Tottenham took four points off Manchester City last season – could they be the team to end Pep Guardiola’s long winning run?

BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson says: “Spurs need to come up with a decent display and preferably result against one of the other top six teams from last season.

“Otherwise they are just going to be labelled as flat-track bullies.”

Lawro is going for a 1-1 draw – do you agree? You can make your own predictions now, take on Lawro and other fans, create your own league and try to make it to the top of the table by playing the new-look BBC Sport Predictor game.

Lawro scored 130 points in week 17, which meant he climbed to 2,808th place out of more than 325,000 users.

He will be making a prediction for all 380 top-flight games this season, against a variety of guests.

This week, Lawro takes on actor and WWE star John Cena, who admits he is not exactly a football expert.

Cena told BBC Sport: “If I had to name some famous footballers, I would start and end with Cristiano Ronaldo. That’s it.

“If I were to play myself, I would be on the bench because I have watched a few games, and it is a lot of running – I don’t run very well, or very far.

“I could maybe go in goal but there is a lot of pressure on the goalie, because the net is so big and the goalies are so small, so it is tough to block the shots.

“So, I think being an inspirational coach might be my best role.”

Cena voices a sweet-natured bull in his new film ‘Ferdinand’. He thinks footballers would do well as wrestlers, explaining: “The guys seem to fall down quite dramatically when they don’t get even get hit, so I think they would do just fine in WWE.”

Cena has never been to a Premier League game, but did enjoy a trip to White Hart Lane when he was wrestling in London in 2008.

“Tottenham were playing the same night I had a WWE event in London,” he explained. “But I was able to go and see the stadium and I was lucky enough to actually walk on the pitch.

“I really loved it because it was right in the heart of the city – it reminded me of an old baseball stadium with its nostalgia and tradition.

“I got to hear about the Spurs being the working man’s team, I got to meet the coach and it was beautiful to see the bright green pitch amidst all the city concrete.

“So I was taken aback by the passion of the sport – although I never got to see them play,”

Premier League predictions – week 17
Result Lawro Cena
SATURDAY
Leicester v Crystal Palace x-x 2-0 0-1
Arsenal v Newcastle x-x 3-0 0-1
Brighton v Burnley x-x 1-1 0-0
Chelsea v Southampton x-x 2-0 0-2
Stoke v West Ham x-x 1-1 0-1
Watford v Huddersfield x-x 2-0 1-0
Man City v Tottenham x-x 1-1 0-1
SUNDAY
West Brom v Man Utd x-x 0-2 0-1
Bournemouth v Liverpool x-x 0-2 0-1
MONDAY
Everton v Swansea x-x 2-0 0-1

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

LAWRO’S PREDICTIONS

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

SATURDAY

Leicester v Crystal Palace (12:30 GMT)

Crystal Palace are on a decent run, and unbeaten in six games now – but they are still yet to score an away goal this season, and Leicester are one of the form teams in the Premier League right now.

Leicester under Puel
P 8 W 5 D 2 L 1 F 15 A 7 17 pts

I don’t know what Claude Puel has done, but I think he might have watched some footage from matches from the Foxes’ title-winning season and thought ‘let’s get back to playing that way’.

If you play to your strengths and you have got some very good players then, more often than not, it works.

Puel was very gracious after Leicester beat his old club Southampton on Wednesday, but he will have had a big smile on his face all the way back home from that game, and rightly so.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Cena’s prediction: Foxes are a sly species but “fly Eagles, fly”, as they say in the United States. 0-1

Arsenal v Newcastle

The story at Newcastle is now as much about what is happening off the pitch as it is on it, because it would appear a deal for a takeover is imminent.

That is good news, but the trouble is their results have been so bad they are in a situation now where they somehow have to find a way to stop the rot.

Magpies boss Rafa Benitez has been trying to change things, without success. The outcome is still the same, and it is usually a defeat – they have picked up only one point from their past eight games and are sliding towards the relegation zone.

As for Arsenal, well they are wobbling a bit with two points from their past three games.

But, if you are having a hiccup like that, the team you want to play next is the one on a run like Newcastle are – which is why I am going for a Gunners win here.

Lawro’s prediction: 3-0

Cena’s prediction: These are two teams I am mildly familiar with because [his partner] Nicole’s brother JJ is a huge Arsenal fan. So, I am going to have to pick Newcastle here, just to get him all riled up. 0-1

Brighton v Burnley

Like Newcastle, Brighton are in a bit of a rut as well, with only two points from their past six games – and they failed to score in four of those matches.

It is the same with Huddersfield, who have gone through a dip too – all three promoted clubs are finding out how unforgiving the Premier League is.

Burnley are obviously doing very well at the moment, and are up in sixth place.

The Clarets had to dig in to find a way of beating Stoke on Tuesday night, but they have been extremely good at winning tight matches this season.

If the Seagulls sit in, however, and make Burnley take the game to them – and I have no reason to think they won’t – it might make things a bit more difficult for Sean Dyche’s side. That is why I am going for a draw.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Cena’s prediction: 0-0

Chelsea v Southampton

Chelsea responded to their defeat by West Ham by getting a really good result at Huddersfield on Tuesday – despite not having a recognised striker in their starting XI.

Chelsea response was pleasing – Conte

Southampton looked good against Arsenal at the weekend, but they were well beaten by Leicester on Wednesday.

Saints have only won one of their past eight league games, and it is hard to see that record improving at Stamford Bridge.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Cena’s prediction: From where I am from, in Massachusetts, Southampton is a pretty cool place, so I am going to have to pick them, only because of how it relates to the States. I know, I know – such a bad way to pick. 0-2

Stoke v West Ham

West Ham have started to pick up some points – and to follow their narrow defeat at Manchester City with a win over Chelsea and a draw with Arsenal has produced some positivity around the place.

Soft West Ham are becoming more tough – Moyes

After four defeats in their past five games, Stoke do not have much of a feel-good factor at the moment and Potters boss Mark Hughes is probably under more pressure than he has ever been since he has been there.

But the Potters’ performance in their 1-0 defeat against Burnley on Tuesday was much better than the result. If they play like that again, they should get something to show for it.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Cena’s prediction: Who doesn’t love a good ham? It provides you with nourishment, happiness and a sense of community. It is always served at a big family function gathering. I like West Ham. 0-1

Watford v Huddersfield

Watford have dropped points from winning positions in two of their past three matches but I can’t see the same happening against Huddersfield.

The Terriers have not picked up a single point after going behind this season, and have won only one game on the road full-stop – against Crystal Palace on the opening day.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Cena’s prediction: 1-0

Man City v Tottenham (17:30 GMT)

It is really important for Tottenham that Mauricio Pochettino’s side acquit themselves well here. Spurs’ record under him in the big games, especially away from home, has been poor – just one win in 17.

Man City ‘one of the best teams ever’

City have just been great and Tottenham will have to be at their best to hold them up – but I think they can be the team to do it.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Cena’s prediction: Everyone in the internet world is going to think I am going to choose the Spurs. You’re right… Tottenham all the way. 0-1

SUNDAY

West Brom v Man Utd (14:15 GMT)

I was at Anfield on Wednesday night and West Brom deserved their point against Liverpool. The Baggies were really well set up at the back, as you would expect because this is still Tony Pulis’ team in terms of personnel.

New West Brom boss Alan Pardew is still waiting for his first win, but his side had chances – Hal Robson-Kanu hit the top of the bar and Ahmed Hegazi should have scored from a corner.

‘If the title is over, I’ll go on holiday tomorrow’

Salomon Rondon did well too, without really looking like scoring. He held the ball up brilliantly so there is was plenty of reasons for encouragement.

But they are at home on Sunday and they have got to press on a little bit – which will suit United when they hit them on the break.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Cena’s prediction: Comparatively speaking, Manchester United is a household name, like the New York Yankees in the States. So it is tough to pick against the top gun. I hear they are very good so they are probably going to score a lot. Obviously that means my prediction for that game is 0-1.

Bournemouth v Liverpool (16:30 GMT)

Liverpool have had an iffy week, dropping points against Everton and West Brom. The Reds were pretty ordinary against the Baggies.

Jurgen Klopp played the so-called ‘Fab Four’ after people moaned when he rested a couple of them at the weekend, but it didn’t make any difference – they all just had a poor night,

Liverpool have to do better – Klopp

Bournemouth have hit another sticky patch too, although their poor run has lasted a bit longer.

The Cherries came back from 3-1 down with 15 minutes to go to win this game 4-3 in December 2016, but I don’t see them staging a repeat.

In many ways this is the perfect game for Liverpool, because Bournemouth will not sit in. They will come at the Reds, and I think Klopp’s side will pick them off.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Cena’s prediction: 0-1

MONDAY

Everton v Swansea (20:00 GMT)

Everton are another team on the up, while Swansea are still struggling.

It is interesting to see Wayne Rooney playing so well for the Toffees, while former Swansea playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson is looking more like his old self too.

You have got to give Sam Allardyce credit, because he inherited the same imbalanced squad they had at the start of the season, only he is getting results with it.

Yes, he has had a bit of luck but that is allowed – don’t we all want a lucky manager?

‘How did Everton concede so many goals before I got here?’

But it is not a surprise that Everton have kept a clean sheet in four of Allardyce’s five games in charge so far – luck is not involved there.

This is a far more important game for Swansea than their previous one, their 4-0 defeat at home to Manchester City. It will be a lot closer too, but I think it will end in the same way.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Cena’s prediction: 0-1

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 two perfect scores, from 10 matches, for a total of 130 points.

He drew with indie band Shed Seven because, although singer Rick Witter got six correct results with no perfect scores, for a total of 60 points, guitarist and keyboardist Joe Johnson also got seven correct results, including two perfect scores, matching Lawro’s tally of 130 points.

Total scores after week 17
Lawro 1,490
Guests 1,240
SCORE GUEST LEADERBOARD
160 Chris Shiflett
130 James Anderson**, Joe Johnson***
120 Will Poulter, Moeen Ali
100 Cesaro & Seamus, Wretch 32
88 Lawro (average after 17 weeks)
70 Brendan Foster*, Mark Strong
60 Will Ferrell, Nish Kumar, Non Stanford, Rick Witter
50 Steve Cram, Michael Dapaah, Channing Tatum, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Bell, Joe Root
30 Felix White
20 Richard Osman

*Foster and Cram both provided predictions on week one, but only Foster’s score contributes to the guest total.

**Anderson and Moeen both provided predictions on week nine, but only Anderson’s score contributes to the guest total.

***Witter and Johnson both provided predictions on week 17, but only Johnson’s score contributes to the guest total.

Lawro’s best score: 150 points (week eight v Wretch 32)

Lawro’s worst score: 40 points (week four v Umenyiora and Bell, and week five v Non Stanford)

+/- DENOTE POSITION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAWRO’S TABLE AND ACTUAL POSITION
POS TEAM P W D L PTS +/-
1 Man City 17 14 2 1 44 0
2 Man Utd 17 13 4 0 43 0
3 Tottenham 17 13 4 0 43 +1
4 Liverpool 17 12 5 0 41 +1
5 Chelsea 17 10 5 2 35 -2
6 Arsenal 17 8 7 2 31 +1
7 Southampton 17 8 4 5 28 +4
8 Bournemouth 17 6 4 7 22 +6
9 West Ham 17 4 9 4 21 +10
10 Burnley 17 5 5 7 20 -4
11 Crystal Palace 17 5 3 9 18 +8
12 Stoke 17 4 6 7 18 -3
13 Leicester 17 4 5 8 17 -5
14 West Brom 17 5 2 10 17 +3
15 Everton 17 4 4 9 16 -5
16 Swansea 17 5 1 11 16 +4
17 Newcastle 17 3 6 8 15 -1
18 Brighton 17 1 5 11 8 -5
19 Watford 17 1 4 12 7 -10
20 Huddersfield 17 0 4 13 4 -8

Source link