With Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane away at the Africa Cup of Nations, Liverpool drew a blank against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup on Thursday, but will things be different against Brentford on Sunday?
“They are not the same threat without those two, but the goals will come from somewhere,” BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson said. “They will just heap pressure on Brentford until they crack.”
Lawro is making predictions for all 380 top-flight matches this season, against a variety of guests.
This week’s guest is grime star and Wolves fan S-X, who has teamed up with rapper Trippie Redd for his new single, All Night, which was released on Friday.
S-X, also known as Sam, grew up in Warstones in Wolverhampton and worked in Wolves’ retail department before he made the breakthrough with his music.
Now the 28-year-old is a Grammy-nominated producer, singer and songwriter who has collaborated with some of the biggest stars from the industry.
He was appointed Wolves Records’ A&R and production consultant when they became the first English club to launch their own record label in September, working as a talent scout and mentor, and is also an ambassador for the club’s foundation.
“It is a kind of pinch myself moment every time I have any new involvement with them,” S-X told BBC Sport.
“Wolves are my childhood team so I grew up with them – I am Wolverhampton born and bred, and I still live there. It’s home and that means a lot to me.
“It’s crazy that I actually used to work for Wolves, back in 2016. I was in the warehouse so if you ordered your online kit or any other merchandise off the club website it was probably me and my team who were sending it out to you.
“Now I really try to promote the club and the city I’m from wherever I go, and I’m very passionate about it. I remember in November 2019 I did KSI’s walkout for his Logan Paul fight with Rick Ross and Lil Baby and I specifically got a Wolves shirt with ‘The Boss’ and number one on the back for Rick.
“I took that to Los Angeles for him and I was telling him all about my city. People respect it because they see my passion, and they are very passionate about where they come from too.
“I am one of the few people from Wolverhampton doing that in music and I want more people from here to be doing it in the future because at the moment it feels like we are only really known for the football team. It’s mad how much more people know about the city and the club now we are in the Premier League, which is great, but I just want to keep spreading the word.”
S-X is Wolves through and through, but things would have been very different if he had listened to his family when he chose who to support.
“Most of them are Villa fans and they tried to persuade me to follow them when I was younger,” he explained.
“I have got a bit of a soft spot for Villa because of that, but me and my mum moved to Wolverhampton quite randomly and it was always Wolves for me.
“I never used to get to go to league games at first, but I would go to pre-season friendlies because the tickets were only about £5.
“We played Liverpool one summer – I don’t know what year it was, but I was very young – and I just remember looking at the grass on the pitch and thinking it looked like the lawn of some royal palace. I’d never seen grass like it and I wondered why they looked after the pitch so well.
“It was the first time as a kid I had a ‘wow’ moment at Molineux, just because I was there and I was watching Wolves play. It was like realising ‘OK, this is the real thing!’
“I think it’s the same with music – there is nothing like going and watching your favourite artist in person at a show, rather than just seeing it on a live stream. It’s just not the same as being there.”
|Brighton v Crystal Palace||x-x||1-1||1-2|
|Man City v Chelsea||x-x||2-1||1-0|
|Burnley v Leicester||P-P||P-P||P-P|
|Newcastle v Watford||x-x||2-1||1-2|
|Norwich v Everton||x-x||0-2||0-0|
|Wolves v Southampton||x-x||2-1||3-2|
|Aston Villa v Man Utd||x-x||2-1||0-2|
|Liverpool v Brentford||x-x||2-0||2-1|
|West Ham v Leeds||x-x||2-0||0-2|
|Tottenham v Arsenal||x-x||1-0||3-1|
P-P = Postponed because of a Covid-19 outbreak.
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
Games kick off at 15:00 GMT unless otherwise stated.
Brighton v Crystal Palace (20:00 GMT)
Brighton have hit a bit of form after that long run of draws or defeats they were on before Christmas.
The Seagulls are not just getting wins – three in their past four games in all competitions – but they are playing well too, so they will be full of confidence.
I still think Crystal Palace will get something out of this one, though. The rivalry between the two sides has produced some really good games in recent seasons, and I can see this one being close.
The Eagles have won on their past two visits to the Amex Stadium, but this time, with the way Brighton are playing, they will probably be happy not to be beaten.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1.
S-X’s prediction: Brighton have been playing well, but I am a bit of a Wilfried Zaha fan so I am going with Palace for that reason. Zaha to win it with a penalty. 1-2.
Man City v Chelsea (12:30 GMT)
I’m not a fan of lunchtime games full stop because the atmosphere is always flat, whoever is playing. This will be the same, despite it being a meeting of the top two, and it would be very different if this was a tea-time kick-off.
It is going to be interesting to see how Chelsea line up because they are short of defenders after Andreas Christensen tested positive for Covid-19 this week.
Thomas Tuchel’s side played well when they despatched Tottenham in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, but this is a much bigger test and I’m not convinced they are ready for it.
Chelsea’s Premier League form has been patchy and even a draw here would not be enough to help their title chances. I don’t think they will get that, though.
City played really well when they won at Stamford Bridge in September, but they have really hit their stride in the past few weeks. I’m going for another win for them, which would be their 12th in a row in the league.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1.
S-X’s prediction: It’s going to be a close game but City will take it. 1-0.
Burnley P-P Leicester
This match was postponed because of a Covid outbreak.
Newcastle v Watford
Chris Wood should go straight into the Newcastle side and I can see why they bought him.
He is not a prolific goalscorer but he is a powerful force up front, and will hold the ball up.
You can just picture the scene at St James’ Park – there will be a full house and, after signing Wood, they will all be expecting a really good performance and a win.
Newcastle need it, not just to improve their own situation but to keep Watford right in the relegation mix as well.
The problem Eddie Howe’s men have there is that, defensively, we know they are all over the place.
I still think the Magpies will win, because Watford are leaking a lot of goals and losing a lot of games, but it might be a tense finish and Newcastle will need their fans as well as Wood to get them over the line.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1.
S-X’s prediction: Newcastle need a win badly, but so do Watford and I just have a feeling the Hornets will edge it. 1-2.
Norwich v Everton
Most of the teams down the bottom have problems keeping goals out, but Norwich can’t score them either – they have drawn a blank in their past six league games.
I don’t see that changing on Saturday. Everton are hardly in great form themselves, but they have been busy this month in the transfer market and you can see what their manager Rafael Benitez is trying to do at both ends of the pitch.
After shipping Lucas Digne out he has signed two defenders and has brought in another winger, Anwar El Ghazi, on loan from Aston Villa. With Dominic Calvert-Lewin fit again, Everton should not be lacking in firepower any more.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2.
S-X’s prediction: No goals in this one! 0-0.
Wolves v Southampton
Southampton played really well when they beat Brentford in midweek, but Wolves have impressed me for a few weeks and have turned into a really good side.
Wolves boss Bruno Lage doesn’t get enough credit for that, possibly because they don’t score too many, but they are a very tidy footballing team and the goals will come.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1.
S-X’s prediction: This is going to be a tough game and it might be quite open too. 3-2.
S-X on Wolves’ season: Being a Wolves fan you have to be ready for ups and downs, but it feels like we are a solid Premier League club now, rather than worrying about relegation. It doesn’t feel like we are a team that is going to win anything yet, but even when we lose games it doesn’t feel like we are in danger of dropping out. At the beginning of the season I was a lot less certain about that, because we had a new manager and we didn’t know what to expect. It just shows why you have to give these things time. Lage had to find his way with a new team when he arrived, but now he is doing really well.
Aston Villa v Man Utd (17:30 GMT)
Aston Villa were hard done by when they lost at Manchester United in the FA Cup on Monday night, and I reckon they will reverse that result at Villa Park.
New Villa midfielder Philippe Coutinho will be available#, but I don’t know whether he will start because he has not played many minutes recently. He’ll probably be on the bench and if they need a lift – and a trick or two – they can bring him on.
It is United who have got more problems at the moment, though. I really thought we would see an improvement under Ralf Rangnick.
Their results haven’t been that bad, other than their loss to Wolves at the start of the year, but their performances have mostly been poor and there are obviously some deep-rooted problems inside the club that need to be sorted out.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1.
S-X’s prediction: Can Villa do what Wolves did a few days ago and beat United? No! Apologies to everyone in my family who are Villa fans, but I don’t think United will let that slip. 0-2.
Liverpool v Brentford (14:00 GMT)
Liverpool went with Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Takumi Minamino up front against Arsenal in midweek, but they could play Divock Origi through the middle here.
They should have enough to beat Brentford at Anfield. The Bees put on a very disciplined defensive performance when they lost 1-0 to Manchester City over Christmas, but they shipped four goals against Southampton on Tuesday, which is not exactly ideal preparation for this game.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0.
S-X’s prediction: Brentford are a good team and they will have a real go – it feels like they could beat anyone, and also lose to anyone – but Liverpool are at home and should win this one. 2-1.
West Ham v Leeds (14:00 GMT)
West Ham have picked up again after their little slump in results and have now won four games in a row in all competitions.
That run included their win over Leeds in the FA Cup last weekend and I am going to go for the same outcome this time.
The Hammers are very powerful and such a difficult side to play against now with the pace they have in attack. I don’t see Leeds in any danger of the drop, but I also can’t see them keeping West Ham out.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0.
S-X’s prediction: This is a hard one to call but I am going to go with Leeds. 0-2.
Tottenham v Arsenal (16:30 GMT)
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says he is running out of players because of illness and injury, so there is a chance this game might be called off.
If it goes ahead, I am not expecting a classic.
The way Tottenham went out of the Carabao Cup without much of a fight was disappointing, but they are still unbeaten in the league in eight games under Antonio Conte.
Conte will want to keep that record, so being hard to beat will be the priority, but I have a feeling Spurs will nick all three points, even though Son Heung-min is still out injured.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-0.
S-X’s prediction: Anything could happen here, but Arsenal are not quite the same team when they are away from home. 3-1.
Lawro and S-X were speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
How did Lawro do last time?
From the Premier League fixtures on 1, 2 & 3 January, Lawro got four correct results from eight matches, with no exact scores, for a total of 40 points.
For now, it goes down as a win for Lawro, because his guest in week 21, KAWALA guitarist Dan McCarthy got three correct results with no exact scores, for a total of 30 points.
|Leicester v Norwich||3-0|
|Southampton v Newcastle||2-0|
This week saw two rearranged games from week 18 played – Southampton beating Brentford 4-1 and West Ham overcoming Norwich 2-0.
Lawro went for a 2-1 home win in both games and got 10 points from each match, putting him on 50 points so far, with four more games from that set of fixtures still to be played.
At the moment it still goes down as a win for his guests, brothers Femi and TJ Koleoso from jazz band Ezra Collective.
They both wrongly went for a Brentford win on Tuesday but Femi picked up 10 more points after going for a 3-0 West Ham win on Wednesday and now has a score of 40. TJ correctly picked a 2-0 scoreline in that game and, as things stand, he has a score of 100 points – which counts in the scoreboards – and he could still add more to his tally.
GUEST LEADERBOARD 2021-22
|110||Friction, She Drew The Gun|
|100||TJ from Ezra Collective|
|90||Dev from Idles|
|72||Lawro (average after 21 weeks)|
|70||Ben Cajee, Elena Cole, Jelani Blackman|
|50||Aqib Khan, Shaun Thomas|
|40||Femi from Ezra Collective, Dan Haggis of The Wombats, Murray & Tav from FUR, Justin Young|
|30||James Arthur, Dan McCarthy from KAWALA, Martin Noble, Roland Orzabal, Michael ‘Venom’ Page, Curt Smith, Roger Taylor, Zuzu|
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