Liverpool are Premier League champions, but who will win the FA Cup?
Silverware has eluded Ole Gunnar Solskjaer so far in his time as Manchester United boss – but, after his glittering playing career, could it be the first trophy he brings to Old Trafford as a manager?
United will have to get past Norwich in Saturday’s quarter-final first – you can watch it live on BBC One and the BBC Sport website from 17:30 BST.
But BBC football expert Mark Lawrenson is backing Solskjaer’s side to go all the way and win at Wembley in the final on 1 August.
“It is United for the FA Cup,” said Lawro. “They are playing well and scoring goals.
“They are in the race for the top four in the Premier League too but Solskjaer wants to win things, so he will not field a weakened team in the FA Cup.”
Lawro is pitting his wits against a different guest for each round of this season’s FA Cup, and his opponent this time is Peter Crouch: Save Our Summer co-host Alex Horne.
Horne is a Liverpool fan who, like Lawro, is celebrating the Reds’ title success after Manchester City lost at Chelsea on Thursday night.
“I just wanted to get it done so to get over the line is amazing,” Horne told BBC Sport. “I didn’t really care how we won the Premier League, to be completely honest – I just wanted to win it.
“We had to wait to wrap it up, but it was worth it. We will get to celebrate properly together soon too.”
Horne confesses he is a “plastic” Liverpool fan, or at least in the way he chose them as his team anyway.
He explained: “I have got two brothers. My elder brother is a Man Utd fan and my little brother is an Everton fan. My dad is a Tottenham fan and my mum is a Motherwell fan.
“I grew up in the countryside in Sussex so there was no great pull to support anyone local. My dad did not stamp his ‘Spursy-ness’ on any of us, and I went for Liverpool when I was about six because it was the 1980s, and basically it was a rational decision.
“So, since the age of six I have lived with the embarrassment of being a plastic Liverpool fan, but I have come to terms with it – there is nothing I can do apart from own up to it.
“I love them, I think about them all the time and I am sad when they lose, so I feel like I am a fan. And with my older brother being a United fan, I feel like I have suffered enough down the years waiting for us to win the title again.”
Horne counts Ian Rush, John Barnes, Jan Molby and Ronnie Rosenthal among his all-time favourite Liverpool players, a list that also includes his co-host.
“They say never meet your heroes but Peter is such a brilliant person,” Horne said.
“Meeting him and working with him was everything I wanted it to be. I know I am not a proper fan in that I don’t go to all the matches and I am not from the place, but I see football as entertainment.
“I often think about which footballers would I like to go out for a drink with, and there are very few who I think I would get on with. But with Crouch, within a minute you are on the same level and he is as interested in you as you are in him.
“I know he has got his podcast so everyone knows he has got all these stories, but they are incredible. You are chatting to him and you discover so much. This week I found out he was almost a professional level tennis player, and then it turned out he also held his county record for the high jump.
“He is a phenomenal sportsman, which you forget because he is such a funny figure, so he is a real hero of mine.”
|FA Cup quarter-final predictions|
|Norwich v Man Utd||x-x||0-2||0-3|
|Sheff Utd v Arsenal||x-x||1-1*||1-1**|
|Leicester v Chelsea||x-x||1-2||1-1**|
|Newcastle v Man City||x-x||0-3||1-2|
* Home team to win on penalties
** Away team to win on penalties
There are no replays in the FA Cup quarter-finals, and the ties will be decided by extra time and then penalties.
|Premier League predictions – week 32|
|Aston Villa v Wolves||x-x||0-2||0-2|
|Watford v Southampton||x-x||2-1||1-1|
|Crystal Palace v Burnley||x-x||1-1||1-0|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
Aston Villa v Wolves (Premier League, 12:30 BST)
It is possible that Aston Villa will be buoyed by their late equaliser at Newcastle on Wednesday, but it is a tough ask for them to get anything against Wolves.
More and more people are realising what a good side Wolves are from front to back, and what a good manager they have got in Nuno Espirito Santo.
Wolves are pushing hard for a top-four finish, and I would be surprised if they don’t pick up another three points here.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Alex’s prediction: 0-2
Norwich v Man Utd (FA Cup quarter-final, 17:30 BST – live on the BBC)
Norwich have lost both their league games at home since the restart without looking like scoring, and things seem pretty bleak for them at the bottom of the table. I can’t see them staying up.
The Canaries knew at the start of the season that they were gambling when they chose not to spend big on new players after getting promoted. In a way it is has failed because they are not going to stay in the Premier League, but at least their finances will be in a better place when they do get relegated.
In a way, this is a free hit for them, and a chance to forget about that side of things – but this is a bad time for anyone to be playing United because they are flying.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Alex’s prediction: I’ve got lots of allegiance with Norwich – my aunt and uncle lived there and we would go up there a lot. I actually played on Carrow Road with my cousins the day before the main stand burnt down in 1984.
I love Norwich. They are a proper club – if you are from there, everyone supports them, and goes. So my heart says Norwich, but my head does not give them a chance. I am sorry to say it but I think it could be quite a big United win. 0-3
Sheff Utd v Arsenal (FA Cup quarter-final, 13:00 BST)
Like Norwich, Sheffield United are another team who do not look like they have got a goal in them at the moment.
The Blades are just not playing as well as they were earlier in the season, but maybe the fact they are playing Arsenal might help them out.
Arsenal are just a mess at the moment, and this is a situation that has been coming for while.
Some people point the blame at former manager Arsene Wenger, but I don’t agree with that. Even his worst Gunners team would beat this current Arsenal side, easily.
There just seems a total lack of a cohesive plan at the club when it comes to things like scouting, recruitment and contracts, and I feel sorry for current manager Mikel Arteta, because none of it is his fault.
Since Wenger has gone, there has been a scattergun approach – and it has not worked.
As for this tie, I am going for the Blades to win on penalties, but Arsenal’s problems will not be over by a long shot even if they do get through.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1 AET – Sheff Utd to win on pens
Alex’s prediction: I’m going for a 1-1 draw, partly because I’ve done my research and that is the most popular result – 11% of all games finish 1-1 – but also because this is tough to call – both teams have lost a bit of momentum.
I’m going 0-0 after 90 minutes and 1-1 AET… then I feel like Arsenal will just pull through, which will be upsetting because I will get really excited about the prospect of them losing on penalties. I just see the big teams making the semis – they always do. 1-1 AET – Arsenal to win on pens
Leicester v Chelsea (FA Cup quarter-final, 16:00 BST)
Apart from James Maddison, Leicester looked short of sharpness and fitness in their draw with Brighton on Tuesday. That will come back at some point, but maybe not this weekend.
I fancy Chelsea to progress because I always think they are capable of creating chances, but it is going to be close.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-2
Alex’s prediction: This is another one that is hard to call, so again I’m going with the stats. No-one is scoring many goals at the moment unless there is a real gulf, and I see this one being cagey. I see penalties and I am going with Chelsea and, again, I will be disappointed with that result. 1-1 AET – Chelsea to win on pens
Watford v Southampton (Premier League, 16:30 BST)
This is a huge game for Watford. I think they know it, and will be up for the fight.
That is what you need at the bottom. West Ham have got a bit of it too, but the Hornets have got far more fight than, say, Bournemouth.
Watford will scrap for everything, and even without having their fans behind them at Vicarage Road, this game looks very winnable for them.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Alex’s prediction: 1-1
Newcastle v Man City (FA Cup quarter-final, 18:30 BST – live on the BBC)
If Newcastle had held on to beat Aston Villa in the league on Wednesday, they would be totally safe on 41 points and could have focused fully on this tie.
They have already drawn with Manchester City once at St James’ Park this season and you would be thinking they can have a real go at them.
As it is, there is still that element of doubt about them staying up and, although I still think the Magpies will survive, boss Steve Bruce will probably see Wednesday’s league trip to struggling Bournemouth as the priority.
City are the FA Cup holders and I am sure they will take this tie seriously but they made eight changes on Monday night and outclassed Burnley. Whatever team they put out, it will be too strong for Newcastle.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-3
Alex’s prediction: I think this will be close too. Newcastle will be ahead at half-time and still 1-0 up late on – but City will take it in normal time. 1-2
Crystal Palace v Burnley (Premier League, 20:00 BST)
Both of these sides basically played without the ball when they lost heavily to Liverpool (Palace) and Manchester City (Burnley) in the past week.
Someone will have to have it this time, but they both like to make it difficult for their opponents, or at least try to.
So I don’t think it will be a thriller in any shape or form, especially if Palace are without Wilfried Zaha after he was injured against the Reds. If Burnley’s front two, Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood, are still sidelined they will pose less of a threat too.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Alex’s prediction: 1-0
Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
How did Lawro do last time?
From the midweek Premier League games, Lawro got seven correct results, including three exact scorelines, for a total of 160 points.
He beat rapper Aitch, who got five correct results, with two exact scorelines, for a total of 110 points.
|+/- DENOTE POSITION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAWRO’S TABLE AND ACTUAL POSITION|
GUEST LEADERBOARD 2019-20
|110||Aitch, Daisy May and Charlie Cooper|
|90||Avelino, Helen Housby, Jo Harten, Bobby Seagull, Geraint Thomas|
|80||Tom Davis, Andy Murray, Stephen Graham|
|77||Lawro (average after 31 weeks)|
|70||David Baddiel, Richard Hawley, Kojo, Michael Johnson, Craig Mitch, Alex Scott|
|60||Sonny Bill Williams, Georgia, Al Greenwood, Katie Ormerod, Serge from Kasabian, Stefan Ratchford|
|50||Chelcee Grimes, Reece Parkinson, Sam Warburton|
|40||Stephen Fry, Hugh Grant, Tom Grennan, Neil Jones, Tommy O’Dell, Steve Queralt|
|30||Sam Bird, Matthew McConaughey, Seth Rollins|
|Total scores after week 31|
|Lawro v Guests|