Premier League predictions: Lawro v NBA stars Saric & Baynes

Lawro's predictions

Manchester City travel to Liverpool on Sunday in a mouth-watering fixture – but will the Premier League leaders’ unbeaten record survive their trip to Anfield, and will the game live up to its billing?

BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson: “It is the biggest game of the weekend and hopefully it is the best game of the weekend in terms of the football both teams play.

“I think there is a good chance of that happening. I can’t think that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will play defensively, will he? Liverpool can’t play that way anyhow.

Lawro is going for a 1-1 draw – do you agree? You can make your own predictions now, take on Lawro and other fans, create your own league and try to make it to the top of the table by playing the new-look BBC Sport Predictor game.

Table showing the overall leaderboard of the BBC predictions game, and Lawro's position in it, after week 22<!–

The scores from the FA Cup third round did not count but, from the last round of Premier League games, Lawro scored 90 points in week 21, which leaves him in 2,853rd place out of more than 345,000 users.

He will be making a prediction for all 380 top-flight games this season, against a variety of guests.

This week, Lawro takes Dario Saric of the Philadelphia 76ers and Aron Baynes of the Boston Celtics, who meet at the O2 Arena on Thursday in the eighth regular season game to take place in London.

Aron Baynes<!–

Baynes, 31, joined Boston Celtics in 2017 after two seasons with Detroit Pistons

New Zealand-born Baynes admits he does not know much about football and struggles a bit with some of the team names when it came to making his predictions – West Town and South Hamilton both feature – but he did try the sport growing up in Australia, and enjoyed watching it too.

He told BBC Sport: “It was mostly six-a-side – just playing around after school.

“I never really played the big organised 11-a-side game but the town I grew up in, Mareeba, had a lot of Italian and Spanish people living there so soccer was definitely at the forefront out there, up in North Queensland.

“I watched a lot of the Premier League growing up – one of my best friends was from England and they were pretty hardcore Manchester [United] fans, so I watched a bit of the Premier League when I was over at his place.

“His dad would always have it on, so to try to give them a little bit of a dig I would support anyone else who was up against Manchester [United] at that point in time.

“Then my brother started following Chelsea a lot and I tried to give it to him a little bit as well – so mainly when other teams were playing those two I would go for the opposition and have a little bit of fun that way.”

Dario Saric<!–

Saric, 23, joined the 76ers from Turkish team Anadolu Efes in 2016

Saric, who is from Croatia, also played in his youth and was a fan of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, although his favourite player was former Juventus and AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi.

“Football is like the main sport in Croatia,” Saric told BBC Sport. “We have had a lot of legendary players and we have some very good ones at the moment too.

“As a kid, you start to play on the street, and you play against your neighbours and your friends.

“I chose to play basketball but even now I follow football more than the basketball and know more football players than NBA ones because of the area I grew up in and the people I grew up with.”

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 15:00 GMT unless otherwise stated.

SATURDAY

Chelsea v Leicester<!–

Chelsea v Leicester

I was at the FA Cup tie between Fleetwood and Leicester on Saturday and Claude Puel’s side did not play well, but he had made a lot of changes so you cannot read too much into that performance.

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Highlights: Fleetwood 0-0 Leicester

Jamie Vardy, who was injured for that tie, is one of the Foxes players who should be back this time. A lot of them have had a rest, which will be good for them.

Chelsea have had a busier schedule and played the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final against Arsenal on Wednesday, but they have home advantage and I think they will make it count.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Saric’s prediction: Leicester this season are like last year – not so good. Chelsea will win. 2-0

Baynes’s prediction: Let’s go Leicester! Give it to my brother’s old team. 0-1

Crystal Palace v Burnley<!–

Crystal Palace v Burnley

Burnley have been hiccupping in terms of results – their FA Cup defeat by Manchester City was their sixth successive game without a win.

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FA Cup: Man City 4-1 Burnley highlights

But the Clarets have still been playing pretty well and it took very late goals for Manchester United to deny them a win and Liverpool to steal victory during that run.

Crystal Palace are also out of the FA Cup, but their league form has been much better in the same period.

This is a tough one to call because I am expecting a very close game, but I just have a feeling the Eagles might slip up after their really good run.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-2

Saric’s prediction: 1-1

Baynes’s prediction: Crystal. They have got the glassware, so let’s go 1-0.

Huddersfield v West Ham<!–

Huddersfield v West Ham

West Ham survived their FA Cup trip to Shrewsbury and have only lost one of their past seven league games too. They have won three of them, so David Moyes is on a good run at the moment.

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FA Cup: Shrewsbury Town 0-0 West Ham highlights

Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham are the only teams to have beaten Huddersfield at home this season, but I just don’t see the Hammers losing here.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Saric’s prediction: 1-2

Baynes’s prediction (he is clearly not au fait with the Hammers): I am giving it to the West Town here. 0-2

Newcastle v Swansea<!–

Newcastle v Swansea

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez is still trying to bring players in – but might have to face up to the fact that this is going to be a frustrating month for him and just get on with things.

Even if they don’t sign anyone, I would still give the Magpies more hope of staying up than Swansea.

Premier League - bottom six snapshot: West Ham in 15th, Bournemouth in 16th, Southampton in 17th, Stoke in 18th, West Brom in 19th and Swansea in 20th<!–

Newcastle are 13th, also on 22 points but above West Ham and Crystal Palace on goal difference

Swansea also need new players but I don’t know who they will be able to sign that could make a difference and, from the sounds of it, neither does their new manager Carlos Carvalhal.

If Rafa thinks he has it hard, then he should probably ask Carvalhal what he is thinking at the moment.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Saric’s prediction: 2-2

Baynes’s prediction: Let’s go Newcastle. I hope it’s a cracker. 1-0

Watford v Southampton<!–

Watford v Southampton

Both of these teams won their FA Cup ties last weekend but this is not exactly a meeting of two in-form sides – Watford and Southampton have both taken four points from the past 27 available.

Southampton are surely going to strengthen, because what is the point of selling Virgil van Dijk now if they are just going to bank the money?

Saints need to do something to stop their slide – they are only above the relegation zone on goal difference – and a draw would probably be a decent result for them. They really need a win, though.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Saric’s prediction: 2-0

Baynes’s prediction (again, I don’t think he grew up a fan of Alan Shearer or Matt le Tissier): Watford v South Hamilton? I am going one-nothing to South Hamilton. 0-1

West Brom v Brighton<!–

West Brom v Brighton

West Brom beat Exeter City in the FA Cup to give Alan Pardew his first victory as their manager, at the ninth attempt.

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FA Cup: Exeter 0-2 West Brom highlights

Pardew played a pretty strong team against the League Two side – which you would do in his position – just to get a win.

The Baggies have not won in the Premier League since 22 August, but they are still fighting and I think they will finally put that right this weekend.

Brighton are another team in the bottom half of the table and still very much involved in the relegation scrap – everyone is from Watford, who are in 10th place, down – and, if they do lose here, it just makes things even tighter.

There are so many teams in it and they will all have to play each other, so I think it will go to the wire. It could be that a team look safe but then lose their last six games of the season and end up going down.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-0

Saric’s prediction: 1-0

Baynes’s prediction: West Brom it is! 2-0

Tottenham v Everton<!–

Tottenham v Everton (17:30 GMT)

Everton have now lost three games in a row following their FA Cup defeat by Liverpool – and I think Tottenham might make it four.

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Highlights: Liverpool 2-1 Everton

We are likely to see the Toffees’ new signing Cenk Tosun at some point – even if boss Sam Allardyce doesn’t start with him up front – but it will take him some time to adjust to the pace of the Premier League.

Tottenham are just starting to find their stride a little bit – their only defeat in their past eight league games was against Manchester City and the only other game where they have dropped points in that run was against West Ham.

Allardyce will try to contain Spurs and keep them out, but I don’t think he will manage it.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Saric’s prediction: 3-1

Baynes’s prediction: I played for San Antonio Spurs and won the NBA championship, so I am going to give it to Spurs here. 2-1

SUNDAY

Bournemouth v Arsenal<!–

Bournemouth v Arsenal (13:30 GMT)

Arsenal’s defence of the FA Cup ended in style, if you can call it that, at the hands of Championship side Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

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FA Cup: Nottingham Forest 4-2 Arsenal highlights

Bournemouth are still in it, but only just after battling back to draw 2-2 with League One leaders Wigan

I’m going to go with another draw in this game too, because Arsenal are pretty inconsistent away from home – which is a worry.

It should be quite an open game, but I can see the Gunners dropping more points.

I don’t see manager Arsene Wenger’s touchline ban having anything to do with it, though, especially at Bournemouth where the stands are so close to the pitch. He can still communicate with his players during the match and speak to them at half-time as well.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Saric’s prediction: 0-2

Baynes’s prediction: 1-3

Liverpool v Man City<!–

Liverpool v Man City (16:00 GMT)

Manchester City have just been absolutely brilliant but this will be a tough test for them. Going to any of the top four away from home is hard.

They have already won at Manchester United and Chelsea but I am going for a draw for Pep Guardiola’s side this time.

Guardiola will not change his approach to the game – City will play the same way and go on the attack.

It will be interesting to see what the atmosphere is like and what difference that makes to both teams.

I know what it is like at Anfield for a game like this where probably not many of the home fans are expecting to win. There is different feel to the place then – a bit like a colosseum atmosphere – which might be a bit different for City.

Whatever happens, I don’t think it will stop City’s march towards the title. They are going for four trophies this season, and I think they will end up winning three of them.

The Champions League is the only one they have only got a 50-50 chance of winning. The way they are going in the league, where they just keep on winning, they can afford to go for the domestic cup competitions too.

Premier League - top six snapshot: Man City in 1st, Man Utd in 2nd, Chelsea 3rd, Liverpool 4th, Tottenham in 5th and Arsenal in 6th<!–

This is Liverpool’s first game since losing Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona, and having Adam Lallana fit again does soften the blow somewhat.

I am not sure Jurgen Klopp will look to bring someone else in because I think he will look and think he has got enough to get them into the Champions League places.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Saric’s prediction: 2-4

Baynes’s prediction: That’s a toss-up for me. I am going to go with Liverpool. 2-1

MONDAY

Man Utd v Stoke<!–

Man Utd v Stoke (20:00 GMT)

Stoke are still without a manager at the time of writing, and it will be very interesting to see who they appoint.

Will it be someone to get them out of a mess, or are they looking for someone more long term?

The tried and trusted managers that struggling clubs like Stoke might have turned to – the likes of Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis – are all in jobs.

And, if it is someone more long term, then he might not be able to keep them in the Premier League.

Whoever is in charge, I don’t see them having any success at Old Trafford.

Manchester United have started playing well and winning again – and I think that will continue on Monday.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Saric’s prediction: 1-0

Baynes’s prediction: Let’s go Stoke, come on! You can pull this one out. 0-1

Which Premier League player could make it in the NBA? Baynes: Pogba is an amazing athlete and he is very explosive, so I think he could get up and down the court a lot quicker than some of the current players. That would be a fun one to see.

How did Lawro do last time?

On FA Cup third-round weekend, Lawro got 12 correct results, including four perfect scores, from the 32 ties for a total of 240 points.

He was up against comedian Guz Khan, who also got 12 correct results, but with two perfect scores. That gave him a total of 160 points.

Those scores do not count towards Lawro’s total for the season from Premier League fixtures or appear on the guest leaderboard.

*Foster and Cram both provided predictions on week one, but only Foster’s score contributes to the guest total.

**Anderson and Moeen both provided predictions on week nine, but only Anderson’s score contributes to the guest total.

***Witter and Johnson both provided predictions on week 17, but only Johnson’s score contributes to the guest total.

Lawro’s best score: 150 points (week eight v Wretch 32)

Lawro’s worst score: 40 points (week four v Umenyiora and Bell, week five v Non Stanford and week 21 v Darren Campbell)

Lawro's League Table<!–

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