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Summary

  1. Your unique vantage points to watch a match #bbcfootball, facebook.com/MOTD
  2. Gerrard starts for Liverpool, Sterling not in squad
  3. Build-up to eight Premier League fixtures
  4. Sunderland v Liverpool (12:45 GMT)

Live Reporting

By Stephan Shemilt

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Post update

    You know when television asks you to switch channels in order to continue watching? We're about to do the online equivalent.

    I'm off, Marc Higginson's is taking over on a new page. He's over here, on this link. Enjoy.

  2. Team news

    Sunderland v Liverpool (12:45 GMT)

    Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling is still enjoying a mid-season break so misses out. Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has made two changes from the team which beat Wimbledon in the FA Cup as left-sided wing-back Alberto Moreno and striker Fabio Borini replace Javier Manquillo and Rickie Lambert. Mario Balotelli is on the bench.

    Sunderland make four changes from the FA Cup win over Leeds. Centre-back Wes Brown, midfielder Sebastian Larsson, winger Adam Johnson and striker Connor Wickham all return to the starting line-up.

    Sunderland: Pantilimon, Vergini, van Aanholt, O'Shea, Brown, Bridcutt, Larsson, Gomez, Johnson, Giaccherini, Wickham.

    Liverpool: Mignolet, Can, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno, Henderson, Lucas, Markovic, Gerrard, Borini, Coutinho.

  3. Join the debate at #bbcfootball

    Gorgeous George: Liverpool can afford to rest Raheem Sterling for a few weeks whilst he suns himself in the Caribbean! Farce.

    Tim Wozencroft: Quite pleased Sterling is getting a break, I'd rather him not ruined like Owen was -huge talent but burnout and injured.

    Chris Buckle: Fabio Borini starting is interesting, he was good for Sunderland but hasn't done much for Liverpool. Maybe today.

  4. Post update

    It seems to me that footballers are rested all the time - who knows what they get up to when they're given the week off?

    However, I'd perhaps offer one bit of advice to Raheem Sterling. When you're allowed to go on holiday in Jamaica in the middle of the football season, don't put pictures of yourself sunning it up on the internet.

  5. Join the debate at #bbcfootball

    Monty Madman: Have no issue with Raheem Sterling being rested BUT surely he should be watching his team mates and being part of the set up!

    Kolo Kenneth: Is Sterling's contract saga getting the better of the team?

    Ada: Better to have Sterling rested and ready to fire when Sturridge returns. Need a strong finish like last season.

  6. Post update

    What to make of that? Sir Alex Ferguson famously used to give members of his Manchester United squad a break around January, but the Sterling case seems a little different, especially considering Liverpool's current plight.

    Sunderland, meanwhile, make four changes. Full team news to come.

  7. BreakingTeam news

    Indeed, Raheem Sterling does not feature for Liverpool today. While he enjoys a mid-season break, Fabio Borini starts ahead of Mario Balotelli, who is on the bench. Steven Gerrard also starts.

  8. Join the debate at #bbcfootball

    Unique vantage points

    Ethan Kelly: If you snuck onto the roof of the hospital by the River you used to be able to watch Shrewsbury Town games at the Gay Meadow.

    Matthew: Used to sneak through a hole at the back of Erith & Belvedere FC's stadium. Got caught and became their ball boy.

    Ollie Moreton: Once watched a Stoke City game a few years ago after I climbed a tree outside the stadium so I could see the pitch.

  9. Where's Raheem?

    Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling has been posting pictures of himself on holiday in Jamaica.

    Manager Brendan Rodgers said he "always planned" to give the 20-year-old - who has played more minutes than any other outfield player in the Premier League this season - a break.

    Six Liverpool players have already been ruled out of the Sunderland trip.

    "It was always in the plan," Rodgers told the Liverpool Echo.

    "If we're going to maximise what we can get out of him, then he needs that bit of recovery time."

    Either Sterling is missing today's game, or there's a flight from Jamaica about to land at John Lennon Airport.

    Raheem Sterling Instagram picture from Jamaica
  10. Post update

    So, that's the scene set for the top four leagues in England, it's nearly time for the team news from the first Premier League game of the day, Liverpool's trip to Sunderland.

    Already, there's a story developing...

  11. Post update

    In League Two, the top two of Wycombe and Burton both play teams from the bottom half - York and Mansfield respectively.

    Hartlepool, the Football League's bottom club, attempt to bridge the 10-point gap to safety by hosting Cheltenham.

  12. Team news

    Ipswich v Derby (12:15 GMT)

    Midfielder Cole Skuse misses out through illness for Ipswich while Jay Tabb returns on the left wing. Connor Sammon is unavailable under the terms of his loan from Derby, and new signing Noel Hunt is on the substitutes bench.

    Derby are unchanged from their last Championship match, a 2-0 home win over Leeds, with new loan signing Darren Bent having to settle for a place on the substitutes bench.

    Ipswich: Bialkowski, Mings, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Murphy, McGoldrick, Anderson, Tabb, Hyam, Bishop. Subs. Gerken, Parr, S. Hunt, Bru, Ambrose, Bajner, N.Hunt

    Derby: Grant; Christie, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth; Eustace, Hendrick, Hughes; Ibe, Russell, Martin. Subs: Roos, Shotton, Mascarell, Bryson, Dawkins, Ward, Bent

  13. League One preview

    In League One, leaders Swindon don't play until Monday night, meaning Bristol City can go top with a draw against Notts County.

    It's third v sixth when Preston host Sheffield United, while Oldham, at the centre of a media storm this week, host Doncaster.

    At the bottom of the table, Crewe can move out of the drop zone if they beat Gillingham, who sit just above the relegation places.

  14. Post update

    Unique vantage points

    Here are some of your best suggestions from the BBC Match Of The Day Facebook site

    Barry Roberts: The hill behind the main stand at Colwyn Bay FC. You can see the whole pitch from there! It was handy when they gave us FC United fans a rubbish ticket allocation, and locked us out of the ground! About 1,500 FC fans (and a few cows) shared the vantage point!

    Mark Stevens: I used to live in a house where you could climb through a widow onto the bathroom roof and see into Exeter's St James park. It was a heavily restricted view to about only 10% of the pitch.

    Robyn Cooke: Watched Bangor City's title decider v TNS in 2011, from scaffolding of a house behind the ground. Could see 80% of the pitch.

  15. Championship preview

    That Bournemouth game is also significant for the arrival of new Norwich manager Alex Neil, the 33-year-old former player-manager of Hamilton Academical. Neil will be in stands today.

    Elsewhere, it's an important day at the other end of the table, with bottom-side Blackpool hosting third-bottom Millwall.

    And, at the Valley, Chris Hughton takes charge of Brighton in the league for the first time with their trip to Charlton.

  16. Can Ipswich go top?

    Ipswich v Derby (12:15 GMT)

    Ipswich Town

    The first action of the day is at Portman Road. And it's a big one. Second-placed Ipswich Town will go two points clear at the top of the Championship table - temporarily at least - if they defeat third-placed Derby County in the 12:15 GMT kick-off.

    The Tractor Boys have been ploughing their way up the table after an impressive unbeaten 11-match run, eight of which have been victories. They start the day one point behind leaders Bournemouth, who entertain Norwich at 15:00 GMT. Derby have been in decent form themselves and can go level on points with Bournemouth if they win.

    Mick McCarthy versus Steve McClaren, former Republic of Ireland boss against former England coach. It promises to be a lively affair.

  17. Post update

    Do you feel up to speed with what's coming up in the top flight? Let's take a peak at what's happening in the Football League.

  18. Text us on 81111

    Kevin: Far too cold for shopping. Sofa day with BBC live text, Radio 5 and tea and crumpets. Will Eden Hazard dazzle today?

  19. Post update

    For more on the Ched Evans debate, BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty has explored the 10 questions that football faces.

    You can read that here.

  20. Join the debate at #bbcfootball

    Unique vantage points

    David M Gullever: Once watched Bayern München playing - from the top of the Olympic tower - red ants against blue ants.

    M\CR22: On the toilet roof at the Dell August 1987. Southampton v Manchester United.

  21. Steve Bruce sticking up for Ched Evans

    West Brom v Hull (15:00 GMT)

    BBC Radio 5 live

    Hull City manager Steve Bruce

    Sunday Times football correspondent Jonathan Northcroft: "I don't get why he has to wade into this. He was trying to make sensible points but I don't see why he needed to say it ahead of a Premier League game."

  22. Bruce on Evans

    In case you missed it on Friday, this is what Steve Bruce said about Ched Evans, the convicted rapist who saw a move to Oldham collapse this week.

    "I might be upsetting people but there is a question of the rape and how he's been convicted by a jury.

    "When you look at the evidence, it is there for appeal.

    "It has divided opinion of course. When you look at the case in detail - and I don't think most people have really, because they have just seen Ched Evans as a convicted rapist - but when you look at the case and the evidence then certainly Ched has got a case."

    You can read the full story here

  23. Team news

    West Brom v Hull (15:00 GMT)

    West Brom head coach Tony Pulis has a near full-strength squad for his first Premier League game in charge.

    Craig Gardner should return after a calf injury, leaving Youssouf Mulumbu and Jonas Olsson as the only absentees.

    Hull's build-up has been overshadowed by manager Steve Bruce's comments on Ched Evans.

    Defenders Michael Dawson and James Chester are expected to be fit after respective hamstring and knee injuries.

    Nikica Jelavic is back after illness but Sone Aluko, Mohamed Diame, Gaston Ramirez, Andy Robertson and Liam Rosenior are all injured.

    Read the full match preview

  24. Join the debate at #bbcfootball

    Unique vantage points

    John Hamer: You used to be able to watch Blackburn Rovers from the hill behind the Riverside End.

    James Hopkinson: York City had a large tree outside overlooking ground. A lad used to climb it to watch until it got cut down.

  25. Team news

    Swansea v West Ham (15:00 GMT)

    Swansea will be without top scorer Wilfried Bony and Ki Sung-Yueng, who are both away on international duty.

    Jonjo Shelvey is banned and Jefferson Montero is still out with a hamstring injury, but new signings Nelson Oliveira and Matt Grimes are available.

    West Ham striker Diafra Sakho is ruled out with the back injury which forced him to miss the Africa Cup of Nations.

    Cheikhou Kouyate is away with Senegal, but Alex Song is available after retiring from international football.

    Read the full preview here

  26. Join the debate

    Unique vantage points

    Here are some of your best suggestions from the BBC Sport Facebook site

    Cam Kane Carter: When Bournemouth didn't have a 4th stand (when new stadium being built) I used to get there early and have a kick about on the Rec next door then climb the trees to see the game with brother.

    Michael Wilde: San Marino away from a muddy bank in the trees behind the goal. Got ourselves on telly!

    Edward Swales: Dumbarton from the walls of a castle.

  27. What's going on at Aston Villa?

    Leicester v Aston Villa (15:00 GMT)

    BBC Radio 5 live

    Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert

    Sunday Times football correspondent Jonathan Northcroft: "There's a negativity at Villa. Something has happened to Paul Lambert. Norwich were a goalscoring team when he was in charge at Carrow Road. The same thing happened to Alex McLeish when he went to Villa. I don't know if it's the pressure or the tension of being in charge of Villa."

  28. Team news

    Leicester v Aston Villa (15:00 GMT)

    New signing Mark Schwarzer could make his debut for bottom-club Leicester but Andrej Kramaric will not join in time to face Villa.

    Dean Hammond and Andy King are fit to return but Danny Drinkwater (groin) is a doubt, Esteban Cambiasso and Jeff Schlupp are injured and Riyad Mahrez is on Africa Cup of Nations duty.

    Villa, winless in five league games, are without Ron Vlaar, who has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a knee injury.

    Fabian Delph is banned but Gabriel Agbonlahor, Nathan Baker and Kieran Richardson could return from injuries.

    Read the full preview here

  29. Join the debate at #bbcfootball

    Unique vantage points

    Michael Hannaway: Derry City fans have been known to watch from the grave yard beside the stadium. Especially for the bigger games like PSG

  30. Will Wilfried Bony and Sergio Aguero work at Man City?

    Everton v Man City (15:00 GMT)

    BBC Radio 5 live

    Swansea City forward Wilfried Bony

    Manchester City are set to sign Swansea striker Bony for a fee of about £30m.

    Stoke City forward Jon Walters: I'd play Bony with Aguero. Bony doesn't get enough credit for how skilful and quick he is, I've never seen so many centre-halves bullied by him - he's a sheer brute. I'm surprised a team like Liverpool didn't go for him in the summer.

    Former Scotland winger Pat Nevin: "What's not to like about Bony and Aguero playing together? I wasn't an immediate convert to Bony when he first signed for Swansea. I thought his timing and heading were a mess. But he has very quickly become a player who looks the right fit.

    Sunday Times football correspondent Jonathan Northcroft: Swansea manager Garry Monk tells the story that in training he tried to push Bony off the ball. But Bony is so strong Monk ended up dislocating a finger. He's going to be a frightening signing for Manchester City.

  31. What's gone wrong with Romelu Lukaku?

    Everton v Man City (15:00 GMT)

    BBC Radio 5 live

    Everton forward Romelu Lukaku

    Everton striker Lukaku has scored only once in his last seven games.

    Former Everton winger Pat Nevin: "He doesn't work hard enough off the ball. I've been to two of Everton's last five games and there's a lot of walking about. I'm shocked by that. He might be offended if he heard me talk like this but he could be brilliant. He has to work. He scored the goal the other night but he only got decent in the second-half when he got kicked. Roberto Martinez should kick him and get him angry before he goes out! I just want more out of him. But he's not the only problem at Everton. They've got bigger problems."

  32. Team news

    Everton v Man City (15:00 GMT)

    Everton have lost seven, drawn two and won one of their last 10 games in all competitions, leading to speculation over the future of manager Roberto Martinez.

    Leighton Baines is fit after missing Tuesday's FA Cup tie against West Ham with a minor injury suffered on New Year's Day.

    Antolin Alcaraz returns from suspension but Sylvain Distin has a groin problem and joins a lengthy injury list.

    Joint-leaders City have captain Vincent Kompany available after overcoming a hamstring problem.

    Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko are also in the squad after a month out with knee and calf injuries respectively.

    Yaya Toure is unavailable, having flown to Equatorial Guinea to play in the Africa Cup of Nations.

    The last time City won a Premier League away match without him in their team was at Arsenal on 13 January 2013.

    Read the full match preview

  33. Join the debate at #bbcfootball

    Unique vantage points

    Jack Sanders: Was born in Chelsea and Westminster hospital so my parents could see the Chelsea game from the window.

    Nick Hebross: Lawson Tama stadium in Solomon Islands is on the coast. I watched Solomons v Vanuatu from a ship in the harbour.

  34. Newcastle's next manager?

    Chelsea v Newcastle (15:00 GMT)

    BBC Radio 5 live

    Ajax coach Frank De Boer

    Stoke City forward Jon Walters: "It would be a coup for Newcastle if they did get Frank De Boer from Ajax. He would fit in very nicely."

    Sunday Times football correspondent Jonathan Northcroft: "What Frank De Boer has done at Ajax is incredible. It is going to be fashionable for Premier League clubs to recruit Dutch coaches after Louis Van Gaal and Ronald Koeman. De Boer would certainly fit the Newcastle model.

    Former Scotland winger Pat Nevin: "I don't think Frank De Boer is going to happen."

  35. Team news

    Chelsea v Newcastle (15:00 GMT)

    Goalkeeper Tim Krul will replace Jak Alnwick in the starting line-up for managerless Newcastle after proving his fitness in a practice match on Thursday.

    Leading goalscorer Papiss Cisse and midfielder Cheick Tiote are both on Africa Cup of Nations duty.

    Chelsea - who are level at the top of the Premier League with Manchester City in terms of points, goal difference and goals scored - have no fresh injury concerns.

    Thibaut Courtois, John Terry, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas are among those expected to return after being rested against Watford in the FA Cup.

    Read the full match preview

  36. Text us on 81111

    Russell: I guess the Lampard story proves Arsene Wenger was right. The "loan" was to circumvent Financial Fair Play rules. This shows what a joke they are.

    Graeme: Blowing a gale here in Sunderland. Potential nightmare for the keepers. Especially shots outside the box.

  37. Post update

    Burnley v QPR (15:00 GMT)

    BBC Radio 5 live

    Burnley manager Sean Dyche

    What does a Premier League manager do on the eve of a six-pointer at the bottom of the table? Watch a load of Breaking Bad DVDs, of course. Burnley boss Sean Dyche revealed on BBC Radio 5 live on Friday night that he was wading through the American crime drama to help take his mind off what is a huge game against QPR.

    On the game itself, Dyche added: "Most people thought we'd need snookers by Christmas but we are still in shake up. Form wise we're in a good position and we have a bit more freedom. Most people had written us off but we know that we need to get more points on the board."

  38. Team news

    Burnley v QPR (15:00 GMT)

    Burnley could be unchanged for a seventh straight league game if Jason Shackell and Dean Marney recover from injury and illness respectively.

    Fit-again striker Sam Vokes is pressing for a start after scoring against Tottenham in the FA Cup.

    QPR could give a debut to forward Mauro Zarate, who has joined on loan from West Ham.

    Midfielder Sandro is still short of fitness, but several key players who were rested last weekend will return.

    Read the full match preview

  39. Join the debate at #bbcfootball

    Unique vantage points

    Paddy Diamond: While my wife was in labour, I watched Oldham vs Brighton from the maternity ward window.

    Peter Collins: Aldershot Town; Can watch from the train as it goes past the ground. Drivers usually slow down as well!

    James Keeling: For Manchester United fans their unique vantage point would be sitting inside Old Trafford wouldn't it?

  40. Team news

    Sunderland v Liverpool (12:45 GMT)

    Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole is still struggling with a groin injury, while Jack Rodwell will be given a fitness test on a muscle strain.

    Ricky Alvarez and Emanuele Giaccherini are fit again but Sebastian Coates is ineligible against his parent club.

    Liverpool's Adam Lallana has a calf injury, and Kolo Toure is now on international duty with the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations.

    Joe Allen, Glen Johnson, Jon Flanagan and Brad Jones all remain sidelined.

    Read the full match preview

  41. Post update

    Eight Premier League games (an unusual amount for a Saturday), which means plenty of information to feed you with.

    After all, you've probably got an accumulator to compile.

    You want team news? I'll give you team news. We begin with the early kick-off.

  42. Coming up

    So, we've snooped around the papers, it's time to consider what we've got to look forward to on this first day of the weekend.

    No dressing it up, no hype, just the fixtures...

    Sunderland v Liverpool (12:45)

    Burnley v QPR

    Chelsea v Newcastle

    Everton v Man City

    Leicester v Aston Villa

    Swansea v West Ham

    West Brom v Hull

    Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur (17:30)

  43. Text us on 81111

    Unique vantage points

    Luke: Being a Coventry City fan, watching my team play at the Ricoh has been a unique vantage point this season.

  44. In the papers

    Want more? Check out these snippets from the press.

    Manchester United will offer De Gea a £140,000-a-week contract to convince him to turn down any interest from the European champions. (Daily Star)

    Arsenal striker Yaya Sanogo, 21, is set to sign for Crystal Palace on loan in January, turning down a rival offer from Hull. (Metro)

    Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp has backed owner Tony Fernandes's decision to restrict the QPR manager to loan signings in the January transfer window. (Daily Mail)

    If you're thirst for football tittle-tattle is still not quenched, head to today's Gossip Column.

  45. In the papers

    Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez at Liverpool

    Elsewhere, former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has described Steven Gerrard as "irreplaceable" in an exclusive interview in today's Daily Mirror.

    The Uruguayan praises the impact the former England captain has had on his career as Gerrard prepares to exit Anfield for the United States and LA Galaxy at the end of the season.

    "There are a small number of players in the world that are irreplaceable, and Steven is one of them. Not just irreplaceable as a player, but also as a captain, and what he represents for Liverpool," Suarez said.

  46. Text us on 81111

    Paul Rogers: After a rubbish first week back at work out the way all I am doing is crashing out in bed all day listening to all the football.

    Elliott: Reading the BBC Sport page whilst at work and anticipating a few shock results in the Premier League to make up for the disappointment of no cupsets last week.

  47. In the papers

    Which conveniently brings me to this morning's newspapers (this live text isn't just thrown together at the last minute, you know).

    Many of today's back pages are dedicated to Lampard and the full details behind the deal he signed at the start of the season with Manchester City.

    The Sun along with the Daily Star, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and The Times all have extensive coverage on the details surrounding his decision to delay joining MLS side New York City until July.

    Saturday's back page of The Sun
  48. Post update

    And, I've already touched on this, but are you keeping up with the Frank Lampard-Manchester City-New York City shemozzle?

    As we understand it, talk of Lampard being on loan from City to City was wrong - his deal in the Big Apple never actually began.

    If he signed for Man City on the basis he would head for New York this month, then he's since changed his mind. What we do know, is that he'll be in England until the end of this season.

    Oh, and by my rough calculations, if it wasn't for Lampard's goals, City would be seven points behind Chelsea right now.

  49. Unique vantage points to watch a match

    BBC Radio 5 live

    Bristol City fan Ben Swift

    And, if that's not enough to get you thinking, have a look at this.

    Heard the one about the fella who watches Bristol City from the roof of his shed? No? Well, check out feature with The Eastend Shedman on the BBC Sport website.

    So today, as part of our weekly link-up with The Danny Baker Show on BBC Radio 5 live, we're asking you for your 'unique vantage points to watch the match'.

    Get involved this morning by tweeting us, via #bbcfootball, by sending a text to 81111 or post to BBC Sport's Facebook and Google+ pages.

  50. Get involved

    But, before we get into that, let's set our stall out for the day.

    If you want to get in touch with this informative and entertaining live text over the next 11 hours or so, tweet using the hashtag #bbcfootball, text 81111, or head to either of the BBC Sport Facebook or Google+ pages.

    What are you looking forward to on this first Saturday of Premier League action in 2015? Maybe you're travelling the length of the country to follow your team? Perhaps you'll be doing little more than dragging yourself from bed to sofa, just to follow the football? Either way, let me know.

  51. Post update

    Already, we've had the the FA Cup third round. No major shocks, but the sight of a 16-stone man balletically dancing around the Liverpool midfield on prime-time TV was more than enough.

    Today, we have the return of the Premier League, with two teams so evenly matched at the top, they can only be separated by alphabetical order.

    If on-the-pitch stuff isn't your bag, then the hoopla of the end of the transfer window will soon arrive into town like that carnival that plonks itself on the supermarket car park.

    And what on Earth is going on with Frank Lampard?

    Adebayo Akinfenwa
  52. Post update

    Because, football can, as the Arctic Monkeys put it, "cure my January blues".

    With turkey, wrapping paper, sherry, presents and the Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas Special all a distant memory (thankfully, in some cases), football is the gift that keeps on giving.

  53. Post update

    Yep, back to the grind. Counting down the seconds to the weekend.

    Tick, tock.

    Waiting for Saturday football.

  54. Post update

    Let's be honest, January can be pretty dreary.

    The excitement of Christmas is over. It's cold. Money's tight. And let's not get started on that first week back at work....