Premier League predictions: Lawro v grime MC and Liverpool fan Big Zuu

Manchester City will give new Premier League champions Liverpool a guard of honour before Thursday’s game at an empty Etihad Stadium, but who will prevail on the pitch?

“I am sure the Liverpool players will have been partying,” said BBC football expert and former Reds defender Mark Lawrenson. “And, since the season started in August, they have been geared up to take the title off City, so will they have the same edge now they have done it?

“I know Jurgen Klopp is as driven as City boss Pep Guardiola in terms of their players maintaining their performance levels, especially against a team as good as City, but even being 5% off will make all the difference in a game like this.”

City’s defeat at Chelsea on Thursday night meant their two-year reign as Premier League champions is over before Liverpool come to Etihad Stadium this week

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

This week he is up against grime MC and Radio 1 Xtra DJ Big Zuu, who is a Liverpool fan.

Big Zuu, whose new track, ‘Move Right’, is out now, has also recorded a new freestyle rap celebrating the Reds’ success.

He told BBC Sport: “Because of lockdown I have just been celebrating at home, talking to all my friends and family that support Liverpool – just buzzing really.

“But I have made a freestyle for BBC Sport about us winning the league as well. I did one last season (see below) when we eventually just missed out – but this time we did it. I have just been kind of planning for when this new one will come out.

“Jordan Henderson messaged me on Friday morning, saying he wants to hear the freestyle, so everyone is just getting a bit excited about it all at the moment!”

Liverpool’s 2019 Premier League title freestyle challenge in 90 seconds with Big Zuu – he has a new video coming soon to celebrate their win this season

Big Zuu puts Liverpool’s long-awaited success down to their strength from front to back – and the right attitude too.

“The quality across the squad is top tier,” he added. “I also think the fact there is no egos there either is important too.

“I think the addition of Virgil van Dijk at the start of 2018 was the best signing the club has ever made. He was exactly what we needed in our defence and he completely changed the complexion of the whole club.

“I remember the first game he played for us, against Everton in the FA Cup. I was at it, luckily enough. I was in the Kop when he scored the winner in front of us.

Watch: The last time Liverpool & Everton met in the FA Cup in 2018

“You could just feel it then – the energy that he brought to the team. And just watching him command the back line in that game, you could already feel like he had such a presence.

“When we signed Alisson from Roma that summer, and got it right in goal too, then I think it was over from there. We have always had quality up front – we had Fernando Torres, we had Luis Suarez – when we fell fell short in the league before, but that is not enough on its own.”

Is this title the start of a spell of Liverpool dominance? Big Zuu hopes so but he is not convinced. “I think we are away from those times when teams could win three in a row like Manchester United did. I obviously hope we can go on to win it again and again but you can never count out City, because if they sort out their defence they still have one of the best attacks there is. And Chelsea and United both look like they will make it harder for us next year too.”

Liverpool’s title was confirmed when City lost at Chelsea last week and Big Zuu definitely enjoyed the moment.

He explained: “Kevin de Bruyne scored one of the best goals of the season to equalise for City in that game – I have not seen a free-kick hit like that. He hit it and it went into the sky then somehow dipped under the bar.

“That just shows his quality, especially because they were trying to keep hold of their title a bit longer, but Chelsea got the breaks and when that Willian penalty went in then everyone was buzzing.

“Seeing the video of the Liverpool players celebrating together afterwards was just amazing.”

Premier League predictions – week 32
Result Lawro Big Zuu
Brighton v Man Utd x-x 0-2 1-3
Arsenal v Norwich x-x 2-0 3-1
Bournemouth v Newcastle x-x 0-0 1-2
Everton v Leicester x-x 1-1 1-1
West Ham v Chelsea x-x 0-1 0-2
Sheff Utd v Tottenham x-x 0-2 0-1
Man City v Liverpool x-x 1-1 2-2

A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.



Brighton v Man Utd (20:15 BST)

Brighton have picked up four points from their two games since the restart and it could have been six if they had put away their penalty against Leicester.

But if you’d offered a win and a draw against Arsenal and Leicester to Seagulls boss Graham Potter before the restart, he would have swum the channel to get it, especially with the teams below them in the table doing next to nothing.

The pressure is off Brighton a bit here, but I would still back Manchester United, who have also made a very positive return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Their boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a lot of changes for their FA Cup win over Norwich. They didn’t play well, but they still got through.

FA Cup: Norwich City 1-2 Manchester United highlights

The race for the top four – and even fifth if Manchester City’s Champions League ban for next season is upheld – is going to be an exciting one. United are in the thick of it, and I think they will push on here.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Big Zuu’s prediction: For Brighton not to lose at Leicester shows there is something going on with them – they played well in that game. But United are in incredible form, so I’ve got to go with them. Maybe Brighton will score first, but United will come back at them. Sometimes they need that kick up the backside to get going. 1-3


Arsenal v Norwich (18:00 BST)

Arsenal sneaked into the FA Cup semi-finals by beating Sheffield United on Sunday and they enjoyed a bit of good fortune in their win over Southampton in the league last week too.

That’s football, though, and it should give them a bit of a lift – not that they should need it against Norwich.

FA Cup: Sheffield United 1-2 Arsenal highlights

I agreed with Canaries boss Daniel Farke, who described their FA Cup defeat by United as ‘lose lose’ because they played 120+ minutes and had Timm Klose sent off, and suspended.

They worked so hard to end up with nothing and, in terms of the end result, they would have been better off losing with 11 men inside 90 minutes. That sounds strange, but it was basically what Farke was saying.

He can take some positives from Norwich’s performance, of course, but I don’t recall them creating too much in any of their games so far. I cannot see them opening Arsenal up.

Assuming they are victorious, that would make it three wins in a row for the Gunners but, even if it happens, it would not mean they have turned a corner, or anything significant like that. You just cannot trust them as a team or know what they are going to do next and that situation has not suddenly changed.

As I said on Football Focus on Saturday, Arsenal have got as many problems off the pitch as on it, when they used to be so good at both.

It is a massive job for Mikel Arteta to turn things around, and he cannot do it on his own. I look at that club and think ‘where are they going?’ because they really need a strategy and an idea of how to sort their recruitment out before anything is going to change.

They need a leader in that department, with a definitive plan. Arsenal’s former co-owner and vice-chairman David Dein, who left in 2007, must look at them and think ‘what the heck has happened?’

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Big Zuu’s prediction: Arsenal have been a bit topsy-turvy but they have got a couple of wins now which means Hector Bellerin can finally plant some trees – he said he would plant 3,000 trees every time they won,