Sunday football as it happened

Live text commentary as Manchester United beat Everton in the Premier League after Aston Villa hold on to edge West Ham.

10 February 2013 Last updated at 18:29 GMT

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As it happened

  1. 1827: 

    Right then, it's time for me to call it a night as far as the Premier League is concerned but that is not the end of the weekend football - join Saj Chowdhury now for live coverage of the Africa Cup of Nations final between Burkina Faso and Nigeria, which is just about to get under way. Enjoy, and I'll see you again very soon. Cheerio for now.

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford:Man Utd 2-0 Everton

    "Manchester United record a very routine victory against a tame Everton. The gap is 12 points over Manchester City - surely no way back for the champions now."

    BBC Sport's Michael Emons at Villa ParkAston Villa 2-1 West Ham

    "It was all a bit tense at the end but Aston Villa are three points closer to Premier League survival and back out of the bottom three."

  4. 1822: 

    Time for a quick reminder of what happened in both of today's Premier League games...


    Stan in Manchester on text via 81111: "It's laughable to hear all these 'so called' experts & pundits proclaiming the title is Manchester United's. I wonder if they are the same one's who gifted the title to Utd last season? How foolish will they feel when they get it wrong again? Utd have become the perennial bottlers. Mark my words!"

  6. 1822: 

    Everton manager David Moyes feels conceding a second goal when they did ended his side's hopes of leaving Old Trafford with a positive result, but admitted they lacked their usual attacking threat.

    "We gave Manchester United an early start but I thought they were great," Moyes said. "We didn't come out of the blocks as fast as we would have liked to have done.

    "The second goal was poor - I don't know why we were so high and square at the back. But the timing of it was the worst thing.

    "I thought we played well after the opening goal and had a grasp of the game. Manchester United are always a threat when you don't make enough of your opportunities. We didn't have that cutting edge today."


    Chris Harvey on Twitter: "It's crazy to suggest RvP is the single difference. He's made Manchester United better but Manchester City are simply a worse side."

    Dalai Palmer on Twitter: "Has a game happened recently where two left footed players scored with their right feet?"

    JackRVickers on Twitter: "Next time Everton play, they could (should) find themselves below Liverpool."


    Ash from London on text via 81111: "As an Arsenal fan the problem I have is that with teams dropping so many point this season, if we had kept van Persie we would have won the league. I won't accept anyone saying differently."

  9. 1815: 

    United play Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the Champions League and Reading at Old Trafford in the FA Cup before they return to Premier League action on 23 February. United's next three league games? QPR (a), Norwich (h) and West Ham (a). Manchester City's next three are Chelsea (h), Aston Villa (a) and Wigan (h)... but the champions' form must be a real worry to their manager Roberto Mancini.

  10. 1811: 

    Here's more from Sir Alex Ferguson, on the situation at the top of the table and also on beating Everton:

    On the title race: "We've got to win our games regardless of what happens with City and if we concentrate on our own games we'll be okay.

    "I was going to make about seven changes to the game but when I saw yesterday's result I changed that because we knew if we got a result it would put us in a fantastic position."

    On beating Everton after slipping up against them last season: "I thought they dominated for 20 minutes and they did a couple of new things. They've got great delivery from corner kicks with Baines but I thought we were really in control.

    "You have to remember your bad experiences and that was one last year. We showed a steely determination this time."

    Sir Alex Ferguson

    Neil Chow on Twitter: "Is Vincent Kompany injured for Manchester City as devastating for them as it was having Nemanja Vidic out for Manchester United most of last year?"

    Phil Robins on Twitter: "United shouldn't get too excited, City will get Jose Mourinho in the summer, buy some world class players and win the league again."

    Adesanya Gabriel on Twitter: "Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini's mantra had been 'United will drop points', but they are the ones imploding. Fergie is the master."

  12. 1807: 

    Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has just said he was going to make about seven changes to his team to face Everton - until Manchester City lost to Southampton on Saturday. Then he decided to pick his strongest team, despite having a Champions League tie with Real Madrid on Wednesday, to press home their advantage.


    Here's one of Manchester United's goalscorers, Ryan Giggs, talking about the importance of today's win and where it leaves his side in their bid for league title number 20.

    "I think we had to have the concentration because we knew what happened against Everton last season," Giggs said. "The performance wasn't important but I thought we played well.

    "Now we just have to continue our good form. If we get the results, we'll be okay. We've got players on the bench and not even getting on the bench who would walk into a lot of other teams.

    "I think we've got enough experience in there but you never take anything for granted. The strength of the squad should see us through.

    Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand on Twitter:

    "Nice three points that today. 2-0 at Old Trafford. Rafael man of the match for me. Couple of great challenges & an assist! Roll on Wednesday v Real Madrid..."

  15. 1802: 

    Everton, by the way, stay sixth - six points behind Tottenham in fourth place - after having their seven-game unbeaten run ended at Old Trafford. They probably knew it wasn't their day as soon as Sylvain Distin was taken ill in the warm-up and had to pull out of their team.


    Perry Hewitt on Twitter: "Nearly £25m on a player nearing 30 is looking like the deal of the century."

    Christopher Hall on Twitter: "Conclusions from this weekend: Manchester United will win the league. QPR are definitely going down. Now that's said, watch QPR beat Utd in their next league game!"

    Kit Chang Wong on Twitter: "Despite not scoring, Wayne Rooney put in a great shift, great commitment to help defence out."


    Chris in Orpington on text via 81111: "If Man Utd win they'll be two points up on Manchester City's tally after 26 games from last year. Contrary to opinion RvP is not the difference - Utd will only be 4-points better off themselves - the difference is that City are a shadow of the team they were last year."

    Vern in Cardiff on text via 81111: "Everyone knows Everton's only goal is to finish above Liverpool this season. However manager David Moyes has gifted this game to Manchester United, meaning Liverpool will move above them by next weekend. Double whammy."

    Mikey in London on text via 81111: "Sixth placed Everton are closer to Manchester City then City are to Manchester United... Says it all!"

    Former England manager Graham Taylor at Old Trafford on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "It was probably not the best Manchester United performance but they won. That is the story for them all season.

    "They are now in a remarkably strong position in the Premier League table.

    "I do believe it was a sign of Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho's professionalism to come and see this game live. He will know any team that Sir Alex Ferguson puts out will be a threat."

  19. 1753: 

    Yep, United's 12-point lead is their biggest advantage at the top of the Premier League table since May 2001. The title race appears to be as flat as the proverbial pancake - and all before Shrove Tuesday too.

    MOTD's Guy Mowbray at Old TraffordFULL-TIME- Man Utd 2-0 Everton

    "That'll do it for Manchester United. What a weekend they've had. 12 games to go, 12 points clear and it is almost impossible to envisage them throwing this away. It is becoming a procession to the Premier League title."

  21. 1751: 
    FULL-TIME- Man Utd 2-0 Everton
  22. 1749: 

    Everton did give it a go, and let's not forget that long spell where they pushed United back in the first half, but United defended well and David de Gea pulled out a couple of top saves when he had to. They have got the job done today - no slip-ups, just as Sir Alex Ferguson promised.


    Christian Reilly on Twitter: "Baffled with all these "end is nigh" comments RE: Manchester City. One bad game with two makeshift defenders isn't terminal."


    Karl on text via 81111: "Warm moonlit eve in Madrid Danny? It's 6°C there mate, not exactly balmy!"

  25. 1745: 

    There is still some fight in this Everton side, with Wayne Rooney forced to head a Leighton Baines cross behind his own goal, but United have bossed this game since Robin van Persie put them 2-0 up on the stroke of half-time. There will be three minutes of added time before United's 12-point lead at the top of the table is confirmed.


    Danny Partington on Twitter: "So, can United now do it on a warm, moonlit night in Madrid?"

  27. 1741: 
    YELLOW CARD- Everton's Marouane Fellaini

    We are into the final four minutes at Old Trafford. No, I'm not going to say that the win is in the bag for United, but it is going to take something unexpected and extraordinary to see any sort of turnaround now. It's been an especially frustrating afternoon for Everton's Marouane Fellaini, which is perhaps why he just kicked out at Tom Cleverley to earn himself a booking.

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford:

    "Van Persie misses a chance then Jelavic forces a save from De Gea. Rare moments of action in this half. Mourinho has just left."


    Dominic O'Caollai on Twitter: "Everton are so easy to defend against when Marouane Fellaini is playing this deep! Why change something that worked so well?"

  30. 1739: 

    Oops, not the most convincing first touch for Chris Smalling, who misjudges a bounce and lets Nikica Jelavic advance to the edge of the area. He gets his shot away too but David de Gea is alert and equal to it, diving to his left to push it away.

  31. 1737: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Chris Smalling for Jonny Evans

    The most impressive thing about United today has been how they have kept Everton at arm's length and picked up the three points, all without looking as if they are trying too hard. They have just gone close to a third goal too, with Robin van Persie dragging his shot wide. Before play restarts, United make another change - Chris Smalling is on for Jonny Evans.


    Zachary Tate on Twitter: "Goal difference gap growing. Effectively a 13-point lead if Manchester United hold on."

    Waz B on Twitter: "Man Utd have made Everton look like a very average side today."

    Hishaam Habib on Twitter: "RvP is the difference between Manchester City and United. If City had signed him they'd be on top. The rest of City's team is better."

  33. 1735: 

    United's fans are standing and applauding in memory of the Busby Babes - the reason for all the tributes today is that this is their first home match since the 55th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.

  34. 1733: 

    I said earlier that Marouane Fellaini has dropped back into midfield and I wasn't kidding - he has dropped VERY deep. This is the time when Everton should be looking to find him in the box or at least in the United half, but in fact he is behind the play most of the time when the Toffees come forward. He's not a threat there.

    Former England manager Graham Taylor at Old Trafford on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Manchester United are now keeping the ball better and manipulating the Everton players across the pitch. One or two of the Everton players look disspirited to me."

    Listen to commentary of Manchester United v Everton on BBC Radio 5 live.


    Darryl in Chester on text via 81111: "Last season Manchester City managed to match Manchester United when they were at their worst and City had their best season in the club's history. As soon as United have a decent season City are left in their dust. City manager Roberto Mancini will pay the price with his proverbial head."

    Lewis on text via 81111: "Rafael, best right back in the league? Has nobody been watching Cesar Azpilicueta?"

    Tim from Brighton on text via 81111: "Just want to mention Tom Cleverley, has played in all of United's big games this season and has not once looked out his depth, future world class star?"

  37. 1730: 

    We are into the last 20 minutes at Old Trafford, where United are in sight of a victory that would extend their lead at the top of the table to 12 points, with 12 games left. Now, we all know Everton scored twice in the last 10 minutes to nick a draw in this game last season, but this time United look very solid at the back. Their keeper David de Gea has not had a save to make in the second half.

  38. 1727: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Steven Naismith for Kevin Mirallas

    Another change for Everton, with Steven Naismith on to bolster their attack. Marouane Fellaini has dropped back into midfield.

  39. 1726: 

    It's been a long time since Everton had so much of a sniff but they at least get a sight of goal here when Tom Cleverley has to get back to beat Leon Osman to a pull-back on the edge of the area, just as the Toffees midfielder was waiting to pounce.


    Kevin in Oxford on text via 81111: "The petulance shown by Wayne Rooney is a disgrace. Hurling abuse at the officials. Kids are watching and repeat what they see."

    Former England manager Graham Taylor at Old Trafford on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard was claiming he did not get a touch to Tom Cleverley's shot, but if I was a goalkeeper, I would claim that every time even if it meant it was a corner!"

    Listen to commentary of Manchester United v Everton on BBC Radio 5 live.

  42. 1723: 

    Not one great save, but TWO from Toffees keeper Tim Howard.

    United have not exactly been knocking on the door either recently, but then they don't have to. That changes when Jonny Evans gets on the end of a corner and forces Howard into an instinctive stop from point-blank range before the ball is scrambled behind.

    The next corner is cleared as far as Tom Cleverley on the edge of the box, who fires in a rasping shot that is heading for the top corner... until Howard throws himself across to claw it to safety. Superb stuff.

    Jonny Evans

    Josh Brigham on Twitter: "Phil Neville keeps repeatedly giving the ball away, just a quick note your teammates are in blue Phil."

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford

    "Very quiet here at Old Trafford. Manchester United content with that two-goal lead and Everton showing nothing to suggest they will change it."

  45. 1720: 

    Yep, Manchester United's lead in this game is similar to their stranglehold of the title race, as in it is hard to see how they will throw it away. Marouane Fellaini was Everton's main man in the last two meetings between these sides, but United have kept a lid on him all day today and the Toffees have not threatened for a while now.

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford:

    "Phil Jones has gone straight down the tunnel. Took a couple of heavy knocks in the first half."

  47. 1715: 

    We are coming up to the hour mark at Old Trafford, where the second half has been a bit of a non-event so far. United will be happy with that - Everton far less so.


    Lewis Shrestha on Twitter: "Got to laugh when people label Rafael the best right-back in the league. Have they forgotten the game at Reading already?"

    94Dilan on Twitter: "Manchester United have closed out Everton's left hand side really well so far. They'll need to do exactly the same on Wednesday against Real Madrid."

    Sathya Moorthy on Twitter: "Revenge fulfilled for last season title loss if Man Utd gets a victory today that costs a Champions League spot for Everton!!!"

  49. 1714: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Nikica Jelavic for Victor Anichebe

    Everton's switch follows soon after. Victor Anichebe is also injured - Nikica Jelavic will lead their attack from now on.

  50. 1714: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Michael Carrick for Phil Jones

    Manchester United make their change first. Phil Jones has picked up a knock and limps off - Michael Carrick is on, probably to take over his man-marking duties on Marouane Fellaini.

    Phil Jones
    Former England manager Graham Taylor at Old Trafford on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "This pitch is in a real terrible condition. It is one of the poorer ones in the Premier League.

    "You could see that with a cross from Phil Neville that went horribly wrong as it took a bobble."

    Listen to commentary of Manchester United v Everton on BBC Radio 5 live.

  52. 1709: 

    United look supremely comfortable right now. But be careful - the last time I wrote something like that, Leon Osman brought a fine save from David de Gea. I think David Moyes realises he needs to freshen up his attack, though, because Nikica Jelavic is about to come on.


    Chris in Manchester on text via 81111: "Mr Adegoke believes Rafael to be the best right back in the league? I believe the red tinted specs need to come off. Glen Johnson, and that's from a Manchester City fan."


    Mzee Zube on Twitter: "What a great game for Rafael so far, the boy showing maturity."

    ReeceN07 on Twitter: "Rafael is having an absolute stormer. Probably the best right-back in the Premier League right now!"

    Tim Hagstrom on Twitter: "Ryan Giggs, Nemanja Vidic and Rafael outstanding. Manchester United could look for a third quickly here to settle this."

  55. 1708: 

    Yep, here's that counter-attack again. A lovely move from United sees them move the ball from back-to-front, with Wayne Rooney at the hub of it on the left. Everton have got plenty of men back, though, enough to stub out the danger before it reaches their area.

  56. 1705: 

    United are still looking most dangerous when they attack on the break, and Everton are still seeing plenty of the ball. No chances at either end since the restart but Sir Alex Ferguson's side are being made to work hard when the Toffees have possession.


    Rich in Birmingham on text via 81111: "Was just about to ask if Robin van Persie had been watching some videos of Pippo Inzaghi then he finally stays onside! Great finish, title to Manchester United."

    Mike from Manchester on text via 81111: "You knew he wouldn't miss again! Manchester United to win comfortably now."

    Usman in London on text via 81111: "RE Kanayo: I think Fergie will be rubbing his hands at the sight of Real Madrid. Just as awful in defence. Especially without goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas."

  58. 1702: 
    KICK-OFF- Man Utd 2-0 Everton

    Back to Old Trafford now. Is there any way back for Everton, or will United hang on to their two-goal lead this time. We are about to find out, because the second half has just got started.

    BBC Sport pundit and former Aston Villa striker Dion Dublin on Twitter:

    "Well done Aston Villa for the win against West Ham, shown a lot of fight and desire today congrats to you all men!"


    West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is left frustrated after seeing his side's dismal away form continue against Aston Villa, despite a late push for an equaliser:

    "We have put ourselves in a poor position and gone 2-0 down but we created the chances to make it 2-2 at least. But it was more down to great goalkeeping as we hit the target but he has made some really good saves.

    "We can't play any better than we did and can't dominate any more than we did but if we had put the ball in the net then it would've been a very different situation.

    "This was a fantastic opportunity to pick up points and we should've done so."

    Sam Allardyce

    Villa boss Paul Lambert on his side's survival prospects: "We deserve a lot of credit for what we have done today.

    "I think it will be huge for us. We've taken a lot of knocks but football is a funny game and we are only three points behind Newcastle now.

    "We know what we have got to do and there's 12 games to go and every game is really tough. But that was a huge win for us, especially with the results for the teams around us yesterday."

    Paul Lambert
  62. 1654: 

    Time now for a bit of managerial reaction from BBC Sport's Michael Emons, who was at Villa Park earlier for Aston Villa's crucial win over West Ham. Starting with Villa boss Paul Lambert, whose side climbed out of the bottom three...


    Eteyen Adegoke on Twitter: "Rafael has been immense today and this season! Best right-back in the league."

    Mike on Twitter: "Title decided by February, only three teams fighting to avoid two relegation spots. Most boring Premier League season in a long time?"

    Kanayo Umeogu on Twitter: "Manchester United might be two-up, but I'm sure Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho must be rubbing his hands in delight."

  64. 1650: 

    I wonder what Everton manager David Moyes is saying to his players now? Well done lads for out-passing United and putting them under pressure for the last 20 minutes of the first half?... or what the heck were you thinking for their second goal, you idiots?

    Everton players

    Andy Naylor on Twitter: "How many times is Phil Neville going to play everyone onside?"

    Adam May on Twitter: "That's class, just class from RvP. Made amends for his earlier miss. The move was a near carbon-copy."

    Tokunbo2811 on Twitter: "What a pass by Rafael."

    Robin van Persie
    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old TraffordHALF-TIME- Man Utd 2-0 Everton

    "Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson warned in his programme notes that the hairdryer would be out if they repeated last season's mistake of conceding a two-goal lead to Everton. They have that two-goal lead and that second goal may just have killed Everton off."

    MOTD's Guy Mowbray at Old TraffordHALF-TIME- Man Utd 2-0 Everton

    "Manchester United are on their way to going 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League. Ryan Giggs, Robin van Persie, 2-0."

  68. 1647: 
    HALF-TIME- Man Utd 2-0 Everton
    Former England manager Graham Taylor at Old Trafford on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Everton tried to play offside there but Phil Neville played him on-side. When Robin van Persie is running through one-on-one it is very rare he does not score.

    "Who was responsible for the Everton line's decision to try and play offside?"

    Listen to first half commentary of Manchester United v Everton on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra now. The second half is also on BBC Radio 5 live.

  70. 1645: 
    GOAL- Man Utd 2-0 Everton - Robin van Persie (45 mins)

    I was just about to write that United will be glad to get to half-time. That has changed in the last few seconds though. Phil Neville plays Robin van Persie onside and he charges clear on to Rafael's pass, rounding Tim Howard and this time slotting into the empty net. He doesn't miss those twice. Johnny Heitinga slid in to try to keep the ball out but to no avail. United have been on the backfoot but now they have breathing space.

    Robin van Persie

    Sophie Gayter on Twitter: "What a miss Nemanja Vidic has been for Manchester United. If he'd been playing in this fixture last season, United wouldn't have conceded two late goals."

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford:

    "Referee Mark Halsey has just had a word with Phil Jones and Marouane Fellaini. More words to come you suspect."

  73. 1640: 

    Another sniff for Everton - two in fact. Wayne Rooney is having to drop deep to help out his defence and he concedes a free-kick near his own corner flag on the right. Marouane Fellaini escapes Phil Jones to get on the end of it and, although his looping header is hooked clear before it can reach goal, the ball is quickly hoisted back into the area. David de Gea gets no distance with his punch but Leon Osman is well off target as he meets the bouncing ball with a first-time shot.

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford

    "Everton creeping back into this after a very slow start. Manager David Moyes will want a lot more action going on in and around Marouane Fellaini though."

    Former England manager Graham Taylor at Old Trafford on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "I cannot see why players launch themselves off the ground, and even if they get the ball, look surprised when a foul is given."

    Listen to first half commentary of Manchester United v Everton on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra now. The second half is also on BBC Radio 5 live.

  76. 1638: 
    YELLOW CARD- Everton's Kevin Mirallas

    These have not exactly been the greatest five minutes of Kevin Mirallas's career. Following that poor cross, he clatters into Tom Cleverley out on the right touchline and goes into referee Mark Halsey's notebook.

  77. 1635: 

    Here come Everton again, and this time they go a lot closer. The Toffees pour forward down the right with Marouane Fellaini freeing Kevin Mirallas and the Belgian sending over a low cross for Victor Anichebe, who is waiting six yards from goal... but it's not the greatest delivery in the world and runs away from him before he can shoot. A big waste that, but still, rather anxious times for United.

  78. 1634: 

    ... but it is Darron Gibson who takes it, electing to cross rather than going for goal. No danger there.

  79. 1633: 

    United continue to sit back and wait and Ryan Giggs concedes a free-kick about 30 yards out when he trips Steven Pienaar. This is what is known as 'Leighton Baines territory'...


    Brad Mitchell on Twitter: "Would be very surprised if there wasn't a statue of Ryan Giggs erected outside Old Trafford when he retires. Absolute legend."

    Martin Satur on Twitter: "Lionel Messi may be the greatest footballer in the world, but Ryan Giggs's 20 years at the very top level for me is a greater achievement!"

    Michael Deery on Twitter: "Nemanja Vidic shaved his hair again. Makes him twice the player."

  81. 1630: 

    Everton make United work to defend the resulting corner too, with Nemanja Vidic going toe-to-toe with Marouane Fellaini and then throwing himself at the ball when it is fired goalwards. Great defending, but Everton are making a game of this.

    Former England manager Graham Taylor at Old Trafford on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "As a visiting manager like Jose Mourinho is today for Real Madrid you really study your future opponent's set-piece plays as a means to work out what they like to do from free-kicks and corners. You are much less bothered about how they are in open-play.

    "It also important to study how their defence is set-up so you can work out your tactics for how to get at them."

    Listen to first half commentary of Manchester United v Everton on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra now. The second half is also on BBC Radio 5 live.

  83. 1628: 

    Typical. As soon as I write that last entry, Everton fashion a shooting chance. A neat passing move ends with Leon Osman having a pop from the edge of the area, and his looping shot brings a fine diving save at full length from David de Gea.

    Former Manchester United striker Michael Owen on Twitter:

    "Slightly surprised Sir Alex started most of his big hitters. If Manchester United go 2-0 up I'd expect a couple of them to only play an hour."

  85. 1626: 

    Everton have had plenty of possession of late, it's just they have not been allowed to do much with it. Every time the Toffees advance to the edge of the United area, the home side force them back and they have to start again. All the time, you sense United are waiting to pounce on the break.


    David Bennett on Twitter: "Good tactics by Fergie, Phil Jones is definitely the sort of player you want on Marouane Fellaini."

    Hemal Khanderia on Twitter: "Marouane Fellaini is truly man marked by Phil Jones - locked up and Jones wont let him out."

  87. 1622: 

    Coming up to 25 minutes gone at Old Trafford and, as well as having the lead, it is fair to say United are in control. Marouane Fellaini has been very quiet so far, and it's probably not a coincidence that so have Everton. If Fellaini goes to the toilet at half-time, I'm pretty sure Jones will follow him.

  88. 1621: 

    Everton have only really threatened from corners so far. They have just had their second of the game. Again, Leighton Baines whistles one into the area and, again, Nemanja Vidic heads clear.


    Tom on text via 81111: "The partnership between Rafael and Valencia down the right for Manchester United has got to be one of the, if not the best in the league."

    Angus in Lewes on text via 81111: "Great goal Giggsy!!!"

  90. 1618: 

    United have dominated possession since taking the lead and Everton have not had so much as a sniff. Phil Jones is not just following Marouane Fellaini everywhere, either. This time he gets forward to fire in a shot from the edge of the area that ends up flying high and wide of Tim Howard's goal.


    ChoppyRCH on Twitter: "Ryan Giggs, footballing and Manchester United legend."

    Richard on Twitter: "Jonny Heitinga - the reason for our poor start against Villa, reason for our poor start today. Won't be easy to come back now."

    Joel Sparks on Twitter: "I don't look forward to the time when a Premier League season goes by without a goal from Ryan Giggs. Legendary player."

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford:

    "Everton manager David Moyes would not have wanted John Heitinga anywhere near Robin van Persie after the defender's personal nightmare against Aston Villa last Saturday. Sylvain Distin's illness left him no option - and it is fair to say Heitinga was nowhere near Van Persie as he set up Ryan Giggs' goal.."

  93. 1616: 

    That Giggs stat is even better when you bear in mind he has been around since 1891. Or is it 1991? I can't be sure. Anyway, he has scored for United in each of their last 23 seasons.

    Former England manager Graham Taylor at Old Trafford on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Robin van Persie goes some way to making up for his horrible miss by stepping inside and taking control of the ball. I expected him to shoot but he passed it to Ryan Giggs, who had the luck to see his shot hit the post and trickle in."

    Listen to first half commentary of Manchester United v Everton on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra now. The second half is also on BBC Radio 5 live.

  95. 1613: 
    GOAL- Man Utd 1-0 Everton - Ryan Giggs (13 mins)

    That Robin van Persie miss won't matter so much now. He turns provider here, making the most of some hesitant defending by Johnny Heitinga to advance into the area and tee up Ryan Giggs to coolly roll the ball home, via the post. Giggs has now scored in every Premier League season, which is a pretty amazing stat seeing as it has been going on for more than 20 years.

    Ryan Giggs
  96. 1612: 

    So, United should be ahead. In fact I am still not sure how Robin van Persie missed from there. Still, here they come again...


    Sahil Oberoi on Twitter: "Phil Jones man marking Marouanne Fellaini, wonder if that will work against Cristiano Ronaldo on Wednesday?"

    Christopher Jones on Twitter: "I'm horrified - Robin van Persie just had a Fernando Torres moment."

    Ali Alaawee on Twitter: "What a miss from Robin van Torres."

    Ryan Giggs
    Former England manager Graham Taylor at Old Trafford on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "We all know his left foot is better than his right...But even then? I cannot believe Robin van Persie missed that."

    Listen to first half commentary of Manchester United v Everton on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra now. The second half is also on BBC Radio 5 live.

    Robin van Persie
  99. 1610: 

    Amazing. How does Robin van Persie miss from here? Wayne Rooney slips him clear and the usually deadly Dutchman rounds Tim Howard and has the simple task of slotting into an empty net... but fires into the outside of the post and the side netting instead.

    Somewhere in the midlands, Andreas Weimann is breathing a huge sigh of relief. His miss for Villa earlier is no longer the worst one of the day, let alone the season.


    JB on text via 81111: "Manchester United will win this as quickly as possible and sub off anyone important or liable to injury as soon as possible. I reckon United will be 3-0 up by half-time and then hold comfortably afterwards by using a lot of defensive players."

  101. 1607: 

    Everton have settled now and are passing the ball around nicely in midfield. One thing that stands out in the opening exchanges is how closely Phil Jones is sticking to Marouane Fellaini - United know who Everton's danger-man is, and they are trying to man-mark him out of the game.

  102. 1604: 

    Phil Neville finds Marouane Fellaini's chest with a pinging ball forward and that is the platform for Everton's first foray forward. They feed Darron Gibson and he earns a corner. Nemanja Vidic is on the end of it, though, and he snuffs out the threat.

  103. 1602: 

    Everton again deal with the delivery when it comes in, but they are struggling to clear their lines properly at the moment and are being given no time on the ball.

  104. 1601: 

    United's first attack comes inside the first minute. Robin van Persie advances to feed Antonio Valencia to his right, but his cross is far too deep. Still, Everton cannot clear and Wayne Rooney wins a free-kick near the left-hand corner of the Everton area...

    Former England manager Graham Taylor at Old Trafford on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "I respect Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho for coming over here to watch Manchester United in the flesh before their Champions League tie on Wednesday. He will know that it is not the same watching on television, you do not get out of it exactly what you want."

    Listen to first half commentary of Manchester United v Everton on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra at 1600 GMT. The second half is also on BBC Radio 5 live.

    Jose Mourinho
    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford on Twitter:

    "A poignant banner commemorating the 55th anniversary of the Munich Disaster is unfurled across the Stretford End reading 'We'll Never Die'."

  107. 1600: 
    KICK-OFF- Man Utd v Everton (1600 GMT)

    Everton get us started and immediately hoist the ball forward towards Marouane Fellaini.

  108. 1559: 

    Phil Neville was meant to be replacing Johnny Heitinga, instead he comes in for Sylvain Distin - who is suffering from illness not injury as first reported. This is Neville's 300th appearance (in all competitions) for Everton, and he is the only current Premier League player to reach that mark for two clubs… the other one being United of course.

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old TraffordMan Utd v Everton (1600 GMT)

    Late and significant setback for Everton as defender Sylvain Distin withdraws through illness. John Heitinga - who has been in desperately poor form this season - comes in.

  110. 1557: 

    The teams jog out at Old Trafford, where a giant banner reading 'we'll never die' in memory of the victims of the Munich air disaster is being passed around the stands.

    Old Trafford
    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old TraffordMan Utd v Everton (1600 GMT)

    "Some suggestions Sir Alex Ferguson would rest players ahead of Manchester United's Champions League meeting with Real Madrid at The Bernabeu on Wednesday - but only three changes as Ryan Giggs, Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic come in for Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand and Nani."

  112. 1552: 

    Yep, Marouane Fellaini did particularly well against Manchester United in the opening round of games at the start of the season, tormenting United's defence at Goodison Park and scoring the only goal of the game. I wonder how they will deal with him this time?

  113. 1550: 

    Everton boss David Moyes on his side's prospects at Old Trafford: "We've tried to give Manchester United a game as much as we can in the past and we'll do that again. Anything you get against them you have to earn and we know this will be a difficult game.

    "Marouane Fellaini is one of the best players in the league and we'll try to use him the best we can. In the past he's always done well against Manchester United."


    Mowlid on Twitter: "Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley will struggle in midfield I reckon for Manchester United against Everton. But when you've got RvP upfront does it matter?"

    Dan Carter on Twitter: "United's midfield not looking too strong, Everton could exploit that."

    Monday F Dawah on Twitter: "This is 2013! Not last season! Man U is different now! They're unstoppable!"

  115. 1547: 

    A big problem for Everton boss David Moyes in the warm-up - Sylvain Distin, who has been in great form, has picked up a knock and cannot play. Johnny Heitinga, who has been in pretty poor form, comes in at centre-back instead.

    If Distin had played, he would have been making his 400th Premier League appearance, and would have become the first outfield overseas player to reach that mark.

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford on Twitter:

    "Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has taken his seat in Old Trafford's directors' box very early. Some very serious texting going on. One last look at Manchester United in the flesh before Wednesday's Champions League meeting in The Bernabeu."

    Jose Mourinho
  117. 1543: 

    News of another special one now. Yep, former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has just notched again for AC Milan with a penalty to draw the Rossoneri level at 1-1 in their Serie A clash with Cagliari. Balotelli, making his second appearance for the club, has now scored three times since returning to Italy.

  118. 1542: 

    The Special One is in town. Yes, Jose Mourinho is at Old Trafford today, checking out United ahead of Real Madrid's meeting with the Manchester club in the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday. I hope he brought his brolly.


    Tom Stimson on Twitter: "Big win for Aston Villa! Relegation battle getting good now."

    Dird89 on Twitter: "Everton with the better keeper, defence & midfield? RVP & Rooney carrying United."

    Josh Jackman on Twitter: "Huge win for Aston Villa, but they still look so fragile at the back. This relegation battle looks like it's going to go to the wire."


    Ed an exhausted but elated Villa fan on text via 81111: "First league win since December for Aston Villa, just held on! Well done boys, but we need to be much less naive in the future and close games out more professionally!"

  121. 1540: 

    City fans will think they need a miracle to hang on to their title now, but could Hulk Hogan help provide it? The wrestling legend took on Lawro at Premier League predictions this weekend and has done pretty well too. He is going for a 3-1 win at Old Trafford for the hosts however, with Lawro also backing United.

    Lawro says: "The only problem I can foresee for United is their pitch - it is dead and it does not suit their game. In their last home game, against Southampton, they had to take an extra touch, which really slowed the game down."

  122. 1537: 

    Right then. It's a dank, damp, drizzly February day in Manchester rather than a sunny May afternoon, but could the decisive blow in the title race be struck by Manchester United today? Everton, who have Champions League aspirations of their own, will hope it isn't. So will Manchester City fans, if any of them have climbed out of bed yet.

    Former Aston Villa defender Paul McGrath on Twitter:

    "Brilliant win for Villa, onwards and upwards now."


    Christopher Jones on Twitter: "Aston Villa have won but it is irrelevant - one win does not salvage a season. They are going to be relegated."

    Pav Dhande on Twitter: "Massively critical win for us there to have any chance of survival."

    James Blackwell on Twitter: "We just won a match. Held on, just. Actually struggling to get my head around it."

    BBC Radio Manchester's Bill Rice at Old Trafford on Twitter:

    "Tributes are being laid at the Munich memorial at Old Trafford ahead of Manchester United v Everton. Last Wednesday was the 55th anniversary of the air disaster which claimed the lives of 23 people, including eight Manchester United footballers."

    Munich memorial
    LINE-UPS- Man Utd v Everton (1600 GMT)

    Man Utd: De Gea, Da Silva, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Cleverley, Jones, Giggs, Rooney, van Persie. Subs: Amos, Anderson, Smalling, Hernandez, Carrick, Nani, Welbeck.

    Everton: Howard, Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Mirallas, Osman, Gibson, Pienaar, Fellaini, Anichebe. Subs: Mucha, Heitinga, Jelavic, Oviedo, Naismith, Hitzlsperger, Stones.

    Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)

    MOTD's Guy MowbrayMan Utd v Everton (1600 GMT)

    "Tempting though it is to declare the title race over, caution is urged by the story of last season when this fixture played a key part in Manchester United being beaten to the prize.

    "Going on current league standings this is United's most tricky league game until the Manchester derby in April, and they'll surely have to play better than they did in their last two games to beat the Toffees.

    "Could they manage a first win at Old Trafford in 20 visits though? They could, but I'm more minded to think that the best they (and Manchester City) can hope for is another draw."

  128. 1528: 

    So, that's the story from the bottom of the table today. Now on to the tale at the top...


    Harry in Exeter on text via 81111: "You can always rely on Aston Villa to provide a dramatic ending to their game! So glad I don't support them!"


    Edward Darwent on Twitter: "How can Hammers fans say Allardyce out?! He's basically led a promoted side to safety. Like he always does!"

    Andrew Bain on Twitter: "Tense final minutes for Villa."

    Peter Steele on Twitter: "May be vital for Villa. Bottom-four still have to play each other but the advantage is with Reading as their three games are at the Madjeski Stadium."

  131. 1527: 

    The first half was one of the worst in living memory but the last half-an-hour at Villa Park was a thriller - full of tension, excitement, and last-ditch defending. The end result is that Villa are out of the bottom three, moving above Wigan and Reading. West Ham stay 11th and their abysmal away record remains intact.

    Bolton and Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews at Villa Park on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan really earned his coin today as West Ham threw everything at them. He stood firm at a vital moment."

  133. 1525: 
    FULL-TIME- Aston Villa 2-1 West Ham
  134. 1524: 

    Brad Guzan to the rescue again. Carlton Cole (I think) gets on the end of the corner when it comes in but the Villa keeper pushes it to safety. I think that's all we've got time for...

  135. 1522: 

    Villa are fighting for their lives here. Hammers hoist the ball in one last time... and Carlton Cole tees up Kevin Nolan to slam in a shot that Brad Guzan blocks with his legs. It's not over yet, though, because we have time for the corner to be taken.


    Andy Sheppard on Twitter: "Praying for Villa to hold on..."

  137. 1521: 

    Joe Cole takes the free-kick... and Brad Guzan is off his line to collect it at the back post. Has that catch secured the three points? We have about 90 seconds of injury time left before we find out.

    BBC Sport's Michael Emons at Villa Park:

    "The euphoria among the Villa fans has been replaced by fear and nerves.

    "Every clearance is cheered, every tackle applauded. Can Villa hold on? A big few minutes in Villa's season coming up."

  139. 1520: 
    YELLOW CARD- Aston Villa's Ciaran Clark

    Aston Villa's Ciaran Clark handles to concede a free-kick about 30 yards from goal. The alternative was to allow Carlton Cole to run in behind him. This is going to be interesting...

  140. 1519: 

    The 90 minutes are up. There will be four minutes of injury time for Villa to hang on to their lead. Chickens - or points - are not being counted by the home fans, I can assure you.


    Alltaf Hussain on Twitter: "Here we go again with Villa."

    Basil Ugochukwu on Twitter: "It is terrifying watching Aston Villa defend."

  142. 1516: 
    GOAL- Aston Villa 2-1 West Ham - Ashley Westwood og (87 mins)

    Er, as I was saying, Villa HAD dealt with everything that West Ham had thrown at them... until Ashley Westwood, in trying to deal with Joe Cole's deep cross, only succeeded in sending the ball looping up and over his own keeper Brad Guzan and into his own net. We are in for a very nervous finale here, Villa fans.


    Simes from Gravesend on text via 81111: "As a Hammers fan this is painful to watch. Can I be the first to say, Allardyce out."

    Ed in Tamworth on text via 81111: "MASSIVE goal from Zoggy! What a hit son!!"

  144. 1515: 

    Villa have dealt with everything the Hammers have thrown at them from set-pieces, although they have had to ride their luck at times. From West Ham's latest corner it is a case of Villa players throwing their bodies at the ball to block shots from Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole. They survive with their 2-0 lead intact, and with three minutes of the 90 to go.

  145. 1514: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Yacouba Sylla for Charles N'Zogbia

    Charles N'Zogbia limps off but I guess you could say his job is done after that superb strike for Villa's second goal. Yacouba Sylla is on for his home debut.

  146. 1512: 

    A lot of West Ham pressure since that second Villa goal, and a lot of crosses being fired into the Villa box but they are dealing with things pretty well so far. Brad Guzan has looked solid when he has been called upon too.


    Sham Gallagher on Twitter: "Christian Benteke is a life saver."

    Joel Fretwell on Twitter: "This new Premier League tactic of having your wall not jump seems pretty strange to me."

  148. 1511: 
    Man Utd v Everton (1600 GMT)

    BREAKING: Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney are both in Manchester United's attack. Marouane Fellaini is fit to start for Everton.

    Bolton and Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews at Villa Park on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "What a fantastic free-kick from Charles N'Zogbia. We saw him do that a lot for Wigan but far less often for Villa."

    Listen to updates of Aston Villa v West Ham on BBC Radio 5 live now.

  150. 1508: 
    GOAL- Aston Villa 2-0 West Ham - Charles N'Zogbia (78 mins)

    ...It is Charles N'Zogbia who takes it and you kind of think Ron Vlaar won't get to take many more in future. N'Zogbia fires a wicked shot over the Hammers wall and into the top corner of the net. Not a lot Jussi Jaaskelainen could do to keep that out, and Villa have breathing space. As things stand they are out of the bottom three, but can they hang on to this lead?

  151. 1507: 
    YELLOW CARD- West Ham's Winston Reid

    Another booking for Mark Clattenburg to dish out, with Reid reacting petulantly after conceding a free-kick 25 yards out. Ron Vlaar is standing over it, but so is Charles N'Zogbia...

  152. 1505: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Carlton Cole for Mark Noble

    West Ham have no choice but to go for this now, with 16 minutes left. Carlton Cole is on and the Hammers are launching a succession of balls into the Villa area. In the words of Graham Taylor - "this is a real test".

    Bolton and Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews at Villa Park on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "It was a spot-on decision to give the penalty. Charles N'Zogbia cut inside and was looking for it, but he was fouled. It was great composure from Christian Benteke to place it into the net to give Villa the lead."

    Listen to updates of Aston Villa v West Ham on BBC Radio 5 live now.

    Christian Benteke
  154. 1503: 
    GOAL- Aston Villa 1-0 West Ham - Christian Benteke pen (74 mins)

    It is Villa who make the breakthrough, from a penalty awarded after Mark Noble sends Charles N'Zogbia tumbling in the box. Christian Benteke steps up, and coolly despatches the spot-kick, rolling the ball into the bottom corner after sending Jussi Jaaskelainen the wrong way.

    Christian Benteke
  155. 1502: 
    PENALTY to Aston Villa
  156. 1502: 
    YELLOW CARD- Aston Villa's Nathan Baker

    West Ham are still getting forward, mind. Nathan Baker cleans out Joe Cole near the right-hand corner flag and gets a deserved booking. West Ham cannot do much with the resulting free-kick, though, with Kevin Nolan heading over.

  157. 1459: 

    Villa seem to have upped their ante since that double switch and are zipping the passes around in the West Ham half. Nothing is quite landing for Christian Benteke, though. He is offside when he runs on to Charles N'Zogbia's pass and two more balls meant for him are either too far behind or in front of him.

    BBC Sport's Michael Emons at Villa Park:

    "That's why you're going down," taunt the West Ham fans as Aston Villa make a double substitution.

    "Paul Lambert's gamble in picking 21-year-old Jordan Bowery has not been a success and he is replaced by Darren Bent.

    "Today would be a great time for Bent to remind Paul Lambert of his talents."

  159. 1457: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Ricardo Vaz Te for Matty Taylor

    Time for a West Ham change, with 20 minutes or so to go and the score still goalless. Ricardo Vaz Te is on for Matty Taylor.

  160. 1455: 

    Moments later, West Ham go close. Very close. Another corner is sent into the Villa box and Andy Carroll wins the ball in the air then gets on the end of his own knockdown. His shot is going in too, until Darren Bent hacks it off the line. I know Bent is useful in the six yard box, but it is usually the opposition's.

  161. 1455: 

    That change almost has an immediate effect. Charles N'Zogbia's final ball has let him down at times today but there is not too much wrong with his effort here, after he cuts in from the right to get on the end of a Christian Benteke pass and flashes a shot just wide of Jussi Jaaskelainen's right-hand post.


    MarcoSarasini on Twitter: "Shocking how Villa lack so much composure and quality! No ideas and no control of midfield!"

    Suhas AR on Twitter: "Villa need goals and Darren Bent scores goals! As Rafa Benitez would say, that is a FACT!"

    Oliveiro Bojorquez on Twitter: "Villa v West Ham is a real case of resistible force meets movable object."

  163. 1454: 

    A double change for Villa, with just over 25 minutes to go. Darren Bent and Simon Dawkins are on, the latter making his debut following his loan switch from Spurs. Andreas Weimann and Jordan Bowery make way.

  164. 1451: 

    West Ham are still knocking on the door, though. Brad Guzan punches away Guy Demel's useful cross but only as far as Kevin Nolan, lurking on the edge of the area. Nolan gets his shot away too, but it is blocked by Ciaran Clark.

  165. 1449: 

    Another West Ham corner, another Villa clearance - this time by Nathan Baker. It only takes one loss of concentration to ruin all their hard work but Paul Lambert's side have coped pretty well from set-pieces so far.

  166. 1448: 

    Chances? Goalmouth action? I think we might finally have a game on our hands folks. We have had to wait an hour or so to get one but better late than never, hey?

  167. 1446: 

    It's not all one-way traffic mind. Villa's turn to threaten sees them force a corner and Christian Benteke almost gets on the end of the delivery into the box. That's just the start of a flurry of balls pumped into the Hammers area but none of them are of sufficient quality to trouble the visitors, who are well-drilled in those sort of situations.

    Keith Andrews, Bolton and Republic of Ireland midfielder

    "West Ham have upped their game. A lot of that is to do with them switching to a 4-4-2 formation.

    "If they can get the service to striker Andy Carroll, they should get something from this. It is Aston Villa who need the three points, they need to step it up."

    Listen to updates of Aston Villa v West Ham on BBC Radio 5 live now.

    BBC Sport's Michael Emons at Villa Park:

    "Ironic cheers from the home fans at The Holte End as Ciaran Clark heads clear one of those West Ham corners. Aston Villa's weakness from set pieces this season has been well documented, but Paul Lambert's young side needs encouragement from the supporters."

  170. 1445: 

    West Ham continue to come forward and Villa are under more and more pressure here. Will they crack? Not yet. Matty Taylor cannot pick out a team-mate after getting behind the home defence and then Ciaran Clark does well to clear Mohamed Diame's dangerous ball into the box.

  171. 1443: 

    Yep, Hulk probably thinks Aston Villa is either a car or a holiday destination but his lack of football knowledge is not holding him back. Apart from that 40-1 win for Chelsea win, he didn't do too badly yesterday.


    Luke Jowett on Twitter: "Hulk Hogan's genius continues. His prediction of 0-0 is looking fruitful! 'Watchaa gonna do Lawro?!'"

  173. 1440: 

    West Ham do seem a bit more ambitious of late, if only in the number of players they are getting forward. Joe Cole is seeing more of the ball too and he has just floated in a dangerous cross that Jordan Bowery had to head over his own bar. That means another Hammers corner, though, so the danger is not over yet.


    Richard Parfitt on Twitter: "Sam Allardyce: Emperor of the mid-table."

  175. 1437: 

    As Michael says, a moment of magic would be very welcome indeed. But right now I would settle for a successful pass. Both sides are pinging the ball forward, neither of them can make it stick. The ball zipping off the slick surface is not helping, but the wet conditions are not the main reason this game is so dire.

    BBC Sport's Michael Emons at Villa Park:

    "This game is in desperate need for a spark. A moment of magic, a piece of skill, a mazy run, anything to lift the crowd's spirits on a miserable day in the West Midlands."

  177. 1436: 

    It is Joe Cole who floats the ball in but Christian Benteke clears at the near post. It's quickly hoisted back into the Villa box but James Tomkins sees his shot blocked by Ron Vlaar. I think we can say Villa passed that particular test, can't we?

  178. 1435: 

    West Ham take 60 seconds of the second half to force their first corner of the game. A real test for Villa this...

  179. 1434: 
    KICK-OFF- Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham

    The game restarts with West Ham launching a long diagonal ball forward into the Villa half. So much for that feast of flowing football...


    Ahimann on Twitter: "Inexperienced team and not helped by stubborn headed inexperienced manager!!! Villa need an experienced manager."

  181. 1433: 

    Right, back to Villa Park now, where a feast of flowing football awaits us. Possibly. No changes at the break by the looks of things.

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford:Man Utd v Everton (1600 GMT)

    "Sir Alex Ferguson's programme notes refer to that Everton game and he says that was where the title was lost. He writes: "What I can say is that it won't happen again - or if it does then, put it this way, they will feel the full effect of the hairdryer!"

    BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty at Old Trafford:Man Utd v Everton (1600 GMT)

    "Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson still remembers how conceding a 4-2 lead in the closing moments of this meeting at Old Trafford last season to draw with Everton went a long way towards handing the title to Manchester City. Victory today will give United a 12-point advantage - and surely their 20th title. Everton's priority is a win that will keep them in the hunt for a top four place."

  184. 1423: 

    After a fairly forgettable first 45 minutes at Villa Park, I think now is a good time to have a quick glance at what we can look forward to at Old Trafford a bit later on. Some goalmouth action, hopefully...

    MOTD's Simon Brotherton at Villa ParkHALF-TIME- Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham

    "It's a miserable day and we have seen a largely uninspiring 45 minutes at Villa Park. Villa enjoyed the best opportunity of the half within two minutes when Jussi Jaaskelainen spilled Christian Benteke's shot, but Andreas Weimann could only fire wide. And that has been about it. West Ham haven't had a shot on target."

    Bolton and Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews at Villa Park on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "It is very, very nervy from Villa. They have tried to take it to West Ham, but they have contained them easily with their 3-5-2 formation.

    "Both Christian Benteke for Aston Vila and Andy Carroll for West Ham have been starved of service. I would like to see Matt Jarvis and Brett Holman thrown on after the break."

    Listen to updates of Aston Villa v West Ham on BBC Radio 5 live now.

  187. 1421: 

    You'd never guess Aston Villa cannot win at home and West Ham cannot win away, would you? Let's just hope the second half is a lot better than the first. It can't be any worse, surely. Not that the Hammers will be complaining if it is.


    David in Cambridge on text via 81111: "Surely it sums up Villa's lack of creativity and quality from their forward players when a defender is taking their attacking free kicks! Messes with the whole balance of the team."

    BBC Sport's Michael Emons at Villa ParkHALF-TIME- Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham

    "A poor opening half at Villa Park, although the hosts should have scored inside two minutes but Andreas Weimann shot horribly wide from six yards after Christian Benteke's effort was parried.

    "But Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan has not had much to deal with in a game of few chances for either side.

    "Paul Lambert has praised Villa's fans for their continuing support of their struggling side but their patience is being tested."

  190. 1419: 
    HALF-TIME- Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham

    Steel1404 on Twitter: "Aston Villa would do better getting rid of Fabian Delph... He is rotten, he either fouls or loses the ball."

    Jackson Slade on Twitter: "Even if Sir Alex Ferguson had Jose Mourinho as his assistant he wouldn't be able to keep this Villa side up."

    Nabir Tariq on Twitter: "Whose more important to the Aston Villa team right now, manager Paul Lambert or out off favour striker Darren Bent?"

  192. 1416: 

    We have not seen Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll link up too often so far today, but they almost combine here, with Carroll winning the aerial duel with Ron Vlaar but just failing to tee up Nolan. The Hammers keep the pressure on, though, at least until Andy Carroll tries his luck with a speculative shot from distance. That's the end of that attack.

    Carroll, incidentally, will also need patching up at half-time otherwise there will soon be a lot more claret on his shirt. That clash of heads with Nathan Baker is to blame.

  193. 1413: 

    Yellow cards are nothing new to Emanuel Pogatetz and he has just been booked for the first time since he returned to English football last month. Charles N'Zogbia breaks forward for Villa from a long throw, but Pogatetz makes sure he does not reach the edge of the Hammers area.

    Bolton and Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews at Villa Park on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Aston Villa need to push up their full-backs more here to take advantage of the space on the flanks due to the number of central defenders West Ham have selected."

    Listen to updates of Aston Villa v West Ham on BBC Radio 5 live now.

  195. 1411: 

    We are into the last five minutes of the first half now, and Villa continue to look the most threatening. I should add the caveat that West Ham are looking about as dangerous as a fish supper, to use Sam Allardyce's parlance.

  196. 1409: 

    That is is more like it from Ron Vlaar, who almost makes me eat my words for giving him stick about that dreadful free-kick. Vlaar finds space at the near post to meet a corner but scoops his half-volley just over the bar. That's the closest we have come to a goal since Andreas Weimann's stinker of a miss in the first couple of minutes.


    Ben in Leamington Spa on text via 81111: "West Ham's Kevin Nolan is the most important player in this game, and Villa have kept him quiet so far. Big Sam needs to change things up - far too one dimensional. That may mean getting Nolan into it a lot more."

    Dave from Birmingham on text via 81111: "Darren Bent has a remarkable goals tally in the Premier League which many Villa fans forget! Look at the manager not the player!"

    Carlos in Rugby on text via 81111: "This game is exactly what your expect. Cagey, some good tackles, a bit scrappy. Foundations for a good spectacle but needs a moment of genius. Darren Bent?"

  198. 1409: 

    Here's an effort which sums up this game so far: pretty awful. Villa tee up Ron Vlaar from a free-kick 30 yards from goal, but the Dutch defender drags his shot about 10 miles wide.

  199. 1406: 

    We've just seen West Ham's best moment of the game - and, yes, I now there hasn't been much competition. Guy Demel sends in a teasing low cross from the right and Joe Cole is poised to turn it home at the near post until Ciaran Clark nips in before him to clear. Good defending - not often Villa can be accused of that.

  200. 1404: 

    Villa's Nathan Baker is still leaking a lot of blood from his head, despite the presence of a massive glob of vaseline to try to stem the flow. It is fair to say there have been more injuries than chances in the first half so far, and West Ham are certainly living up to their reputation as poor travellers. They look like they would be happy with a point. Villa? They need all three.

  201. 1400: 

    A rare sniff for West Ham as the ball breaks kindly for them off referee Mark Clattenburg, allowing Mohamed Diame to advance into the area from the left. I'm not sure what he tries to do next, though. I think it was a shot but it was so bad it is hardly worthy of that description.


    Adam Collins on Twitter: "Darren Bent seems more interested in being a footballer than playing football. He's never been one to work for any team."

    Jake on Twitter: "Vila boss Paul Lambert is making more and more mistakes as time goes on. I can't even laugh any more, I just feel sorry for him now."

    Irfan Atcha on Twitter: "Bent may have scored that chance but remember he missed a chance that Sandra Redknapp would've scored."

  203. 1359: 

    So, half-an-hour gone and this game is every bit as tight and tense as you would expect given Villa's situation. They have had more of the ball than West Ham but chances are thin on the ground at both ends.

    BBC Sport's Michael Emons at Villa Park:

    "A quiet atmosphere so far at Villa Park until the 19th minute as fans in all four sides of the ground rise to their feet for a minute's applause for Villa's number 19, as they do at every game.

    "Club captain Stiliyan Petrov has not played this season after being diagnosed with leukaemia at the end of the 2011-12 campaign but he is a hugely popular figure at Villa."

  205. 1354: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Guy Demel for Joey O'Brien

    Nope, Joey O'Brien cannot continue, and has disappeared down the tunnel for more treatment. Here comes Guy Demel to replace him in the Hammers back-line.

  206. 1354: 

    Lots of players in the wars at Villa Park actually, James Tomkins gets Fabian Delph's boot in the face after sliding in to tackle him near the touchline out wide on the West Ham right.


    Steve in Kirkcaldy on text via 81111: "Manchester City's Gareth Barry would have placed Andreas Weimann's chance right in the corner, clinical."

    Dave from Birmingham on text via 81111: "Boss Paul Lambert has destroyed Darren Bent! You can't expect him to want to play for Villa anymore!"

    Former Liverpool midifelder Dietmar Hamann on Twitter:

    "Great start to the game from Villa... What a miss by Andreas Weimann, usually very reliable in front of goal."

    Bolton and Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews at Villa Park on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Aston Villa are just shading it, West Ham have not settled, maybe it is the change in formation. The only threat is coming from the fairly direct balls to Andy Carroll up front.

    "I played under Sam Allardyce at Blackburn, and he usually sets his teams up very soundly. He will expect three points today."

    Listen to updates of Aston Villa v West Ham on BBC Radio 5 live now.

    Sam Allardyce
  210. 1350: 

    Claret and blue... and more claret - that's going to be the colour of Nathan Baker's shirt soon I think - he needs more patching up following that clash of heads with Andy Carroll. Not that Baker is ducking any challenges - he has just launched himself into a hearty tackle with Joey O'Brien as he chased a ball near the Hammers area. O'Brien felt that, and he is currently off the pitch and receiving treatment.

    Nathan Baker and Joey O'Brien
  211. 1348: 

    So, coming up to 20 minutes gone and still 0-0 at Villa Park. The Hammers have not really done a lot so far. Villa have had one big chance, but they fluffed it.

  212. 1345: 

    Some silky skills and nifty footwork sees Fabian Delph dance through the Hammers midfield but his run is brought to a halt unfairly by Emanuel Pogatetz. Ashley Westwood launches the free-kick into the Hammers area but Christian Benteke cannot direct his header on target at the far post.


    James Dale on Twitter: "Six pointer for Villa, you'd think the fans would be there to be the 12th man, have they given up the fight already?"

    Steve Davidson on Twitter: "Darren Bent massively over-rated and doesn't seem interested in playing for Villa. Shouldn't even be a substitute."

    I am Iron Man on Twitter: "Did anyone see Bent miss an open goal from three-yards in the cup a few weeks ago?!?! Shush you lot."


    Matty on text via 81111: "Why are keepers spilling so many balls this season, seems like more than before?"

    Steve from Cardiff on text via 81111: "Plain and simple. Darren Bent would have buried that. Would that miss have buried Villa?"

  215. 1343: 

    Andy Carroll and Nathan Baker are back on the pitch now, as play continues. West Ham are still playing pretty direct stuff. Villa are trying to keep the ball on the floor but neither side is having too much joy at the moment.

    BBC Sport's Michael Emons at Villa Park:

    "Andreas Weimann was left with his head in his hands as strike partner Christian Benteke gives him a 'what the hell was that' shrug of the shoulders after his miss.

    "You would have backed Benteke to score from there. The Belgian, signed by Villa from Genk for £7m last summer, has proved to be one of the signings of the season with 14 goals from 27 games in all competitions, including five in his last four matches.

    "If Villa are to lift themselves clear of relegation then Benteke needs to maintain his good form until the end of the season."

    Andreas Weimann
  217. 1340: 

    A couple of corners for West Ham to defend, but the biggest problem they have comes when Nathan Baker heads Andy Carroll rather than the ball. Both players need treatment - and, as you might expect, Baker came off worse.

  218. 1337: 

    So, an encouraging start for Villa - even if they have wasted a golden opportunity to take the lead. Jordan Bowery has taken on Gabriel Agbonlahor's usual role to the right of Christian Benteke, with Andreas Weimann on the left. Weimann has not let that appalling miss bother him too much, he is running at the Hammers defence whenever he gets a chance.


    Statisticians Opta on Twitter: "2 - Aston Villa have scored just two goals in their last seven Premier League matches at Villa Park. Shy."


    Jon Evans on Twitter: "Jordan Bowery over Darren Bent? Wow. Good to see us play a player who was average at Chesterfield over a proven goalscorer! Relegation looms."

    Mark Waters on Twitter: "Aston Villa to be relegated with Christian Benteke off to Chelsea to replace Fernando Torres at end of season."

    James Duffin on Twitter: "No risk playing Jordan Bowery for Villa .A couple of years ago he played for Barrow in the Conference, now he's in the Prem. He's the next Grant Holt."


    WezJav on Twitter: "You know it's not your season when probably your best player apart from Christian Benteke misses an open goal."

    ArsenalGod on Twitter: "Substitute Darren Bent would have buried that Andreas Weimann chance 999 times out of 1000."

    Bolton and Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews at Villa Park on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "West Ham have been sluggish so far, they are playing three at the back as they would have expected Aston Villa to go with one striker up front but they are playing a 4-4-2 and are getting right at the visitors.

    "Andreas Weimann is a poacher, and you would normally expect him to finish that chance with aplomb."

    Listen to updates of Aston Villa v West Ham on BBC Radio 5 live now.

  223. 1335: 

    West Ham's first attack, perhaps predictably, comes from a set-piece that sees the ball launched into the Villa box. The home side struggle to clear their lines and Andy Carroll gets the final touch, sending the ball looping on to the roof of Brad Guzan's net.

  224. 1332: 

    How are Villa not ahead already? Only Andreas Weimann knows the answer to that one.... Jussi Jaaskelainen spills Christian Benteke's shot and the ball rolls into the path of the Austrian, unmarked and six yards from goal... but he somehow places the ball wide of the far post. What. A. Miss.

  225. 1330: 
    KICK-OFF- Aston Villa v West Ham (1330 GMT)

    Here we go. We are under way at Villa Park.

  226. 1328: 

    So, kick-off just moments away at Villa Park. Villa need to score goals and stop conceding them, especially from set-pieces. Simples. I'm sure that was the thrust of Paul Lambert's pre-match team-talk too.

    Bolton and Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews at Villa Park on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "I have no idea what has happened to Stephen Ireland in the last few years at Aston Villa. Speaking from personal experience, playing against him when he was under Mark Hughes at Manchester City was a big, big ask.

    "He had fantastic vision, quick feet and an eye for goal. Only he will know what has truly happened in the last few years as he has gone massively off the boil."

    Listen to updates of Aston Villa v West Ham on BBC Radio 5 live from 1330 GMT.


    Stef in South London on text via 81111: "RE Neil Wylie - What a load of rubbish, have you seen the number of games left in the season? Reading still have to play Aston Villa, and some top of the table clubs. Watch Villa win today and stay up on the last day of the season sending Wigan and Reading down. JUST WATCH!"

    Simon Harkins on text via 81111: "Champions - Manchester United. Relegated QPR, Villa and Norwich. Man City, Spurs and Arsenal to get the other Champions League places."

    Harry in Exeter on text via 81111: "Squad rotation will be the key factor, whether United can cope with mid-week Champions League football as well as Premier League title chase. Fergie has it covered."

  229. 1324: 

    The players are in the tunnel at Villa Park - it's claret and blue (Villa) versus blue and claret (West Ham). For those watching in black and white, do not adjust your sets.


    Is Daniel Mole the only person in the world who thinks Manchester City will win the title? It appears so... although 19Joshua87 is hedging his bets.

    Daniel Mole on Twitter: "Tottenham one to watch, maybe not this year but next year. Still going Man City this season for the title."

    19Joshua87 on Twitter: "Re 1222. Manchester United still have to go to West Ham, Stoke, Arsenal, Sunderland, have Manchester City and Chelsea at home. Still far from being over."

    The Chelsea Lion on Twitter: "Sounds ridiculous but Man City boss Roberto Mancini should seriously be worrying about Champions League positions given the form City are in - not the title race."

  231. 1318: 

    Hmmm, I'm sure a few Villa fans are confused by Paul Lambert's decision to hand 21-year-old forward Jordan Bowery his first Premier League start today. But is it brave, or stupid?

    By the way, Villa have just confirmed that Gabriel Agbonlahor is ill, which is why he is not in their squad.


    Paul Gibbons on Twitter: "Manchester United are going to be comfortable winners with either Chelsea or Spurs in second, QPR, Wigan and Aston Villa to go down!"

    Damien J Burton on Twitter: "IF City win all their remaining games they'll have 89 pts. United got the same points last year but are a MUCH better team now."

    Matt Bennett on Twitter: "Manchester United, Champions & QPR, Aston Villa & Wigan, Relegated, Reading will stay up with ease."

    Bolton and Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews at Villa Park on BBC Radio 5 live:

    "Looking at the two teams warming up, West Ham already mean business and look very concentrated on getting a win against Villa today.

    "The main reason I think Villa are where they are, is that have so little experience and lack confidence.

    "I was expecting the fans to be ferocious in the defeat against Newcastle, but they seem to understand the predicament the players are in and understand they cannot get on the players' backs."

    Listen to updates of Aston Villa v West Ham on BBC Radio 5 live from 1330 GMT.

    Aston Villa v West Ham (1330 GMT)

    West Ham's away record is pretty poor isn't it? And yes, Hammers boss Sam Allardyce has noticed...

    Big Sam says: "Everybody knows the responsibility of turning around our away results - they must get better.

    "It does niggle me that we can't find the same type of form away from home that we've been producing all season at home.

    "There's nothing wrong with the effort and will to win at Aston Villa, but what has cost them are lapses in concentration, probably due to the inexperience of the team."

    BBC Sport's Michael Emons at Villa Park:Aston Villa v West Ham (1330 GMT)

    "Aston Villa have been in the top division for 25 seasons but how much longer will that run last? A failure to win in eight league games has left them 19th, two points below fourth-bottom Reading, but six points behind Southampton and Newcastle.

    "But they face a West Ham side who have been woeful away from Upton Park, picking up only eight points from 12 games. Villa have not kept a clean sheet since 8 December and how they deal with the aerial power of Andy Carroll could prove crucial."


    Simeone Jackson on Twitter: "Re 1222. Even Harry Houdini can't keep QPR up, them Reading and Wigan to face the drop."

    Jack McCourt on Twitter: "Jordan Bowery ahead of Darren Bent? Jeez... Someone please send a taxi for Paul Lambert, I could do a better job of managing Villa!!!"

    Neil Wylie on Twitter: "If Reading, United and Arsenal all win in two weeks' time, then Wigan, Villa and QPR to go down."

  237. 1307: 

    I'm not sure Craig's suggestion below would have helped Joe Hart last night. But it did make me think of those giant gloves that the tabloids used to get David Seaman to pose in every April Fool's Day. Are there actually any rules stopping keepers from doing that? They must make quite entertaining reading if so.


    Craig from Luton: "Is there anything in the rules that stops a goalie wearing webbing, like a wingsuit or flying squirrel?"

    Aston Villa v West Ham (1330 GMT)

    Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert wants the Villa Park crowd to urge his team on to what would be a vital victory against West Ham.

    "From now on it's like 13 cup finals," he says. "We need to win five or six games and if we keep doing the things we are doing then we will more more games than not.

    "We're playing well enough and if we keep that level of performance up, and keep the crowd with us, we will be a threat.

    "The players know the fans are with them."


    Ben in Norwich via text on 81111: "RE 1222 - I've been a fairly relaxed Norwich fan all season, but we needed to beat Fulham at home yesterday. With all the teams below us upping their game, it's not looking good."

    Sam in Chesterfield: "As a Chesterfield fan, I'd be interested to see how Jordan Bowery plays. He wasn't really first choice at Chesterfield, so he's not good enough to force Christian Benteke, Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor out the starting XI. Manager Paul Lambert needs to wake up and see that youth players will not keep them in the Premier League."

    Brent in London: "City went wrong letting de jong leave. Barry is awful and Yaya, nasri and Silva have struggled since he left. Terrible signings too, rodwell, maicon and Sinclair have offered nothing."


    Jack McCourt on Twitter: "I actually think that Tottenham are United's closest challengers. Chelsea too inconsistent and City distinctly average."

    Chris Tye on Twitter: "United to win it by 7 points, QPR, Villa and Reading to go down."

    Chris on Twitter: "United to be champions, QPR, Wigan and Villa to go down."

    LINE-UPS- Aston Villa v West Ham (1330 GMT)

    Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker, Weimann, Westwood, Delph, Bowery, N'Zogbia, Benteke. Subs: Given, Bent, Holman, Sylla, Dawkins, Bannan, Bennett.

    West Ham: Jaaskelainen, O'Brien, Reid, Tomkins, Pogatetz, Noble, Diame, Nolan, Taylor, Joe Cole, Carroll. Subs: Spiegel, Jarvis, Carlton Cole, Vaz Te, Demel, Chamakh, O'Neil.

    Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

    BBC Sport's Michael Emons at Villa ParkAston Villa v West Ham (1330 GMT)

    "Aston Villa hand a first Premier League start to 21-year-old striker Jordan Bowery, a £500,000 addition from Chesterfield last summer. Midfielder Yacouba Sylla, signed for £2m from French side Clermont on transfer deadline day, remains on the bench, alongside Tottenham loanee Simon Dawkins and striker Darren Bent.

    "West Ham make two changes to their side that beat Swansea 1-0 last week with Joe Cole coming in for Matt Jarvis. Emanuel Pogatetz makes his first start for the Hammers after his loan move from German team VFL Wolfsburg as Ricardo Vaz Te drops to the bench."

  244. 1259: 

    As discussed, Manchester United are looking pretty handily placed in the title race (to say the least!) after champions Manchester City lost at Southampton on Saturday, but striker Sergio Aguero, one of the few City players not to have a complete nightmare at St Mary's, is not prepared to throw in the towel just yet (understandably given it was his goal in the last minute that won City the title in the first place).

    In the aftermath of that defeat, the Argentina striker tweeted: "Some days, nothing works the way it should. This was one of those days. There's no excuse - we need to work hard to forge ahead.

    "It all looks a bit grim right now, but I won't believe giving up is an option."

    Injured captain Vincent Kompany strikes a more pragmatic tone, however.

    "Our fans sang and stood behind us all game yesterday, despite losing," he tweets. "Just reminds me that there will always be a lot to play for."


    Nick Jones on Twitter: "Re 1222. Reading Qpr and Villa and probably United to win the title."

    Alex Catlin on Twitter: "Relegated teams - Wigan, Aston Villa and QPR. Champions - Manchester United."

    Ryan Berry on Twitter: "Aston Villa, Reading, Sunderland. Manchester United champions."

    Malc Smith on Twitter: "Champions: Man Utd. Relegation: QPR, Aston Villa and Reading."

  246. 1251: 
    Aston Villa v West Ham (1330 GMT)

    One other thing: No Gabriel Agbonlahor in the Aston Villa squad and, as yet, nobody seems to know why. Don't worry, though - I'll tell you as soon as I find out.


    LyffBoxx on Twitter: "Re 1222. QPR, Aston Villa and Wigan will be relegated. Manchester United will be crowned champions."

    Jerry-Rae Screen on Twitter: "QPR, Villa and sadly Wigan, teams above them are playing OK. It'll be disastrous if Man Utd lose title now."

    Luke Russell on Twitter: "Villa, Wigan and Reading will be tight, though United wont throw the title away this year especially with Robin van Persie."

  248. 1248: 

    A quick glance through the first 50 or so tweets in reply to my question at 1222 reveals that EVERYONE is backing United to win the title... now that is a surprise! The bottom three seem less cut and dry, but QPR are figuring an awful lot. As are Wigan and Aston Villa. No mentions for Southampton.


    Giles a Saints fan on text via 81111: "Re 1230. Great win for us last night and Pochettino has done very well. However Adkins brought nothing but success to the club and did not deserve to be treated like that. He would have kept us up no question. Sure he will go on to better things."

    joshua crivelli ‏on Twitter: "Pochettino will be winning the Southampton faithful around.However that does not make Adkins Sacking any more credible

    MOTD's Simon Brotherton at Villa ParkAston Villa v West Ham (1330 GMT)

    "I have two images in my head as I think about this game. Firstly, how good Andy Carroll looked for West Ham last week against Swansea when he crashed home the winner with his head from a corner. Secondly, how Aston Villa's defenders failed yet again to deal with a corner in conceding the equaliser at Everton deep into stoppage time.

    "Villa badly need a win and are up against a West Ham side with a poor recent away record. But the home team can hardly be confident after four straight home defeats in the league to Spurs, Wigan, Southampton and Newcastle."

    BBC Sport's Michael Emons at Villa ParkAston Villa v West Ham (1330 GMT)

    "Villa may be struggling this season but manager Paul Lambert remains optimistic. In his programme notes, he writes:

    'The fans have been tremendous all the way. What we need to do is to forge a steely, hard-nosed mentality to see games through.

    'We've maintained a really upbeat attitude at the training ground.

    'The emphasis has always been on working hard and training the way you play, and provided you do that, you'll be rewarded in the end'."

  252. 1241: 
    Aston Villa v West Ham (1330 GMT)

    BREAKING: Christian Benteke starts for Aston Villa and Darren Bent is on the bench alongside new signing Yacouba Sylla. For West Ham, defender Emanuel Pogatetz makes his debut and Andy Carroll leads the attack. Joe Cole is also in their starting XI.


    Ste in Sheffield: "Re 1222. Surely Wigan's luck is going to run out eventually? Them, QPR and Reading for the drop."

    Patrick in Surrey: "It is a long way back for City but anything can happen. If United lose today and City win at OT then the gap is 6 points. United have CL mid week, City do not. Too early to call it a day yet!"

    Jacko, Man Utd fan: "It is always difficult for top team after international week. It is crazy to think that we will walk past Everton today. With no Champions League to deal with City is by no way out of the title race."

  254. 1235:  
    BBC Radio 5 live

    Here's how things are going to work today in terms of radio commentaries. BBC Radio 5 live have updates from what looks like a crucial match for Aston Villa against West Ham. Pat Murphy and Bolton midfielder Keith Andrews will keep you up-to-date with events at Villa Park from 1330 GMT.

    At 1600 GMT, you can hear commentary as Manchester United look to take their lead at the top of the table into double figures against an Everton side chasing a Champions League spot. Mike Ingham, Alan Green and former England manager Graham Taylor are at Old Trafford, with the first half on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and the second period also on BBC Radio 5 live.

  255. 1230: 

    By the way, how good were Southampton on Saturday? Mauricio Pochettino's pressing style saw his team frustrate but also dominate the champions for long periods. So I've got a question for Saints fans too - what do you make of the decision to sack Nigel Adkins now?

  256. 1228:  
    BBC Radio 5 live Sportsweek

    Speaking of Joe Hart, Manchester City goalkeeping legend Joe Corrigan has his own theory about why the England keeper has been somewhat sloppy of late. And no, it's not down to him losing concentration, or believing the hype that followed his performance against Borussia Dortmund in September that saw him hailed the best keeper in the world.

    Corrigan told BBC Sportsweek that goalkeeper Joe Hart's error in letting Rickie Lambert's shot squirm from his grasp and allowing Steve Davis to score Saints' second goal in their 3-1 win can partly be attributed to the fact he rolls up his sleeves.

    "Joe is a brilliant keeper, but what I cannot understand, and nobody has ever explained to me, is why with the ball being as shiny and moving so much, do goalkeeper wear short-sleeve shirts?" Corrigan says on BBC Radio 5 Live.

    "They have these new rubber latex gloves at one end of their arm and then they have skin between there and the shirt, which creates another slippery surface.

    "If you look at the [Southampton] goal from behind, it shows the ball hit Joe in the area which was not covered by the goalkeeping shirt, so situations like this will happen."

  257. 1222: 

    Aston Villa can climb out of the relegation zone with victory today but what I want to know from you lot is the three teams you think will go down. And, at the other end of the table, is the title race really done and dusted by early February? And, if so, why have Manchester City gone wrong (or, if you prefer, where have Manchester United gone right).

    Tweet the text commentary using the hashtag #bbcfootball or text me (in the UK) on 81111. Make sure you put your name on those texts, though, otherwise they will get dropped quicker than a Joe Hart save.

    BBC Sport's Michael Emons at Villa ParkAston Villa v West Ham (1330 GMT)
    Villa Park

    "It is a cold, wet and miserable day in the West Midlands but the Villa Park pitch looks in perfect condition.

    "Aston Villa need their season to quickly brighten up and, with Wigan and Reading both losing yesterday, know they can move out of the relegation zone today if they win at home against West Ham."

  259. 1213: 

    West Ham's away form has not been up to much recently but then you could say the same about Villa's defending full-stop. And there is a very good reason why the Hammers will fancy their chances of causing Paul Lambert's side some problems today.

    As Lawro said in his predictions ahead of the weekend: "Set-pieces are Villa's biggest issue, which is a particular problem when you play the Hammers because they thrive on set-pieces and organisation - you may as well call their manager Sam Allardyce 'set-piece Sam'."

  260. 1208: 

    Manchester United take on the Toffees at 16:00 GMT but before then we have an intriguing battle at the other end of the table to look forward to. Southampton were the only side in the bottom half to win on Saturday (and they won in style too) so today is a great opportunity for Aston Villa to improve their survival prospects. They take on West Ham at 13:30 GMT.

  261. 1203: 

    Yep, you can (probably) forget about any last-gasp drama this time around - the decisive blow in this year's title battle could be struck today, with more than 1,000 minutes of the season still to play. Following a disastrous defeat for champions Manchester City at the hands of Southampton on Saturday night, Manchester United can move 12 points clear at the top with 12 games left to play if they beat Everton this afternoon. It is an awful long way back for City from there.

  262. 1200: 

    Hello. Last season, the Premier League title was decided by the last kick of the campaign. I can't see that happening this time, can you?

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Premier League table

Saturday, 9 February 2013 19:29 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
Full Premier League table
1 Man Utd 25 29 62
2 Man City 26 24 53
3 Chelsea 26 27 49
4 Tottenham 26 14 48
5 Arsenal 26 21 44
6 Everton 25 10 42
7 Swansea 26 9 37
8 Liverpool 25 12 36
9 West Brom 25 -1 34
10 Stoke 26 -5 33
11 West Ham 25 -8 30
12 Fulham 26 -6 29
13 Sunderland 26 -6 29
14 Norwich 26 -15 29
15 Southampton 26 -9 27
16 Newcastle 26 -12 27
17 Reading 26 -15 23
18 Wigan 26 -21 21
19 Aston Villa 25 -26 21
20 QPR 26 -22 17

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