Manchester City have three games in the next week that will “define” their title challenge, according to BBC Sport’s football expert Mark Lawrenson.City, who are five points behind leaders Liverpool, play Arsenal at home on Sunday, then travel to Everton on Wednesday and host Chelsea next weekend.”The pressure is really on Pep Guardiola’s side and…
Manchester City have three games in the next week that will “define” their title challenge, according to BBC Sport’s football expert Mark Lawrenson.
City, who are five points behind leaders Liverpool, play Arsenal at home on Sunday, then travel to Everton on Wednesday and host Chelsea next weekend.
“The pressure is really on Pep Guardiola’s side and they just need to forget about Liverpool because you can take them out of the equation for the moment,” Lawrenson says.
“Regardless of how Liverpool do in their fixtures, this week will define whether or not City can win the league. If they win one, draw one and lose one, then things will become very difficult for them.”
Lawro is making predictions for all 380 top-flight matches this season, against a variety of guests.
This week he is up againstTampa Bay Buccaneers quarter-back Ryan FitzpatrickandAtlanta Falcons wide receiverMohamed Sanu.
The pair, who were in the UK this month for a NFL UK Live show, will be watchingSuper Bowl LIIIon Sunday rather than playing in the showpiece game in Atlanta.
The BBC will bring you comprehensive coverage ofSuper Bowl LIIIbetween New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams across all platforms from 22:45 GMT on Sunday, 3 February.
|Premier League predictions – week 25|
|Tottenham v Newcastle||x-x||1-1||3-1||6-3|
|Brighton v Watford||x-x||2-1||2-2||2-2|
|Burnley v Southampton||x-x||2-0||0-4||0-4|
|Chelsea v Huddersfield||x-x||2-0||3-1||3-1|
|Crystal Palace v Fulham||x-x||1-1||0-0||0-0|
|Everton v Wolves||x-x||2-1||2-1||2-1|
|Cardiff v Bournemouth||x-x||0-2||3-3||3-3|
|Leicester v Man Utd||x-x||2-1||2-4||5-4|
|Man City v Arsenal||x-x||2-0||2-1||0-1|
|West Ham v Liverpool||x-x||0-2||3-2||3-2|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth10points. The exact score earns40points.
All kick-offs 15:00 GMT unless stated.
Tottenham v Newcastle (12:30 GMT)
Newcastle got an excellent win against Manchester City on Tuesday, but it did leave me looking at the Magpies players and wondering where that type of performance has been all season?
That is the one thing I always wonder about teams that pull out results like that against the top sides.
I know City didn’t play well but it is a little bit bizarre when you compare Newcastle’s display to some of their other home games this season.
Tottenham, meanwhile, left it late to come back and beat Watford but it was one of their best results for a while when you consider the players they had missing.
I think Spurs will find it tough going again on Saturday.
That win over City was such a good one for Newcastle that it would not surprise me if they did something similar at Wembley, sitting in to nick a point.
Last season, when the Magpies got a very good result they followed it up by stringing a little run together and I can see something similar happening here.
Brighton v Watford
There were some crazy results in midweek and Brighton’s collapse at Fulham after going 2-0 up was one of them.
Watford also lost despite taking the lead at Tottenham, a result that ended their six-game unbeaten run.
I always find it difficult to predict how the Hornets will do, but I have a feeling Brighton will edge this one and get back to winning ways.
Burnley v Southampton
Burnley’s 2-2 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday was still a very good result but they came very close to getting an amazing one.
Seeing Southampton recover to get a point in their game against Crystal Palace was another mark of their recent improvement.
But the Clarets are unbeaten in the Premier League in 2019 and – as I have said before – I think the old Burnley are back.
Chelsea v Huddersfield
What is happening at Chelsea? It is very odd.
They are into the Carabao Cup final, they have just signed Gonzalo Higuain, and they got an exciting draw in the FA Cup fifth-round with Manchester United.
Then they to go to Bournemouth, who were without injured striker Callum Wilson, lose 4-0 and put in a performance like they did. It is baffling.
Maybe their manager Maurizio Sarri was right when he criticised his team after they lost to Arsenal a couple of weeks ago but I don’t think he has helped himself – and if one, two or more of his players still cannot get themselves psyched up after all that then he is trouble.
But as bad as the Blues were against Bournemouth, I still think they will beat Huddersfield. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Higuain opened his account for the club too.
I don’t think Jan Siewert has been appointed Huddersfield boss to try to keep them up, he has got the job to get them back up next season. He has got a chance to take a look at his squad over the next few months to get to know his players and work out what he needs to do over the summer.
Crystal Palace v Fulham
Palace’s recent performances have been decent and I would expect another positive display from them here, even without the suspended Wilfried Zaha.
I don’t think anyone saw Fulham’s comeback against Brighton coming – they have been struggling for goals all season so for them to score four in the second half was just ridiculous.
That result will have given them lots of confidence but, if they are going to push on and save themselves, they really need some more of their players to chip in with some goals.
Aleksandar Mitrovic’s two goals against Brighton mean he is into double figures in the league this season which is a very good return, but Andre Schurrle, with six, is their only other player who seems to pose a threat.
Everton v Wolves
Everton got the result they needed against Huddersfield on Tuesday and I think they will do the same on Saturday.
Beating the Terriers will not have won over many of Marco Silva’s doubters but the important thing was that they did not lose because, if that had happened, then the Toffees boss would have been under serious pressure.
Now Silva needs to follow that up with a home win, and I think he will get it, although it will not be easy against a Wolves team who are back in form.
Cardiff v Bournemouth (17:30 GMT)
Cardiff might have been beaten at Arsenal but they played really well and everyone at the club deserves a huge amount of credit for the way they have dealt with the aftermath of Emiliano Sala’s disappearance.
This, their first home game sinceSala’s plane went missing,is going to be another emotional occasion and it is going to be hard for them to deal with everything all over again.
How they cope with it is going down to come down to each individual and it is hard to know how players will react.
Leicester v Man Utd (14:05 GMT)
Leicester got a really good result at Liverpool on Wednesday and the way the Foxes play on the break is perfectly suited to games against the top clubs who have more of the ball.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still unbeaten as Manchester United interim manager after getting out of jail from 2-0 down against Burnley.
But you know what? I think that run ends here.
Even if they lose, United will still be right in the hunt for a top-four place along with Arsenal and Chelsea but who finishes where in that mini-league is not going to be decided until the last half-dozen games.
Man City v Arsenal (16:30 GMT)
We know the problem with Arsenal is that, while they can score goals, they struggle to stop them. Away from home, they haven’t kept a clean sheet in the league all season.
So that is why I am going to go with City to bounce back here. Yes, their whole team was flat against Newcastle on Tuesday but in my experience that just makes it easier to lift them collectively.
Every team puts in poor performances sometimes, and nobody really knows why, but I don’t think it is a sign that City are about to struggle.
West Ham v Liverpool (20:00 GMT)
Liverpool have won 4-0 and 4-1 on their previous two visits to London Stadium and this might turn out to be exactly the game they need right now.
I think it easier for the Reds to play away from Anfield because of the massive expectancy when they are at home.
Away from home, they can just get on with it and, generally, teams are a little bit more open which obviously suits the way Liverpool play as well.
West Ham are a prime example of that because, good or bad, they are not likely to shut up shop on Monday.
If Hammers striker Marko Arnautovic was fit and firing then I would look at the game a little bit differently but if he is absent with his foot injury then I only see one outcome.
Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
How did Lawro do last time?
There were some what Lawro described as “bonkers” results in the midweek Premier League games, and he gottwocorrect results,withno perfect scores,from 10 matches, for a total of20 points– his lowest score of the season
He drew withGrime star Yizzy,who also gottwo correct results,withno exact scores,for a total of20 points,that leaves him bottom of the guest leaderboard.
|Total scores after week 24|
|Lawro v Guests|
|+/- DENOTE POSITION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAWRO’S TABLE AND ACTUAL POSITION|
GUEST LEADERBOARD 2018-19
|140||The 1975’s Ross MacDonald|
|90||Jim Glennie, Mario Hezonja, Karl Pilkington, Chris Stark|
|84||Lawro (average after 24 weeks)|
|80||Richard Ashcroft, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg James, Mark Wahlberg|
|60||Idris Elba, Dolph Lundgren, Mumford & Sons, Dillian Whyte|
|50||Bring Me The Horizon, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Theo Ellis|
|40||Tom Grennan, Josh Warrington|
Lawro’s best score: 260 points (week seven v Karl Pilkington)
Lawro’s worst score: 20 points (week 24 v Grime star Yizzy)