Premier League predictions: Lawro v singer-songwriter & Liverpool fan Ben Howard – BBC Sport

Lawro's predictions

It is derby day in Manchester on Sunday, but can Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side be the team that ends table-topping Manchester City’s record 21-game winning run?

“It depends on what Manchester United decide to do,” said BBC football expert and former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson. “They beat City twice at Etihad Stadium last season and they might think ‘let’s go for it again’ this time.

“I don’t think they will, though. We’re more likely to see a repeat of United’s thinking in most of their other big Premier League games this season, where it feels like they have been happy with a point.”

Snapshot showing top of the Premier League table: 1st Man City, 2nd Man Utd, 3rd Leicester, 4th Chelsea, 5th Everton & 6th West Ham

Lawro is making predictions for all 380 Premier League matches this season, against a variety of guests.

For this weekend’s fixtures, he is up against singer-songwriter Ben Howard, who is a Liverpool fan.

Ben Howard
Howard releases his fourth album Collections From The Whiteout at the end of March. His latest single What A Day was Annie Mac’s Hottest Record In The World on her Future Sounds show on Radio 1 at the end of January.

Howard was born in London and moved to Devon when he was eight, but he followed family tradition by becoming a Red.

“It’s always been Liverpool for me,” Howard told BBC Sport. “My dad is from up that way and used to go to all of their games with his dad. I think he passed it on to me by osmosis.

“I should probably be a Plymouth Argyle fan, but I grew up in the suburbs of London and our school football coach was from Brentford so I followed them a bit too. They are probably still my second team now – it would be incredible to see them in the Premier League.

“But it was Liverpool I always wanted to play for, right from when I was little. Steve McManaman was my first hero because I used to play out on the wing when I was at school, and he was the king. I guess I modelled myself on him.

“A bit later on, it was John Arne Riise who was my favourite, as well as Liverpool legends like Steven Gerrard.

“We’ve always had some great players but there was a stage where I seemed to spend my whole life with Liverpool being beaten by Manchester United – that was my era when I started getting into them anyway. Things have changed a bit there now though, fortunately.”

Ben Howard
Howard won two Brit awards in 2013 – Best New Artist and Best British Male Artist. His previous three albums have all made the top four, with 2014’s I Forget Where We Were reaching number one.

Howard does not remember Liverpool winning the league title in 1990 – he had just turned three – so found it especially sweet to see them win the Premier League last season.

“I’d seen us win plenty of other things but, in terms of being league champions, that was the first time I’d seen it for myself in my lifetime,” he added. “It was incredible. It’s just a shame there were no crowds there when it happened.

“This season hasn’t been the same, obviously. It’s been so strange, because it was looking quite rosy until before Christmas.

“It’s been difficult of course, because we have missed some key players, especially in defence, but there have been times where we have still played pretty well but things just haven’t gone for us.”

Result Lawro Ben
SATURDAY
Burnley v Arsenal x-x 1-1 0-2
Sheff Utd v Southampton x-x 1-1 0-1
Aston Villa v Wolves x-x 0-1 2-1
Brighton v Leicester x-x 2-0 0-3
SUNDAY
West Brom v Newcastle x-x 0-0 2-1
Liverpool v Fulham x-x 2-0 12-0
Man City v Man Utd x-x 2-0 1-1
Tottenham v Crystal Palace x-x 2-0 2-0
MONDAY
Chelsea v Everton x-x 2-0 2-3
West Ham v Leeds x-x 2-0 3-2

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

LAWRO’S PREDICTIONS

SATURDAY

Burnley v Arsenal

Burnley v Arsenal (12:30 GMT)

Burnley were much improved when they shared the points with Leicester on Wednesday, while Arsenal were very impressive when they beat the Foxes at the weekend.

The Gunners will want revenge for their home defeat by the Clarets before Christmas, when they had Granit Xhaka sent off and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored Burnley’s winner with an own goal.

It is a draw I am going for here, though, which will help keep Burnley edging away from the bottom three.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Ben’s prediction: Arsenal were brilliant against Leicester and if they play like that again they are going to beat Burnley too. 0-2

Sheff Utd v Southampton

Sheff Utd v Southampton (15:00 GMT)

Southampton’s freefall continued with their defeat against Everton on Monday and they have now taken just one point from their past nine matches.

This Saints slump needs to stop soon if they are going to stay up, because the 30 points they have so far will not be enough for survival.


Everton 1-0 Southampton: Ralph Hasenhuttl says his team still need more points to avoid drop

Saturday won’t be easy for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side either, especially now key midfielder Oriol Romeu has been ruled out for the rest of the season. He is like Kalvin Phillips at Leeds – the heartbeat of their team.

Sheffield United are in a much worse situation in the table, but they got a great win over Aston Villa on Wednesday and have clearly not given up hope yet.

It will be close but I think Southampton will get something out of the game, and even a point would be something for them to build on.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Ben’s prediction: I’m going to go with a Southampton win – they really need it. 0-1

Aston Villa v Wolves

Aston Villa v Wolves (17:30 GMT)

Aston Villa are becoming very difficult to predict. They showed they could cope without Jack Grealish when they beat Leeds last weekend, but they were pretty poor in his absence as they lost to Sheffield United on Wednesday.

The good news for Villa is that Grealish could be back against Wolves, who have been looking more like their old selves lately.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were well beaten in the end by Manchester City in midweek but they were still hard to break down. They didn’t get much of a chance to attack against City but, apart from that game, they have had a bit more bite recently too.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-1

Ben’s prediction: 2-1

Brighton v Leicester

Brighton v Leicester (20:00 GMT)

Leicester dropped more points in their draw at Burnley on Wednesday but they did not play too badly in that one considering their injury issues.

The Foxes have got another fight on their hands here, though. Brighton have ended up empty-handed in their past couple of games, against Crystal Palace then West Brom, but they are playing well and sooner or later they are going to get a result that their performance merits, or even get a bit of luck themselves.

Leicester hammered the Seagulls at King Power Stadium before Christmas but that was when their forward line was fit and firing on all cylinders, which is not the case now.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Ben’s prediction: 0-3

SUNDAY

West Brom v Newcastle

West Brom v Newcastle (12:00 GMT)

Being honest, I can’t see this one being a thriller, because both of these sides usually focus on making themselves hard to beat.

I don’t see Newcastle changing that cautious approach, especially now Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin have joined the injured Callum Wilson in the treatment room. That means their three best attacking players are all unavailable.

Snapshot showing bottom of the Premier League table: 15th Burnley, 16th Brighton, 17th Newcastle, 18th Fulham, 19th West Brom & 20th Sheff Utd

West Brom won’t just throw caution to the wind, especially after suffering so many heavy defeats earlier in Sam Allardyce’s reign, but this will surely be a game that he looks at as one his side have to win, or at least have a good chance of winning.

So, if it is goalless with half an hour to go, it will probably be the Baggies who go for it a bit more. The problem with that is they look better on the counter-attack than they do when they are controlling play.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-0

Ben’s prediction: I am going to be deeply unpopular with my manager, who is a massive Newcastle fan. I texted him and said I am going with West Brom. Brutal, I know. I’d actually quite like Newcastle to win, but West Brom seem to have picked up a bit recently. I do think Newcastle will stay up though, even though my manager doesn’t seem very confident about that. He fears the worst every season. 2-1

Liverpool v Fulham

Liverpool v Fulham (14:00 GMT)

I am at this game for BBC Radio 5 Live and, in normal circumstances under Jurgen Klopp, I would be saying this will be a routine home win for Liverpool.

Nothing feels routine for Liverpool at Anfield at the moment, though, with the run they are on there at the moment – Thursday’s defeat by Chelsea was their fifth in a row at home in the league.

Having Fabinho fit again at centre-back will obviously help the Reds in defence, but the key to the outcome of this one is going to be what they are like going forward, because scoring goals has become one of their biggest issues.

As Fulham have shown us on plenty of occasions in the past few weeks, they won’t be a pushover. They won’t lack belief, either, after going within a few minutes of beating Liverpool at Craven Cottage in December.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Ben’s prediction: I like Fulham – they play good football, and like all the teams at the bottom they seem to be competitive most weeks – but I’m not going against Liverpool here, and the goals have got to come back at some point. You get some prediction points just for the result, don’t you? In that case, I’m going big. 12-0

Ben on the race for the top four: “There are places up for grabs and it is so competitive because there are so many other good teams. It has been like this all season, really close, which is good to see. It has been strange not to see Liverpool in the Champions League spots recently but we have got work to do if we want to finish in them.

Man City v Man Utd

Manchester City v Manchester United (16:30 GMT)

United must know by now that they are not going to stop City winning the league.

I remember in April 2018 when City led 2-0 in this game at half-time and were about to clinch the title, but United came back to win 3-2.

That only delayed the inevitable, though. City were crowned champions a few days later.


Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits he’s concerned by his side’s lack of goals

It’s similar with this game. United have been struggling to score of late – they have drawn a blank in their past three games in all competitions – but, if they do get something out of it, it will be more important for their top-four hopes than for catching City at the top.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Ben’s prediction: It could be one of those games where City run away with it. I just have a feeling this is going to be cagey though. 1-1

Tottenham v Crystal Palace

Tottenham v Crystal Palace (19:15 GMT)

Crystal Palace have gone three games unbeaten now, and the five points they have picked up in that time have been really important. Mathematically they aren’t safe of course, but you look at them and know they are not going to get relegated now – the pressure is off.


Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson ‘proud’ of point against Manchester United.

It’s hard to know what to expect from Tottenham these days, as we found out against Fulham in midweek when they had to hang on to take the points.

But if they play like they can do, and let their attacking players off the leash like they did when they beat Burnley last weekend then they should win this game.

The best part of this Spurs team are their three forwards – Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Gareth Bale – so they might as well go for it, because playing more pragmatically has not worked for them.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Ben’s prediction: 2-0

MONDAY

Chelsea v Everton

Chelsea v Everton (18:00 GMT)

Both these sides are right in the mix for the top four and this is a tough one to call.

Chelsea still haven’t conceded a home goal in four games under Thomas Tuchel and Everton are better on the road than they are at Goodison Park – the Toffees haven’t lost an away game since 1 November and 29 of their 46 points have come on the road.

I’m going to go with a Chelsea win here, although it would not surprise me if Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti ends up getting something to show for his return to Stamford Bridge.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Ben’s prediction: I’m going for goals. I started off with a 2-2 but I kind of fancy a bit of an upset here. 2-3

West Ham v Leeds

West Ham v Leeds (20:00 GMT)

Leeds are very up and down at the moment – they are a bit like Aston Villa in that they are hard to predict.

West Ham have been far more consistent, which is why they are in the race for the top four. Yes, they lost at Manchester City last weekend but that was still a very good performance.

If Kalvin Phillips is back in the Leeds midfield then that improves their chances, but I’m backing the Hammers to maintain their impressive form.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Ben’s prediction: I’m going for another 3-2 here, but to the home team this time. Can you tell I just want to see loads of goals? 3-2

Lawro and Ben were speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

How did Lawro do last time?

From the midweek Premier League games, Lawro got three correct results from the seven midweek matches, with no exact scores, for a total of 30 points.

He was beaten by DJ, producer and Tottenham fan Majestic, who also got three correct results, but with one exact score, giving him a total of 60 points.

Lawro's League Table graphic

TEAM P W D L PTS +/-
1 Man City 27 23 4 0 73 0
2 Man Utd 27 21 4 2 67 0
3 Chelsea 27 19 6 2 63 +1
4 Liverpool 27 16 10 1 58 +3
5 Leeds 26 18 1 7 55 +6
6 Tottenham 26 16 5 5 53 +2
7 Leicester 27 13 5 9 44 -4
8 Arsenal 26 13 3 10 42 +2
9 Wolves 27 10 9 8 39 +3
10 Everton 26 8 9 9 33 -5
11 West Ham 26 9 5 12 32 -5
12 Burnley 27 8 7 12 31 +3
13 Brighton 26 8 5 13 29 +3
14 Southampton 26 8 2 16 26 0
15 Aston Villa 25 6 7 12 25 -6
=17 Crystal Palace 27 5 7 15 22 -4
=17 Newcastle 26 7 1 18 22 0
18 Sheff Utd 27 5 5 17 20 +2
19 Fulham 27 3 0 24 9 -1
20 West Brom 27 0 3 24 3 -1

GUEST LEADERBOARD 2020-21

110 Sister Bliss, Amy Macdonald, Dot Major, Steve White
90 Adam Devonshire, Becky Hill, Passenger, Chris Shiflett
80 Celeste, Dan Flint, Peter Hooton, Raye
75 Lawro (average after 27 weeks)
70 Sam Carter, Lou Cotterill
60 Majestic, Caroline Weir
50 Declan McKenna, Paul Smith, Alex Sprogis, DJ Target
40 Gavin ‘Mo’ Edgeley
30 Rick Astley, Lewis Evans, Gethin Jones, Fraser T. Smith
20 Charlie Forbes, Dougie Payne
0 Rema