Liverpool have not scored in their past three home Premier League games but can they break their Anfield duck against leaders Manchester City on Sunday?
“Jurgen Klopp’s side badly need to win to narrow the gap at the top, but a lot will depend on whether Sadio Mane is fit to lead their attack,” said BBC football expert and former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson.
“The Reds need Mane at the moment more than anyone, because on his day he is just unplayable. Liverpool don’t press the same without him, and their attack is more pedestrian too. Divock Origi or Xherdan Shaqiri won’t cause City anything like the same sort of problems.”
Lawro is making predictions for all 380 Premier League matches this season, against a variety of guests.
For this weekend’s Premier League fixtures, he is up against Gethin Jones, who presents Morning Live every weekday morning from 09:15 to 10:00 GMT on BBC One.
Gethin is an Everton fan, and says there were two reasons why he “fell in love with the Toffees” when he was growing up in Cardiff in the 1980s.
“All my mates were Liverpool fans, and I liked being different,” he told BBC Sport. “But the big thing was that there was a real spine of Welsh players at Everton at the time.
“Big Nev (Southall) was in goal, Kevin Ratcliffe was captain and Pat van den Hauwe was at left-back – the first of many great left-backs I’ve seen play for us by the way – and they all became heroes of mine. We won the league twice in three years, we had a brilliant team and they were amazing times.
“It wasn’t just the Welsh players I loved at Everton, though. I was a huge fan of Gary Lineker too – I even had Quasar trainers to match his boots – and I’ve got favourite players from all the different eras. I’ll never forget Daniel Amokachi’s goals after he came on in our FA Cup semi-final in 1995.
“Nev was amazing to help us beat Manchester United at Wembley in the final, and I can’t really get my head around the fact we have not won anything since.
“Why has it been so long? I just don’t know. We have had some amazing players in the past few years, but they’ve gone on to win things elsewhere rather than with us.
“Of course we compare ourselves to Liverpool, who were our main rivals in the 1980s. There have been times since then where we’ve been at their level but they have pushed on and, for various reasons, we haven’t.
“Our new stadium might help, but I love Goodison Park, and I will miss the place hugely when we come to leave it.
“I once got asked to audition for Joseph the musical and had to do it in front of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Bill Kenwright, who is a theatre producer as well as being Everton’s chairman.
“I spent 90% of the audition talking to Bill about whether Everton were going to move from Goodison. I didn’t get the role by the way.”
|Aston Villa v Arsenal||x-x||2-1||0-2|
|Burnley v Brighton||x-x||1-1||0-1|
|Newcastle v Southampton||x-x||2-0||1-2|
|Fulham v West Ham||x-x||0-2||0-2|
|Man Utd v Everton||x-x||2-1||3-1|
|Tottenham v West Brom||x-x||2-0||3-0|
|Wolves v Leicester||x-x||1-1||1-0|
|Liverpool v Man City||x-x||1-1||1-2|
|Sheff Utd v Chelsea||x-x||0-2||1-3|
|Leeds v Crystal Palace||x-x||2-0||1-1|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
Aston Villa v Arsenal (12:30 GMT)
West Ham did a job on Aston Villa on Wednesday but, unlike last season, I don’t look at Dean Smith’s side when they lose now and think they are going to go on a run of bad results.
The Hammers were set up to nullify Jack Grealish, and it worked, so it will be interesting to see how Arsenal approach this one.
Will the Gunners bother doing that with Grealish, or will they just think they are better than Villa and just go and play their football? I don’t know.
Arsenal are without the suspended David Luiz in defence after his red card in Tuesday’s defeat by Wolves, so they might change their shape and go with three at the back – but I fancy Villa to edge this one anyhow.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Gethin’s prediction: Mikel Arteta is so cool and collected. They had a bad result in midweek and should have beaten Manchester United last weekend, but that won’t affect them here. 0-2
Burnley v Brighton (15:00 GMT)
Burnley did not lie down against Manchester City, but it was all pretty comfortable for Pep Guardiola’s side once they had their early goal.
Brighton, meanwhile, got their famous win at Anfield on the same night. The last time they won there in the league, in March 1982, I was playing against them for Liverpool – so it has been a long wait.
The Seagulls have won three of their past four league games, and drew the other one. As well as being on a very good run of results they are conceding very few goals – they have kept a clean sheet in all of those matches.
This should be a close game, but both teams have climbed away from the relegation zone in recent weeks and a point would be a decent result for both of them.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Gethin’s prediction: It won’t be a thriller, but Brighton to carry on their great run, after making the long journey north. 0-1
Newcastle v Southampton (15:00 GMT)
This is probably a good time to play Southampton, who are short of available players even though the red card Jan Bednarek received near the end of Tuesday’s 9-0 defeat at Old Trafford was overturned.
I was there for BBC Radio 5 live and, although Saints didn’t capitulate until the last few minutes, it was a horrible night for them which will have taken a lot out of their players too, because they worked extremely hard.
Newcastle lost at home to Crystal Palace in midweek but they were pretty lively, and kept up the more ambitious approach that saw them win at Everton last weekend.
More of the same should see the Magpies get some reward here, after taking only two points from their previous five home league games.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Gethin’s prediction: The question is how will Southampton respond to losing 9-0? I think you have to see a reaction. 1-2
Fulham v West Ham (17:30 GMT)
West Ham came unstuck against Liverpool last weekend, when they did not play well, but the sign of a good side is when you can respond after a poor performance and the Hammers certainly did that in their win over Aston Villa.
I was impressed by the way David Moyes’ side were set up from front to back – they kept Jack Grealish quiet for starters, but they always got men forward quickly too.
New loan signing Jesse Lingard made an instant impression with his two goals in that game, and he has clearly been training hard and looked really sharp despite hardly playing for Manchester United this season. There will be more to come from him, I’m sure.
Fulham did not really lay a finger on Leicester on Wednesday and their long wait for a first league win since the end of November goes on – I don’t see them ending it here, either.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Gethin’s prediction: I’m really impressed by West Ham at the moment. 0-2
Man Utd v Everton (20:00 GMT)
Manchester United’s 9-0 win over Southampton was a freak result but even so it will give them a lot of confidence. This will be a lot harder for them, though.
On the physical side of things, Everton are very strong, and they have obviously got some quality too.
Wednesday’s win at Leeds means Carlo Ancelotti’s side have won five of their past six away league games – it’s their home form that has been letting them down recently.
The Toffees have already beaten Tottenham and Leicester on the road this season, but I think taking the points at Old Trafford too is a big ask.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Gethin’s prediction: Depending on what is happening with work, I don’t always get to watch Everton but every season, no matter what, I always seem to be in front of the TV when we play at Old Trafford and I have high hopes, and we always seem to lose there. Our record there isn’t quite that bad in reality, but we have only won there once – in 2013 – since 1992. The way I remember the games, it always feels like we lose 3-1 for some reason, so although I really want to back us, I am going to stick with tradition. 3-1.
Gethin on Everton’s manager Carlo Ancelotti: “He is just class, isn’t he? When he arrived, it was like he instantly saw people for what they were – Dominic Calvert-Lewin is a great example, when Ancelotti told him he’s just like a bigger, better, stronger and faster Filippo Inzaghi.
“I remember watching Inzaghi and thinking he was a terrible footballer, but unbelievable in front of goal, which is what Ancelotti wanted Calvert-Lewin to emulate with his finishing in the box. I’m a big believer in the power of sports psychology and when you’ve got someone like Ancelotti, who has been around all the top players, telling Calvert-Lewin that he can be that good, then he is going to listen to him, and believe it.”
Tottenham v West Brom (12:00 GMT)
The only good news for Tottenham after they suffered their third successive league defeat against Chelsea on Thursday is that it appears Harry Kane will be back from injury sooner than expected.
Even without him up front, they should still be too strong for West Brom though.
The Baggies have picked up only one point from their past four games and are 10 points from safety, which is a heck of a lot of ground to make up. It is very difficult to see how they can turn things around and get out of this situation.
I know West Brom boss Sam Allardyce is still drumming into his side what he wants them to do, and I am sure their results will improve – I just can’t see them going on a run good enough to get them out of the bottom three.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Gethin’s prediction: 3-0
Wolves v Leicester (14:00 GMT)
Wolves’ fightback to beat Arsenal was a great result and it felt like a big achievement after nine games without a win but I wasn’t convinced by their performance.
Leicester had a bit of a dip when they dropped points against Everton and Leeds but they were extremely comfortable when they beat Fulham in midweek. They will be confident of getting something at Molineux.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Gethin’s prediction: Wolves can spring a surprise here. 1-0
Liverpool v Man City (16:30 GMT)
Manchester City last won at Anfield in 2003, and since then they have lost 13 out of 19 games there in all competitions.
Sunday is obviously a great chance for City to end that poor run, but it is Liverpool who need the points more because they have slipped off the pace at the top of the table.
I don’t think either side will go all-out to win it, though. I’m expecting it to be a bit cagier than that.
What worries me more about Liverpool is their inconsistency. They had a couple of poor results at the start of the year, before winning comfortably at Tottenham and West Ham.
I thought they had turned the corner and were looking their usual selves, then came this week’s defeat and poor performance against Brighton. That was a more perplexing result than when they lost at home to Burnley, and they can’t afford to play like that again against City.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Gethin’s prediction: Liverpool might get a goal through some magic from Mohamed Salah but if City find their rhythm, they will win. 1-2
Gethin on the race for the top four: The Premier League has been so random this season that of course we’ve got a chance. Leicester are in there at the moment, West Ham are close and so are we. It’s definitely doable and maybe chasing Liverpool for a spot and having them as the carrot will help. If we can finish above them, I reckon we will make it.
Sheff Utd v Chelsea (19:15 GMT)
Sheffield United have won three of their past five Premier League games, which is pretty good – but they are still bottom of the table, 11 points from safety, which shows the size of their survival task.
The Blades have shown a willingness to go for it in the closing stages of games and it has paid off – all three of those wins came thanks to a goal in the last 20 minutes.
Hard work is giving Chris Wilder’s side a chance in the first place, but I think in games like this it is Chelsea’s quality that will show through – especially when their players are still trying to impress new Blues manager Thomas Tuchel.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Gethin’s prediction: I’m a big fan of Wales midfielder Ethan Ampadu, who has been used in defence by Sheffield United recently, but he can’t play in this game because he is on loan from Chelsea and can’t face his parent club. 1-3
Leeds v Crystal Palace (20:00 GMT)
Leeds are always a good watch but they will have to do better on their new pitch than they did against Everton.
I heard it being described afterwards as ‘looking like it had been treated with olive oil’ which I thought was a great line – but as Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa said, his players were slipping and Everton’s weren’t.
Leeds don’t seem able to defend at the best of times but what might help them get a clean sheet this time is that Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha is a major doubt with a hamstring injury.
Palace will play on the break like they usually do whether he is fit or not but, without Zaha, they just don’t carry the same threat.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Gethin’s prediction: Palace negate teams, Leeds attack you and try and play around you. So, let’s go for a draw. 1-1
Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
How did Lawro do last time?
From the last Premier League games, Lawro got five correct results from 10 matches, including two exact scores, for a total of 110 points.
He beat Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett who got six correct results, but with only one exact score, giving him a total of 90 points.
GUEST LEADERBOARD 2020-21
|110||Sister Bliss, Amy Macdonald, Steve White|
|90||Adam Devonshire, Becky Hill, Chris Shiflett|
|80||Celeste, Dan Flint, Raye|
|74||Lawro (average after 22 weeks)|
|70||Lou Cotterill, Peter Hooton|
|50||Declan McKenna, Paul Smith, Alex Sprogis, DJ Target|
|40||Gavin ‘Mo’ Edgeley|
|30||Rick Astley, Lewis Evans, Fraser T. Smith|
|20||Charlie Forbes, Dougie Payne|