Chelsea look to continue their unbeaten start when they take on London rivals Tottenham on Sunday – but their results are not the only reason the Blues have impressed Mark Lawrenson.
“I would say Chelsea are the best team I have seen in the Premier League so far this season,” says the BBC football expert. “Not just in the games where they have played well and won, but also in terms of winning when they don’t.
“I am not sure any of the other teams who have got a chance of the title are in that mode yet.”
Lawro is making predictions for all 380 top-flight matches this season, against a variety of guests.
This week’s guests are Aqib Khan and Shaun Thomas, stars of BBC Three comedy Ladhood.
Ladhood is a Leeds-based coming-of-age comedy featuring Liam, who has flashbacks to his adolescence as he deals with situations as an adult in the present day. Aqib and Shaun play two of his schoolfriends, Tom Cragg and Adnan Masood.
Series one and two are available to watch on BBC iPlayer now.
Aqib is a Manchester United fan who is hoping to see them back as serious title contenders this season, after a long wait.
He told BBC Sport: “I was born and raised in Bradford and Bradford City is our team. I was born in 1994 so, as I was getting into football, Bradford were in the Premier League.
“I will always follow them but, when it came to falling in love with football, and being enchanted by certain players, that is where United came in.
“Some of my uncles were Liverpool fans and another uncle supported Arsenal which might have influenced me, but didn’t. Instead I just used to hear the names ‘Cantona’, ‘Keane’ and ‘Beckham’ and along with Ruud van Nistelrooy, they were the players who made a big impression on me.
“We had a fantastic team then. I’ve actually enjoyed watching us since our last title in 2013, but we didn’t recruit well enough to challenge for the league. We spent big money, but we wasted a lot of it.
“Even now I still think we are still lacking a winger in the squad because, with the players we play out wide in attack, in their minds they think they are strikers. They are not going be disciplined and stay out wide and they are more focused on scoring goals than putting crosses into the box.
“That’s why Cristiano Ronaldo coming in is a good thing, because they will have to give him the service now.
“In the past few years we’ve still had some fantastic individual players but to win the title we need them to be playing the right way for the team.”
Shaun is a Liverpool fan, mainly because of his brother.
He told BBC Sport: “I used to watch games with him and the first one that left a mark on me was the 2005 Champions League final. Ever since then I just became obsessed with Liverpool.
“Every shirt I bought had ‘Gerrard’ and ‘8’ on the back – he was my hero, obviously.
“When I was in high school, I was a bit of a big lad – probably about five foot five, and I weighed about 12 stone, so I was heavy.
“But I loved football and I loved playing it, and all the PE teachers and my mates, they used to call me Stevie G to get me geed up and raring to go in games. It was funny, but it really worked!
“I was always a midfielder, and I still like to sit deep when I play now. Obviously everyone likes scoring goals but I don’t mind a more defensive role. I’m a workhorse – I’ve got the legs and the stamina, just not very much skill.”
|Newcastle v Leeds||x-x||1-2||2-1||2-2|
|Wolves v Brentford||x-x||2-0||1-1||2-1|
|Burnley v Arsenal||x-x||1-1||0-2||1-0|
|Liverpool v Crystal Palace||x-x||3-0||3-1||3-1|
|Man City v Southampton||x-x||4-0||4-0||4-0|
|Norwich v Watford||x-x||1-1||1-2||0-1|
|Aston Villa v Everton||x-x||2-1||2-3||0-2|
|Brighton v Leicester||x-x||1-1||1-2||0-2|
|West Ham v Man Utd||x-x||0-2||0-2||0-3|
|Tottenham v Chelsea||x-x||1-2||1-2||1-2|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
Games kick off at 15:00 BST unless otherwise stated
Newcastle v Leeds (20:00 BST)
Neither of these teams have won yet, but it is Newcastle I worry about more.
I look at the way Leeds are playing and think results will turn around for them soon, but that is not the case for Newcastle.
Magpies boss Steve Bruce is already under pressure and that is only going to increase if things go badly for them on Friday night. Being without their best striker, Callum Wilson, because he is still injured is not going to help.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-2
Aqib’s prediction: If there are goals in it for Newcastle, there are probably going to be goals for Leeds too – but I think having 50,000 fans at St James’ Park will make the difference. 2-1
Shaun’s prediction: I wrote down 2-1 to Leeds but I’m going to change my mind and go with a draw, because Newcastle are at home. I can see Leeds going ahead, and that will make Newcastle push on. 2-2
Wolves v Brentford (12:30 BST)
Wolves were gifted their first goal by Watford last time out, but they played pretty well in that game anyway.
I think they will pick up another win here. Brentford’s last-gasp defeat against Brighton last week might have taken the wind out of their sails a little bit.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Aqib’s prediction: Wolves have not been scoring many but they are well-regimented and very good defensively. Brentford are full of confidence right now though, so they can get something here. 1-1
Shaun’s prediction: Brentford have made a decent start but I think Wolves have just started to get going. 2-1
Burnley v Arsenal
Sean Dyche’s new contract is great news for Burnley. They need him more than ever this season, if they are going to stay up.
The Clarets played quite well against Everton on Monday, just like they did against Liverpool at the start of the season, but they did not get anything out of either game.
I think that might change on Saturday, though. Arsenal got a first goal, and a first win, against Norwich – but this is going to be a very different game, and it will be a real test for them.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Aqib’s prediction: Burnley might try to bully Arsenal but I think the Gunners will get through that – they really need a win too. 0-2
Shaun’s prediction: I know Arsenal beat Norwich but it was not exactly convincing. I fancy Burnley here. 1-0
Liverpool v Crystal Palace
Liverpool have had a good week so far with wins over Leeds and AC Milan and I can only see that run continuing here.
Crystal Palace got a great result last week when they completely outplayed Tottenham, but I think they are going to be a little bit up and down for a while yet.
Lawro’s prediction: 3-0
Aqib’s prediction: I want Palace to win and I see good things happening there under Patrick Vieira, but it is a huge ask for them to go to Anfield and stop Liverpool, who have got all their best players in form at the moment. 3-1
Shaun’s prediction: I think Palace will score but we are going to win this one. We’ve got our defenders back and we’ve also confidence back at home. 3-1
Man City v Southampton
Manchester City have scored 16 goals in their previous three home games this season and I don’t see Southampton keeping them quiet either.
Saints have had to adjust to losing Danny Ings, but I don’t think they are going to struggle this season – I just don’t fancy them to get anything out of their trip to Etihad Stadium.
Lawro’s prediction: 4-0
Aqib’s prediction: I am hoping for a Theo Walcott hat-trick but I know that’s not going to happen. 4-0
Shaun’s prediction: City are playing well at the moment and they could tear Southampton to bits. 4-0
Norwich v Watford
Norwich have one goal and no points from their first four games, while Watford are on a run of three straight defeats.
It’s already pretty obvious that both of these sides are going to be down there scrapping at the bottom of the table so that makes getting something out of this game even more important for both of them.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Aqib’s prediction: Norwich are not scoring enough goals to get anything out of games. 1-2
Shaun’s prediction: It’s hard to see Norwich winning at the moment. 0-1
Aston Villa v Everton (17:30 BST)
Well, the Rafael Benitez revival continues at Everton – he changed the team around to spark their fightback to beat Burnley.
Aston Villa lost at Chelsea last weekend but they were right in that game for a long time – they had plenty of chances in the first half.
It will be close, but I fancy Dean Smith’s side to nick the points here. As good as Everton are, we saw them wobble in that game against the Clarets and I can see Villa causing them problems too.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Aqib’s prediction: There will be goals in this one. Everton have turned into a bit of a machine under Benitez, although I think it is a shame that James Rodriguez isn’t getting a look in. He is a beautiful footballer. 2-3
Shaun’s prediction: For some reason I had this down as 0-0 originally. Everton are looking very good at the moment though, so I’ve got to go with them winning. 0-2
Brighton v Leicester (14:00 BST)
Leicester are almost expected to win these kind of games now, but I don’t think it will be straightforward for them at all.
Brighton left it very late to beat Brentford last time out but they have a bit of momentum now after winning three of their first four games.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Aqib’s prediction: I’ve not gone for a 0-0 yet, have I? There are going to be a lot of goals this weekend. 1-2
Shaun’s prediction: Brighton have made a decent start but Leicester will be too strong for them. 0-2
West Ham v Man Utd (14:00 BST)
West Ham striker Michail Antonio is suspended for this game which is a massive blow for them.
I know Manchester United were far from impressive in the Champions League in midweek but I don’t think it will stop them from making it out of their group.
If anything, it could be beneficial. The hype around Cristiano Ronaldo’s return might have meant a few people were getting carried away but that defeat should focus them, and remind them how much work they have got to do.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Aqib’s prediction: I hope what happened against Young Boys helps United get some fire in their belly, which they should already have. I want to see a reaction to that here. In terms of us and the title, before Ronaldo signed I thought second place would be decent, as long as we keep building. 0-2
Shaun’s prediction: Antonio is going to be a big miss for West Ham, because he is the big threat in their team. I hate to say it but United have got a real chance of winning the league this season with the quality they have got in their side. Cristiano Ronaldo is going to keep scoring goals and Bruno Fernandes is a maestro when it comes to making them. 0-3
Tottenham v Chelsea (16:30 BST)
Tottenham were so disappointing in their defeat to Crystal Palace last week, and I can’t look past Chelsea here.
They are solid enough to keep Spurs out, and obviously carry a massive threat at the other end of the pitch.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-2
Aqib’s prediction: I don’t think they are the most exciting side to watch, but it is very hard to beat Chelsea now. 1-2
Shaun’s prediction: Chelsea are looking very strong already. 1-2
Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
How did Lawro do last week?
Last week, Lawro got seven correct results from 10 matches, with no exact scores, for a total of 70 points.
He beat The Vaccines singer Justin Young, who got four correct results, with no exact scores, for a total of 40 points.
GUEST LEADERBOARD 2021-22
|110||She Drew The Gun|
|78||Lawro (average after four weeks)|
|40||Dan Haggis of The Wombats, Justin Young|
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