Midweek football, bloody hell. After the shocks among last night's fixtures (Everton beating Manchester City, man handcuffing himself to a goalpost in protest at Ryanair, Andy Carroll scoring a goal) let's hope that tonight's games in the Premier League and beyond are equally dramatic.
Tonight's Premier League fixtures
Aston Villa v QPR (7.45pm)
Djibril Cisse could make his QPR debut as his international clearance has been received in time while Villa go in search of their first home win in over three months.
Bolton Wanderers v Arsenal (8pm)
Arsenal have lost their last three in the league but Arsène Wenger knows a win would see his side move to within a point of fourth-placed Chelsea, who drew last night at Swansea. Bolton have been in decent form beating Liverpool 3-1 last league outing at the Reebok.
Fulham v West Bromwich Albion (8pm)
Roy Hodgson travels to Craven Cottage to face his former side hoping West Brom can build on their win at Stoke last time out, which was their first win of 2012. Moussa Dembélé could be available for Martin Jol, Bobby Zamora has high-tailed it to W12 while Pavel Pogrebnyak and Ryan Williams were not signed in time to play tonight.
Sunderland v Norwich City (8pm)
A repeat of the 1985 Milk Cup final - otherwise known as the Barry Venison Final - also sees Martin O'Neill face his former side. Sunderland have four wins in their last six league games while Norwich are unbeaten in four.
Blackburn Rovers v Newcastle United (8pm)
Steve Kean seems so determined to stay on the wrong side of the Blackburn fans that he has gone about turning Rovers into a fairly decent team just to spite those who say he isn't up to the job. At least that's how it looks. Victory tonight, coupled with some other results going there way, could see Blackburn move out of the bottom three. But don't crack out the chicken wings just yet, first they must overcome a Newcastle side who were thrashed at Fulham in their last league outing and beaten at Brighton in the cup.
Tonight's Championship fixture
Leicester City v Middlesbrough (7.45pm)
Middlesbrough will hope to build on their impressive performance at the Stadium of Light in the cup with a victory which would move them back to the play-off positions. Leicester can't afford a defeat which would see them squinting their eyes while saying "I think that's them over there" as they attempt to stay in touch with the top six .
Tonight's Scottish Division Two fixture
Arbroath v Stirling (7.45pm)
I probably won't mention this very much.
7.03pm: The first bit of team news has come through for tonight's only 7.45pm kick off in the Premier League and Mark Hughes has named three new signings - Djibril Cisse, Nedum Onuoha and Taye Taiwo - in the QPR starting XI. Robbie Keane and Charles N'Zogbia start for Villa but Gabriel Agbonlahor misses out entirely with hamstring knack.
Aston Villa: Given; Hutton, Cuellar, Dunne, Warnock; Clark, Petrov; Ireland, Keane, N'Zogbia; Bent.
Subs: Guzan, Bannan, Weimann, Baker, Gardner, Heskey, Lichaj.
QPR: Kenny; Young, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Taiwo; Mackie, Barton, Derry, Wright-Phillips; Hulse, Cisse.
Subs: Cerny, Hill, Hall, Smith, Ephraim, Macheda, Balanta.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)
7.24pm: News has come through that over 50 people have died following crowd trouble during and Al Masry v Al Ahly game in Port Said, Egypt. That's absolutely horrific news, obviously, and I'll bring you more information as and when it comes through.
7.28pm: Some more team news from tonight's Premier League games.
Bolton v Arsenal
Bolton: Bogdan; Steinsson, Knight, Wheater, Ricketts; Eagles, Reo-Coker, Muamba, Petrov; Mark Davies; Ngog.
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Sanli, Kevin Davies, Klasnic, Pratley, Boyata, Riley.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Ramsey, Song, Walcott, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Van Persie.
Subs: Fabianski, Rosicky, Park, Henry, Arshavin, Benayoun, Coquelin.
Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)
Fulham v West Brom
Fulham: Stockdale; Kelly, Hangeland, Senderos, John Arne Riise; Murphy, Sidwell; Davies, Ruiz Duff; Dempsey.
Subs: Etheridge, Baird, Kasami, Gecov, Hughes, Frei, Trotta.
West Brom: Foster; Tamas, McAuley, Olsson, Shorey; Cox,
Morrison, Mulumbu, Dorrans; Fortune, Odemwingie.
Subs: Fulop, Tchoyi, Reid, Allan, Dawson, Mantom, Thorne.
Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)
Blackburn v Newcastle
Blackburn: Robinson; Lowe, Dann, Givet, Olsson, Hoilett, Dunn, Nzonzi, Pedersen, Petrovic, Modeste.
Subs: Bunn, Formica, Slew, Rochina, Vukcevic, Hanley, Henley.
Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Ben Arfa, Guthrie, Ryan Taylor, Gutierrez, Best, Shola Ameobi.
Subs: Elliot, Lovenkrands, Abeid, Perch, Gosling, Obertan, Ferguson.
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
Sunderland v Norwich
Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Turner, O'Shea, Richardson, Larsson, Gardner, Colback, McClean, Sessegnon, Campbell.
Subs: Westwood, Bridge, Wickham, Ji, Meyler, Elmohamady, Lynch.
Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Ayala, Whitbread, Naughton, Johnson, Crofts, Surman, Hoolahan, Holt, Morison.
Subs: Steer, Jackson, Pilkington, Fox, Bennett, Wilbraham, Ward.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
7.38pm: While Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres duke it out for the worst signing of the last January
transfer window (Torres currently ahead on points) who will take the price this year? Cisse, Zamora, Louis Saha?
7.50pm: We're already underway at Villa Park where Alan Hutton has played a beautiful, enticing cross (yes, that Alan Hutton) which evades Darren Bent in the centre and Charles N'Zogbia, arriving at the back post, sees his shot blocked by Luke Young.
7.52pm: Here are some of the details of the horrific disaster in Egypt where, according to Reuters, more than 50 people have died following crowd trouble during the Al Masry v Al Ahly game.
7.55pm: Goal in the Championship and it's David Nugent who has opened the scoring in the King Power Stadium. Leicester City 1-0 Middlesbrough.
7.57pm: Goal!!!! Aston Villa 0-1 QPR. Guess who? Djibril Cisse has made an immediate impact with a terrific strike on his debut. Villa had been well on top but that's exactly why Mark Hughes wanted Cisse - it's a goal out of nothing. I don't even think he's been flagged offside yet either.
7.59pm: Djibril Cisse has now scored on his debut for Liverpool, Sunderland and QPR (a hat doff in the direction of Opta Joe for that stat). He could have had another but Given easily saved his acrobatic volley. Moments before Darren Bent twisted and turned on the edge of the QPR area but Paddy Kenny got his (fairly sizeable) body behind Bent's left-footed shot. "Master vs apprentice with O'Neill and Lambert at Sunderland tonight," writes Charles Marshall. "Master 2-0 Apprentice with Craig Gardner on the scoresheet. You heard it here first."
8.02pm: Another goal at the King Power Stadium (is that the worst stadium name in the UK? Not including the Sports Direct Arena, obviously). Middlesbrough have equalised through Scott McDonald. C Sharples, who I can only assume is the Gloucester rugby player, writes: "Apart from Phil Dowd it's a "Red Rose Ref" night tonight." They must be a real stickler for the rule in Lancashire.
8.07pm: Sunderland have started brightly at the Stadium of Light and Seb Larsson might have opened the scoring but skewed his shot wide. I said I wouldn't mention it much but how can I ignore it? Steven Doris has given Abroath the lead in the big Scottish Division Two match against Stirling.
8.11pm: "How about a little respect for Robbie Keane?" says David Fallon. "He's linking up the play like connect 4 and his holiday in L.A doesn't seem to have shaved any of his sharpeness. Almost, almost makes Villa look like a fluid side." He's just clipped a ball over the top for Stephen Ireland to run on to but Paddy Kenny came and claimed at the second attempt. How's that for respect?
8.12pm: Goal at Ewood Park! Blackburn 0-1 Newcastle. Alan Pardew's side have taken the lead. Blackburn gave away possession carelessly, Leon Best played it to Ryan Taylor whose shot deflected off Scott Dann and past Robinson.
8.14pm: Goal at Villa Park. Aston Villa 0-2 QPR. It's a quite ridiculous own goal from Stephen Warnock. QPR debutant Taye Taiwo swings in a cross from the left but it's far too deep but, rather than play the percentages, Warnock tries to cushion a header to Shay Given but gets it all wrong and plants the ball in the far corner. That really is ludicrous. Make sure to catch it on Match of the Day or on the internet or wherever it is that you kids watch your football these days.
8.18pm: It's all Arsenal at the Reebok but they've yet to make the breakthrough. On that note, David Flynn writes: "Has anyone else noticed that nothing good Theo Walcott does on a football pitch is intentional? Ball comes off his shin, defender misjudges a ball or falls over, a long ball to him is massively overhit but his ridiculous speed allows him to retrieve it, nothing that involves any actual skill. Its beyond me what Arsene sees in him. Or maybe the next best choice Arshavin, in which case i can fully
understand." Don't be harsh on poor little Theo, David. He's only ickle. After all, a grown man wouldn't have this as their birthday cake, would they?
8.21pm: "Goal of the season," says Paul Merson. It's Sunderland 1-0 Norwich and it's Fraizer Campbell who has got it. Two in two games following an 18-month injury lay-off. Merse compares it to something Matt le Tissier would score and he's not wrong. Not 100% right either, but not wrong "Although Carroll and Torres have been only slightly better than a dead duck, and slightly worst than a dog chasing a ball around a park. I feel that Andrey Arshavin has avoided the 'Worst January Transfer Buy' tag for a while now," says Matthew Franks. "Really the only domestic justification for avoiding the cold grasp of such a title is once, on what may now as well be grainy old camera footage, is he scored four goals at Anfield."
8.25pm: Theo Walcott has missed a sitter moments after David Ngog missed when one-on-one with Szczesny. Walcott's was the real gilt-edged chance - he only had Bogdan to beat in goal which makes his miss even worse. "Theo probably didn't mean to have so cool a birthday cake, the chef probably screwed up and it just happened to turn out like that," says David Flynn.
8.29pm: Goal at the Stadium of Light and it's another brilliant Sunderland goal. Sessegnon picks the ball up in the centre circle, nutmegs his marker before spreading the ball wide to Campbell. He pings a cross into the centre where Sessegnon doesn't even have to break stride to plant a header past Ruddy. Sunderland 2-0 Norwich. "I don't know what Martin O'Neill puts into the water, but since he arrived virtually every goal we have scored has been an absolute screamer," says Charles Marshall. "I'll revise my earlier prediction to 4-0, if you don't mind." I'm not sure that's how predictions work, Charles.
8.31pm: Goal! Villa have pulled one back through Darren Bent on the stroke of half-time. Hutton swept in a low cross from the right and Bent got in ahead of Onuoha and swept the ball past Paddy Kenny. The half-time whistle has gone now. Aston Villa 1-2 QPR.
8.33pm: Re: the King Power Stadium, Steve Gaw writes: "King Power is the company that runs all the airport duty free shops in Thailand. I was a little surprised when I was last through BKK to see Leicester City paraphernalia being hawked there. So every time I buy a box of [recognised cigarette brand] there I am in a small way supporting the team." You've gotta support the team, Steve. It's still Leicester 1-1 Middlesbrough.
8.36pm: Goal at Gayfield Park!!! And it's a big one. Paul Sheerin has made it Arbroath 2-0 Stirling. (Opta) Admir Pajiæ can go one better than Opta Joe. "I have to say that Djibril Cisse also scored in his league debut for Lazio (against Milan at San Siro)," he writes. "Lazio had 2-0 lead but Milan managed to draw. Interesting coincidence, ha?"
8.41pm: "Oh no," screams Phil Thompson in a manner which suggests somebody has been seriously injured. What's actually happened is that Anthony Modeste has failed to take advantage of Tim Krul being caught off his line and has put his lobbed shot over the bar. Oh no indeed.
8.43pm: Penalty at Ewood Park!! It's a foul by Danny Simpson on Modeste and a penalty to Blackburn. David Dunn stands up ...
8.44pm: ... but Tim Krul saves it!!! And two Blackburn players get in each others way and can't score the follow-up. It stays Blackburn 0-1 Newcastle.
Half time: Bolton 0-0 Arsenal
Half time: Fulham 0-0 West Brom
Half time: Blackburn 0-1 Newcastle
Half time: Leicester 1-1 Middlesbrough
Half time: Sunderland 2-0 Norwich.
Half time emails (the majority of which focus on a Junior Hoilett dive which I haven't yet seen) ... J.R in Illinois tells it like it is: "I'm watching Blackburn-Newcastle and Bolton-Arsenal and just wanted to report on two shameful dives. First one around the 29th minute by Hoilett right on the edge of the penalty area, the other by Mark Davies around the 37th minute. Both Dowd and Foy, respectively, got the calls exactly wrong. What are the chances? And now Dowd has given a penalty to Blackburn (against Simpson) that is never a penalty. Ha! Dunn missed it! At least a little justice. Those two refs need to be relegated. (and the players should be suspended)."
James Sprague says: "Can we please take a moment to publicly shame Junior Hoillett for one of the most blatant dives of the season, or to at least shame Phil Dowd for falling for it?"
While Damian Durrant muses: "There are flashes of possible greatness in Theo every third game, yet he has a habit of vanishing after a good opening 15 minutes -- and I'm not sure his crossing or finishing is any better than four years ago. He is always "about" to be great."
I often feel like I'm about to be great. I never am.
And yes, two out of three is a majority.
More emails ... Nicky Kingdrummer has an important question: "Dear Evan, I'm looking at Cisse's mid stride hijinks in the pix attached to your commentary page but I'm more interested in the absolutely forlorn figure in Villa garb in the distance. Who would that be now? What must he be thinking? I can't make him out but he's the absolute picture of forlornness. Caused the goal, did he? He's also midstride but that's where the similarities end. Again, I ask, who's that player? Do tell." It's Charles N'Zogbia, Nicky. He always looks like that.
9.03pm: We're back underway in the 8pm kick offs while at Villa Park, which has a 15 minute head start on the others who will probably catch up eventually the home side are pushing for an equaliser but it's still Aston Villa 1-2 QPR. "Catford Broadway Theatre is the unlikely venue for an excellent Romeo and Juilet on which the curtain has just fallen on the murders of Mercutio and Tybalt," writes Gary Naylor. "That Shakey knew a bit about love and hate and wouldn't be surprised at the bile spewed by football's keyboard warriors." Mercutio? Isn't he that fella Chelsea are after?
9.07pm: "Interesting to hear how Cisse's Lazio debut went," says Niall Carey, "because I remember his Liverpool debut (against Spurs in WHL) and that ended a draw as well. Expect a Villa equaliser soon."
9.08pm: "There's something completely childlike about Djinkin' Djibril Cisse," says Justin Kavanagh all excited like. "I can't help suspecting that Mark Hughes may have somehow scammed the Lord of the Manor of Frodsham into thinking that becoming a Queens Park Ranger was a royal appointment." Not content with bigging up Robbie Keane, David Fallon has now set his sights on Stephen Ireland. "Ireland is actually playing football today. You know, running, passing, tackling - all that lark. Could Robbie's arrival have inspired him to up his game? Maybe a 'Look what you're missing' type of scenario? Or did McLeish just threaten to sell him last night at 22:59. We'll never know..."
9.10pm: It's very nearly a third at Villa Park for QPR. Shaun Wright-Phillips goes on one of those rinky dink runs where you don't know whether he's going to beat four players or just fall over (or both). He fizzes the ball across goal but Jamie Mackie can't connect. "I'm 'watching' Bolton-Arsenal on a dodgy feed in the desert (so dodgy that I have to follow the Clockwatch to make sure I don't miss anything)," says AK in Bahrain. "And have to agree with JR from Illinois on the blatant Mark Davies dive. Not only did Vermaelen not touch him, he pulled back and left a good six inches of grass as Davies went by/down. Shameful, or as Vermaelen repeatedly told Davies and Chris Foy (after Foy gave him a yellow), "It's a joke." On whether Davies should be suspended, that would be nice, but I imagine there's no scope is there for retroactive action by the FA, given the complete silliness around the diving laws to being with, plus the fact that Foy saw the action (although he got it completely wrong)."
9.12pm: Goal at the Stadium of Light! It's Sunderland 3-0 Norwich. What has Martin O'Neill done? It's a beautiful move involving McClean, Larsson and Phil Bardsley of all people. It's Bardsley who gets in behind the Norwich defence. He fires across goal and it deflects off Daniel Ayala and into the empty net.
9.15pm: Thierry Henry is preparing to enter the fray at the Reebok. "One can always rely on Gary Naylor to class things up a bit," says Ryan Dunne. "Is it just me, or would it not be very cool if a player handed in a transfer request with "I banish thee. There is a world elsewhere"? Might lose some gravitas if they ended up chilling in the reserves at a diddy team, but still."
9.17pm: Should be 4-0 to Sunderland. Fraizer Campbell tries a Gazza in the Euro 96 semi final style lunge at Larsson's cross but can't quite connect. "Diving," says Paul Szabo. "The Hoilett diving issue brings to mind the old question of retrospective penalizing for such actions. Pray tell, is any given league (e.g., the EPL) free to institute such action? Or are all bound by the dictates of the fat cats at Fifa?" We're all bound by the fat cats at Fifa, Paul. You try diving right now, wherever you are. Nothing will happen. Nothing.
9.19pm: Goal at Villa Park!!! Aston Villa 2-2 QPR. Charles N'Zogbia has equalised with a driven left-footed half-volley after Stilian Petrov found space on the right and dinked a cross to the back post where N'Zogbia was unmarked. The Cisse factor is in full effect. "Thank goodness for the Hlcarpenter.com," says John Pearson. "I've just been to the new BBC sports page and it is dreadful. Most of those who've commented on it think so too. What a relief to have a site for grown-ups who can read." Yes! Victory! In your face BBC! In your face!
9.23pm: "Philippa Booth is eager for a bit of Shakespearean football. "Would certainly make on-pitch barnies more interesting if they were all "I bite my thumb at thee, sir" - "No, I bite my thumb at thee, sir", etc etc. Although having swords would probably be taking it too far." It's all about the pants, Philippa. The pants. Villa are pushing for a winner now. There's a bit of a scramble and Robbie Keane sees his shot come back of the post. Now he's flapping his arms about. Not like him that.
9.26pm: Thierry Henry is on at the Reebok in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. At Ewood Park Blackburn are pushing for an equaliser but can't quite find a way past Tim Krul. This appears to be leaving Phil Thompson in physical pain. Either that or he's heavily in labour. I think it's the latter.
9.28pm: Goal at Craven Cottage!!! They said it would never happen. But it has. It's Fulham 1-0 West Brom and Clint Dempsey has broken the deadlock after 'triffic work from Brylcream's Bryan Ruiz.
9.29pm: "I wouldn't advise your readership to try diving," says Liam Fitzpatrick. "I'm sitting above a concrete floor for christ sake!" Oh yeah. No diving please. That was poor advice.
9.30pm: Goal at whatever it is Leicester call their stadium now!!! It's gone to the visitors. Tony McMahon - a fine name for a footballer - has got it and it's Leicester 1-2 Middlesbrough.
9.33pm: Somebody called rich - just 'rich', like Cher, but lowercase - has been in touch to say: "Now that N'Zogbia has scored can we see a photo of him doing cartwheels and Cisse looking forlorn? Also Gary Naylor. You made him up at the Hlcarpenter.com didn't you? Whenever the emails go quiet you just write any old thing and sign it Gary Naylor. You don't fool me."
9.34pm: Villa are really pushing for a winner in injury time with Alex 'Marcelo Bielsa' McLeish frantically waving his players on from the touchline. N'Zogbia cuts inside from the left and fires a right-footed shot which is headed for the top corner before Nedium Onuoha sticks his face in front of the ball and takes it right in the kisser.
Full time: Aston Villa 2-2 Queens Park Rangers.
9.37pm: Goal at the King Power Stadium (not to be confused with the Max Power Stadium)!!!! It's that man Jermaine Beckford. I'm not sure why he's "that man," he just is. Leicester 2-2 Middlesbrough.
9.38pm: Phil Thompson has finally given birth. Either that or Mauro Formica has lofted the ball over Tim Krul but it's drifted wide of the post.
9.39pm: "Given the earlier discussion about diving and the release of a film called The Ides of March, perhaps the most appropriate bit of Shakespeare for a football pitch would be 'Et tu, Brute?" asks Robin Hazlehurst. "Then fall, Caesar!' from a referee to a self-important diver trying to con him?" Suppose. More from Jon Hopkins: "Dalglish assessing his defensive options obviously "is this D Agger which I see before me." This is a football clockwatch. You all know that, don't you?
9.41pm: Goal at Craven Cottage!!! Somen Tchoyi has equalised for West Brom with eight minutes remaining. Who would have ever thought? First they put a man on the moon and now this. It's Fulham 1-1 West Brom. "Re : 'rich'," says Dr. Manoj Joseph. "You made him up didn't you? Whenever the emails go quiet you just post somebody saying something about Gary Naylor being fake. You don't fool me."
9.44pm: It must be twins for Thommo. Either that or the ball's just nearly fallen to Scott Dann in a promising position. "It is acknowledged in "intellectual" circles that if Gary Naylor didn't exist then we would have to invent one," says Phil Withall. "Oh and by the way Bloody Sunderland."
Full time: Leicester 2-2 Middlesbrough. A draw doesn't really do either of these sides any good. Unless they wanted a draw, in which case, well done.
9.47pm: "The Curse of Djibril's Debut draw strikes again! I did warn you at 9.07 ..." gloats Niall Carey. I don't remember that. "Sure, Evan, sure. 'Dr Manoj Joseph'..yeah, right..." says Philip Smith.
9.49pm: "Re person questioning Gary Naylor's existence - he was my Tutor at uni," says Cai Marle-Garcia. "His wisdom led him to tell me England would beat Aus in the 2006/7 ashes, I predicted a 5-0 Aus whitewash. He definitely exists."
9.50pm: Goal at Ewood Park and Phil Thompson may as well be speaking Vulcan at the point. The important detail is that's it's a second for Newcastle and Gabriel Obertan has got it. Blackburn 0-2 Newcastle. "Yesterday, I sent a bunch of emails to the transfer ticker thing," says Captain Corduroy, who I definitely definitely haven't made up. "First time I've made the effort, and not one was used. Maybe I should change my name to Gary Naylor. Or maybe write more interesting emails. Whichever is easier..."
Full time: Bolton 0-0 Arsenal.
Full time: Fulham 1-1 West Brom.
Full time: Sunderland 3-0 Norwich.
Full time: Blackburn 0-2 Newcastle.
Full time: Arbroath 2-0 Stirling.
9.56pm: Phew! So what does all that mean?
Why not have a look at the Premier League table and find out for yourself.
9.58pm: In case you weren't here earlier the big news of the night is that 73 people have been killed following at an Egyptian league match in Port Said between Cairo club Al-Ahly and local club Al-Masry. For the full details on this shocking story click here.
10:00pm: That's it from me. Thanks for all your emails and Shakespearean knowledge throughout the night. Sorry I couldn't publish them all. There just wasn't time, especially with all the various 'personalities' I had to invent. All tonight's match reports will be here very shortly. Goodnight.