Premier League predictions: Lawro v Yatez

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There is one standout match among the New Year fixtures – Thursday’s game between champions Manchester City and leaders Liverpool.

The Reds remain unbeaten this season in the league and hold a seven-point lead over Pep Guardiola’s side, who have lost three of their past five games.

BBC Sport’s football expert Mark Lawrenson says: “Regarding City, the circumstances coming into the match highlight how big Riyad Mahrez’s penalty miss against Liverpool was.

“Back then it was harder to gauge the magnitude, but now it’s: ‘Crikey!'”

Lawro is making predictions for all 380 top-flight matches this season, against a variety of guests.

This week’s guest is Birmingham rapper Yatez, whose new football-themed song Top Striker– which references players such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Paul Scholes and Alan Shearer – is out now.

Yatez’s favourite time as an Aston Villa fan came when Martin O’Neill was manager. “It was the days of Olof Mellberg, Gareth Barry and James Milner – when we were a top-six team. It would be nice if those times came back around soon”

Yatez is an Aston Villa fan who feels they are heading in the right direction under manager Dean Smith, but he will not be happy until they are back in the Premier League.

“Things are better than they have been, but it is not back to normal for me yet,” he told BBC Sport. “We are a big club and we need to be back up there.

“I am a big fan of Dean Smith – I like his attacking style of play and he has really lifted the mood around the club since he took over in October.

“I am hoping he can strengthen our defence in the January transfer window. Attack-wise, we are already one of the best, if not the best in the Championship.

“If we do go up this season, then I think we will do OK. It is just getting promoted that is hard because it is such a tough division to get out of.”

Premier League predictions – week 21
Result Lawro Yatez
TUESDAY
Everton v Leicester x-x 2-0 1-2
Arsenal v Fulham x-x 2-0 3-1
Cardiff v Tottenham x-x 0-2 0-2
WEDNESDAY
Bournemouth v Watford x-x 1-1 2-2
Chelsea v Southampton x-x 2-0 3-0
Huddersfield v Burnley x-x 1-1 0-1
West Ham v Brighton x-x 2-0 2-1
Wolves v Crystal Palace x-x 2-0 0-1
Newcastle v Man Utd x-x 0-2 1-3
THURSDAY
Man City v Liverpool x-x 1-1 2-1

A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.

LAWRO’S PREDICTIONS

All kick-offs 19:45 GMT unless stated.

TUESDAY

Everton v Leicester (12:30 GMT)

I hear there are a few rumblings among the Everton supporters. What’s frustrating for them is their team wins 5-1 at Burnley and then loses 1-0 against Brighton – they must wonder what that’s all about.

Leicester have had great recent results, with victories over Chelsea and Manchester City. But explain this… they then lose at home to Cardiff!

Both the Foxes and Toffees are quite similar – you look at them and say “kick on” – but then they lose. They’re in that group below the top sides.

Everton are at home so I think they’ll win this.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Yatez’s prediction: 1-2

Match preview

Arsenal v Fulham (15:00 GMT)

I know Liverpool played well in the 5-1 win on Saturday, but Arsenal were horrific defensively. You can’t go to Anfield when you’ve got full-backs who can’t run.

The Gunners have got good players, but has the team really changed that much under new manager Unai Emery? When it comes down to the nitty-gritty against good teams they’re not good enough defensively. Is keeper Bernd Leno better than Petr Cech? He makes great saves, but does he have presence?

Against top sides they can’t keep the goals out and that’s a worry.

But this match is against Fulham at home. The Cottagers had a good win at Huddersfield and manager Claudio Ranieri has somewhat steadied the ship – but the Gunners will be victorious.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Yatez’s prediction: 3-1

Match preview

Cardiff v Tottenham (17:30 GMT)

I was listening to Tottenham v Wolves on 5 live, but switched the commentary off at half-time thinking the home side would win. They didn’t, obviously, but we should focus on the fact Spurs came into the match having won five on the spin.

Are the London club paying for not spending in the summer? I don’t think so. Until Saturday they were second in the league. Of course, from Tuesday they have the chance of bringing in someone if they wish.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side don’t have too many negative “wow” results – they usually comfortably beat teams outside the top six, so they should win in Wales.

What Cardiff have shown this season is they can hang on in there. If they lose a couple of games it doesn’t change their philosophy – they just keep going.

Manager Neil Warnock has been open and vocal about looking to bring players in, and I think they’ve given themselves a chance of staying up.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Yatez’s prediction: 0-2

WEDNESDAY

Bournemouth v Watford

Bournemouth have collapsed – they’ve only won two games in 10. They’ve also lost Simon Francis, their best defender, to a long-term injury.

I don’t think the Cherries are in relegation trouble. I’m just a little bit worried they are losing so many games and conceding a lot of goals.

Watford have taken over from Stoke as the most difficult team to predict a result for.

Both these sides will do more than “just enough” to get over the line this season because I predict the amount of points which will result in relegation will be the lowest ever.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Yatez’s prediction: 2-2

Chelsea v Southampton

What will please Southampton supporters with new boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is his team are having a real go. For those who aren’t among the best in the league, there’s nothing worse than not having a go.

Southampton are going to be OK with him in charge because they will win games. It’s understandable conceding a handful of goals against the top teams; the key to staying in this league is beating the others.

Chelsea are a good, hardened side – they know what to do to win. They now sit five points above Arsenal in fourth but, despite the decent gap, the Champions League positions are not a foregone conclusion. Arsenal bully teams below them and can win half-a-dozen games on the bounce.

That top-five contest will run and run, and won’t be done until very late.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Yatez’s prediction: 3-0

Huddersfield v Burnley

We’re not talking Real Madrid v Barcelona here – it’ll be more thud and blunder than blood and thunder.

Burnley got that win against the Hammers, so they’ve got a bit of confidence back.

The Terriers are really difficult to beat but, partly because of that, they don’t look like scoring. It’s too early to say they’re going down because they might pinch someone in the transfer market who can get them 10 goals – although would a decent forward want to join a relegation fight?

Put it this way, I don’t think this game will be leading Match of the Day.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Yatez’s prediction: 0-1 – Burnley play in the right colours so I’ve got to go with them.

West Ham v Brighton

I think the Hammers will get back to winning ways against Brighton.

As much as I love my old team, they never look like taking sides apart away from home. I’m pretty sure Chris Hughton’s men won’t get relegated because their form at the Amex Stadium is very, very good.

I heard West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini’s comments about the scheduling during the festive period – if that’s a problem then he shouldn’t have taken the job.

You know at the start of the season it’s manic at Christmas and New Year. The Chilean wasn’t complaining when his side were on a run of four wins on the bounce.

This period is why the league is so good. It’s never going to change unless they bring in a winter break.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Yatez’s prediction: 2-1. I kind of feel like I’ve got to back all the teams that play in claret and blue now. To be fair, I would have backed them to win this one anyway.

Wolves v Crystal Palace

Palace took until the 85th minute to register a shot on goal in the 1-0 defeat by Chelsea.

Will it be a different Palace by the close of the January transfer window? Will they add two or three more players to add to the goal tally? It will be concern if they don’t.

Wolves are a good side, and the 3-1 win at Tottenham will kick them on. I had wondered where the goals would come from at Wembley Stadium – how wrong was I?

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Yatez’s prediction: 0-1

Newcastle v Man Utd (20:00 GMT)

I think we’re going slightly over the top with the reaction to Manchester United’s winning run under caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. They beat Cardiff, Huddersfield and Bournemouth. Yes, they played well in those games, and it’s not their fault they faced sides of that level.

They’ve got a spring back in their step, and arguably one of the best players in world on his day – Paul Pogba – is starting to look like that. The confidence comes back after that run, thinking they can beat anybody. I’ll hold judgement until they play Tottenham on 13 January.

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez will be slightly upset his side only managed a point against Watford. Rafa will set his team up to stop the visitors, but they win very few games at home.

It’s not in Benitez’s DNA to ‘have a go’. He’ll want Solskjaer’s side to find a way to try to unlock his team.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Yatez’s prediction: 1-3. I don’t think United have got a chance of making the top four under Solskjaer, but I have this crazy vision in my head that, if they can get past Paris St-Gemain in the last 16 of the Champions League – which is possible, then they have got a sniff of going all the way in Europe. After what he did, scoring the winner in the 1999 final, it would be an amazing story if Solskjaer took over and repeated that glory as United manager.

THURSDAY

Man City v Liverpool (20:00 GMT)

Super Thursday! It’s a massive fixture.

Because it’s Liverpool, Pep Guardiola’s side will need to win. The Reds, on the other hand, will be happy with either one of two results – the win or draw.

Of course, they won’t play for the draw, but a point will make City’s attempt to close the seven-point gap a lot more difficult.

It’ll not be an end-to-end encounter – it’ll be cagey. It’ll be very different to some of last season’s clashes between the sides, but similar to their first meeting this season when there were relatively few chances during the 0-0 draw.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will want his potent forward line to get a few opportunities, but if you’re either side would you go gung-ho knowing you leave yourself open to the counter-attack?

These two teams will have massive respect for each other’s attack, and because of that I think this will be a stalemate.

A 1-1 scoreline will be a far better for Liverpool – privately Klopp will be thinking his team will have a better chance of winning the league if they don’t get beaten.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Yatez’s prediction: 2-1 – this is a tough one. I feel like City have to win it otherwise it is Liverpool’s title, because it has been slipping away from them. I think it will be close, but I think City will edge it.

How did Lawro do last time?

From the last set of Premier League games on 29 and 30 December, Lawro got six correct results, including one perfect score, from 10 matches, for a total of 90 points.

He beat Wolf Alice bassist Theo Ellis, who got two correct results, with one exact score, for a total of 50 points.

Total scores after week 20
Lawro 1,730
Guests 1,560
Lawro v Guests
P20 W10 D2 L8
+/- DENOTE POSITION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAWRO’S TABLE AND ACTUAL POSITION
TEAM P W D L PTS +/-
1 Man City 20 18 2 0 56 +1
2 Man Utd 20 17 3 0 54 +4
3 Liverpool 20 13 7 0 46 -2
4 Tottenham 20 12 6 2 42 -1
5 Chelsea 20 12 4 4 40 -1
6 Leicester 20 10 4 6 34 +2
7 Everton 20 10 1 9 31 +3
8 Arsenal 20 9 3 8 30 -2
9 Newcastle 20 8 5 7 29 +6
10 Fulham 20 8 3 9 27 +9
11 Burnley 20 6 5 9 23 +7
=11 Crystal Palace 20 6 5 9 23 +3
13 Bournemouth 20 6 4 10 22 -1
=13 Watford 20 7 1 12 22 -4
=15 West Ham 20 5 3 12 18 -4
=15 Wolves 20 5 3 12 18 -8
17 Southampton 20 5 2 13 17 0
=18 Brighton 20 2 5 13 11 -5
=18 Cardiff 20 2 5 13 11 -2
20 Huddersfield 20 2 3 15 9 0

GUEST LEADERBOARD 2018-19

SCORE GUEST LEADERBOARD
160 David Ginola
140 The 1975’s Ross MacDonald
120 Joe Thomas
90 Jim Glennie, Karl Pilkington, Chris Stark
86 Lawro (average after 19 weeks)
80 Richard Ashcroft, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg James, Mark Wahlberg
60 Idris Elba, Dolph Lundgren, Mumford & Sons, Dillian Whyte
50 Bring Me The Horizon, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre and Theo Ellis.
40 Tom Grennan, Josh Warrington

Lawro’s best score: 260 points (week seven v Karl Pilkington)

Lawro’s worst score: 40 points (week three v Idris Elba, week eight v Chris Stark and week 12 v Mumford & Sons)

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