West Ham will go for their fifth straight league win when they take on Liverpool on Sunday – so, can anyone stop the high-flying Hammers?
“There’s no secret to why West Ham are doing so well at the moment,” said BBC football expert and former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson. “It’s down to hard work, good organisation at the back and the fact they are taking their chances.
“This should be a really good game, especially because Liverpool have ground to make up on the teams above them – it’s a must-win for the Reds.”
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 Lewis Evans, saxophonist in post-punk band Black Country, New Road – whose debut album For The First Time is out at the beginning of February.
Lewis is a Swansea City fan, and is enjoying seeing them challenge for promotion at the top of the Championship this season – although not being in the Premier League does have its advantages.
He told BBC Sport: “It’s such an incredible league, because anyone can beat anyone, but you don’t want anyone else at the bottom of the table causing any upsets if your team is fighting relegation too.
“So, this season it has been nice to be able to watch Burnley beat Liverpool, or cheer Sheffield United on against Manchester United, because it doesn’t affect us. I’ve really enjoyed watching as a neutral.
“Of course we want to be back up there ourselves, though. Knowing Swansea, we don’t do any thing the easy way so, if we do go up this season, it will probably be through the play-offs.”
Lewis grew up in east London, in Tottenham and West Ham territory, but he ignored peer pressure and had his own hero – Swansea legend Lee Trundle.
He explained: “It was always Swansea for me. My mum’s side of the family is from around there and I used to go to that part of Wales a lot when I was growing up. I went to watch a lot of Swans games, and I felt instantly at home on the North Bank at our old Vetch Field ground.
“The club had some dark times at the start of the 2000s but I was too young to really understand what was going on, and since then we have made amazing progress. It’s been an incredible story.
“We’ve had some great players over the past few years and have got some incredible talent at the moment too. My favourite is still Lee Trundle, though. I have never seen anyone do the stuff that he did on the pitch.
“When I was a kid, I thought it was the coolest thing in the world, and looking back now it still is – to be playing League One football and attempting skills you would see Ronaldinho do.
“Not only was Trundle a game-changer on the pitch with a ridiculous amount of flair, he was so funny with it. He is still banging in the goals too – I love that video of him (above) scoring a penalty in a charity game when he pretends to tie up his laces.”
|Everton v Newcastle||x-x||2-0||3-1|
|Crystal Palace v Wolves||x-x||1-1||1-1|
|Man City v Sheff Utd||x-x||3-0||4-0|
|West Brom v Fulham||x-x||1-2||1-2|
|Arsenal v Man Utd||x-x||2-1||1-1|
|Southampton v Aston Villa||x-x||2-1||1-2|
|Chelsea v Burnley||x-x||2-1||1-1|
|Leicester v Leeds United||x-x||1-2||3-1|
|West Ham v Liverpool||x-x||1-2||1-1|
|Brighton v Tottenham||x-x||0-2||0-2|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
Everton v Newcastle (12:30 GMT)
It will be interesting to see if Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti sticks with goalkeeper Jordan Pickford after his error in Wednesday’s draw with Leicester – he has dropped him before to bring Robin Olsen in.
That game was a missed opportunity for the Toffees, because three points would have put them right in the mix at the top end of the table.
I don’t expect any slip-ups here, though, because Newcastle are on an awful run of form – they have taken only two points from their past nine league games and have lost five in a row.
They did have their moments in their midweek defeat against Leeds, but did not do enough and the closer they get to the relegation zone, the more pressure there is on Magpies manager Steve Bruce.
Newcastle will win a game eventually, of course. Just not this one.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Lewis’s prediction: Newcastle look a little bit more threatening now Allan Saint-Maximin is back, and Miguel Almiron is always trying to make things happen, but Everton are pretty sound defensively. 3-1
Crystal Palace v Wolves (15:00 GMT)
Between them, Crystal Palace and Wolves have only won one of their past 14 league games, but I don’t think either of them have to worry about being dragged into the relegation scrap.
These two sides have identical records this season and are next to each other in the table in 13th and 14th place.
I don’t think there will be much between them on the pitch, either – Wolves edged it in when they met at Molineux in the FA Cup at the start of January but this time I’m going for a draw.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Lewis’s prediction: I’m not really convinced by either of these teams at the moment. 1-1
Man City v Sheff Utd (15:00 GMT)
Sheffield United got a terrific result at Old Trafford on Wednesday but the table shows how much work they have to do to get out of trouble.
So, an immediate return to Manchester is not really the game they want as they look to build on that win over United, because City are looking so strong at the moment.
Pep Guardiola’s side ripped into West Brom on Tuesday and got the game won early. The Blades will have to be ready for more of the same.
Lawro’s prediction: 3-0
Lewis’s prediction: Sorry, no repeat of Sheffield United’s heroics here. City are just too powerful at the moment. 4-0
Lewis on Swansea facing Manchester City in the FA Cup fifth round: I fancy Swansea’s chances against City in the FA Cup at the start of February – we have a score to settle with them after what happened in the sixth round in 2019. I would call it daylight robbery, but it was under the floodlights at the Liberty Stadium. We were 2-0 up half-time and I cannot describe how excited I was, then it got ripped from our grasp. City came back to win but they got very lucky, especially with Sergio Aguero’s winner because it was offside.
West Brom v Fulham (15:00 GMT, live on BBC One)
West Brom have had four home league games since Sam Allardyce took charge in mid-December and have lost them all – conceding 17 goals in the process, without scoring any.
On that sort of form, it is hard to see them getting anything at The Hawthorns this time either, even against one of their relegation rivals.
Fulham have not won since the end of November but their improvement has been evident – this could be the win they have been waiting for.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-2
Lewis’s prediction: West Brom are so inconsistent but I like Fulham at the moment – they are exciting to watch and they have been putting in some quality performances against some of the top teams without getting any rewards. 1-2
Arsenal v Man Utd (17:30 GMT)
I am looking forward to seeing how new signing Martin Odegaard slots into the Arsenal midfield, because he is arriving at a good moment.
They have been playing really well of late, ignoring their FA Cup defeat at Southampton last weekend when Mikel Arteta picked a weakened team.
Manchester United were poor in their defeat against Sheffield United on Wednesday, and we have seen that sort of home performance from them too often this season.
Away from home they have been much better, but the Gunners beat them at Old Trafford in November and I have a feeling they will take the three points at Emirates Stadium too.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Lewis’s prediction: United are a little bit in dreamland if they think they are serious title contenders. I’m playing it safe with my prediction for this one, though, because I see it being a close and tetchy kind of match. 1-1
Southampton v Aston Villa (17:30 GMT)
Aston Villa’s midweek defeat against Burnley was a real thriller, and this should be another good game.
Both of these sides are attack-minded, and they both have individual match-winners too. I’m going for a Saints win, but it is very hard to call it.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Lewis’s prediction: Southampton are missing some key players through injury or suspension so let’s go for Villa to nick it. 1-2
Chelsea v Burnley (12:00 GMT)
I wonder if new Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has come up against a team who play quite like Burnley before? I doubt it.
The Clarets are doing well and will be full of confidence after beating Liverpool and Aston Villa in their past two league games, to give themselves a bit of breathing space above the bottom three.
By the way things looked during Wednesday’s draw with Wolves, Tuchel has made improving the Blues’ defence his priority. If they can get that right again here, I think he can get his first win under his belt.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Lewis’s prediction: This will be an absolute snooze-fest. This is destined to be the most boring game of the season so far. 1-1
Leicester v Leeds (14:00 GMT)
Leicester completely dismantled Leeds when they met at Elland Road in November but the difference this time is that Foxes striker Jamie Vardy is out injured.
Vardy was instrumental in the Foxes’ first two goals that day, and scored their third one himself. Without him, it should be a lot closer.
Leeds got a badly needed win over Newcastle in midweek to get back on track after three straight defeats, and they are a dangerous side when their tails are up.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-2
Lewis’s prediction: I love Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers for what he did with Swansea and I think he will have a plan to keep out Leeds. 3-1
West Ham v Liverpool (16:30 GMT)
I know Liverpool went out of the FA Cup against Manchester United last weekend but I saw some signs of improvement from them, especially in attack, and there was more of the same in Thursday’s win over Tottenham.
This is a tough test for Jurgen Klopp’s side, but it is the sort of game they will win if they maintain their current form.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-2
Lewis’s prediction: I’m feeling quite bold that West Ham won’t lose this. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Hammers and one of my favourite Premier League players at the moment is their striker Michail Antonio. As one of my friends who is a West Ham fan says, he is one of those players who looks really good and really bad at the same time. I would hate to play against him. 1-1
Brighton v Tottenham (19:15 GMT)
Brighton have been playing pretty well but they still haven’t won at home in the league this season and, until that changes, they are not going to pull away from the bottom of the table.
I don’t see the Seagulls getting three points here, either. Tottenham have not really hit top gear for a few weeks now but I think they will find a way of winning this one.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Lewis’s prediction: Brighton boss Graham Potter is another alumni of Swansea. He’s a really good manager, but I think he gets quite a lot of stick because of their inability to finish their chances, when that’s not his fault. 0-2
Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
How did Lawro do last time?
From the midweek Premier League games, played Tuesday to Thursday, Lawro got two correct results from 10 matches, with no exact scores, for a total of 20 points.
He was beaten by TV Priest guitarist Alex Sprogis, who got five correct results, with no exact scores, giving him a total of 50 points.
GUEST LEADERBOARD 2020-21
|110||Sister Bliss, Amy Macdonald, Steve White|
|90||Adam Devonshire, Becky Hill|
|80||Celeste Dan Flint, Raye|
|74||Lawro (average after 20 weeks)|
|70||Lou Cotterill, Peter Hooton|
|50||Declan McKenna, Paul Smith, Alex Sprogis, DJ Target|
|40||Gavin ‘Mo’ Edgeley|
|30||Rick Astley, Fraser T. Smith|
|20||Charlie Forbes, Dougie Payne|