The 236th Merseyside derby since 1894 takes place on Saturday, but will it be Liverpool or Everton who win at Anfield to give their top-four hopes a much-needed boost?
“On both of the occasions they have played each other recently with no crowd, the games have been extremely tight,” said BBC football expert and former Reds defender Mark Lawrenson. “I am expecting more of the same this time.
“Everton have not won at Anfield since 1999 so usually I’d fancy Liverpool there, but I am not totally convinced they have turned the corner with their win over RB Leipzig in midweek. We have seen a couple of false dawns from Jurgen Klopp’s side in the past few weeks.”
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 Architects frontman Sam Carter.
Architects new album ‘For Those That Wish to Exist’ is out later this month and the band’s latest single ‘Meteor’ was Annie Mac’s ‘hottest record in the world’ on her Future Sounds show on Radio 1 last week.
Sam is a Manchester United fan and has been pretty much from birth – as you can see from the pictures of him in United kit down the years.
“My dad was a massive United fan from watching George Best play, and he passed that on to me,” Sam explained.
“Best was the David Beckham of my dad’s generation – and Beckham was the player I loved when I was growing up. The whole of United’s team around the time of the ‘Class of 92’ was special to me though.
“Paul Scholes was just the greatest player to watch as a kid, but now I adore him even more when I watch old games back because of the football brain he had. I probably didn’t appreciate him enough back then.
“Roy Keane too. He was a player who would always put his head on the line for the cause. Now more than ever I think what I wouldn’t give to have him in our midfield.
“We still have got some fantastic players now of course like Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes – at times we play some brilliant attacking football and the talent is there for everyone to see, but I still think there are a few things missing for what we need to win the title.
“Even so, it has been so nice just to be in the conversation again this season, because I grew up with us challenging every year, and we haven’t really done that since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013.”
It is not just on the pitch where United forward Rashford has shone this year, and his work to raise awareness of child poverty in the UK has been recognised with a string of awards.
“I adore Marcus as a player, and have done since he broke into the first team,” Sam added. “For him to be at United his whole life and make it like he has done is testament to his hard work and dedication.
“But also seeing what he has done away from football now, since he has got in this position, is just incredible. He hasn’t forgotten where he came from or what it is like to be that kid, who is hungry and struggling. For him to be sending that message now about what needs to change is so powerful.”
|Wolves v Leeds||x-x||2-1||2-2|
|Southampton v Chelsea||x-x||0-2||0-2|
|Burnley v West Brom||x-x||2-1||1-0|
|Liverpool v Everton||x-x||1-1||1-2|
|Fulham v Sheff Utd||x-x||1-2||1-2|
|West Ham v Tottenham||x-x||1-2||2-0|
|Aston Villa v Leicester||x-x||1-1||2-2|
|Arsenal v Man City||x-x||1-3||1-3|
|Man Utd v Newcastle||x-x||2-0||3-1|
|Brighton v Crystal Palace||x-x||2-0||2-0|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
Wolves v Leeds (20:00 GMT)
Wolves have picked up a bit in the last couple of weeks, and have started to pose more of a threat going forward.
But I think the key to this one is whether Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips is back from his calf injury. They are not a one-man team in terms of how they go at you, but he is their fulcrum – they are not the same without him holding things together in the middle.
Phillips missed last weekend’s game with Arsenal, and Leeds were over-run for long spells. Without him, I don’t think they will keep Wolves at bay.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Sam’s prediction: Goals are usually a safe bet when Leeds are playing. 2-2
Southampton v Chelsea (12:30 GMT)
Thomas Tuchel has made an excellent start as Chelsea manager. He has put together a nice little run of five straight wins in all competitions, and he has done it by, first and foremost, making them difficult to play against.
With six successive league defeats, Southampton are at the opposite end of the form table. They have not turned into a bad side, but they will be short of confidence and it hard to see them ending that run this weekend.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Sam’s prediction: It won’t be spectacular but Chelsea will get the job done. It will be one of those games where you are just nodding off as their second goal goes in. 0-2
Burnley v West Brom (15:00 GMT)
Burnley are rarely very good or very bad, you know what kind of performance you are going to get from them. Even when they don’t play well, they are still obdurate.
The Clarets just keep chipping away and every point they pick up edges them closer to safety – their draw with Brighton on Wednesday was another step in the right direction.
West Brom also got a good draw last time out, against Manchester United, but the Baggies are in a situation where they need to be winning games. I don’t see that happening at Turf Moor.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Sam’s prediction: I fancy Burnley to edge this, although I am not expecting a thriller. Sean Dyche versus Sam Allardyce is a bit like the film ‘Face/Off’, only with Allardyce playing against another version of himself. 1-0
Liverpool v Everton (17:30 GMT)
Liverpool actually played quite well in their defeat at Leicester last weekend until the mess-up from Alisson for the Foxes’ second goal, which was what changed the game.
The more I watch it, the more I think Reds centre-back Ozan Kabak did nothing wrong there – he was dealing with the situation quite happily until his goalkeeper came flying at him at 100mph and wiped him out.
We saw a good response from Jurgen Klopp’s side in their Champions League win against RB Leipzig on Tuesday but that game suited them because the German side pressed them high up the pitch and left space behind.
Everton won’t do that. I watched their game against Manchester City on Wednesday and they played one up top in Richarlison and had numbers in midfield to try to deny City space.
The Toffees have only taken one point from their past three games so they are hardly flying form-wise either, but they seem to be far better away from home at the moment – and of course Liverpool have suddenly found it hard to get a result at Anfield, which is another reason Everton will fancy their chances.
You know Carlo Ancelotti’s side will be feisty and they could have Dominic Calvert-Lewin back to lead their attack. If he plays, he will be a handful.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Sam’s prediction: Everton are going to Anfield at a good time. If they are ever going to break ‘the Anfield curse’ then this is the time. 1-2
Fulham v Sheff Utd (20:00 GMT)
Fulham are looking lively in attack and they have had a decent few days, moving to within six points of safety after beating Everton on Sunday and then getting a draw at Burnley on Wednesday.
Sheffield United were well beaten by West Ham last weekend, which was a big setback in their mini-revival, but I just have a funny feeling the Blades will get the points here.
They have only won one of their 12 away league games so far this season – at Old Trafford last month – but this is almost the last throw of the dice for Chris Wilder’s side, and I think they will treat it as a game they absolutely have to win to have a chance of staying up.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-2
Sam’s prediction: I feel like if anyone is going to get out of the bottom three, it is going to be Sheffield United. 1-2
West Ham v Tottenham (12:00 GMT)
West Ham are flying, and are up in fifth place while Tottenham have been pretty ordinary, or worse, recently.
On form, you would have to go with the Hammers every time but Harry Kane is back for Spurs now and a moment or two of quality from him could make all the difference – they really need it too.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-2
Sam’s prediction: I fancy West Ham here, I think it means more to them. With Jesse Lingard on form, anything is possible for them. Jesse was fantastic at the 2018 World Cup and I reckon he will want to do a number on his old United boss Jose Mourinho. 2-0
Aston Villa v Leicester (14:00 GMT)
Aston Villa were battered by Brighton last time out but they held on for a draw. That shows you what has changed about Dean Smith’s side, because last season they would have lost that game 3-0.
This will be another tough test for Villa, but they showed their resolve when they went to King Power Stadium in October and won 1-0.
This time, I can see the points being shared. Leicester’s season is all about a top-four finish, because I don’t see them or anyone else catching Manchester City now, and a draw would not be a bad result for them.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Sam’s prediction: I am looking forward to the clash of ‘the new Beckhams’ – Villa’s Jack Grealish and Leicester’s James Maddison. They are both on form, and this should be a high-scoring game too. 2-2
Arsenal v Man City (16:30 GMT)
Arsenal always look more dangerous to me when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is playing through the middle, and it is a big boost for them to have him back in the team and scoring.
But Manchester City just keep churning out wins. They are playing really well anyway, and they have got Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero on the way back to full fitness, which is going to make them even better.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-3
Sam’s prediction: Arsenal will score first, we will get our hopes up – and then City will come out like a steam train in the second half. 1-3
Man Utd v Newcastle (19:00 GMT)
Newcastle are the team that everyone in the bottom three thinks they can catch – realistically they are the only other team who could still be dragged into the relegation places.
The Magpies are not playing well, and that gives the sides below them hope that if they keep going they can catch them.
I don’t see anything happening at Old Trafford to change that.
Manchester United have had a few problems at home in breaking down teams who go there just to defend but I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will find a way through.
At the other end, I’m not convinced by Harry Maguire or Victor Lindelof as being a centre-half pairing good enough to win the title – Maguire lacks a turn of pace while Lindelof is decent but not strong enough.
You know you can get at them but, without the injured Callum Wilson, the Magpies won’t carry much of a threat.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Sam’s prediction: We need to win. Newcastle will score, because we seem to love letting teams score at the moment, but if we get a goal then the shackles will come off. 3-1
Sam on United’s season: “It is so important that Ole has been given time. There was a period when he got the job permanently that I felt like ‘oh no is he a bit out of his depth’, but now I definitely think we are going in the right direction and that he knows what he needs to do.
“The thing that has been most frustrating about us this season is that you don’t know which United is going to show up – that is the difference between winning the league and finishing in the top four. The champions have that consistency and with City at the moment you just know they are going to win certain games. That is what we need to find now.”
Brighton v Crystal Palace (20:00 GMT)
Brighton are unbeaten in six league games and they are the form side going into the M23 derby – they will go above Crystal Palace in the table if they win it.
The Eagles got turned over by Burnley at Selhurst Park last time out and normally you’d see a bit of a reaction from them after a result like that. Without the injured Wilfried Zaha, though, I’m not sure that will happen. They just seem very flat.
So, I’m going with the Seagulls this time. It won’t be long until they are completely safe from relegation.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Sam’s prediction: I like the way Brighton play and they are on a good run. Palace, in contrast, are just ambling along. I’ve met the former Brighton defender Bruno a couple of times – I ran past him one day, when he was picking his kids up from school. It was the day after they had beaten us 1-0 and I was wearing my United windbreaker, and he just pointed at my top and started laughing. I had to take it really! 2-0
Lawro and Sam were speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
How did Lawro do last time?
From last weekend’s Premier League games, Lawro got five correct results from 10 matches, including one exact score, for a total of 80 points.
He was beaten by singer-songwriter Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, who got six correct results, with one exact score, giving him a total of 90 points.
Lawro did not pick up any more points from Burnley’s 1-1 draw with Fulham on Wednesday, which had been rearranged from week 17.
He went for a 2-0 Burnley win, while The Farm singer Peter Hooton had gone for a 0-0 draw, so picks up 10 points that mean he has now ‘won’ that week 80-70.
But Lawro did gain 10 points from Manchester City’s 3-1 win at Everton in midweek. He went for a 2-0 City win, in a game that was meant to be played in week 16. His opponent, Grammy winning producer Fraser T Smith, went for a 2-0 Everton win, meaning the final score of that week is 90-30 to Lawro.
GUEST LEADERBOARD 2020-21
|110||Sister Bliss, Amy Macdonald, Steve White|
|90||Adam Devonshire, Becky Hill, Passenger, Chris Shiflett|
|80||Celeste, Dan Flint, Peter Hooton, Raye|
|78||Lawro (average after 24 weeks)|
|50||Declan McKenna, Paul Smith, Alex Sprogis, DJ Target|
|40||Gavin ‘Mo’ Edgeley|
|30||Rick Astley, Lewis Evans, Gethin Jones, Fraser T. Smith|
|20||Charlie Forbes, Dougie Payne|