LONDON ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Essien of Chelsea and Charlie Adam of Blackpool compete for a header during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Blackpool at Stamford Bridge on September 19 2010 in London England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

English Premier League Monday: West Bromwich Albion Could Go Fourth With Win Over Blackpool

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Blackpool 2-1 West Brom, Full Time: Mulumbu, Referee Leave Baggies Asking What Could Have Been

The match was over before it even got started, or so it seemed in the 11th minute. That's when Pablo Ibañez was shown a straight red card and Blackpool were given a penalty for not denying a clear goal scoring opportunity for not committing a foul. It was an absurd decision by Michael Oliver, and Charlie Adam converted the penalty kick to put the Seasiders up 1-0. West Brom were in serious trouble, but it would get worse.

Another red card would be shown, and this time, Michael Oliver would get the decision right. Gonzalo Jara put in an absurd two footed, studs up, flailing challenge on Luke Varney, giving Oliver no choice but to send him off. In the 29th minute, West Brom were already down a goal and down to nine men.

Halftime would come without either side scoring, though West Brom looked surprisingly dangerous on a couple of counter attack moves. Regardless, Blackpool controlled the possession and appeared to have an easy route to three points.

The tangerines would have their lead solidified on the 62nd minute by Luke Varney, who tapped in a fantastic Eliot Grandin cross to put his team up 2-0. It appeared that the game was truly over then, but West Brom still had a few tricks up their sleeve.

Youssuf Mulumbu would set up a wild finish with a goal in the 85th minute, a far post curler after a fantastic individual effort. It was a well deserved goal for Mulumbu; the midfielder was at the center of almost all of West Brom's counter attacking moves and his work rate was second to none. Blackpool didn't dominate as much as one would think a team with a two man advantage would, partially because it seemed that Mulumbu was doing a spectacular job of playing the roles of two men at once.

Despite a flurry of opportunities from both sides in the final five minutes of normal time and four minutes of stoppage time, none of them would find the back of the net and the game ended with a 2-1 Blackpool victory. After putting in such a spirited performance with nine men, it's hard not to wonder how the game might have transpired if Michael Oliver didn't make those two poor decisions at the beginning of the match. While West Brom will be disappointed with a loss, the match should be at least a small moral victory. Blackpool have more concerns about just staying in the Premier League than West Brom do, and will be happy to add another three points to their cause.

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Blackpool 2-1 West Brom: Classy Consolation Goal For Baggies

It's been a tough afternoon for West Brom, but Youssuf Mulumbu has scored a deserved late goal in the 85th minute near the end of a fantastic individual performance. Despite West Brom's lack of bodies on the field, Mulumbu has worked hard all match to create scoring opportunities for his team, doing the job of two men.

The opportunity was started on a ball over the top that was well cleared away by Matthew Gilks, despite the presence of West Brom players in his face. Jerome Thomas sent the cleared ball forward again and it eventually reached Mulumbu. He put together a fantastic individual effort, beating his defender with creative dribbling and curling a fantastic shot past Gilks at his far post to bring the deficit back to one goal and the scoreline to 2-1, Blackpool.

Since scoring, West Brom have been pouring everyone forward, leaving themselves vulnerable on the counter-attack but challenging the goal of Gilks, looking for the equalizer. It's been an absolutely fantastic effort for a team who are playing two men down.

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Blackpool 2-0 West Brom: Blackpool Finally Make The Most Of Their Advantage

After controlling the game for an extended period of time following West Brom's two sendings off, Blackpool have finally taken advantage of their strength in numbers with a 62nd minute goal to go 2-0 up on West Brom.

Blackpool had a long spell of possession that was capped off by a pacey ball across the face of goal by midfielder Eliot Grandin. Forward Luke Varney was on the same page as Grandin and made a surging run towards the goal mouth, easily tapping his cross into the back of the net, past Scott Carson for Blackpool's second goal of the night.

Unsurprisingly, Blackpool have had over two-thirds of the possession since West Brom went down to nine men. What has been surprising, though, is the number of opportunities that West Brom have had on the counter-attack. A few shots have gone just wide or have required Matthew Gilks to deal with them. That second goal appears to have dampened their spirits, though, and West Brom's chances of nicking a point are now all but mathematically extinguished.

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Blackpool1-0 West Brom: West Brom Sees Red Again

In the 29th minute, West Brom have had yet another man sent off, taking them down to nine men. The first red card was controversial, but there should be no debate about the second one. Blackpool's Luke Varney found himself struggling in the corner during an attack due to a poor first touch. Even though Varney posed no immediate danger, Gonzalo Jara went flying into Varney with a wild two-footed challenge, giving Michael Oliver no choice but to sent him off.

Between his team already being down to ten men and Varney having ruined the move with a poor touch, it was silly for Jara to make any kind of physical challenge. His physical challenge was no ordinary physical challenge, though. It was the kind of tackle that defies belief or description, the kind of tackle that professional footballers should never make. It was wild, flailing, reckless, and above all, stupid. Luckily for all parties, he didn't strike Varney with significant enough precision or force to cause a serious injury.

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Blackpool 1-0 West Brom: Controversial Decision Gives Seasiders A Penalty, West Brom A Red Card

Referee Michael Oliver has put himself into the spotlight early in the match, showing a straight red card to West Brom defender Pablo Ibañez and granting Blackpool a penalty kick, which was converted, for Ibañez's challenge on D.J. Campbell inside the penalty area. Oliver determined that Ibañez denied Campbell a clear goal scoring opportunity, gave the penalty, and sent him off.

Both the penalty kick and the straight red card were controversial, with West Brom's players appearing to be in a state of disbelief when the decision were given. Replays seem to show that Campbell initiated the contact with Ibañez and that he would have had a fair bit of work to do to to create a clear goal scoring opportunity for himself had he gone past Ibañez. Both the penalty and red card were probably incorrect decisions by Oliver.

Charlie Adam, wearing the captain's armband, stepped up for Blackpool and converted the penalty kick to Scott Carson's left to give his team a 1-0 lead, though Carson got a hand on the ball and almost stopped the shot.

The red card has forced West Brom into an early substitution. Roberto di Matteo has replaced striker Simon Cox with midfielder Steven Reid.

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Bolton 0-1 Liverpool, Final: Maxi Rodriguez Nets Winner For Liverpool

Maxi Rodriguez has found the break through for Liverpool late on at The Reebok to claim Liverpool an incredibly valuable three points away from home. The moment of quality that was needed to break the dead lock came when Lucas found Fernando Torres who was just outside the box and back heeled a perfect ball into the path of Rodriguez who was in on Jussi Jaaskelainen's goal. 

Rodriguez took one touch and slotted the winner past Jaaskelainen who got a touch on the shot but wasn't able to keep the ball out. Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson was then seen on the sidelines breathing a sigh of relief as the three points gained has served as Liverpool's first away victory in the Premier League this season and has taken the Reds out of the relegation zone.

The win was LIverpool's second in a row and looks to have the team back on the right track as their woeful start to the season may finally be over.  

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Bolton 0-0 Liverpool: Injury Concern For Liverpool As Joe Cole Exits

In a match seemingly destined for 0-0, lacking much individual quality and bereft of either side taking many chances, Liverpool midfielder and forward Joe Cole has been forced to make an early exit with what appears to be a hamstring injury. 

Cole left the match in the 62nd while both sides continue to poke and prod for the elusive break through. Cole was replaced with French striker David Ngog who will partner Fernando Torres up front while Steven Gerrard has moved slightly deeper in midfield along side Lucas. 

American International Stuart Holden continues to impress for Bolton in an advanced central midfield role while striker Kevin Davies continues his personal war with Liverpool's central defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos. As the match progresses into the 70th minute and beyond, both sides have enjoyed minor chances on each other's goal without seriously testing the opposition's keeper. 

As both managers search for the winner, Bolton's Owen Coyle has elected to put on his 19 year old Spaniard Rodrigo Moreno for Chung-Yong Lee in hopes the youngster can unlock Liverpool's defense at home. 

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Liverpool 0-0 Bolton Wanderers: Hopefully a Taleof Two Halves

It wasn't Liverpool's worst half of the season (file that under damning with faint praise), but it was also some way from their best. The Reds spent must of the time cooped up in their own end of the pitch, a dangerous strategy that resulted in a train of long-range shots on goal from their hosts - all of which were comfortably dealt with by Pepe Reina. Liverpool had a couple of decent passages of play, most of which were wasted by a massively off-form Fernando Torres, but their run of failing to score in the first half never looked particularly threatened.

Bolton will probably be fairly pleased with their ability to harry and harass their more illustrious opponents, but they too lacked much of a cutting edge. Two weak penalty shouts aside, their best chances have all come from very long range, and Owen Coyle's men have offered very little penetration in and around the Liverpool box.

Unless something big changes in the next 45, we're staring a draw square in the face.

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Newcastle 5-1 Sunderland: Darren Bent Is A Party Pooper

Darren Bent is obviously unaware of how all of this "historic derby win" business works and has decided to rain on Newcastle's parade, scoring a garbage goal in the 90th minute. Newcastle had obviously checked out a bit in the closing minutes with a massive lead, allowing Bent to score a nice poacher's goal.

The goal came off a corner kick that was knocked down by John Mensah, who is lucky to still be on the pitch after a couple of questionable challenges, a little pushing and shoving, and a lot of mouthing off. It looked like Newcastle keeper Tim Krul was going to gather the ball, but Bent came at the ball like a lightning bolt and used his toe to poke a so-called consolation goal into the back of the net that is unlikely to be much consolation at all.

Really, all Darren Bent has done is add to his golden boot chase and alter a few fantasy football games. Newcastle fans will still come away from this match singing loudly and bragging about their famous four goal victory.

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Newcastle 5-0 Sunderland: Captain Kevin Nolan Completes Hat-Trick

The football Gods continue to smile upon St James' Park this afternoon as The Toon have not only seen former Newcastle player Titus Bramble sent off, but are easily on their way to destroying their most hated rival Sunderland in front of their home support. 

Kevin Nolan completed his hat-trick when a Joey Barton corner found the head of Shola Ameobi who flicked on for a waiting Nolan who headed home to score his third of the day and finish off Sunderland. Newcastle supporters are in football heaven as Sunderland players continue to receive cautions and look to be lacking simple communication as a unit while the goals continue to flow in. 

As far as the fifth goal, it was a great set piece that continued to underline Sunderland's inefficiencies at defending anything that resembles a Newcastle attack. As good, organized and efficient as Newcastle have been, Sunderland have been equally poor as the match enters its final stages. 

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Newcastle 4-0 Sunderland: Boom, Headshot

The Sunderland supporters are starting to file out of St. James' Park as Newcastle have added yet another goal to their tally. Shola Ameobi now has two goals on the day, three goals on the season, and six for his career in Tyne-Wear derbies. The Magpies supporters are singing "Can we play you every week?" and it's hard to blame them.

On the 70th minute, Danny Simpson swung a post from the right wing to the far post for Andy Carroll, who thundered a header against the crossbar. That hit off the woodwork left Simon Mignolet and most of the Sunderland defense in no man's land. Shola Ameobi was surging into the box from deep and made no mistake about thundering the ball into the back of the net. 

Ameobi and Kevin Nolan are now on two goals each, can either find a hat trick?

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Newcastle 3-0 Sunderland: Titus Bramble Sees Red

Former Newcastle player Titus Bramble has been sent off for Sunderland after denying a clear goal scoring opportunity for Andy Carroll, in the opinion of referee Phil Dowd. According to color commentator Steve McManaman, it was a challenge that will have Magpies fans thinking "That's why we got rid of him."

The card was shown on the 53rd minute and it was questionable whether or not Carroll was truly denied a clear goal scoring opportunity, as he was somewhere between 20 and 25 yards away from goal and there was one other defender that could have conceivably caught him after he beat Bramble. However, it was a poor challenge and a clear cut yellow card at least, so Dowd can hardly be faulted for the decision.

Since the card was shown, Sunderland have brought on Kieran Richardson for Danny Welbeck. Also, for those interested, the camera operator and producer colluded to show us a massive shirtless Geordie for about ten consecutive seconds. This elicited a disgusted reaction from McManaman. When you're up three goals and a man, who cares if former footballers judge your physique?

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Newcastle 3-0 Sunderland: Penalty Kick Adds Insult To Injury

Newcastle have converted a penalty kick deep into first half stoppage time to expand their lead to three goals.

In the second minute of stoppage time, Nedum Onouha hauled down Jonas Gutierrez in the box, giving Phil Dowd no choice but to grant a penalty to the Magpies. Onouha had already been booked previously and Sunderland are lucky to go into halftime with 11 men. It was a silly, unnecessary challenge and a very easy decision for Dowd.

Kevin Nolan didn't step up to the spot in search of his hat trick. Instead, Newcastle's longest serving player, Shola Ameobi stepped up to the spot and hit a brilliant penalty to record his fifth career goal in Tyne-Wear derbies and second of the current English Premier League season. 

Previously, in the 40th minute, Sunderland had made a substitution in an attempt to bring back a goal. Club record signing Asamoah Gyan came off the bench for winger Ahmed Al-Muhammadi, signaling a change in formation. Steve Bruce's change did little good, though, as his team went behind another goal.

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Newcastle 2-0 Sunderland: Kevin Nolan Brace

Captain Kevin Nolan has scored once again to notch his sixth goal of the minute and put Newcastle up 2-0 on the day. Sunderland have been a solid defensive team all season, but their defense looked like a sieve on the second goal and has given the attackers a big job to do.

It took only eight minutes after the equalizer for Newcastle to add their second, this one from open play. The sequence was started by a shot by Jonas from just outside the area that was deflected into the path of Andy Carroll on the right side of the box. He was surprised by where the ball landed and had to hit an improvised scissors kick to get the ball across the face of goal. His ball snaked through the Sunderland defense to a waiting Kevin Nolan, who was completely unmarked. His first touch wasn't the best, but he had plenty of time and eventually tapped it in past Simon Mignolet.

Carroll and Nolan have looked dangerous all match and it doesn't appear that the scoring will end at 2-0. Sunderland have done very little going forward since the first goal and haven't shown any more urgency after the second.

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Newcastle 1-0 Sunderland: Brilliant Opener From Kevin Nolan

Newcastle have created the opener in the Tyne-Wear derby after 26 minutes thanks to Kevin Nolan. The attacking midfielder knocked in his fifth goal of the season after an extremely physical opening to the match.

The goal came as a result of a corner kick,  which swung out towards a cluster of players at the far post. Shola Ameobi was the man who rose above everyone else, knocking it down into the path of Nolan. The man wearing the armband for the Magpies had his back to goal as the ball bounced up and he hit a classy overhead kick, giving Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet no chance and putting the ball into the back of the net.

The previous best opportunities in the match had all come from Sunderland, including a two-on-one counter attack in the first ten minutes in which Danny Welbeck shot into a Newcastle defender despite his unmarked teammate Darren Bent's run towards goal.

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Aston Villa 0-0 Birmingham: A Chippy First Half In The Second City Derby

The Second City Derby remains scoreless at half time. Birmingham City have had the better of the chances, with one shot on target. Aston Villa have barely moved out of their half in the last twenty minutes before the break, with the Blues constantly putting the ball in the Villa area. Thus far the home side have managed to keep the ball out of their net through a combination of headers and desperate kicks, but unless Gerard Houllier gives them a new strategy during teatime, the match will likely swing Birmingham's way.

The match is a chippy affair, as always. Villa defender Stephen Warnock saw his fifth yellow of the season just before the end of the half, while Birmingham players Nikola Zigic and Craig Gardner have already seen a yellow card. The visitors appealed for a penalty when Nigel Reo-Coker appeared to brush the ball with his hand inside the area. Howard Webb may have realized that giving such a soft penalty would have caused riots in Birmingham, and so wisely chose to assume that Reo-Coker had unintentionally handled the ball.

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English Premier League Sunday: Derbies in Birmingham, Tyneside Before Liverpool Visit Bolton

Aston Villa host Birmingham City in the first of Sunday's English Premier League matches. The Second City Derby features rivals separated by just a point, with Villa looking to regain a European place in the table, and Birmingham City trying to prove that they deserve to be fixtures in the Premier League. With the news announced that the Birmingham clubs will now face each other in the next round of the Carling Cup, with the tie taking place at the end of November, the derby will likely be feistier than ever.

Before the end of ninety minutes in Birmingham, the Tyne-Wear derby kicks off, with Sunderland traveling to St. James Park to face rivals Newcastle. Sunderland haven't won at St. James since 2000, but perhaps a bit of Halloween luck will be on their side, and the Magpies will suffer in the path of the Black Cats. After all, the team has lost just once in nine league matches, but then again, a win for the home side would put Newcastle over their rivals, an incentive the Toon will surely capitalize on.

Sunday ends with Liverpool traveling to Reebok Stadium to take on Bolton Wanderers. The Reds hope to build upon last week's win against Blackburn by stopping the marauding Trotters, another club that's only lost once this season. With Fernando Torres finally ending his scoring drought last weekend, the visitors may be able to break free of the draw that seems the forgone conclusion of a match with Bolton.

 

Here at SB Nation Soccer, we'll be providing updates throughout this lovely Halloween day. Kick-off comes in an hour--until then, check out our preview stream, breaking down all of today's matches.

 

Day Time (EDT) Home Road Pick
Sunday 8:00 a.m. Aston Villa Birmingham City 2-0, Birmingham
9:30 a.m. Newcastle Sunderland 1-0, Newcastle
12:00 p.m. Bolton Liverpool 1-1, Liverpool
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