Manchester City have won their past three home league games against Liverpool with an aggregate score of 11-1. Can they make it four wins in a row at Etihad Stadium on Sunday?
BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson said: “I know I never usually tip Liverpool to lose but I just feel like it is a massive game for both defences and this time it is the Reds who have the uncertainty at the back.
“Liverpool centre-half Joe Gomez has started each of the past three games with a different partner and manager Jurgen Klopp might change things around again at the back.”
Lawro is making predictions for all 380 Premier League matches this season, against a variety of guests.
This weekend, he is up against singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald, whose latest album, Human Demands, was released at the end of October.
Rangers fan Macdonald has one eye on the Scottish Premiership title race and the other on Scotland’s Euro 2020 play-off against Serbia next week – and is feeling pretty nervous about both.
“There is no such thing as ‘confident’ when it comes to supporting Scotland,” she told BBC Sport. “That is something you learn right at the very beginning.
“It is going to be a very tough night for us in Serbia but I think what [Scotland boss] Steve Clarke has instilled is a great team spirit which probably wasn’t there previously.
“Before, it felt a bit like people kind of turned up, did their work for Scotland and then went back to their real jobs with their clubs. Now, it does seem like the players are really, really there for each other and it seems we have got the togetherness that we had been lacking for years.
“That is a good sign and so is the way Clarke lines up his team. He makes us really hard to beat – but as well as being quite a sticky team, we also carry an attacking threat.
“While we struggled for goals in the past, now it seems like we have got a few players coming through who can help up front. Having someone like Lyndon Dykes in the team as a target man will help immeasurably, and Leigh Griffiths is back in the squad too.
“Unfortunately, in Scotland we are very much used to glorious failure so I think some of us are prepared for that – but there is always the hope this time will be different.”
If the men’s team make it to the finals, Macdonald is hoping for a similar effect to the one seen last year when Scotland reached the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
“If you are there and part of the tournament, it is a brilliant feeling,” she added.
“It can also create a lasting legacy. When young people see these players at a major event, it kind of spurs them on and makes them want to do it themselves.
“On the back of watching Scotland women’s team at the World Cup, one of my friends has two daughters who just absolutely fell in love with the game and are both now playing football.
“A generation of Scottish kids have grown up without seeing the men’s team at a finals. I was 10 for our last one, when we were at France 1998, and the streets where I lived were absolutely dead during the first game against Brazil. Everyone was watching.
“It was that kind of spirit that we were all in it together and that is what we have missed so much in Scotland down the years.”
On the domestic front, Rangers are the early pacesetters in the Scottish Premiership, but Macdonald is taking nothing for granted.
“It has been a really interesting season, in Scotland and in the Premier League too, and it would be a fool’s game to call anything now on the back of the first few games,” she said.
“I know Celtic have got games in hand but Rangers are in a good place now, playing as a team. They always seem to be able to find a way of winning games, which is a really positive sign.
“It would be brilliant if they can keep that up, but everything is just so unpredictable at the moment. I’m not sure whether that is down to the lack of fans, the really short pre-season or anything else – but everything feels very up in the air.”
|Brighton v Burnley||x-x||2-1||0-0|
|Southampton v Newcastle||x-x||1-1||2-1|
|Everton v Man Utd||x-x||1-1||3-1|
|Crystal Palace v Leeds||x-x||1-2||2-3|
|Chelsea v Sheff Utd||x-x||2-0||3-0|
|West Ham v Fulham||x-x||2-0||2-0|
|West Brom v Tottenham||x-x||0-2||1-3|
|Leicester v Wolves||x-x||2-1||2-1|
|Man City v Liverpool||x-x||2-0||2-2|
|Arsenal v Aston Villa||x-x||2-0||1-2|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
Brighton v Burnley (17:30 GMT)
Brighton have not been playing badly but have not won for quite a while now.
Things are even worse for Burnley, who are bottom with only one point from six games so far. Like the Seagulls, they will feel a bit hard done by because some of their performances have deserved more of a reward.
I am going for a Brighton win here, but I am not confident about that because I know what Burnley are like and how quickly they can turn things around.
They have been on poor runs under Sean Dyche before and sometimes they just go ‘bang’ and suddenly look like a different and much-improved team – because of their manager as much as anything else.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Amy’s prediction: Brighton haven’t won in five games and Burnley haven’t won at all. The Clarets have only scored three goals all season too. 0-0
Southampton v Newcastle (20:00 GMT)
Southampton striker Danny Ings is out for up to six weeks with a knee injury, which is a massive blow. One player does not make a team, but everything Saints do really does revolve around him.
I don’t think their manager, Ralph Hassenhuttl, will change his system on Friday but it will be a lot less effective without Ings because he sniffs goals out for fun.
I don’t see Newcastle creating much at St Mary’s, but Steve Bruce will set them up to make things difficult for Southampton and, in Callum Wilson, the Magpies have their own in-form striker who can nick them a goal.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Amy’s prediction: Both of these sides are doing well and this should be a good game. Newcastle got a good win over Everton last time out but Southampton would be top of the table if it was based on the past five games and they are absolutely smashing it at the moment. 2-1
Everton v Man Utd (12:30 GMT)
Everton have now only picked up one point from their past three games but they should have James Rodriguez back from injury for this one.
That will be a huge boost because Rodriguez will make a big difference. I would not give Jordan Pickford a recall in goal, though, because Robin Olsen did well against Newcastle last weekend.
Manchester United have had a bad week. They didn’t land a glove on Arsenal when they lost to the Gunners at Old Trafford last Sunday and put in another poor performance in their Champions League defeat in Turkey on Wednesday.
With his diamond shape in midfield, it feels like United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is trying to shoehorn all sorts of different players into a formation that quite a lot of them don’t want to play in. Paul Pogba on the left does not really work, for example.
But having said all that, it would be just like United to go to Goodison Park and win, and not just because they are on a run of six straight away league victories.
It is exactly the sort of result Solskjaer has come up with before when he has been under pressure, but I think he will have to settle for a point this time.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Amy’s prediction: United are so inconsistent and some of their players look somewhat disinterested. At the end of last season, Bruno Fernandes arrived and made a big impact – people were asking if this was the start of a United resurgence – but it doesn’t really seem that way now. 3-1
Crystal Palace v Leeds (15:00 GMT)
Crystal Palace have had the fewest shots of any team in the Premier League, with 57 in seven games, while only Liverpool have had more than Leeds with 96.
They both have the same number of points though – 10 – so you can see that, while they have a different approach, they both have a style that is effective.
It will be interesting to see what Eagles boss Roy Hodgson does here – will he completely allow Leeds to take the game to his side and then look to pick them off?
That is what Palace did against Fulham last week but Leeds are a lot more dangerous.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-2
Amy’s prediction: Leeds got turned over by Leicester on Monday, but I would put that down to how good Leicester are rather than a sign of any Leeds weakness. 2-3
Chelsea v Sheff Utd (17:30 GMT)
Sheffield United just can’t score goals. Since beating Chelsea 3-0 in July, they have only managed four in 10 league games – and two of those were penalties.
They have picked up only one point in that spell, when their performances haven’t actually been that bad – so it is obvious where their problems lie.
In contrast, Chelsea have scored 10 goals in their past three games and have not conceded in any of their past five. That is all very impressive, but I am still not wholly convinced.
They should win on Saturday, but I am waiting for them to crack again.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Amy’s prediction: Chelsea draw too many games but I think they will win this one. 3-0
West Ham v Fulham (20:00 GMT)
West Ham were decent in defeat against Liverpool last time out but nothing short of a win will do for the Hammers here.
Fulham got their first league win of the season on Monday, but West Ham are a totally different proposition to West Brom – or at least they should be.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Amy’s prediction: West Ham have made a much better start and they have to be the favourites. 2-0
- Watch 13 first-round ties on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app this weekend. Find out more here.
West Brom v Tottenham (12:00 GMT)
Tottenham beat Brighton last week despite not being totally convincing, but I don’t mind that. They are getting better as a team and, while they are doing that, they are getting positive results as well.
It is a different story with West Brom. They will need 36 points or so to stay up, but at the moment I don’t know where they are going to get them from with what they have got.
The Baggies have had their moments in games, but they only seem to last 20 or 30 minutes and that is not enough to see them through.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Amy’s prediction: No wins yet for West Brom and I can’t see them changing that here. Gareth Bale is getting better every week and Tottenham will win this. 1-3
Leicester v Wolves (14:00 GMT)
Both teams are playing so well that it is hard to decide either way. I’ve gone with Leicester, but I could make a case for either side to come out on top.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Amy’s prediction: Both of these teams are flying so this is very difficult to call. 2-1
Man City v Liverpool (16:30 GMT)
Liverpool boss Klopp has got decisions to make in defence and attack.
Up front, I am a big fan of Roberto Firmino and what he does for the team but Diogo Jota has got the same work ethic and is scoring goals too – he is on fire at the moment.
At the back, if Joel Matip is fit I would pair him with Joe Gomez. Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams have done well – against West Ham and Atalanta respectively – but this is a very different game, with far more pressure involved and against a much better side.
Whoever Klopp goes with, it is not a good time for them to be going to the Etihad while they are trying to build a new partnership because any mistake they make will be pounced upon.
That’s why I am going for City to win. Liverpool are going into this round of fixtures on top of the table so there is no suggestion they are struggling – it is just they are not at their very best at the moment.
They are going to lose games and the title race is going to be tighter than last year, I have no doubts about that.
Liverpool will still cause City problems on Sunday too, though. Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias have looked solid at the back so far, but they haven’t been properly tested yet.
That will happen here – and it not just about the two centre-backs, it is the whole back four who get a workout when you play Liverpool. They come at you from all angles and if there is a weakness, they sniff it out.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Amy’s prediction: Liverpool had that terrible defeat against Aston Villa, but they are still top. The Reds have been grinding out results, rather than playing with any glamour, but they are still very difficult to beat. 2-2
Arsenal v Aston Villa (19:15 GMT)
I was very impressed by Arsenal at Old Trafford last weekend. They fully deserved their win and Thomas Partey already looks a force in midfield.
After a good result like that, the Gunners need to push on and show they have eradicated the defensive mistakes that have cost them in the past. If they can stop them, then they will be right up there at the top of the table.
Yes, Arsenal can still improve their creativity, but manager Mikel Arteta is right to try to make them more solid first.
Aston Villa have leaked a few goals in the past couple of weeks and I would be surprised if they manage a clean sheet here.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Amy’s prediction: Arsenal are not scoring many goals, but that hasn’t been a problem for Villa. It’s an interesting one because these two are level on points in the table, but I am going to go with Villa. 1-2
Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
How did Lawro do last time?
From last weekend’s Premier League games, Lawro got seven correct results, including two exact scores, for a total of 130 points
He beat The Rap Game UK judge DJ Target, who got five correct results with no exact scores, for a total of 50 points.
GUEST LEADERBOARD 2020-21
|89||Lawro (average after seven weeks)|
|60||Celeste, Caroline Weir|
|50||Declan McKenna, DJ Target|