Sport In a stew: Downing is counting on a Cup win to build confidence

Being known as a "Cup team" is a mixed compliment, implying the ability to raise your game for one-off occasions, but never to sustain it. If Wigan Athletic, FA Cup winners relegated within a week, are newcomers to the genre, West Ham United have been at it rather longer.

Darren Bent claims he can handle expectations

Darren Bent insists he can handle the pressure of being Aston Villa's record signing after completing his £18million move from Sunderland.

Bruce accuses Bent of betraying Sunderland

Manager says £24m striker failed to give his all in build-up to Aston Villa move

Aston Villa sign Darren Bent in record deal

Aston Villa have smashed their transfer record in signing Sunderland striker Darren Bent in a deal which could eventually be worth £24million.

Darren Bent hands in transfer request

Aston Villa will have to come up with in excess of £20m to persuade Sunderland to part company with striker Darren Bent.

Collins rescues vital Villa point in Midlands derby

Birmingham 1 Aston Villa 1

Bardsley sends Villa into the dropzone

Aston Villa 0 Sunderland 1

Bruce shuts up shop to all but 'crazy offers'

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce insists only a "ridiculous" offer would prompt him even to think about selling one of his key players this month.

Van der Vaart scores two as Spurs beat Villa 2-1

Aston Villa 1 Tottenham 2

Heskey heads Villain the right direction

Aston Villa 2 West Bromwich Albion 1: Ex-Anfield striker stirs happier memories for Houllier as Di Matteo suffers

Pedersen provides the welcome to greet Rovers' new owners in style

Blackburn Rovers 2 Aston Villa 0

Albrighton has Fulham all at sea but then ensures their rescue

Fulham 1 Aston Villa 1

Fulham share spoils after last-gasp equaliser

Fulham 1 Aston Villa 1

Houllier refuses to take credit for Aston Villa win

Gerard Houllier refused to take credit for the double substitution which spared Aston Villa's blushes and booked them a Carling Cup quarter-final spot.

Downing's stunning strike ensures Villa do not pay for their profligacy

Aston Villa 2 Burnley 1 (aet)

Downing sends Villa through at expense of brave Burnley

Aston Villa 2 Burnley 1 (after extra-time)
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Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
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Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker