. Jubbly. Lest we forget, a win or a draw for Villa will see them leapfrog Arsenal back into fourth spot in the table, while three points for Tottenham would surely see them all but ensure their Premier League survival. Where's your money?

1530: ASTON VILLA v TOTTENHAM LINE-UPS
Aston Villa: Friedel, Reo-Coker, Cuellar, Knight, Luke Young, Milner, Petrov, Barry, Ashley Young, Agbonlahor, Heskey. Subs: Guzan, Harewood, Carew, Delfouneso, Davies, Shorey, Gardner.

Tottenham: Gomes, Zokora, King, Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Jenas, Palacios, Modric, Bent, Keane. Subs: Cudicini, Bentley, Huddlestone, Pavlyuchenko, Dawson, Corluka, O'Hara.

Referee: Steve Bennett (Kent)

1527: So Chelsea jump back into second spot in the table and they and Liverpool are within four points of champions Manchester United. All to play for?
Join the debate on 606

"The right result in the end, Chelsea were outstanding in patches. Manchester City came here without a few first-teamers and if you're going to have a chance of winning at places like Stamford Bridge you need to be at full strength and on form - City were neither."
Ex-West Ham and Charlton boss Alan Pardew on BBC Five Live

1522 - FULL-TIME: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester City

1520: Frank Lampard eyes a screamer from long range, but his left-foot shot flies high, wide and not very handsome.

1519: There will be three minutes of injury time, but it is still Chelsea making all the running in attack.

"Chelsea are comfortable but not intimidating like they once were. Ps, Alan Pardew sounds eerily like Noel Fielding. Fingers crossed for a boosh of an equaliser soon!"
Tom, Manchester via text on 81111

1517: Even if Chelsea continue to waste openings, Man City's chances of grabbing a late equaliser are not looking overly promising, although the optimists would say they are due a goal at Stamford Bridge. Their last one was in December 2000, would you believe? Paul Dickov was the scorer that day in a 2-1 defeat. More than 600 minutes of footy at the Bridge have passed since they notched.

1515: Make that two let-offs in two minutes. Florent Malouda does well to work some space in the box, but his goalbound shot is cleared off the line excellently by Richard Dunne.

1514: Oh that's yet another let-off for Manchester City as Nicolas Anelka intercepts a sloppy Shaun Wright-Phillips pass and sets Florent Malouda through, only for the French winger to fire into the side netting.

1511: Bojinov has already made more of an impact in two minutes than Robinho did all game as twice he fires in a shot from range - the first is cleared by John Terry and the second saved easily by Petr Cech.

1509: Robinho, who has a bit of a 'mare today to be fair, makes his way off the field and Valeri Bojinov is introduced.

1508: Frank Lampard has caused problems for Manchester City all day today and he is the creator again, but Michael Ballack's header from the cross is cleared three yards out by the City defence.

"Chelsea have been outstanding today, it's a shame they don't have the goals to show for it. But it becomes increasingly possible that City could snatch something from this game..."
Sakaria2 on 606
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1503: No-one needs to tell Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink that this match is still in the balance and he is prowling the technical area with a face like he is chewing a wasp. The hosts respond with another decent burst down the right-hand side, but Richard Dunne clears Frank Lampard's cross.

1500: Nope, Didier Drogba is not at all comfortable and Florent Malouda comes on to replace him.

1456: A break in play as Didier Drogba receives some treatment on his right knee. He's limping a bit but looks like he'll carry on. Meanwhile, if the wrong shaped ball is your thing, check out Tom Fordyce's England-France Six Nations chat. Lovely.
Live text - England v France

1453: Kelvin Etuhu comes on in place of Manchester City playmaker Elano.

"Great play from both sides in this half, with the match to-ing and fro-ing nicely. The defences are impressing thus far, though."
Ex-West Ham and Charlton boss Alan Pardew on BBC Five Live

1451: Close! Frank Lampard sparks another Chelsea surge and the ball finds Julien Belletti, who belts one goalwards from 20 yards only for it to crash back off the inside of the post and away. Manchester City had been enjoying a lot more possession up until that point.

1445: No. Didier Drogba clears. Meanwhile, 606 is rife with chat from fans of almost every single Premier League club pointing out - in reply to Torres' Right Peg's comment at 1440 - that if they had had so-and-so fit all season too, they'd be in a better position too. Good point. That kills that discussion, then.
Join the debate on 606

1445: Robinho lines one up from 20 yards and his effort is deflected behind by Ashley Cole for a corner. Can the visitors make it count...?

1443: Wales' 20-year-old (not 19, ahem) striker Ched Evans replaces Felipe Caicedo up front for Manchester City.

1442: Michael Essien has been excellent today and the Ghanaian again drives at the Man City defence before sliding a 20-yard effort wide.

1440: Chelsea burst forward as Jose Bosingwa interrupts a rare City break, the Portuguese right-back eventually finding Didier Drogba in the box, only for Shay Given to brilliantly palm away the Ivorian's right-foot shot.

"Re: 1429 - if you're gonna say that, us Liverpool fans can just say that if we'd had Torres and Gerrard fit all season, we'd be top. And that's a better excuse."
Torres' right peg on 606

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1436: City are opened up again as Chelsea pick up where they left off in the first half, but Nedum Onuoha produces a fantastic last-ditch tackle to deny Didier Drogba 12 yards from goal.

1433: The players are back out at Stamford Bridge and we are under way again.

"Mr Lampard appears to be involved in almost every meaningful Chelsea move. He almost does as much for Chelsea as Gerrard does for Liverpool!"
Brummerdickens on 606
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1429: Anyone else wondering whether Chelsea might actually be a lot closer to Manchester United in the table right now had Guus Hiddink been in charge all season? I'm a big admirer of Luiz Felipe Scolari, but Hiddink has Chelsea back playing some top quality football. Still, Man City will always provide a threat on the counter and I'd wager this game has a twist or turn in it yet.

"Chelsea must wrap this game up early in the second half or we are in for a late show."
Fanofspecialone on 606
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1422: I know what you people want - a bit of chat from Macca the Stat - and who am I to refuse? "Michael Essien got Chelsea's goal but it is his midfield partner Frank Lampard who heads into the dressing room with the all-important half-time Player Rater bragging rights. Lamps can boast a 8.25 rating, while Essien can only muster a 7.81. You have the power to change that though."
Rate the players

"A very impressive half from Chelsea, who have looked excellent on the ball at times. If I were Mark Hughes I'd be very happy that this is only 1-0."
Ex-West Ham and Charlton boss Alan Pardew on BBC Five Live

1417 - HALF-TIME: Chelsea 1-0 Man City

1416: Excellent recovery from John Terry as the Chelsea skipper gets his considerable frame in the way of Caicedo as the Man City forward looks to pull the trigger on the edge of the box after a surging run from Stephen Ireland.

1412: A bit of a surprise as Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink replaces Deco with Julien Belletti five minutes before the break. Might be a recurrence of his hamstring problem, that, but I'll let you know for sure when I know more.

1410: Chelsea stride up the other end and it's almost 2-0 again as Frank Lampard's clipped cross is headed over by Michael Essien from 12 yards.

1409: Much better from Man City as Robinho latches on to a ricochet inside the box, but his effort is cleared at the far post by Jose Bosingwa.

1407: Another cracking move from Chelsea and Manchester City are hanging on a bit, here. Didier Drogba is released inside the box and his slick back-heel finds Michael Ballack, only for the German's curled 18-yarder to fly over.

"Sam - has Robinho - famously inactive in away matches - moved a muscle yet?"
Johnmwebb on 606
Join the debate on 606 (Not really mate, except to have a go at Ballack earlier, obviously. He's getting a bit of stick off the Chelsea fans too, so not the best of starts for the diminutive forward)

1403: Big shout for a spot-kick for Chelsea, but Mike Riley is having none of it. Nicolas Anelka charges into the box but he is pulled back by Nedum Onuoha, who then clips his ankle, but the official waves away the appeals. Looked a penalty, that.

1401: Michael Essien lines one up from 20 yards, but his effort slips wide.

"He may not be at all popular with Manchester City's players, admittedly, but Ballack has been the best player on the pitch so far."
Ex-West Ham and Charlton boss Alan Pardew on BBC Five Live

1400: Elano goes into the book for a hack at Michael Ballack. Not the most popular chap on the pitch at the moment, the German.

1358: Mike Riley invokes the rage of Robinho, who is about as intimidating as a baby kitten admittedly, as Shaun Wright-Phillips intercepts Michael Ballack's free-kick and looks to surge forward only for the referee to pull the play back inexplicably. Hints of foul from Robinho, apparently.

1354: Caicedo has a chance to level things up for Manchester City when Wayne Bridge - who is getting a bit of joy down the left - finds him unmarked on the edge of the area, but the frontman drags his effort wide.

1350: A touch of fortune about that goal from Essien, the Ghanaian sweeping home courtesy of his, erm, shin. Didn't stop him celebrating like Mr Tickle in a blender, mind, and why not.

1348 - GOAL: Chelsea 1-0 Man City
There's the breakthrough and it's Michael Essien's first league goal of the season. Frank Lampard sets it up with a quick free-kick and Essien swings his right foot at it first time, looping the ball up and over Shay Given and into the corner of the Man City net from 18 yards.

1346: Ricardo Carvalho rises unmarked to meet Frank Lampard's corner six yards out but he can only glance it wide. We have our pattern for proceedings I think folks - Chelsea pressuring and Man City attempting to counter.

1344: Excellent passing from Chelsea, with Didier Drogba, Deco, Frank Lampard and Nicolas Anelka all involved, and it takes a last-ditch tackle from Nedum Onuoha to clear Man City's lines.

"When you look at Man City and the pace and talent they have going forward, you scratch your head as to why they struggle away from home. They should be set up perfectly for counter-attacking football."
Ex-West Ham and Charlton boss Alan Pardew on BBC Five Live

1341: Close call, that, as Michael Essien produces a lovely ball to Didier Drogba's feet 35 yards out but the linesman again raises his flag. Replays suggest the Ivorian was level and that could have been an interesting attack had it been allowed to continue.

1338: First glimpse of City in attack as Micah Richards feeds Caicedo, but the striker's left-foot curler flies harmlessly wide.

1336: As expected it is a little narrow in the early stages from Chelsea - but with Deco and Nicolas Anelka happy to drift wide at times, Guus Hiddink's side are still enjoying all the possession. This could be a long afternoon's chasing for City...

1332: Almost the dream start for Chelsea as Nicolas Anelka - who looks to be floating about the wings early in this match - gets a cross in from the right, Deco takes a pot-shot from edge of the area and Frank Lampard deflects it in from six yards out. A linesman's flag mutes the celebrations, though.

1330: Chelsea get us under way...

"The last two games have seen City playing like a top-four team. Now it's time to show that we can compete on the same pitch as a top 4 team..."
jaytmd_skyblues on 606
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1326: But it's all about Chelsea-Man City now and the teams are making their way out at Stamford Bridge as we speak. It looks like Barbados at the height of summer out there... just with a massive stadium full of people instead of a beach, obviously. Ahem.

"I fancy Everton to nick fourth spot."
Thanks A lot BBC7 on 606
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1324: I'm going leave boydy262's question below for you folks to mull over on 606, I'm afraid, not least because I don't really want to start a riot by suggesting the biggest battle this season is actually down the bottom - nine games to go and, to my mind, still as many as 10 teams struggling to beat the drop? It's tighter down there than my brother's wallet at last orders. Another reason why today's second game between Villa and Spurs is a monster...

"Sam, what's the biggest battle this season? Chelsea/Liverpool/United for the title or Arsenal/Villa for the infamous 4th spot?"
boydy262 on 606
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1318: "We saw yesterday's game between Man Utd and Liverpool and, yes, we enjoyed it. There is still a gap between United and us and Liverpool, but it is good for us, of course. The trouble is that big teams don't let results like yesterday happen to them twice and I expect Man Utd will bounce back. All we can do is win today and keep up the pressure."
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink

"Re: 1311 - Woah, Stevo must be a smurf then!"
AndersonsLeftBoot on 606
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"Man City are going for the win with just Zabaleta in the holding role - fortune favours the brave."
Mcpete via text on 81111

1311: Now, I'm no Stevo admittedly - I'm at least three foot taller for a start - but I'm going to take his lead and give it a bit of prediction action today. If any of you want to earn yourself a pound or two, take these bad boys down your local bookies, reverse them, burn them, and then toss a coin. Bosh.

Sammo's Predo's
Chelsea 3-0 Man City
Aston Villa 0-1 Tottenham

"I would prefer Mikel in for Ballack and Quaresma in for Deco. This little formation we're going for is what Scolari used and what ultimately led to his downfall."
The importance of being Didier on 606

"Ballack, Essien, Lampard, Deco - that's the strongest midfield line up I have seen all season."
MrSport88 on 606
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1306: Of course it is not just Arsenal fans who might be feeling a little torn this morning - and I'm not referring to those Liverpool fans who are nursing massive hangovers after a long night on the falling down water. A victory for Spurs at Aston Villa would be a huge boost for the Gunners in their push for Champions League football next season, but a win for Manchester City at Chelsea will provide Manchester United fans with just the shot in the arm they need after yesterday's defeat. Can fans legitimately support their rivals on days like this?

1259:Chelsea make two changes from their midweek Champions league success against Juventus, with Ricardo Carvalho replacing Alex at centre-back and Deco coming in for Jon Mikel Obi. Man City name the same line-up that defeated Aalborg in the Uefa Cup on Thursday.

"City are pretty on the eye but defensively they'll struggle this afternoon - hopefully Robinho and Ireland will perform which will be key for them if they're going to get a result."
Always United on 606
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1254: What can we expect from Chelsea-Man City then? A look at the statistics suggest it's pretty much a foregone conclusion - the hosts are unbeaten in six games under Guus Hiddink, are on a run of seven straight wins against Man City, have not lost at home to City in 16 years and won the corresponding fixture 6-0 last season. Oh, and Mark Hughes's City side have not won away from Eastlands in the league since August. Any City optimists out there?

1250: CHELSEA v MAN CITY LINE-UPS
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Ballack, Essien, Lampard, Deco, Anelka, Drogba.
Subs: Hilario, Mikel, Malouda, Quaresma, Kalou, Alex, Belletti.

Man City: Given, Richards, Onuoha, Dunne, Bridge, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Zabaleta, Elano, Robinho, Caicedo.
Subs: Hart, Bojinov, Garrido, Fernandes, Evans, Etuhu, Berti.

Referee: Mike Riley (Yorkshire)

"I can't believe I'm saying this but come on Spurs! And Man City."
gunner-zp on 606
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1248: So Liverpool have done their bit to stop this title race being about as competitive as an eight-year-old's brussel sprout-eating contest, but can Chelsea follow suit? The Blues kick off today's proceedings at home to Manchester City, while Aston Villa will be hoping to regain fourth spot from Arsenal later on with a win against Tottenham. Two monster games, permutations a-go-go - and the sun is shining as well. Does it get any better?

As always, I want to hear your chat on both matches. Get involved on 606 or via text to 81111 and I might just make you web-famous for 15 minutes. Happy days.
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1245: Hold on, we've got a title race back on our hands haven't we? Manchester United's seemingly unstoppable march towards an 11th Premier League title took a bit of a hit yesterday with their 4-1 home defeat to Liverpool - and victory for Chelsea against Manchester City today will see both Guus Hiddink's and Rafael Benitez's sides within four points of the champions.

OK, Man Utd still have a game in hand and all that jazz, but us neutrals can at least dream that the run-in will be competitive can't we?



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Premier League table
Sunday, 3 November 2013 17:56 UK
    P GD PTS
1 Arsenal 10 13 25
2 Chelsea 10 8 20
3 Liverpool 10 7 20
4 Tottenham 10 4 20

5 Man City 10 17 19

6 Southampton 10 7 19
7 Everton 10 4 19
8 Man Utd 10 4 17
9 Newcastle 10 -2 14
10 Hull City 10 -2 14
11 West Brom 10 0 13
12 Cardiff 10 -4 12
13 Swansea 10 0 11
14 Aston Villa 10 -3 11
15 West Ham 10 0 10
16 Fulham 10 -5 10
17 Stoke 10 -4 9

18 Norwich 10 -14 8
19 Sunderland 10 -15 4
20 Crystal Palace 10 -15 3

see also
Chelsea 1-0 Man City
15 Mar 09 |  Premier League
Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham
15 Mar 09 |  Premier League


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