Well, Roberto Mancini has already thrown in the towel and admitted his focus is the FA Cup and staving off Chelsea and Tottenham for snapping at their second placed heels, but as the Premier League has the lucrative Asian cash cow, it looks like we’re going to play out the remainder of the season anyway.
Manchester City host Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium and although the gaffer has given up the ghost of defending the league title, they need to keep winning to avoid the embarrassment of being considered worse than a Rafa Benitez team. On the other side, Alan Pardew would like a positive result, partially to limit the not-yet-evaporated threat of the Magpies going down, but mainly for the boosting of his own ego.
It should be an interesting afternoon and I’ll be here to bring you all the latest goings-on and sarcastic comments you need to get you through the day. And if I’ve got time and none of the other 3pm kick-offs are particularly exciting, I should be able to keep you up to date with what’s happening elsewhere.
Arsenal 4 – 1 Reading
Manchester City 4 – 0 Newcastle United
Southampton 2 – 1 Chelsea
Swansea 1 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur
West Ham United 3 – 0 West Bromwich
Wigan Athletic 1 – 0 Norwich City
4.53pm: Mulumbu has just got sent off for West Brom. This is a comedy sending off. I’ll try to get you the GIF!
4.50pm: FULL TIME! It’s all over at the Etihad. City rack up a comfortable win that they fully deserve. The strains of Roll With It play as they walk off with a victory they had sealed about half an hour ago.
4.46pm: GOAL! West Brom grab a consolation against West Ham. Graham Dorrans with a penalty that won’t feel much like consolation as they’re losing 3-1.
4.44pm: OFFSIDE/PENALTY SHOUT/WTF WAS THAT? Strange one. It looks like it’s a penalty all day long as Yaya Toure is taken out of it in the middle of a one-two. The ball runs to Dzeko, who rightly gets flagged offside, but he wouldn’t have got the ball if Toure wasn’t poleaxed. Luckily it won’t matter today, but it’s another example of woeful officiating in the Premier League.
4.40pm: SUB! Silva goes off and Scott Sinclair comes on. Almost right way he has a super shot and Elliot dives full stretch to keep it out.
4.39pm: GOAL! 1-0 WIGAN. Kone gives the Latics the lead but I’m not watching it so I have no further details.
4.38pm: It’s 3-0 to West Ham and Andy Carroll just scored a bit of a cracker. Again, this is not an April Fools joke.
4.36pm: Newcastle force Joe Hart into a bit of work that isn’t taking a goal kick. Gosling has a shot from around the penalty spot, but it’s straight at City’s scalp-ily troubled keeper.
4.34pm: Penalty for Arsenal. GOAL! Mikel Arteta slots it beyond Taylor to put this one to bed
4.31pm: SUB! Javi Garcia comes on and Vincent Kompany comes off for a rest.
Newcastle also make a change, with Cabaye making way and Bigirimana – which is terrible news for my spell-checker.
4.29pm: GOAL! SWANSEA get themselves back into it against Spurs. Michu reminds us that he didn’t stop playing in February to make it 2-1 to Spurs.
4.27pm: GOAL! 4-0 CITY! It’s turning into a spanking for Newcastle and Yaya Toure powers forward and thumps a shot by Elliot at the near post.
Meanwhile we’ve a SUB! A limpy Nasri comes off and the formerly limpy Sergio Aguero returns from injury.
4.25pm: GOAL! Maybe that wasn’t the white flag. Reading score through a stooping header from Hal Robson-Kanu.
4.22pm: Samir Nasri is on the receiving end of a pretty poor tackle from red card waiting to happen, Jonas Gutierrez. He limps back on and there’s no punishment for the Newcastle player for some reason.
Elsewhere, it’s 3-0 to Arsenal thanks to a goal from Giroud that has a lot to do with Reading flying the white flag.
4.21pm: SUB! Gouffran comes off for Newcastle and Dan Golsing is given the chance to strut his stuff in this hiding to nothing.
4.16pm: Elliot with another save. He stands up tall and parries a Dzeko shot over the crossbar. City look like they can run riot whenever the mood strikes them.
4.14pm: GOAL! 3-0 City. Vincent Kompany gets on the end of a shot and steers the ball beyond Elliot. Not the prettiest goal of the day, but good work from the captain and surely City have all three points in the bag now.
4.11pm: City have finally woken up from their half-time nap. They put some pressure on Newcastle for the first time in the half. It comes to nowt, but it’s better than they had been doing since the break.
4.06pm: It looked like City were strolling their way to victory, but Newcastle have been much better since half time. Cabaye fizzes a shot just wide of Joe Hart’s goal and in general they’re looking far more dangerous than we saw in the first half.
4.05pm: GOAL! 2-0 Arsenal. Cazorla with the latest excellent goal we’ve seen so far today.
4.02pm: SUB! A half-time change for Newcastle. James Perch comes on and Gabriel Obertan will play no further part in the game – not that he played much of a part in the game when he was on the pitch. City kick off the second half.
3.47pm: GOAL! 2-0 City! David Silva scores a lovely goal that couldn’t be more David Silva if it came with a slightly shaggy, but still quite neat haircut. He fires a shot low and hard past Elliot from the left hand side of the box after some tidy passing on the edge of the penalty area.
That takes us to half time with City very much in control and deservedly so after the last 20 minutes of pressure.
3.45pm: ANOTHER GREAT SAVE! Dzeko doesn’t take long to get over his penalty denial disappointment and gets a shot away from about 8 yards out. Elliot gets finger tips to it to send it out for a corner.
3.42pm: Tevez has a shot from the edge of the box and goes both slightly high and wide. Before that, Dzeko has a penalty shout turned down that could easily be given when Gtuierrez thuds into his back as they compete for a header. I say ‘they’ compete, but really it was Dzeko who was doing most of the competing, with his opponent doing more of the fouling.
3.40pm: GOAL! City finally take the lead! Gael Clichy rolls a cross into the six yard box and Carlos Tevez gets on the end of it. No more than City deserve and pretty much all Elliot’s time-wasting deserved.
3.38pm: BALL IN THE NET BUT NO GOAL ALERT! David Silva sticks the ball in the back of the net for City, but it’s disallowed because he’s miles offside. It’s especially frustrating because he took it off the toe of Zabaleta who was standing beside him, but crucially, was comfortably onside.
3.37pm: GREAT SAVE! City have started to take control and Clichy fires a shot from about 10 yards out. Elliot stays big and gets a strong hand to it. The Newcastle keeper also gets a talking to from the referee for his not very subtle time-wasting.
3.34pm: GOAL! That didn’t last long. Southampton take the lead once again against Chelsea and it’s thanks to a stunner of a free-kick from Rickie Lambert or however he spells Ricky.
3.32pm: GOAL! Chelsea equalise. John Terry with a free header from a corner.
3.29pm: YELLOW CARD! Cabaye sees yellow for a tackle that wasn’t all that bad.
David Silva takes the free and his effort goes narrowly wide, but not narrowly enough to ever really look dangerous.
3.28pm: GOAL! 2-0 to West Ham. Gary O’Neil with a cracker from the edge of the box that may or may not have been deflected. It looked very pretty either way.
3.26pm: YELLOW CARD! Anita goes into the book for a poor tackle on Silva. City have a free-kick on the edge of the Newcastle box.
Tevez puts the free-kick over, but in a far less embarrassing way than what Gareth Barry did.
3.23pm: GOAL! 1-0 to Southampton. Jay Rodriguez scores.
Back at the Etihad, Papiss Cisse hits a combination of the post and Joe Hart as City live on the edge. City go down the other end where Gareth Barry blazes the ball over the crossbar from about five yards out with pretty much the entire goal to aim at.
3.21pm: GOAL! Gareth Bale with another cracker to put Spurs 2-0 up. He lashes the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box. If you’re not a fan of the Garth Bale love-in, it might be worth your while living as a hermit for the rest of the bank holiday weekend.
3.16pm: GOAL! West Ham take the lead against West Brom. Andy Carroll powers a header into the net. No, this isn’t an early April Fools gag.
3.14pm: Wow! Gervinho’s first name is Yoa. I did not know or indeed care about that.
3.12pm: It’s Joe Hart’s weakest moment since his Head and Shoulders commercial. He scuffs a clearance straight to Newcastle, but they get all ‘rabbit in the headlights’ on it and waste the chase.
Why would anyone be on the ground rolling around injured for an itchy scalp? Even Gareth Bale would be embarrassed by that level of simulation.
3.11pm: GOAL! Gervinho puts Arsenal a(fore)head against Reading.
3.08pm: More pressure from City. Edin Dzeko does well on the wing, gets into the penalty area near the byline, but his attempt to pick out Carlos Tevez is stopped by Elliot in the Mapgies’ goal.
3.06pm: City are starting to flex some muscle and Newcastle start to creek. They combine to fizz and cross across the Newcastle penalty area, but no-one gets on the end of it.
GOAL! Spurs take the lead at Swansea. Jan Vertonghen combines with Bale for a delightful effort. It’s stunning stuff from Spurs, mainly because it goes against their recent tactics of giving Bale the ball and expecting him to to everything.
3.03pm: Slow start at the Etihad. All we’ve established so far is that it’s hard to tell the difference between the jerseys when the players stand on the sunny side of the pitch.
3pm: After a moment of silence for City’s recently deceased title aspirations, the game gets underway. Newcastle kick off.
2.58pm: They’re out on the pitch at the Etihad and there’s nothing else of interest to report. Unless you want to hear about Manchester City’s ‘guess whose boots these are?’ they were running on Twitter. I think they were Aguero’s.
2.37pm: It’s over at the Stadium of Light and it’s confirmed that somehow this Manchester United team has amassed an 18 point lead at the top of the table!! They win 1-0 thanks to Titus Bramble being Titus Bramble. I would like to tell you they were incredibly jammy, didn’t deserve their win and the Black Cats made them work hard for it, but that would be a lie.
Sunderland offered very little and although they penned United back for a bit in the second half, created basically nothing. They’d look like real relegation candidates if it wasn’t for the fact there are a lot of other teams looking like real relegation candidates at the moment.
2.35pm: The Manchester City account has tweeted this photo of the Newcastle players waiting to go out on the pitch for their warm-up. Or waiting beneath a flyover to mug someone, I can’t tell:
— Manchester City FC (@MCFC) March 30, 2013
2.28pm: Largely because he’s got a lot more free time on his hands these days, we asked Andy Gray to preview this weekend’s Premier League matches. And here’s what he told us.
2.19pm: Sorry, when I was talking about City’s attacking threat, I completely forgot to mention Gareth Barry. Obviously, he’s been in fine goalscoring form this season:
2.07pm: TEAM NEWS!
Yes, it’s the part of the live text commentary so exciting it’s needs capital letters, an exclamation mark AND underlining. The teams are in for today’s game and at least throwing in the towel has meant Mancini has named an attacking line-up. Tevez, Dzeko, Silva, Nasri and Yaya Toure all start.
Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Yaya Toure, Barry, Nasri, Silva, Tevez, Dzeko
The Magpies are missing a few through injury, but they’ll still ask a few questions of City. Papiss Cisse leads the line.
Elliot, Simpson, Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Gutierrez, Anita, Cabaye, Obertan, Sissoko, Gouffran, Cisse