Premier League predictions: Lawro v comedian Rhys James

In-form Tottenham take on a revitalised Arsenal in a mouth-watering north London derby on Saturday lunchtime – but will Spurs get revenge for their defeat at Emirates Stadium earlier in the season?

BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson says: “It is a long time since Tottenham were beaten – 11 games in all competitions – so they are on a really good run.

“Arsenal have only won three out of 13 away games in the Premier League this season, and it is on the road where I think they will continue to have issues, including at Wembley.”

Lawro is going for a 2-0 Tottenham win – do you agree?

You can make your 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.

Lawro scored 70 points in week 26, which leaves him in 1,331st place out of more than 380,000 players.

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

This week he takes on comedian Rhys James, who is a Tottenham fan.

James says he supports Spurs because “I had a very privileged upbringing and my dad thought it would be good to put in some hardship somewhere along the line”.

James says his favourite player is ex-Spurs defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto. “I’ve got a cat named after him,” he explained. “I love him so much – he used to drive a Smart car and he used to get the Tube to matches and get the bus home after getting his haircut next to White Hart Lane. He didn’t care about football, he just saw it as a job – I love him.”

He said: “My favourite moment as a Tottenham fan is also the best goal I have ever seen live.

“It was Harry Kane’s goal against Arsenal at White Hart Lane in March 2016, when Dele Alli did a backheel and Harry, from a tight angle, curled the ball into the corner of the net and then ran off and ripped off the mask he was wearing to protect his broken nose.

“It came from nowhere and I was right behind his shot so I watched it fly in at the same angle he did.

“That is genuinely the most excited I have ever been in my life because his goal put us 2-1 up and we thought we were going to win the league.

“Harry had run off screaming and I was there screaming ‘Kane, the mask is off’ like some WWE commentator from 10 years ago.

“If we had won, we would have closed the gap on the leaders, Leicester, so it was amazing. Then Alexis Sanchez equalised and my dreams were shattered.”

Premier League predictions – week 27
Result Lawro Rhys
SATURDAY
Tottenham v Arsenal x-x 2-0 38-1
Everton v Crystal Palace x-x 2-1 1-1
Stoke v Brighton x-x 1-1 1-2
Swansea v Burnley x-x 0-2 2-1
West Ham v Watford x-x 1-0 0-2
Man City v Leicester x-x 2-0 3-1
SUNDAY
Huddersfield v Bournemouth x-x 1-1 1-3
Newcastle v Man Utd x-x 0-2 0-3
Southampton v Liverpool x-x 1-1 1-3
MONDAY
Chelsea v West Brom x-x 2-0 2-2

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

Tottenham v Arsenal (12:30 GMT)

Arsenal have made some very good attacking signings with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan but they have not strengthened defensively.

Yes, the Gunners brushed Everton aside very easily last week, and they were great to watch.

But Tottenham will be much tougher to break down and, at the same time, they can do some damage at the other end of the pitch too.

I still think Arsenal can make a late run for the top four, but this is not a week where they close the gap.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Rhys’ prediction: This game massively depends on who the referee is, of course, but Aubameyang loves scoring against Spurs and Arsenal are in quite good form so for that reason I am going to give Arsenal one because I think they will score… but I am going to give 38 to Tottenham. 38-1

James is a regular on Mock the Week but is not joking when he says he thinks Spurs can win this season’s Champions League.

“I think Spurs can win a trophy – in fact, I think we can win THE trophy,” he explained. “We have already beaten the champions, Real Madrid, so there is no reason that we cannot go on to win it. Harry Kane to lift that trophy and Moussa Sissoko to be a Champions League winner.

Everton v Crystal Palace

Everton got their tactics spectacularly wrong in their defeat by Arsenal last time out, while Crystal Palace picked up a point against Newcastle but had plenty of chances to win that game.

Allardyce ‘very angry’ after heavy defeat at Arsenal

Palace have to be careful, because they are only three points above the relegation zone and not out of trouble yet. If they go three or four games – or less – without winning then they could find themselves in the bottom three.

I still think they will be fine in the end with Roy Hodgson in charge but the Eagles are also without Wilfried Zaha for a few weeks too, which will be a big loss.

So I am going for Everton to respond to what happened last weekend. I don’t think they can be as bad as that again, anyway.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

Rhys’ prediction: Sam Allardyce and Hodgson, two of England’s finest ever managers, go head-to-head here. Defensively, both teams are not great and I do think Palace will win a penalty because Everton’s defence is quite poor. 1-1

Stoke v Brighton

Brighton’s win over West Ham last week was a massive result for them and lifted them out of the bottom six – they are 13th now, three points above the relegation zone.

Stoke are still in the thick of it, though, following their defeat against Bournemouth after leading 1-0 and having enough chances in the first half to put the game out of reach.

Brighton are still short of goals away from home – they have managed only one in their past seven league games on the road.

But I am not quite sure how much of a threat Stoke will pose either, especially if 37-year-old Peter Crouch is leading the line.

The Seagulls usually come and sit when they play away from home and they are even more likely to do that and say ‘we will take a point now’ after beating the Hammers.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Rhys’ prediction: This is going to be close but I am going to give it to Brighton. 1-2

Swansea v Burnley

The Swansea revival continues under Carlos Carvalhal – their draw with Leicester last week means it is 10 points from five games since he took charge, and they are into the fifth round of the FA Cup after thumping Notts County.

Swansea thrash Notts County – watch all nine goals in 60 seconds

But they have had some bad news with the injuries to Leroy Fer and Wilfried Bony, and I am not sure whether their run will last much longer.

It is a long time since Burnley won – 12 December – but I just feel that will change soon.

The Clarets’ draw against Manchester City last weekend will have boosted their confidence – not that they look like a team without a win in 10 games anyway.

Swansea winner was a foul – Dyche

And Swansea won this game in injury time last season with a controversial Fernando Llorente goal, so Burnley boss Sean Dyche might be thinking his side owe Swansea one for that too.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Rhys’ prediction: 2-1

West Ham v Watford

Watford had a great win over Chelsea on Monday night – no-one saw that coming.

The Hornets are still a team that you worry a little bit about, though, because they could easily go a few games without another victory.

West Ham are still in trouble too, although Marko Arnautovic could be back from injury for this game and Patrice Evra is available to make his debut after signing earlier in the week.

A win would be huge for either team, and the same goes for every team down there, because not all of the teams below them will pick up points this weekend.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-0

Rhys’ prediction: 0-2

Man City v Leicester (17:30 GMT)

Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez’s absence is set to continue against the club he could have joined at the end of the transfer window.

I like the way that Foxes boss Claude Puel is dealing with the whole situation by saying he has got the rest of his squad to worry about – and he is quite right too.

Mahrez has outgrown Leicester – Murphy to Lineker

It is two years since Leicester famously won at Etihad Stadium on their way to winning the title, with Mahrez making one goal and scoring another.

But I cannot see a repeat of that result this time. Manchester City dropped a couple of points against Burnley last week, but normal service should resume here.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Rhys’ prediction: Leicester are decent but you have to fancy Manchester City for this one. 3-1

SUNDAY

Huddersfield v Bournemouth (12:00 GMT)

This is a big game for both teams, who are at opposite ends of the form table.

Huddersfield are into the fifth round of the FA Cup after winning their replay with Birmingham on Tuesday, but they have lost five in a row in the league and are now second bottom.

In contrast, Bournemouth have gone seven league games unbeaten – including four wins – and have climbed to ninth place.

At the moment every decision that Cherries boss Eddie Howe makes seems to be working, like the tactical switch he made early on against Stoke last weekend, when he chucked on Joshua King, a striker, after losing Steve Cook, a defender, to injury.

Cherries substitutions made the difference – Howe

It looks like Bournemouth are going to be safe, although a lot can still change at the bottom of the table because it is so tight.

Huddersfield, however, look like they are in real trouble. I have only tipped them to win once this season, and the main reason for that is because I have been looking at them and been thinking ‘who is going to keep scoring their goals?’

So, I will be very interested to see the way that David Wagner approaches this game, at home and against a team as open as Bournemouth are.

Huddersfield will be able to play against them, if they want to. How they set up will tell us a lot about how Wagner sees his side at the moment.

It is possible for a team to change their style like that – it can just come down to having an extra man up front, rather than midfield, and they don’t have to become gung-ho.

They have scored 19 goals from 26 league games and are the joint-lowest scorers in the top flight, which tells its own story.

Unless Wagner changes then Laurent Depoitre is going to feel around 65 when the season is over, because he has been up there on his own for most of it.

FA Cup: Birmingham City 1-4 Huddersfield Town (aet) highlights

In fairness, he has done a decent job, but just very rarely looks like scoring because he does not get many chances.

If you are not making any chances or scoring many goals, then the best case scenario is that you nick a goal and win, or do the same and draw.

Huddersfield are losing games anyway, so I think there comes a time when the manager must think what’s the worst that can happen if they go for it a bit more.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Rhys’ prediction: I love the Kirklees Stadium – it has got a great atmosphere and great fans – but I don’t think that is going to be enough to help Huddersfield. 1-3

Newcastle v Man Utd (14:15 GMT)

Newcastle have not won at home in the league since October and this fixture is not exactly helpful when it comes to them trying to improve on that poor run at St James’ Park.

I did think the Magpies looked a little bit better going forward early on in their draw with Crystal Palace last weekend, but it did not really last.

Is the Premier League title race over? Jose & Pep disagree

Kenedy, who has joined on loan from Chelsea, looked really good on the left too – but he was taken off before the hour mark and, by the end, Newcastle were hanging on for a point.

It is hard to see Newcastle offering much more of a threat against a Manchester United side who easily saw off Huddersfield last weekend.

Islam Slimani could make his debut and should give Newcastle more of a focal point in attack but I just think we might see a classic Rafa Benitez performance at home against a top-six team – which is a bit like parking 10 buses, not just one.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Rhys’ prediction: There is too much talent in the United team. 0-3

Southampton v Liverpool (16:30 GMT)

Virgil van Dijk heads back to St Mary’s following his £75m move to Liverpool at the start of January and it will be interesting to see how he is received.

Van Djik is not the only former Southampton player who could face his former club, though. Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren could all do the same.

Southampton’s win at West Brom last weekend was big for them because they had waited so long for a Premier League win – 12 games and 10 weeks to be exact – and this game is a difficult one to call.

Where Liverpool struggle is when they try to manage games, and last week’s draw with Tottenham was the perfect example.

They played well in the first half of that game, but were completely under the cosh after the break.

Then they scored a goal out of nothing from Mohamed Salah in the 91st minute – but could not see out the remaining time without conceding. It is just not in their DNA to do that.

Klopp ‘doesn’t understand’ Spurs penalty decisions

The other thing to consider is Jurgen Klopp’s team selection, with Liverpool playing FC Porto in the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday.

If you look at Klopp’s teams in the Champions League this season, you could argue they are the strongest he can pick and if that is the case next week, will he be slightly weaker this weekend?

It is make your mind up time because a top-four place is far from secure and Liverpool have to keep chugging away in the league too – they could be out of the top four if they drop points in this game.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Rhys’ prediction: This is a peek into the future for the Southampton players – this is Liverpool juniors versus Liverpool, or dads v lads. Whoever scores for Southampton will be playing for Liverpool in 12 months time. 1-3

MONDAY

Chelsea v West Brom (20:00 GMT)

It is obvious that all is not well for Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and I do not like the stories that are coming out in the papers from players who are supposedly unhappy with his training regime.

When they were winning games, no-one was saying anything, and training is the same whether you win, lose or draw.

It will be interesting to see what happens next and, if there are any serious differences between Conte and his squad or the Chelsea boardroom, whether they can be patched up.

The Blues had a bad defeat at Watford on Monday, which means people are talking about them being in crisis but I think that is a bit of an exaggeration, and I would certainly back them to win this game.

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte says he ‘doesn’t know’ why his side performed so poorly

I wouldn’t panic over West Brom at the moment either, even though they are four points from safety and could be further adrift by the time this game is played.

The big thing about the Baggies is that they look more likely to score a goal than many of the other sides down at the bottom of the table.

When push comes to shove, I do think Alan Pardew’s side will start to pick up points – especially when they play against some of the lower teams, who will give them more chances.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Rhys’ prediction: Two former Chelsea managers have been sacked after playing West Brom – Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto di Matteo, both in 2012 – so you have to fancy it to be third time lucky. 2-2

Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

How did Lawro do last time?

From the last round of Premier League games, Lawro got four correct results, including one perfect score, from 10 matches for a total of 70 points.

He was up against Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, who got two correct results, with no perfect scores.

Emmanuel Sanders and Josh Norman’s total of 20 points leaves them joint bottom of the guest leaderboard.

Total scores after week 26
Lawro 2,270
Guests 2,010
Lawro v Guests
P26 W14 D3 L9
+/- DENOTE POSITION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAWRO’S TABLE AND ACTUAL POSITION
POS TEAM P W D L PTS +/-
1 Man City 26 21 4 1 67 0
2 Man Utd 26 21 4 1 67 0
3 Tottenham 26 20 6 0 66 +2
4 Liverpool 26 17 9 0 60 -1
5 Chelsea 26 17 6 3 57 -1
6 Arsenal 26 13 10 3 49 0
7 Southampton 26 10 6 10 36 +8
8 Leicester 26 10 5 11 35 0
9 West Brom 26 9 5 12 32 +11
10 West Ham 26 6 14 6 32 +2
11 Stoke 26 7 10 9 31 +7
12 Bournemouth 26 7 8 11 29 -3
13 Crystal Palace 26 7 5 14 26 +1
14 Burnley 26 6 7 13 25 -7
15 Everton 26 5 5 16 20 -5
16 Newcastle 26 4 8 14 20 0
17 Brighton 26 3 9 14 18 -4
18 Swansea 26 5 1 20 16 -1
19 Watford 26 3 5 18 14 -8
20 Huddersfield 26 1 8 17 11 -1

GUEST LEADERBOARD

SCORE GUEST LEADERBOARD
160 Justin Hawkins, Chris Shiflett
130 James Anderson*, Joe Johnson*
120 Russel Leetch*, Will Poulter, Moeen Ali
110 Aron Baynes*
100 Cesaro & Seamus, Wretch 32
90 Pete Wentz
87 Lawro (average after 26 weeks)
80 John Cena, Darren Campbell
70 Brendan Foster*, Mark Strong
60 Jimmy from Django Django, Will Ferrell, Nish Kumar, Non Stanford, Rick Witter
50 Steve Cram, Michael Dapaah, Channing Tatum, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Bell, Joe Root, Dario Saric
40 Craig David, Ed Lay
30 Felix White
20 Richard Osman, Emmanuel Sanders and Josh Norman

* Shows weeks where Lawro had more than one guest, and only the highest score contributed to the guest total.

Lawro’s best score: 150 points (week eight v Wretch 32 and week 24 v Pete Wentz)

Lawro’s worst score: 40 points (week four v Umenyiora and Bell, week five v Non Stanford, week 21 v Darren Campbell and week 23 v Saric and Baynes)

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