Two of the teams battling it out at the bottom of the Premier League meet on Tuesday when Burnley host Sheffield United.
“I don’t think anyone should be expecting a feast of festive football but that won’t matter to either side because the three points would be massive to both of them,” said BBC football expert Mark Lawrenson.
“When I look at the table, it looks more and more like it is any three from the bottom five who are going down – it is hard to see anyone else being dragged into it.”
Lawro is making predictions for all 380 Premier League matches this season, against a variety of guests.
This week, for the final set of Premier League fixtures of 2020, he is up against Grammy and Ivor Novello award-winning songwriter, producer and musician Fraser T. Smith.
Smith, who has worked as a producer for the likes of Adele and Stormzy, released his debut album ’12 Questions’ under the name Future Utopia earlier this year. His latest track ‘Children of the Internet’ is out now.
Away from music, Smith is a Leicester City season-ticket holder.
He grew up as a Foxes fan because of his dad, who is from Stamford, a short drive away from Leicester down the A47.
“I’ve been a Leicester fan since the Filbert Street days when we had Mark Wallington, Andy Peake, Alan Young and Jim Melrose in the team,” Smith told BBC Sport. “We were managed by Jock Wallace in those days.
“So, I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs. We have been a yo-yo team between the top flight and second tier, and we have had some successes and also several disappointments where we have been down in the doldrums, so this period – the past few years – has been very special.
“Even the year before we won the title in 2016 was memorable. To go from being bottom at Christmas, in terrible form, to staying up and then winning the league the following year is just amazing when you look back on it.
“Another important thing for me is that it feels like we have maintained that level of excellence where we feel we can challenge the bigger clubs now.
“All of that has been brilliant to watch, so to not be able to be there while fans have not been allowed into games has been really difficult in the past few months. The King Power Stadium is not the same without us there, which might be one of the reasons why our away form is so much better than it is at home.
“Having said that, there has still been some amazing football to watch on TV, not just Leicester. I think we have been very lucky to be able to see so many Premier League games, and see so many goals go in. It has been such a topsy-turvy season, and is so entertaining because of that.”
Leicester fell away from the top four at the end of last season, finishing fifth and missing out on the Champions League places, but Smith is hopeful they can maintain their challenge this time.
“At that time, we were picking up injuries and it felt to me like we were looking really tired,” Smith explained.
“What is interesting this season is that our injuries to people like Caglar Soyuncu and Ricardo Pereira, we have been forced to use players who probably would have only been on the bench otherwise – the likes of Luke Thomas and James Justin.
“They have really come through to the point where I feel like when those regulars come back, when they are tiring, instead of having replacements who haven’t played, we have got real quality players who are going to see us through to the end of the season in a really strong way.”
|MONDAY, 28 DECEMBER|
|Crystal Palace v Leicester||x-x||1-1||0-3|
|Chelsea v Aston Villa||x-x||2-0||2-1|
|Everton v Man City||x-x||0-2||2-0|
|TUESDAY, 29 DECEMBER|
|Brighton v Arsenal||x-x||1-2||1-1|
|Burnley v Sheff Utd||x-x||2-0||2-0|
|Southampton v West Ham||x-x||2-0||3-0|
|West Brom v Leeds||x-x||0-2||1-3|
|Man Utd v Wolves||x-x||2-1||4-0|
|WEDNESDAY, 30 DECEMBER|
|Tottenham v Fulham||x-x||3-0||3-0|
|Newcastle v Liverpool||x-x||0-2||0-5|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
MONDAY, 28 DECEMBER
Crystal Palace v Leicester (15:00 GMT)
Crystal Palace have an exciting front three of Wilfried Zaha, Christian Benteke and Eberechi Eze but the flip side of that is that they do seem to be more open at the other end than usual.
They have conceded a lot of goals over Christmas so I think, first and foremost, Eagles boss Roy Hodgson will look to keep things tight against Leicester.
I still think the Foxes will find a way through, though. We saw yet again against Manchester United on 26 December that it doesn’t matter if Jamie Vardy hardly has a kick all game, one chance is all it takes.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Fraser on Jamie Vardy: Jamie finishes, he assists, he harries defenders and goalkeepers, he gets back and helps out at corners and free-kicks, he can lift the team and the entire stadium just by being on the pitch and he is able to turn a game on its head – oh, and he just seems to be getting faster too. The way he looks up, always, while he is running at speed and is able to read the game strategically and play perfect balls, as well as score from seemingly impossible positions of course, is just so good to watch as a fan. We are so lucky to have him at Leicester and I am so lucky to be able to call him a friend – we’ve got to know him and Becky and the family in the past few years.
I just remember seeing him play early on when we were in the Championship and just thought ‘wow, this guy is so special’ so to see him come through and get better and better, and serve the club as well as he has done, has been incredible. As a Leicester fan, you couldn’t ask for a better striker. Knowing him, and what he is like, I know what a big part he plays in the dressing room too, and how committed he is.
Fraser’s prediction: Our away form has just been sensational this season. 0-3
Chelsea v Aston Villa (17:30 GMT)
I am not surprised Chelsea boss Frank Lampard criticised his side’s performance in their defeat by Arsenal, because they were well short.
The Blues have now lost three of their past four league games and this next test is also far from easy, against an Aston Villa side that are playing well and are full of confidence.
Villa had to play with 10 men for the whole second half of their win over Crystal Palace but still looked the more dangerous side going forward.
I’m still going with Chelsea here though, because I think we will see a reaction from their players. They can’t be as bad as that again, surely?
Whatever happens to Villa at Stamford Bridge, they have still given themselves an excellent platform for the rest of the season. It took them 24 games to reach 25 points last season, so they have done it in nine games fewer this time.
Being realistic, I don’t see them challenging for the top four, but they have already proved a lot of people wrong with their results so far.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Fraser’s prediction: 2-1
Everton v Man City (20:00 GMT)
Everton had to scrap for their win over Sheffield United but they are quite happy to do that side of things – and they got the job done too.
From what I saw of Manchester City’s win over Newcastle, it was quite typical of their season so far. They were always the better team but there were some big chances missed by Pep Guardiola’s side and they never fully got into their stride.
It was another win for City though, and another clean sheet. I think they’ll be able to cope with what Everton throw at them, and find a way of getting the three points this time too.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Fraser’s prediction: Everton impressed me a lot when they beat us before Christmas. They are a very well-drilled team and they are fresher for not playing European football this season. 2-0
TUESDAY, 29 DECEMBER
Brighton v Arsenal (18:00 GMT)
Brighton are this season’s draw specialists with seven so far, and four of them have come in their past six games.
The Seagulls are playing some nice football, but they don’t score enough goals. That’s why they are in trouble at the bottom of the table.
Arsenal are only one place above them, in 15th, but I’m expecting their win over Chelsea to be the start of a good run for the Gunners. They should have some belief back now, for starters.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-2
Fraser’s prediction: Can we call this a bottom-of-the-table clash? It is very strange to see Arsenal down there, and I can’t really believe I am saying they won’t win either, but Brighton are pretty strong at home. 1-1
Burnley v Sheff Utd (18:00 GMT)
Sheffield United did not lack effort or application in their defeat by Everton but, yet again, that was not enough for them. They don’t seem to be able to hurt teams.
Burnley are hardly full of goals either – along with the Blades they are the lowest scorers in the top flight, with eight apiece.
But Sean Dyche has found a way of getting results in recent weeks and they could easily have got something out of their last game, a 1-0 defeat by Leeds, too.
Like Dyche I was bemused by the decision to rule out Burnley’s goal in that game. Clarets defender Ben Mee did absolutely nothing wrong.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Fraser’s prediction: 2-0
Southampton v West Ham (18:00 GMT)
Southampton were a bit subdued in their draw with Fulham, but they were missing some key men in Oriol Romeu, Jannik Vestergaard and Danny Ings.
Vestergaard is out for a while by the sounds of things and the quicker Ings is fit, the better. At least Romeu will return in midfield after his suspension though.
I was a little bit surprised by the West Ham team that David Moyes put out against Brighton, and they didn’t start well either.
The Hammers still got something out of that game, but I think they will find things a lot harder against Saints.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Fraser’s prediction: 3-0
West Brom v Leeds (18:00 GMT)
West Brom surprised everyone by getting a point at Anfield, but they deserved it.
This is another test for the Baggies defence, because you just know that Leeds will come at them in waves.
They were well organised and showed the spirit that Sam Allardyce will demand from them in that draw with Liverpool, but do they have the quality they need to win games like this? I am not convinced.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Fraser’s prediction: Leeds always look strong going forward, and they are good enough to beat West Brom. 1-3
Man Utd v Wolves (20:00 GMT)
There is nothing wrong with Manchester United going forward but they were poor at the back against Leicester, which is why they didn’t win that game.
Wolves have the opposite problem, because they don’t have much of a cutting edge. I’m expecting this to be a tight game, but United should make their attacking quality count, eventually.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Fraser’s prediction: 4-0
WEDNESDAY, 30 DECEMBER
Tottenham v Fulham (18:00 GMT)
Tottenham are not on a great run but I see it as a blip rather than the start of a slide away from the top end of the table.
I’m expecting them to get the better of Fulham anyhow. Scott Parker’s side have improved a lot, especially at the back, but they still can’t win games – which is why they are still in the bottom three.
Lawro’s prediction: 3-0
Fraser’s prediction: 3-0
Newcastle v Liverpool (18:00 GMT)
Newcastle have not had a great week but that won’t change their game plan against Liverpool, which will be to make it as difficult as possible for them – like West Brom did, really.
Liverpool got through the Baggies defence once early on and are usually relentless until the game is done and dusted, but they did not do enough in the second half to make the points safe.
I can’t see that happening again at St James’ Park.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Fraser’s prediction: I am going for a Liverpool goal spree to finish off with. They have a formidable attack and are the team to beat in the Premier League but I still think Leicester have a strong enough squad to stay close to them at the top end of the table, and there are plenty of other teams within striking distance of the Reds too. Anything is still a bonus for us, though, as long as we stay in the Premier League and have a nice little run in the Europa League. 0-5
Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
How did Lawro do last time?
From the games on 26 and 27 December, Lawro got four correct results from 10 matches, including one exact score, for a total of 70 points.
He beat singer Rick Astley, who got three correct results, with no exact score, for a total of 30 points.
GUEST LEADERBOARD 2020-21
|110||Sister Bliss, Amy Macdonald, Steve White|
|90||Adam Devonshire, Becky Hill|
|75||Lawro (average after 15 weeks)|
|60||Celeste, Caroline Weir|
|50||Declan McKenna, Paul Smith, DJ Target|
|40||Gavin ‘Mo’ Edgeley|