After more than 20 years, legendary BBC football pundit Mark Lawrenson is making his final set of Premier League predictions this weekend.
Lawro first started the weekly feature, which would become a fixture on Football Focus, BBC Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website, way back in 2000.
Since then, he has made more than 8,000 predictions, taken on hundreds of celebrity guests who have given their own scores, been sent a rude message by dozens of them – including Arnold Schwarzenegger [see video below] – and even got one or two results right along the way.
“My average score is not too bad actually,” Lawro said. “But lots of people have asked me about my predictions down the years, good and bad – well, mostly bad.
“The time I always remember is one unbelievably cold February a few years back, after a night match at Aston Villa.
“I was walking out of the ground and a fella stopped me, very politely, and said ‘Mr Lawrenson, I follow all your predictions, and you are not doing very well, are you?”
“I said ‘ok, fair enough, but do you know what… if I honestly thought I could accurately predict the results of football matches, I wouldn’t be here, freezing my backside off. I would be in Barbados, in Sandy Lane hotel.
“I think he understood where I was coming from.”
After starting out as an occasional segment on TV via Football Focus, Lawro’s Predictions became a popular feature on the BBC Sport website, where they generates hundreds of thousands of page impressions each week – his record was 1.2m when he took on Rick Astley for the festive fixtures at Christmas 2020.
There have been plenty of complaints too – from fans and even clubs who were somehow convinced Lawro was biased against them when he submitted his scores. Among them are Tottenham, Southampton and, especially, West Ham.
In January of the 2015-16 campaign, the Hammers were lying sixth in the Premier League but in Lawro’s League Table – which is at the bottom of every predictions page, and is based on his results, not reality – they were 19th with just two wins all season. It didn’t go down well at Upton Park…
Even Hammers joint-chairman David Gold commented, saying he was “no fan of Lawro”. Such is the power of a few predictions, apparently.
Lawro’s response probably didn’t help, but then he has never made a prediction just to try to please people either.
“I certainly don’t have anything against West Ham,” Lawro said the following week. “In fact I almost joined them as a teenager – they offered me an apprenticeship before I joined my hometown team Preston.
“I have been wrong about them a lot this season so I am sure their fans will not mind that I am tipping them to lose again [to Bournemouth] this week.”
West Ham won 3-1.
At the other end of the scale, Lawro was also responsible for the longest unbeaten run in English football history. Well, sort of.
No, not the 49 games by Arsenal’s Invincibles between May 2003 and October 2004 – this is the 159-game streak that Lawro tipped Liverpool to remain undefeated for, between May 2016 and November 2020.
In fairness, his former team only lost 16 of those games in real life and he has regularly also tipped Manchester City to remain unbeaten for entire campaigns too in recent seasons – including this one.
“I only became aware I didn’t tip Liverpool to lose a couple of seasons into that run when people started giving me a bit of stick about it,” Lawro explained.
“Since then, though, Liverpool have been absolutely outstanding and have hardly ever lost a real game either. So how good am I?
“Seriously, though, I don’t go through my previous predictions for each team when I look at the fixtures each week. That doesn’t help me get their next results right.
“I don’t pay any attention to the table based on my scores either, but the top teams often stay unbeaten because I don’t tip them to lose many games – they don’t, so why would I?”
So, for one final time… here are Lawro’s scores:
|Arsenal v Everton||x-x||2-1|
|Brentford v Leeds||x-x||2-1|
|Brighton v West Ham||x-x||1-1|
|Burnley v Newcastle||x-x||1-1|
|Chelsea v Watford||x-x||2-0|
|Crystal Palace v Man Utd||x-x||0-2|
|Leicester v Southampton||x-x||2-0|
|Liverpool v Wolves||x-x||2-0|
|Man City v Aston Villa||x-x||3-0|
|Norwich v Tottenham||x-x||0-2|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
LAWRO’S PREMIER LEAGUE PREDICTIONS
All games kick off at 16:00 BST
Arsenal v Everton
Everton are safe after their thrilling comeback from 2-0 down to beat Crystal Palace on Thursday, and their fans are probably still getting their breath back now. Some of them might only just be getting home.
It’s just as well Everton have got the job done already, really – I wouldn’t exactly be confident about their chances of staying in the Premier League if Frank Lampard’s side had to get anything at Emirates Stadium to avoid the drop.
So, the best news for the Toffees is that this result doesn’t matter. Arsenal are hardly reliable themselves at the moment but they are at home and, although Everton won at Leicester at the start of May, their record on the road is still very poor indeed.
All of this means I am expecting the Gunners to win – but I don’t think they can rescue their hopes of making the top four from here.
Given the position they were in a few weeks ago, Mikel Arteta’s side should already have secured a spot in next season’s Champions League, but they have been so bad that it is not even in their hands with a game to go.
That must hurt, especially because they had another blip just before that and it appeared they had recovered.
Arsenal were outplayed by Newcastle when they lost at St James’ Park on Monday but, overall, I don’t think it is a question of them lacking quality – they just don’t have enough leaders to step up when it matters.
I don’t think the Arsenal players will get too much sympathy from their fans, either. The mood at the ground will probably be along the lines of ‘you have messed this up, there is no-one else to blame’.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Brentford v Leeds
To stay up, Leeds know they need a better result than Burnley manage against Newcastle – but I can’t see them getting it.
Jesse Marsch’s side kept going last time out, and nicked a vital point against Brighton in injury time, but getting anything at all at Brentford is a big ask.
The Bees are in great form and there is no point saying they have got nothing to play for because this is going to be one of the best seasons in their history. Their highest-ever position is fifth in the old First Division, in 1936, and they could still make ninth this year.
The impetus Christian Eriksen has given them since signing in January has just been sensational. You would almost give him player of the year, his impact has been that big.
I just fancy Brentford to get goals on Sunday – far more than I do Leeds, even though they won’t lack any effort because they play at 200mph anyway.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Brighton v West Ham
Both of these sides have had good seasons, but especially West Ham. David Moyes’s side seem to give everyone a good game – with leaders Manchester City another example last weekend.
As I’ve been saying all season, the Hammers do not have the biggest squad but it looks like they only need a couple more additions in order to challenge properly for the Champions League spots next time.
Brighton are not quite at that level but they are still trying to beat their best-ever league finish, which was 13th in the top-flight in 1981-82. I think they’ll do it too.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Burnley v Newcastle
Burnley started playing with freedom when they sacked Sean Dyche and they won a few games that way.
The way they were playing was the way you can do when there is no expectation or pressure on your shoulders, but it was a different story once they gave themselves a chance of staying up.
It was no surprise to see them tighten up again recently, because teams always revert to type. The Clarets are determined – which helped them get a point against Aston Villa on Thursday – but they have gone back to how they were playing previously, which is with an element of fear.
Newcastle, meanwhile, have done a lot of hard work since the turn of the year and had some excellent results.
I’d be surprised if they left Turf Moor empty-handed… so the final relegation place could be in the balance until the very last kick of the campaign.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Chelsea v Watford
For very different reasons, both of these clubs will be glad to see the back of the 2021-22 season.
A return to the Championship awaits Watford, while Chelsea have already secured a top-four finish but will end a turbulent campaign without a trophy.
Neither club really knows what the future holds, either. The Hornets could see a lot of ins and outs over the summer, and the same goes for the Blues squad too.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Crystal Palace v Man Utd
Incoming Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will be at Selhurst Park to watch this game and his presence could bring a reaction from the United players. Something has to.
Crystal Palace have had an excellent season, and the way they play is like a breath of fresh air but, with Ten Hag in the stands, you know United cannot just let their campaign peter out.
The United players are already playing for their places next season. I think we will see a very different side of them compared to the one that lost 4-0 to Brighton last time out.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Leicester v Southampton
These are two of the most inconsistent teams we have seen in the Premier League all season, which has made their results very difficult to predict.
I always have a bit more confidence in Leicester when Jamie Vardy is fit and in the kind of form he is showing at the moment though, and the Foxes are at home here too.
It has been a disappointing ending to the season for Southampton, who have won only one of their past 11 league games.
Even so, they have never for one moment looked like being dragged into the relegation scrap so I don’t get why their manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is coming under pressure from Saints fans. What are they expecting him to do?
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Liverpool v Wolves
Liverpool’s win at Southampton on Tuesday was such an impressive result after Jurgen Klopp made nine changes from the side that won the FA Cup on Saturday.
It was the performance that really stood out for me, because after going a goal behind early on, Liverpool just got better and better. They were completely on top by the end.
The big guns will be back for Liverpool for this game and I just cannot see Wolves being a threat. They seemed to sign off for the season a few weeks back.
A win won’t be enough for the Reds to win the title unless Manchester City drop points against Aston Villa, but I don’t think the mood will be low at Anfield if they miss out – in fact, there is no chance of that happening.
No-one expects them to win the title, and they will get a brilliant reception on their lap of honour for winning the FA Cup and Carabao Cup. The main thing though is the send off they will get before the Champions League final in Paris the following weekend – everyone knows that is the chance to end a brilliant season on a massive high.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Man City v Aston Villa
We’ve seen in the past few weeks how good Manchester City and Liverpool are when they go behind in games, not just when they are bossing them and in front.
City have lost once in the Premier League since the end of October – that’s how good they are. It’s a similar story with Liverpool too, and both teams are simply miles ahead of everyone else.
So, if there is any sort of setback for City or indeed Liverpool during Sunday’s games – let’s just say one of them is a goal down at half-time – you know they are both capable of recovering from it and finding a response.
I don’t see that scenario even happening though. We know how good this City team is, and I fully expect them to go on and clinch the title without another wobble like the one we saw at West Ham.
Lawro’s prediction: 3-0
Norwich v Tottenham
I know there is this perception that Tottenham can always slip up, but not this time.
I am expecting Norwich to give them a game but Spurs have got Dejan Kulusevski now as well as Harry Kane and Son Heung-min and I don’t see the Canaries holding out, let alone beating them.
Spurs have fought so hard to get into this position, where they just need a point to get back into the Champions League after two seasons away. I don’t see them falling at the final hurdle.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
How did Lawro do last time?
Last weekend, Lawro got three correct results from eight Premier League matches, including one exact score, for a total of 60 points.
He beat mixed martial arts legend Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley, who got four correct results, but with no exact scores, giving him 40 points.
There were also four rearranged games played in midweek. Lawro picked up 40 points from Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Southampton on Tuesday and a total of 10 points from the the three games on Thursday.
|Southampton v Liverpool||1-2||1-2|
|Everton v Crystal Palace||3-2||1-0|
|Aston Villa v Burnley||1-1||1-0|
|Chelsea v Leicester||1-1||2-1|
GUEST LEADERBOARD 2021-22
|190||TJ from Ezra Collective|
|110||Jelani Blackman, Friction, Reuben James, She Drew The Gun, S-X|
|100||ArrDee, Dev from Idles, Johnny Marr|
|83||Lawro (average after 37 weeks)|
|80||Will Kennard from Chase & Status, Call Me Loop, Tom McFarland|
|70||Austin Brown, Ben Cajee, Elena Cole, Majestic, Tom from Blossoms|
|60||Femi from Ezra Collective, Haydn Craven, James Spence of Rolo Tomassi|
|50||Aqib Khan, Jim Piddock, Joe from Blossoms, Shaun Thomas, Bobbie Vylan|
|40||James Arthur, Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley, Dan Haggis of The Wombats, Murray & Tav from FUR, Martin Noble, Curt Smith, Taka from Feeder, Justin Young|
|30||Dan McCarthy from KAWALA, Mez, Roland Orzabal, Michael ‘Venom’ Page, Roger Taylor, Zuzu|
|20||Joel Corry, Joe Elliott|
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