Most eyes were be one the Reebok Stadium, Craven Cottage and St James’s Park as there were consequences at the bottom and in the Champions League chase.
So, after the early 0-0, on we go to the three o’clocks in search of goals and drama. And we may well get a bit of the latter since four of the games have a lot on the line: relegation and Champions League. Wigan can all but secure survival at Fulham, Bolton badly need a win to get back out of the relegation zone, Blackburn need to save their season arrest an awful run, Newcastle can take advantage of that slip by both Arsenal and Chelsea.
Villa Park teams
Aston Villa: Given, Cuellar, Collins, Baker, Lichaj, Albrighton, Herd, Ireland, N’Zogbia, Agbonlahor, Weimann. Subs: Guzan, Hutton, Warnock, Heskey, Bannan, Gardner, Carruthers.
Sunderland: Mignolet, O’Shea, Turner, Kilgallon, Bardsley, Larsson, Gardner, Colback, McClean, Sessegnon, Bendtner. Subs: Westwood, Bridge, Campbell, Vaughan, Ji, Meyler, Kyrgiakos.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)
Teams at Ewood Park
Blackburn: Robinson, Orr, Dann, Givet, Marcus Olsson, Formica, Dunn, Lowe, Pedersen, Hoilett, Yakubu. Subs: Kean, Martin Olsson, Modeste, Petrovic, Nzonzi, Rochina, Goodwillie.
Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Ryan Bennett, Ward, Drury, Elliott Bennett, Howson, Surman, Hoolahan, Vaughan, Holt. Subs: Steer, Johnson, Morison, Pilkington, Fox, Wilbraham, Naughton.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
Teams at Craven Cottage
Fulham: Schwarzer, Hughes, Senderos, Hangeland, John Arne Riise, Diarra, Murphy, Duff, Dembele, Dempsey, Pogrebnyak. Subs: Stockdale, Baird, Johnson, Kasami, Etuhu, Frei, Briggs.
Wigan: Al Habsi, Boyce, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa, Beausejour, McArthur, McCarthy, Gomez, Di Santo, Moses. Subs: Pollitt, Gohouri, Ben Watson, Maloney, Sammon, Jones, Diame.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
The teams at St James’ Park
Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Ba, Cisse. Subs: Elliot, Perch, Gosling, Ryan Taylor, Best, Shola Ameobi, Ferguson.
Stoke: Begovic, Shotton, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Wilkinson, Palacios, Whelan, Etherington, Walters, Crouch. Subs: Sorensen, Jones, Fuller, Pennant, Whitehead, Upson, Jerome.
Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands)
The teams at the Reebok
Bolton: Bogdan, Steinsson, Ream, Wheater, Ricketts, Eagles, Mark Davies, Miyaichi, Reo-Coker, Petrov, Kevin Davies. Subs: Jaaskelainen, Alonso, Knight, Klasnic, Ngog, Sordell, Vela.
Swansea: Vorm, Rangel, Caulker, Williams, Taylor, Sigurdsson, Britton, Allen, Dyer, Graham, Sinclair. Subs: Tremmel, Routledge, Monk, McEachran, Lita, Moore, Bessone.
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
GOAL! Bolton 0-1 Swansea
Bad news for Bolton! Scott Sinclair curls in a wonderful individual goal!
Blackburn might have had a penalty despite Norwich’s better start. meanwhile, Fulham having the better of it against Wigan.
GOAL! Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Swansea
Bolton come straight back into as Chris Eagles just about stumbles the ball into the net from Mark Davies’s pass.
GOAL! Newcastle United 1-0 Stoke City
All happening now as Newcastle continue the keeping up the pressure in the Champions League chase. Papiss Cisse hits the bar but Yohann Cabaye is on hand to slot home.
GOAL! Newcastle United 2-0 Stoke City
Another fantastic goal for Newcastle. Another fantastic win in story. And another fantastic contribution from Cabaye. He threads a glorious through ball for Cisse to finish. They just might do this!
That was Cisse’s 11th goal in 11 games.
Wigan have been more restrained at Craven Cottage than they were at the Emirates.This is the interesting way psychology works in such situations: now that Wigan have something to lose, they’re perhaps not as ready to play the football that might have secured safety. Long way to go yet, obviously.
Yakbu smacks the post against Norwich! Blackburn finally starting to liven up in a game they really must win.
GOAL! Blackburn 1-0 Norwich
And they have livened up! Formica volleys in Pedersen’s superb cross! Big goal for Rovers! They’re not finished yet!
Real exhibition stuff from Newcastle as Hatem Ben Arfa illustrates his full range of tricks. This is remarkable. Many thought they’d collapse but, as it stands, they’re cruising into the Champions League places.
That’s half-time everywhere.
And the second halves are under way…
GOAL! Blackburn Rovers 2-0 Norwich City
Real hope for Blackburn! A real screamer for Hoilett! He picks the ball up on the wing, beats his man and smashes a bending strike into the top corner! Exceptional!
Agbonlahor, meanwhile, should have scored for Aston Villa. That would have eased an increasing amount of pressure on them.
Cisse has a goal chalked off for offside. Marginal call. Newcastle could end up with four or five here.
GOAL! Fulham 0-1 Wigan
The great escape keeps on going. Emerson Boyce smashes in an effort from outside the box. Great strike!
GOAL! Newcastle 3-0 Stoke City
Oh Newcastle! Another screamer! Yohann Cabaye spots Begovic off his line in a beauty. Incredible.
GOAL! Fulham 1-1 Wigan
it’s all suddenly livened up at the Cottage! Pogrebnyak immediately equalises!
Meanwhile, James McClean has missed an absolute sitter! Sessegnon put it on a plate from point-blank range but someone the winger put it over! Still 0-0 at Villa Park.
Wigan get lucky! Pogbrebnyak hits the bar but the ball – seemingly – bounces off the line and out. Hard to see whether it was over it.
Nicklas Bendtner has a goal disallowed for offside. It’s incorrect though. He was on. Villa breathe again.
Pogbrebnyak hits the frame of the goal again. Wigan on the edge here, as they come close to a result that may well secure survival.
Bolton throw on Klasnic and he almost forces a winner. Still level at the Reebok Stadium though. This is, as Arsene Wenger would say, “money time”.
GOAL! Fulham 2-1 Wigan
It was a goal that was coming! Philippe Senderos nods in from a corner to put Wigan back into the mix a bit.
Full-time at St James’ and Newcastle are into the Champions League places… pending Spurs’ trip to QPR in an hour.
All over at Villa Park too, and Alex McLeish’s team still aren’t safe. They’ve only won once in their last 12 and have Bolton at home next.
Full-time at Ewood Park and a massive fillip for Rovers. It’s very competitive again at the bottom. They’ve leapfrogged Bolton who could only draw at home to Swansea.
And that’s it. Wigan in a slight bit more danger, Blackburn haul themselves up.it’s still quite tempestuous down there though. At the top, meanwhile, Newcastle are the only team showing anything like form. We’ll be back shortly with a game affecting both ends of the table – QPR-Spurs – and, of course, the big one in Spain. Hasta luego.