It's a big day of football in Europe. Barcelona v Real Madrid, Milan v Inter, Marseille v PSG, Atletico Madrid v Malaga, Celtic v Hearts, Borussia Moenchengladbach v Eintracht Frankfurt. But then last night, I saw a grown man doing a human beatbox. So what's the fuss?
But before all that, the focus is firmly on the Premier League, where there are matters to be resolved at the top and the bottom. And the middle. We've got all the bases covered here.
Manchester United, in their Barcelona-busting 5-0-5 formation, will get their shellacking at Newcastle later on but we're not concerned with that here. First it's to the south coast where Southampton could really do with a win at home against Fulham. Three points could move the Saints up from 18th to the giddy heights of 14th in the table and they'll fancy their chances against a Fulham side that doesn't always travel well. Southampton's start is slightly deceptive, for there are not many sides that will get anything from games against Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Everton – it's the blip at home to Wigan that's cause for worry though. They need to tighten up defensively, because Fulham have the attacking talent to hurt them. That all kicks off at 1.30pm.
Before the action at Anfield and White Hart Lane starts at 3pm. Everyone's favourites Stoke City are at Liverpool, who are cooking under Brendan Rodgers. Expect 736% possession for Liverpool, countless missed chances and a last-minute winner by Michael Owen. Meanwhile at Spurs, Not Harry Redknapp's side entertain Aston Villa, looking to follow up last week's win at Old Trafford with another impressive display. Win heavily and they could go third. Villa could end the day in the bottom three but can at least take solace that, unlike last year at White Hart Lane, their wingers aren't Emile Heskey and Alan Hutton. So everything's looking up!
Here are your teams from St Mary's. A surprisingly atmospheric arena, given that it's one of those new-fangled identikit stadiums. But anyway. Fulham are without Dimitar Berbatov. The day just got 70% less fun.
Southampton: Gazzaniga; Richardson, Yoshida, Fonte, Fox; Puncheon, Schneiderlin, Steven Davis, Lallana, Rodriguez; Lambert. Subs: Kelvin Davis, Hooiveld, Ward-Prowse, Do Prado, Mayuka, Chaplow, Reeves.
Fulham: Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Kacaniklic, Ruiz, Baird, Sidwell, Duff; Rodallega. Subs: Stockdale, Kelly, Senderos, Kasami, Karagounis, Richardson, Briggs.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)
And amongst all the talk of Clasico that, Milan derby this, I haven't even mentioned that Homeland starts tonight. I don't know about you but I think Brody's the alien.
1.26pm: Here come the teams at St Mary's. What's Southampton's home kit all about?
1.29pm: Why have the Southampton fans turned up as empty seats?
1.30pm: Fulham get the game going and lose the ball immediately. Things can only get better. "Speaking of Mr Em, whilst watching the "EPL" last night here in Australia one of the A-League adverts referred to the marquee Newcastle Jets signing as the English Playmaker," says Jonathan Siu. "Can't wait to see how they describe Del Piero."
Del Piero is probably the greatest player of all time. Discuss.
1.32pm: Fox hangs a high diagonal up towards Lambert in the area, forcing Hangeland to head behind for a corner on the right, which Lambert subsequently heads wide at the far post. It's amazing that more is not made of the long balls Southampton hit to Lambert.
GOAL! Southampton 1-0 Fulham (Fonte, 4 min): Southampton have been battering Fulham in the air and it's not taken long for them to crack. From the left, Lallana whipped a corner towards the near post. Jose Fonte got ahead of his marker and Van Persied a looping header/shoulder towards the far post. I'm not sure he was trying to score but the Fulham defending was risible and the ball looped into the top corner, despite the attempts to clear it by Aaron Hughes.
1.36pm: A stoppage in play as Richardson is down getting treatment. He was clattered by Fonte. He's going off on a stretcher. Southampton don't have a right-back on the bench.
1.38pm: Jos Hooiveld replaces Richardson. Yoshida will move to right-back.
Now Rodriguez is down after being caught by the studs of Steve Sidwell. The Southampton fans have the funk on because the execrable Mark Clattenburg allowed play to continue and eventually gave Fulham a free-kick on the left. Ruiz sent it in and Lambert had to be alert to deny Hughes at the far post. Where was the marking though?
"Your ground's too big for you," taunt the Fulham fans, who are ones to talk seeing as they have, in supporter parlance, turned up in a taxi.
Southampton's pressing is excellent. They're not allowing Fulham to settle at all. When I saw Fulham at Upton Park, they were extremely lightweight. A totally different side away from home.
Fulham's right-back is Riether. Basically Riise with a lisp.
Southampton should lead 2-0. Lallana plays Ramirez through on the left but his cutback is sidefooted wide by the normally clinical Lambert.
I believe my grievous stadium error in my previous e-mail is down to both Southampton and Sunderland being long names starting with an "S"," says JR in Illinois, who referred to St Mary's as the Stadium of Light. "And also that it's early in the morning and I just woke up afterhaving dreamt that I was arrested. Embarrassing." What for?
Fulham didn't have a man on the post for the Southampton goal, but at least they've learned from their mistake. Another Lallana corner from the left drops to Puncheon at the far post with the Fulham defence all over the place, but his prod towards goal is blocked on the line by Riether! If only someone had been there 20 minutes earlier. From the resulting corner, Southampton have the ball in the net but the whistle had long gone for a foul on Schwarzer.
the best goal I've ever seen live, Stadio delleAlpi, 1994," says Rob Moline. "Running diagonally with the flight of the ball hit a 45 metre pass first time with the outside of his foot, a delicate volleyed lob over the keeper at the near post. I'd never heard of him; only went to watch Baggio (late injury withdrawal) and Batistuta (played like a dog, failed to score for the first time in 14 successive Serie A matches). That goal made it all worthwhile." That was a superb goal; I believe it was highly significant in them winning the title. A Macheda Moment, as it were."Del Piero scored
The state of Mark Clattenburg's hair.
"In my dream I was arrested for, as we say here, drunk driving," says JR. "Or DWI. Driving while intoxicated. The sheriffs were two rather nice ladies who were very relieved that I wasn't violent. (And as far as this game, that yellow card for a hand ball on Hooiveld
was absurd. Clattenburg is just guessing out there.)"
To my left, Daniel Harris says he had a dream about going to university with Wes Brown last night. I recently had a dream that I broke into a friend's house and nicked a shirt.
What's your favourite dream?
Alex Kacaniklic storms past Yoshida, who looks uncomfortable at right-back, but his cross is dire. Fulham are dire. "Maybe they were paying attention to Cardiff City, and were impressed with how simple, straightforward and popular they made a change to an all-red kit seem?" says Matt Dony in response to my question about Southampton's kit.
Fulham have been truly pathetic in this first half. Once again they lose the ball faffing about in their own half. Lambert slips a cute pass through to Lallana but his cutback is behind his team-mates in the middle. Another let-off for Fulham. On the touchline, Tony Soprano is seething,
Is Southampton's goalkeeper a cross between Paul Gascoigne and Claudio Cannigia?
Try to contain your shock: there's no Anfield return for Michael Owen because he's injured.
Not Harry Redknapp has picked Hugo Lloris instead of Brad Friedel in goal for Tottenham.
Another chance goes begging for Southampton. Puncheon drifts in from the right and picks out Lambert with a delightful pass. He's got a clear sight of goal, eight yards out, but hammers his shot straight at Schwarzer.
Mark Clattenburg fails to spot a blatant handball on the edge of the Southampton area by Fonte. Nice hair though.
this," parps Danny Harris."Yoshida never really recovered from
"I had a dream that Wayne Rooney signed for Everton again and I got taken to the game as a VIP because we'd somehow become bezzies," says Simon Burke. "And Frank Hargreaves bought everyone a pie to celebrate."
Hughes slams a header straight at Gazzaniga. A warning for Southampton not to switch off.
And just as I say that, they completely fall asleep at the back and almost let Rodallega equalise for Fulham. Hooiveld misjudged the bounce of a long ball, allowing it to run through to Rodallega, who was put off by Gazzaniga hurtling off his line and poked his shot wide. He screams for a corner but it was all his own work.
Half time: Southampton 1-0 Fulham. Jose Fonte's early header means Southampton lead a disappointing Fulham by a goal at the break. It should be more though.
Here are your teams from Anfield. Returning hero Charlie Adam is in the Stoke side.
Liverpool: Reina; Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson; Gerrard, Allen, Sahin; Suso, Suarez, Sterling. Subs: Jones, Henderson, Cole, Assaidi, Coates, Carragher, Borini.
Stoke: Begovic; Cameron, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson; Walters, Nzonzi, Whelan, Adam, Kightly; Crouch. Subs: Sorensen, Jones, Edu, Whitehead, Upson, Etherington, Jerome.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
Lloris starting for Spurs means that Brad Friedel's run of 310 consecutive games, going back to May 2004, is over. AVB, you monster.
Here are the teams from White Hart Lane. Darren Bent is on the bench again despite his late equaliser against West Brom last week.
Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen; Dembele, Sandro; Lennon, Dempsey, Bale; Defoe. Subs: Friedel, Dawson, Huddlestone, Townsend, Sigurdsson, Falque, Adebayor.
Aston Villa: Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Bennett; El Ahmadi, Delph, Albrighton, Holman; Agbonlahor, Benteke. Subs: Given, Bent, N'Zogbia, Lichaj, Bannan, Westwood, Weimann.
"In one of my favourite dreams I awake from what I had believed to be my life to discover it had all been a virtual reality game in some "real" arcade, my perceived lack of success in "life" simply a sign the machinery or software hadn't been working, and that I could either get my money back or have another go for free," says Patrick Cullen. "The other dream involves a very real Scarlett Johansson…" And let's stop there.
They're underway at
the Stadium of Light St Mary's again.
"Who's on MBM duty for tonight's El Clasico?" asks SB Tang. Yours truly. John Ashdown will be covering the Milan derby as well.
The following has happened in the second half at St Mary's:
Another miss by Lambert! Schneiderlin's cross from the right finds him unmarked in the middle but his volley - at an admittedly difficult height - flies over the top. Southampton could pay for this profligacy, especially as their defence is so unconvincing.
Without Berbatov and Petric, Fulham have nothing going forward. "On behalf of all fulham fans can I apologise to you for having to sit through this," says Bassim. "Terrible terrible stuff."
How on earth are Fulham not level? First a free-kick from the right is allowed to go all the way to the far post, where it's bundled against the post by Sidwell, under pressure from Fonte. The rebound comes out to Hangeland, whose shot strikes Lambert's arm. No penalty. Southampton clear but Fulham stay on the attack. A cross from the right is flicked on to Rodallega at the far post but Gazzaniga somehow pushes it out and Southampton desperately hack it clear! What a save.
"I don't know if this is my favorite dream, but I'll tell you about the one I had last night," says Stephen Mitchell. "I dreamt I was on holiday, albeit in a bizarre, hillside hotel lacking an elevator, meaning that I had to climb up a muddy hill in order find my room. But upon my arrival, I was rewarded for my hard work by a personal sushi kitchen in my suite, staffed by a group of South American Spider monkeys. Naturally, the Spider monkeys threw rice and raw salmon and tuna at each other in a comical fashion, but nevertheless were able to produce some top quality sushi. However, trouble arose when millions and millions of crabs of all sizes arose from the sea, wreaking havoc on the what was once a peaceful seaside resort town. I was well-protected from the crabs in my hotel room, but that was of little consolation to me and my Spider monkey friends as we watched the destruction of our primate brothers and sisters at the hands of our ravenous crustacean overlords."
"The writing has been on the wall for Fulham since that first goal," says Gary Naylor. "Unless they go ariel."
Fulham continue to press, with Southampton increasingly nervy. Rodallega brings down a high ball but sees his shot deflected wide by Scheniderlin.
Southampton have replaced Rickie Lambert with Guly Do Prado.
GOAL! Southampton 1-1 Fulham (Hooiveld own goal, 69 min): Minutes after taking off their main striker, Southampton concede – and they still haven't kept a clean sheet this season. This goal had been coming. A cross from the right looked harmless enough but it came to Riise on the edge of the area. His fierce shot was headed wide but Hooiveld wasn't to know that and stuck out his foot in the six yard box, diverting it high past the helpless Gazzaniga.
They're kicking off at Tottenham and Liverpool.
Spurs are on the attack straight away but Bale's shot from the edge of the area is pulled wide. That was a fine chance.
The ever delightful Robert Huth leaves his foot on Luis Suarez's chest. What a guy.
"I wonder if the wunderkids Vish-Bosh and Rogers just aren't as good as they think they are," says Damian Durrant. "Success is one thing, but its repeatable success at different clubs that puts you in the pantheon of the gods with Special One. My dream, Arsenal winning a cup - impossible I know." To be fair, they've done pretty well in recent weeks.
Outrageous skill from Luis Suarez on the left sees him diddle his way past the Stoke defenders, before setting up Sahin, whose goalbound effort is blocked.
Fulham are going for a winner now. Southampton are chasing shadows. Riether pulls a cross back to Richardson but he blazes miles over the bar.
That's a ridiculous dive from Gareth Bale. Guzan came racing out of his area to try to beat him to a pass through. He got nowhere near it and Bale touched ball past him, only to crumple to the turf, claiming a free-kick. There was no touch at all.
Robert Huth's studs meet Luis Suarez's chest. Make up your own minds. He's a real piece of work.
"You say Bale dived," says Sam Abrahams. "At what point did he claim a free-kick? He anticipated a collision, avoided it, end of story." He anticipated a foul so fell over?
GOAL! Southampton 1-2 Fulham (Richardson, 88 min): Southampton have been unable to stop Riether marauding forward from right-back and he's created what will surely be Fulham's winner. He burst forward again and his cutback was met by Richardson, whose clipped effort was deflected past Gazzaniga. Southampton have thrown this away.
GOAL! Southampton 2-2 Fulham (Fonte, 90 min): Jose Fonte is a goal machine. Danny Fox curls a free-kick to the far post and Fonte rises highest to flick a header into the bottom corner for his second goal of the afternoon! Fulham kept the lead for all of two minutes. Fonte's on a hat-trick.
"Good of Gareth Bale to avoid being awarded an unfair penalty by falling on the floor as if he'd been fouled," says Anthony Hull.
Robert Huth has just put in a rugby challenge on Suarez. Who's worse, Cattermole or Huth?
Stoke are that sort of team.
Full time: Southampton 2-2 Fulham. Southampton have escaped with a point but they will know this was a poor result. Fulham were there for the taking but in the end they were indebted to Jose Fonte's late header. Southampton can attack but can't defend. These are the sort of games a promoted side needs to win.
Stoke's only answer to Luis Suarez is to foul him. Meanwhile Begovic has made a very good save to keep out Steven Gerrard's effort from 25 yards.
plug anyway!""Did you know your old pal, West Ham legend Yossi Benayoun was dropped from Israel's squad ahead of WC qualifiers against Luxembourg?" says Phil Podolsky. "You probably did, but gissa
"You know the way that players are supposed to get booked for diving, in order to make them think twice about doing it?" says Ed Rostron. "Did Bale get booked?" He did not.
"We deserved nothing from the game, but honestly, I have never seen a premiership referee make so many run of the mill terrible decisions," says Fulham fan Bassim. "He must have missed about 20 fouls per side. Terrible all round." That's Mark Clattenburg.
"If Robert Huth chins Suarez with a right hook smack in the middle of the penalty area, does Suarez get a penalty or a yellow card?" honks Robin Hazlehurst. "Given that Huth is presumably not that sort of player, but Suarez these days apparently is."
I haven't seen much of the Totteham-Villa game but it would appear that Spurs are struggling to break Villa down. They may be a side better suited to playing away.
Huth is finally booked for cynically taking out Suarez. Dear me. This has been an outrageous 30 minutes from the Stoke centre-back. "Cattermole or Huth?" says Michael Bertin. "The correct answer is Ryan Shawcross."
"Not to suggest that two wrongs would ever make a right, but didnt Suarez kick Scott Parker (and considerably harder than Huth stamped on him) on the chest last season, without being called "that type of player"?" says John Bradley. Well that was a complete accident - he was trying to volley the ball.
"Dear God, man!" says Neil Mackie, in an email that made me chuckle. "What sort of pageview demands have been placed upon you so that you dangle such delicious statements in front of the internets? I'm sure you've got some of the following already:
"Gareth Bale can't drive as he's not foreign, even though he is Welsh, playing in the English league. He is British though, unless when he didn't want to be and preferred to be in the US with Tottenham rather than London. He was clearly avoiding the potential injury troubles that would have befallen him as Guzan (I keep wanting to say Guzman, like Luis Guzman) is that type of goalkeeper."
"Luis Suarez deserved that for being foreign. Robert Huth doesn't count as he is German, just like dear old Lizzie. Gawd bless her"
"Stoke are that type of team/aren't that type of team. You're being pro-Liverpool/anti-Stoke"
Don't you know that you can't make opinions about incidents? That's not how things are done in football. It's the bland way or the highway. Enjoying the troll bait - and the legitimate questions raised - so, um, keep it up!"
Familiar failings for Liverpool and Stoke at the moment - both are struggling to convert dominance into goals at home. "Some kudos for Huth there surely?" says David Hopkins. "After all it takes a special gift to adopt the 'hands-up there was no intent ref' pose even whilst inserting your studs into your opponent's ribcage?"
Liverpool player runs. Stoke player kicks. Referee blows whistle. And repeat. The home supporters are growing ever more irate. I'd say Tony Pulis needs to control his team, but.
As good as Luis Suarez is, he really does need to release the ball more quickly. Nothing moves faster than the ball, yeah.
"Any chance of some spurs - villa commentary here or you just going to Huth bash all afternoon?" says Colin Smith. There's not a lot to say. Villa are keeping Spurs quiet.
Half time: Liverpool 0-0 Stoke City. It's goalless after a fractious, bad-tempered first half.
Half time: Tottenham 0-0 Aston Villa. And it's also goalless at White Hart Lane. It's been a quiet afternoon for Hugo Lloris so far, not that Brad Guzan has been overworked.
"I can just see Robert saying "Huth Bash!" as he sticks the boot in, like his version Hulk Smash!" says David Leach. BOB GO CRUNCH.
"A little bit of imparitality regarding Suarez please!" says James Fisher. "Yes he was fouled very nastily by Huth but he also been guilty of simulation at least twice in that half. He must be a nightmare to referee."
I haven't seen the simulation, on account of watching three matches at once.
We're back. Goals please! Less kicking please! Less diving please!
Agbonlahor slides a ball across to Benteke but he shoots straight at Lloris from 15 yards out. He should have scored.
Vertonghen wellies one wide from 35 yards out. Villa will be happy enough to see Spurs doing that.
When Liverpool beat Stoke in the FA Cup last season, their matchwinner was Stewart Downing. But he's probably not the missing ingredient here. Not really sure why I brought that up actually. Oh well.
Gerrard catches out Walters with a glorious pass through to Johnson, but he fires over the bar with his right when clean through on goal.
What a miss from Benteke – and a goal would have been down to an error from Lloris. Looking to start a Spurs break, he chucked the ball straight to a Villa player on the right flank. When the ball came in, Benteke was completely unmarked in the middle but somehow put a free header wide.
here.At St James' Park, it's Newcastle 0-1 Manchester United, Jonny Evans with the early goal. John Ashdown is covering the match
Defoe cuts in from the left and hammers a low drive inches wide from the edge of the area. Guzan could only stand and watch.
FARCE! Tottenham 1-0 Aston Villa (Caulker): This is ridiculous. Villa are so unlucky here. Defoe took down a high cross at the far post and tried to swivel and shoot. His effort was heading well wide but clipped the unwitting Caulker on the heel and deflected past Guzan. Now that's teamwork. You will not see a flukier goal all season.
At Anfield, Luis Suarez rattles a shot over when he should have scored. At White Hart Lane, Defoe does the same.
Some Stoke pressure ends with the worst shot of all time from Nzonzi. "Suarez good?" says Gary Naylor. "Flat track bully, as they say in cricket."
Joe Cole is going to come on for Liverpool. Remember him?
GOAL! Tottenham 2-0 Aston Villa (Lennon): The first Tottenham goal was a fluke, but this is sheer class. Lennon runs at Bennett, shifts the ball to the right and then drives a low shot through the defender's legs and into the bottom-left corner. Guzan didn't have a chance. It was hit so sweetly. The points are surely Tottenham's.
Daniel Agger shoots from 40 yards out. Liverpool are running out of ideas in the face of obstinate Stoke defending.
Agger bursts forward from the back and his cross finds Sterling at the far post. His bobbler is saved by Begovic's feet at his near post. He had to go across goal.
Luis Suarez has that look on his face again after going down in the area and not being given a penalty. It looked soft.
It wasn't a penalty. It was a dive by Suarez.
Jon Walters is caught offside and boots the ball away. He's booked. Up the other end, Cole sets up Sahin, who curls high and wide from 20 yards out.
Are Liverpool ever going to win at home? They have struggled today, despite having most of the ball.
"But at least Liverpool have got the shirt deal. Makes things like 'goals' and, y'know, 'winning games' seem immaterial," says Matt Dony.
I fancy that this Liverpool team will not score by flinging crosses into the box against Stoke.
"Attack! Attack! Attack, attack attack!" cries The Kop. Gerrard plonks a cross into Begovic's hands.
Dean Whitehead tells Raheem Sterling to get up after bringing him down from behind. They have no shame.
Liverpool go so close to winning it, Skrtel taking down a deep free-kick at the far post and scooping a shot past Begovic, only for it to glance off the post. It's not to be Liverpool's day.
Johnson puts in a great cross from the left. Unfortunately Andy Carroll is in London.
Full time: Liverpool 0-0 Stoke. Brendan Rodgers is still waiting for his first win in the league at Anfield. Liverpool have won there twice in the league in 2012. They need a striker.
Full time: Tottenham 2-0 Aston Villa. It was nervy for a while at White Hart Lane, but Steven Caulker's jammy goal settled them and Aaron Lennon's peach wrapped up a comfortable win. Spurs are up to fifth, Villa are 16th.
So, that was another afternoon of association football. Southampton threw it away against Fulham, who threw it away against Southampton. Tottenham saw off Aston Villa and Liverpool were held by Stoke. But fret not, for tonight there's the small matter of El Clasico and the Milan derby. Until then.