Premier League predictions: Lawro vs University Challenge star Bobby Seagull

Premier League leaders Liverpool are favourites to continue their impressive start to the season when they host neighbours Everton on Wednesday – but will the Reds’ unbeaten record survive the Merseyside derby?

“This is a fixture that scares Liverpool fans”, said BBC football expert and former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson. “They know it is dangerous, because Everton will raise their game.

“From past experience, it does not matter where each team is in the league or how many points difference there is, because all the usual factors just go out of the window.”

Lawro is making predictions for all 380 top-flight matches this season, against a variety of guests.

This week he is up against University Challenge star Bobby Seagull, who is also a maths teacher, TV presenter, author – and West Ham fan.

Seagull, who grew up in East Ham, is best known for his stint on University Challenge as captain of the Emmanuel College Cambridge team, who lost to Eric Monkman in the 2016-17 semi-final.

Since then he has teamed up with Monkman to present their ‘Genius Guide to Britain’, a road-trip series that was shown on BBC Two.

“My personal highlight was teaching Eric the ‘Paolo di Canio’ song, which is based on a melody from a Verdi Rigoletto opera aria, in William Gladstone’s old library,” Seagull told BBC Sport.

The pair have teamed up again for another BBC Two series, ‘Monkman and Seagull’s Genius Adventures’, which will be shown soon.

Seagull’s passion for maths is obvious, but so is his affection for the Hammers. He had a season ticket at Upton Park in 2002-03 and his family share two at the London Stadium now.

“I’m a part-time school maths teacher and doing a Doctorate in Maths Education at Cambridge,” he explained. “I’m also an author of ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Numbers’. The book shows how maths is everywhere in life – from the gym, to the kitchen and even my search for love!

“However the word ‘football’ appears 65 times in my book and ‘West Ham’ appears 28 times – this perhaps shows my real interests!

“I now am passionate about using football as way of engaging learners about maths. Just last week, I did the keynote talk at the Premier League Teaching & Learning conference for Premier League academy education managers and coaches.

“I volunteer with the West Ham United Foundation as a charity ambassador for the club, going out to visit primary schools promoting maths in football.

“Even when teaching stats, I sometimes get my students to analytically compare Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, so kids focus on statistics rather than just who is the loudest arguer!”

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 19:30 GMT unless stated.

TUESDAY

Crystal Palace v Bournemouth

Bournemouth don’t seem pick up many points when they concede first and it was the same story again for them against Tottenham on Saturday, although a couple of late Harry Wilson goals made the scoreline closer.

Meanwhile, Crystal Palace put in a really impressive performance at Burnley on Saturday to get back to winning ways.

The Eagles could do with improving their home form next, but I think they might have to settle for a point this time.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Bobby’s prediction: 2-1

Bobby has analysed all the Premier League results so far in 2019-20 and used them as the basis of his predictions.

He explained: “The most common draw result was 1-1 (13.6% of all matches this season), while the most common home win is 2-1 (10%) and the most common away win is 1-2 (7.9%).

“So rather than trying to be individually smart about matches, once I’ve established a result of home win, draw or away win, I’ve gone for the average result frequency. I hope that this tactic will work overall.”

Burnley v Man City (20:15 GMT)

The worst thing that could have happened for Burnley was seeing Manchester City concede a late equaliser to Newcastle at the weekend.

City will be fired up, and I am sure we will see a reaction from Pep Guardiola’s side after they dropped more points in the title race.

If you run at City these days, you cause them problems, so of course Burnley are in with a shout, but I just think the defending champions will have too much firepower for them.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Bobby’s prediction: 1-2

WEDNESDAY

Chelsea v Aston Villa

Chelsea’s home defeat by West Ham on Saturday was a very strange result when you consider how both teams had been playing, but I think it was just a blip.

Villa’s away record is poor in terms of results, but they have produced some good performances – like they did in their draw at Old Trafford on Sunday for example.

Jack Grealish is playing well, and Villa will pose an attacking threat, but I still think Chelsea will come out on top.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Bobby’s prediction: Using my model, I would never have predicted West Ham’s win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday – absolutely no chance. But derbies can involve a team who might have a chip on their shoulder, which changes the dynamic from purely looking at analysis. 2-1

Leicester v Watford

I watched Leicester’s win over Everton on Sunday and both teams played really well.

Both teams changed their systems and Kelechi Iheanacho was the difference for the Foxes in the end.

When you throw someone like him on, like Brendan Rodgers did in the second half when Everton were 1-0 up, you are saying to the rest of the team “come on, let’s really go for this” – which they did.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Moise Kean went close to winning it for Everton, so Leicester did ride their luck a bit, but the thing that stood out for me is that Rodgers does not just start lumping it long when they need a goal.

They kept playing football, and they got their reward. It was very good management.

As for Watford, well Hayden Mullins will be in charge for this game after Quique Sanchez Flores was sacked on Sunday.

A couple of years ago, I thought they cannot go on changing managers because they will end up getting relegated.

That approach paid off for them for a while, but it looks like it has caught up with them now.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Bobby’s prediction: 2-1

Man Utd v Tottenham

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford, almost 12 months after he was sacked, is going to be fascinating.

Media playback is not supported on this device

I am not bothered about the reception he gets from the Manchester United fans, I want to see what team he picks – because that will tell us whether he thinks he can go there and win, or whether he is thinking “let’s not lose”.

With Jose, it is usually the latter more often than the former but I am actually going to go for a Spurs win.

Mourinho has not changed a massive amount technically or tactically in his short time in charge, but he is a really good man-manager. That’s how he has got Dele Alli playing again, for starters.

Another reason I’m backing Spurs is the way United are playing.

Media playback is not supported on this device

United’s £89m midfielder Paul Pogba is close to returning from his ankle injury, but I don’t think he is going to come back and be their saviour – he is more likely to come back and want to clear off.

I have been tipping United to win more often than not in the past few weeks because they have got some outstanding players, and I have been expecting something to click.

But the way the team is playing doesn’t reflect the ability of the players within it, which is a big problem for United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to sort out.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Bobby’s prediction: This is one of the trickier games for me to make a call, partly because although I am a West Ham fan, half my family follow Spurs – my brother and two cousins.

Purely on the form book, my analysis had Spurs to win 2-1 but I think United will have something to prove against Mourinho. I don’t think they are good enough to win, but they can get a draw. 1-1

Southampton v Norwich

Both of these teams are in the bottom three, but both of them have just strung together a couple of decent results and taken four points from their past two games.

Norwich striker Teemu Pukki got back among the goals for their draw against Arsenal on Sunday, which is important for them.

Southampton’s equaliser in their win over Watford on Saturday should not have stood, but the important thing for them is that they came back because it shows they still have belief.

Both teams will want to build on their recent form, but I think they might have to settle for remaining unbeaten for a little bit longer.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Bobby’s prediction: 1-1

Wolves v West Ham

As good as West Ham were in Saturday’s win over Chelsea, I really have no idea what they are going to do next and whether they are going to play very well, or very badly.

Wolves are far more reliable, as in they are a very consistent side. They are also on a very good run, and have not lost any of their past nine Premier League games – I would be surprised if they don’t make that 10.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Bobby’s prediction: 2-1

Why Bobby is not backing the Hammers: This is controversial! On Saturday, I was thinking that if West Ham lose against Chelsea, my decision is easy and I am absolutely going for a West Ham defeat, just based on analysis – not what I’d like to happen.

Because they beat Chelsea, it has left me in a bit of a quandary but then I look at form and Wolves’ form has been terrific recently and again there is a factor that we raised our game in a London derby at Stamford Bridge.

Some people might be surprised to see that I’m predicting a West Ham loss but although I’m a passionate Hammers fan, when it comes to statistics, data and analysis, my days in finance (as a trader at investment bank Lehman Brothers and a chartered accountant at PwC) mean that I almost always allow my head to rule over my heart.

In my days as a trader, you would try to hedge your trades to minimise losses. So if Wolves win, I’d obviously pick up 10 points. But if West Ham draw or win, then I’ll be personally happy as my club pick up points. I hedged my bets so I’m happy either way. It is win-win, as they say.

Liverpool v Everton (20:15 GMT)

Everton boss Marco Silva’s future is still in doubt, but I thought his side were much better against Leicester on Sunday, despite their late defeat.

So he has not lost the dressing room, because there is nothing wrong with the way his team is playing for him. What Silva is lacking is a striker – a goalscorer.

There are still ways for the Toffees to hurt Liverpool though. One worry for Reds fans here is that Alisson is suspended so Adrian will fill in in goal

I think Everton will be very direct and looking to test Adrian from corners and free-kicks, because at set-pieces I think he looks vulnerable.

I still expect Liverpool to win, but I am not expecting it to be easy for them.

When you look at where both teams are, then of course Liverpool are the overwhelming favourites, but this is the derby and it is always tricky – whichever way you are looking at it.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Bobby’s prediction: I could have gone for a 2-0 here, the second-most common home win result, but Liverpool keep on conceding. 2-1

THURSDAY

Sheff Utd v Newcastle

Sheffield United keep on picking up points and I am very aware I have not tipped them enough to win (in the league table below, which is based on Lawro’s predictions) this season.

I keep thinking they will run out of steam but that has not happened, and they have already shown that they are far better than I thought they were.

I thought they would stay up but I did not expect them to be as high as they are, and they just look so comfortable at this level.

It is going to be interesting what Newcastle try to do against them, and how much energy they have got left, because they worked so hard in their draw against Manchester City on Saturday.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

Bobby’s prediction: 2-1

Arsenal v Brighton

Brighton always carried a threat at Anfield when they lost to Liverpool on Saturday, and always tried to play good football.

But the Seagulls will have been disappointed to concede two goals to set-pieces, and that was not the first time that they have done all right, but still ended up empty-handed.

As for Arsenal? Well, Freddie Ljungberg is in charge now but nothing changes, does it? They are good going forward but still open at the back and it feels like any team can cause them problems.

If Thursday is a good night for Arsenal, they win. If it isn’t, they will drop points.

The only thing that might help the Gunners is that, having watched the Seagulls at the weekend, I am not really sure where their goals are going to come from.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Bobby’s prediction: If I had gone off my analysis I would have put 1-1, but there are occasions like this one you have to slightly ignore overall stats because of exceptional circumstances that overrule the data.

In this case, it is Freddie Ljungberg’s first home game as interim manager and the crowd are going to want get behind him, and significantly so. I expect that support to roar the Arsenal players on. 2-1

Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

How did Lawro do last week?

Last weekend, Lawro got five correct results, including one exact score for a total of 80 points.

He beat dual-code rugby star Sonny Bill Williams, who got three correct results, including one exact score, for a total of 60 points.

GUEST LEADERBOARD 2019-20

Source: Read Full Article