Liverpool or Arsenal to win this weekend? Gower takes on Lawro

BBC Sport expert Mark Lawrenson

BBC Sport's football expert Mark Lawrenson will be making a prediction for all 380 Premier League games this season against a variety of guests.

Lawro's opponent for this weekend's Premier League fixtures is former England cricket captain David Gower.

Gower became a commentator after retiring but is currently on a tour of the country in a stage show with his friend Chris Cowdrey, another former skipper of the national side.

The 59-year-old is now a Leicester fan but, as a boy, his football heroes played for a different club.

"Having played cricket for Leicestershire [from 1975 to 1989], the obvious team for me to support was Leicester City, bless them," Gower told BBC Sport.

"But growing up, when I was a schoolboy watching football for the first time, Leeds United were the best team at the time - so obviously I had to support the best team.

"So the likes of Billy Bremner, Eddie Gray, Allan Clarke, Jack Charlton and Peter Lorimer were my favourites, although it was a very long time ago."

David Gower
Gower became a cricket commentator for the BBC and Sky when his playing career ended in 1993. He was also a team captain on comedy sports quiz 'They Think It's All Over' from 1995 to 2003

Gower's old England team-mate Sir Ian Botham famously combined his cricket career with a stint in the Football League with Scunthorpe United.

But Gower, a stylish left-handed batsman, says that was never an option for him.

"On a scale of 0-100, my chances of playing professional football always rested at zero," he explained. "Part of the problem was that at school I played with the wrong shaped ball - rugby that is, not cricket."

You can make your Premier League predictions now and compare them with those of Lawro and other fans by playing the BBC Sport Predictor game.

Premier League predictions - week 27
Result Lawro Gower
SATURDAY
Man Utd v Bournemouth x-x 2-0 2-0
Leicester v Hull x-x 2-0 2-0
Stoke v Middlesbrough x-x 2-0 1-1
Swansea v Burnley x-x 1-1 2-0
Watford v Southampton x-x 2-1 1-2
West Brom v Crystal Palace x-x 1-1 1-1
Liverpool v Arsenal x-x 2-1 1-1
SUNDAY
Tottenham v Everton x-x 2-0 3-2
Sunderland v Man City x-x 0-2 0-3
MONDAY
West Ham v Chelsea x-x 0-2 1-1

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

Last weekend, Lawro got seven correct results, including two perfect scores from eight Premier League matches, for a total of 130 points.

He beat Let It Shine judge Martin Kemp, who got five correct results with no perfect scores, for a tally of 50 points.

They both correctly predicted the outcome of Sunday's EFL Cup final, although that game does not count towards their totals

Lawro and Kemp can still pick up extra points for their predictions for the Premier League games which were postponed at the weekend because of the EFL Cup final - Man City v Man Utd and Southampton v Arsenal.

Total scores after week 26
Lawro 2,460
Guests 1,970

LAWRO'S PREDICTIONS

All kick-offs 15:00 GMT unless otherwise stated.

SATURDAY

Man Utd v Bournemouth (12:30 GMT)

Manchester United will be buoyed by their success in the EFL Cup final last weekend and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be looking to add to his goal tally.

Ibrahimovic scored against the Cherries on his league debut for United on the opening weekend of the season, and he will probably fancy his chances of getting more goals on Saturday.

Bournemouth have only taken one point from their past six league games and are having a terrible time of things.

They appear to be hurtling towards the relegation zone and, although I think their form will improve at some point, Old Trafford is not the place for them to turn things around.

The Cherries' next two games are both at home, against West Ham and Swansea, and they badly need to win at least one of them to stop the rot.

Lawro's prediction: 2-0

Gower's prediction: Bournemouth are not in great form at the moment, 2-0

Leicester v Hull City

I know I have not predicted a victory for Hull all season and I have been wrong about them a few times, obviously.

The Tigers upset Leicester in the first Premier League game of the season, which I did not see coming, so it is probably good news for Marco Silva's side that I don't think they are going to win on Saturday either.

Leicester's players have to keep up the level of performance they showed against Liverpool and I am guessing that, because they are back under the spotlight, they will.

Lawro's prediction: 2-0

Gower's prediction: The last few days have seen a real change-about for Leicester. Bye-bye Claudio Ranieri, it was fun having you, for sure. Now it a question of us trying to avoid the drop, isn't it? The Foxes are resurgent having just won our first game this year, and we will win this one too - 2-0

Stoke City v Middlesbrough

Stoke were well beaten by Tottenham last weekend, while Middlesbrough also lost, at Crystal Palace.

I would have to back Stoke here, though. Boro have not won in the league since 17 December but I am not expecting Aitor Karanka to change his team around, and go for it a little bit more.

When you play the way Boro do, their players know they will not create many chances so straightaway you are putting your strikers under pressure to take them.

Stoke have had some bad results themselves this season but, thanks to their manager Mark Hughes, they are mentally strong - which is why I would tip them to win.

Lawro's prediction: 2-0

Gower's prediction: 1-1

Swansea v Burnley

Burnley's draw at Hull last week was their first of four games in a row on the road. The Clarets are trying to get their first league away win of the season. Will they get it in Wales? No.

Sean Dyche's team created some chances against the Tigers but Swansea are much improved at the back these days.

The Welsh side did OK in their defeat at Chelsea last weekend and, if Lukasz Fabianski hadn't dived over Pedro's shot at 1-1, then who knows what could have happened.

In the end, Chelsea hit three and it could have been more.

This game will be a lot closer. Eventually, at some point, Burnley will end their long wait for an away win, but I don't see it happening in Wales.

Lawro's prediction: 1-1

Gower's prediction: Swansea are in decent form despite losing to Chelsea last week - 2-0

Watford v Southampton

Watford never seem to be in the news, which shows they must be doing something right. They are just in mid-table, doing what Watford do, and nobody really notices them, which I suppose is a good thing.

Yes, it is true you would notice them more if they were at the top of the table, but you also would if they were at the bottom - so mid-table is a good place to be.

The Hornets are one place above Southampton, who have not really got going in the league this season.

Saints' best results have come in cup competitions, against Inter Milan in Europe and in the EFL Cup against Arsenal and Liverpool.

Man United 3-2 Southampton: Claude Puel calls for video technology

They were unlucky to lose at Wembley against Manchester United last weekend and now they can focus fully on the league.

I don't fancy them to get anything at Vicarage Road, though. This is a tough game to call but I am going to go with the Hornets.

Lawro's prediction: 2-1

Gower's prediction: I don't get to watch much football these days but when I moved to play for Hampshire in 1990 I went to see Southampton play at The Dell a couple of times for a new and novel experience which, trust me, it was.

That was a long, long time ago but I do still live somewhere near Southampton, sometimes, so I am going to support them in this one - 1-2

West Brom v Crystal Palace

West Brom just keep on going - they came from a goal down to beat Bournemouth last week with Baggies boss Tony Pullis showing again what a shrewd manager he is, as his side passed the 40-point mark.

I am going to go with a draw here, though, because I just think Crystal Palace will get something on the back of last week's win over Middlesbrough.

Lawro's prediction: 1-1

Gower's prediction: Palace are in desperate straits but they did win last week - 1-1

Liverpool v Arsenal (17:30 GMT)

I think Monday's defeat by Leicester has led to Jurgen Klopp's first real crossroads moment, in so far as he needs to have a bit of a rethink in regards to the make-up of his team.

It is difficult with his current squad, because at the moment the team basically picks itself - excluding teenagers who have come through the system, he probably only has 15 or 16 players to choose from.

I think Liverpool have some really good players in there but as a team they are weak mentally and, if someone really goes at them like Leicester did, they cannot keep them at bay.

It also feels like, if Plan A fails for the Reds, they don't have anything as a back-up. Again, we saw that against Leicester.

But then you come back to the conundrum which is Liverpool's form in games against the other leading teams this season, where they are still unbeaten and top of that mini-league. Arsenal are bottom.

Premier League top seven head-to-head 2016-17
Team P W D L F A Pts
1. Liverpool 9 5 4 0 13 7 19
2. Chelsea 9 5 1 3 19 11 16
3. Tottenham 9 2 4 3 10 10 10
4. Everton 7 2 3 2 9 10 9
4. Man City 8 2 2 4 8 15 8
5. Man Utd 7 1 4 2 5 9 7
6. Arsenal 7 1 2 4 11 13 5

The Gunners have other issues, of course, with Arsene Wenger's future still under scrutiny, but they did have the benefit of a weekend off because they were meant to be playing Southampton, who were in the EFL Cup final.

Wenger 'not looking for jobs at other clubs'

This is a big game in the race for the top four and a lot of the time I tend to think these matches end up in a draw.

After the week Liverpool have had, though, wouldn't it just be typical of them to win it?

Lawro's prediction: 2-1

Gower's prediction: 1-1

SUNDAY

Tottenham v Everton (13:30 GMT)

Tottenham made a disappointing exit from the Europa League but they never seem to be off the boil for very long, as they showed with their 4-0 win over Stoke.

Generally Spurs are very good defensively and, at the other end, they just ripped the Potters apart last week - Harry Kane's hat-trick was top drawer.

Kane one of world's best strikers - Pochettino

I know Everton are nine games unbeaten in the league, but going to White Hart Lane and continuing that run is a huge ask.

I have seen that Toffees boss Ronald Koeman has been linked with the Barcelona job next season but surely Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino will also be interesting Barca?

It will be interesting to see what happens there but I think both managers enjoy being in the Premier League and they both also know they are building something at the moment.

Lawro's prediction: 2-0

Gower's prediction: 3-2

Sunderland v Man City (16:00 GMT)

Sunderland will set up to try to be solid but stopping Manchester City looks like a tough task - Pep Guardiola's side are in a groove and playing really well.

Highlights: Man City 5-1 Huddersfield

Sergio Aguero's goals have been a big part of that but I don't think he is doing it because he has a point to prove to Guardiola.

Anyone who has seen Aguero play knows he is a top-class player but his attitude is to just get on with things, even when he briefly found himself out of the side, and at the moment City are just so impressive going forward.

Between 2010 and 2013, the Black Cats beat City 1-0 four times in a row in league games at the Stadium of Light but I do not see a repeat of that scoreline on Sunday because, at the moment, City just have too many goals in them.

Lawro's prediction: 0-2

Gower's prediction: 0-3

MONDAY

West Ham v Chelsea (20:00 GMT)

West Ham's poor start to the season seems a distant memory now but Chelsea just keep finding a way to win games.

That is why I would back the Blues to get a win at the London Stadium and also why I don't see anyone catching Antonio Conte's side at the top of the table.

I have mentioned Manchester City striker Aguero as a player who has been out of the team and not made a fuss, well, Cesc Fabregas has done the same for Chelsea.

Fabregas has come into the team and looked fantastic and, along with Willian, is a great example of the depth they have got - Chelsea can make three or four changes and it does not seem to weaken their team whatsoever.

The Hammers have only lost one of their past six league games, and beat Chelsea in the EFL Cup in October, but I am going with the leaders to pick up another three points.

Lawro's prediction: 0-2

Gower's prediction: 1-1

Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

Lawro v Guests
P26 W18 D0 L8
SCORE GUEST LEADERBOARD
150 Elis James
130 Boris Becker, James McAvoy, Tim Vine
120 Robbie Williams
110 Michael van Gerwen
100 Joe Clarke, Osi Umenyiora
95 Lawro (average after 26 weeks)
90 Josh Franceschi, Colin Murray
80 Nicole Scherzinger, Loyle Carner
70 Dave Bautista, Sam Burgess, Athletico Mince
60 Rick Astley
50 Martin Kemp, Charlie Sloth, Laura Kenny
40 Ed Balls
30 Michael Bisping, Blossoms, American hip-hop duo Run The Jewels
20 Moeen Ali, Lloyd Griffith

* Does not include scores from postponed games.

Lawro's best score: 140 points (week 22 v James McAvoy)

Lawro's worst score: 30 points (week four v Dave Bautista)

+/- DENOTE POSITION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAWRO'S TABLE AND ACTUAL POSITION
POS TEAM P W D L PTS +/-
1 Liverpool 26 18 8 0 62 +4
2 Arsenal 25 18 6 1 60 +2
3 Man City 25 18 5 2 59 0
4 Chelsea 26 18 4 4 58 -3
5 Man Utd 25 17 7 1 58 +1
6 Tottenham 26 15 8 3 53 -4
7 Leicester 26 15 6 5 51 +8
8 Everton 26 7 16 3 37 -1
9 West Brom 26 9 7 10 34 -1
10 Crystal Palace 26 8 9 9 33 +8
11 West Ham 26 8 8 10 32 -2
12 Stoke 26 7 8 11 29 -2
13 Sunderland 26 7 7 12 28 +7
14 Bournemouth 26 5 7 14 22 0
15 Middlesbrough 26 4 7 15 19 +2
16 Southampton 25 4 6 15 18 -3
17 Burnley 26 3 8 15 17 -6
18 Watford 26 3 6 17 15 -6
19 Swansea 26 3 5 19 14 -3
20 Hull 26 0 3 23 3 -1

BBC

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