Arsenal’s trip to Manchester United is the pick of the midweek Premier League games, but will the Gunners’ 19-game unbeaten run survive a trip to Old Trafford?
“The Gunners were just great in the second half of Sunday’s win against Tottenham,” BBC Sport’s football expert Mark Lawrenson said.
“But I just worry that Wednesday might be a case of after the Lord Mayor’s Show.”
Lawro is making predictions for all 380 top-flight matches this season, against a variety of guests.
This week’s guest is Ross MacDonald, bassist with rock band The 1975 and a Macclesfield Town fan.
This is an exciting time for MacDonald, with the band’s new album ‘A brief enquiry into online relationships’ released last week, a few days after the Silkmen appointed Sol Campbell as their new manager.
MacDonald says he is unsure how Campbell will do at Moss Rose, but hopes his side are on the up after a terrible start to their first season back in the Football League.
“I am going to wait and reserve judgement,” he told BBC Sport. “There are a lot of people who seem to think poorly of him, but one of the problems we have had this season is that we keep letting in goals, and he was certainly a decent defender in his day.
“Hopefully this is the start of something because he has not been in charge for a game yet and we have just won two on the bounce – so you never know, this might be a good time for him to come in.
“It would mean an awful lot if we can stay up. In the 18 years I have been going to watch Macc, the only thing I had seen us do was get relegated, and last season’s promotion came out of the blue.
“Everything went right for us and it was a nice moment for all our fans but, for someone like me who has been going for a long time, it was very special.”
|Premier League predictions – week 15|
|Bournemouth v Huddersfield||x-x||2-0||2-0|
|Brighton v Crystal Palace||x-x||1-1||1-0|
|West Ham v Cardiff||x-x||2-0||3-1|
|Watford v Man City||x-x||0-2||1-3|
|Burnley v Liverpool||x-x||0-2||0-2|
|Everton v Newcastle||x-x||2-0||2-1|
|Fulham v Leicester||x-x||1-1||2-2|
|Wolves v Chelsea||1-2||2-1|
|Man Utd v Arsenal||x-x||2-1||1-2|
|Tottenham v Southampton||x-x||3-0||4-1|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
All kick-offs 19:45 GMT unless stated.
Bournemouth v Huddersfield
I was impressed by the way Bournemouth played against Manchester City on Saturday. They lost, but they caused the league leaders a lot of problems.
The Cherries have now lost four games in a row, although that bad run should come to an end here.
Huddersfield got a great result in their previous away game – a 2-0 win at Wolves – but otherwise they have been poor on the road.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Ross’ prediction: 2-0
Brighton v Crystal Palace
The M23 derby is always a spicy one and both teams come into it on the back of wins at the weekend.
Crystal Palace played really well to beat Burnley and build on their draw at Manchester United, but because of the nature of this game I would expect it to be very close and hard-fought.
I can see it ending up with the points shared.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Ross’ prediction: 1-0
West Ham v Cardiff
West Ham had one of their good days at Newcastle on Saturday, with Felipe Anderson continuing his excellent form.
Cardiff’s win over Wolves on Friday night was a brilliant result for them, but they are another team who have been struggling on the road, taking only one point from six matches.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Ross’ prediction: 3-1
Watford v Man City (20:00 GMT)
Watford had their chances and enjoyed lots of possession, but could not turn that into goals in their defeat by Leicester on Saturday.
The Hornets have now taken only one point from their past four games. Their form is not a serious cause for concern, although I am not expecting Watford to improve on that tally on Tuesday.
Like most teams, the problem they will have against Manchester City is securing enough of the ball.
City boss Pep Guardiola left a few players out of the win over Bournemouth with a view to this one, and this might actually turn out to be a more straightforward game for the leaders.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Ross’ prediction: Before I became a Macc fan I was a Manchester United fan, so, as much as City are obviously the best footballing side in the country, I wouldn’t go and watch them by choice.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate City – they are the greatest footballing side in the Premier League at the moment, and maybe even the best in the world.
Liverpool will run them close but the league is still City’s to lose this season – they are incredible. I’m predicting 3-1 to City.
Burnley v Liverpool
Liverpool needed Jordan Pickford’s error to hand them victory in Sunday’s Merseyside derby, but they still got the job done and, in the Premier League, that is what they have been doing all season.
Burnley, meanwhile, are in trouble. It is not just as if they are out of sorts – more that, they seem to have lost their fight.
That was the one thing you could always rely on them having last season, when they were horrible to play against. Now it feels easy to beat them, which is very unusual for a Sean Dyche team.
Dyche has pointed out that they went a long run without winning then as well, but they were a different team, with a very different attitude.
It is two points from seven games now for Burnley and the really worrying thing is that they have played a few of the teams around them at the bottom in that time, without finding a way to win.
Turf Moor on a cold December night is still a test, no matter how badly Burnley are playing, but it is one I think Liverpool will pass.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp played 4-2-3-1 against Everton and brought Xherdan Shaqiri into the team. He could do the same here, but it looks like Roberto Firmino needs a rest, so Klopp might have to shuffle his pack a little to get the result he wants.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Ross’ prediction: 0-2
Everton v Newcastle
I thought Newcastle would keep their good run going against West Ham but they ended up being taken apart.
Everton were also beaten, but they did really well in the Merseyside derby. They got their tactics right offensively and defensively, and looked like a proper team.
It hard to see the Magpies getting anything at Goodison if Everton can replicate that performance. The Toffees fully deserve their place in the top six at the moment.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Ross’ prediction: 2-1. Matty (Healy, The 1975’s frontman and a Newcastle fan) will hate me for this but I have gone for Everton. Newcastle were on a great run until the weekend but I am still not convinced by them.
Newcastle’s Under-21 team play Macclesfield in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday night in Sol Campbell’s first game in charge but MacDonald says he and Healy will not be able to go because they have a gig in London.
I told him this last week and we were both gutted. Macc and Newcastle do not play each other very often and if it were any other day, we would go.
I am not sure how much I am going to see of Macc in the next few months – we’ve got a UK tour from January and then we start doing the rest of the world from March onwards, so we we won’t be around much for the next couple of years.
But when Sol leads us into the Championship in 2021 I will hopefully be back for that, and that is when we can play Newcastle and Matty and I can go and watch it together, because they will surely have been relegated by then.
Fulham v Leicester
After Sunday’s defeat at Stamford Bridge, new Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri faces another of his former clubs – and his old players at Leicester will be desperate to beat him, in the nicest possible way.
The Cottagers were competitive against the Blues and you can already see some signs that they are going to be more difficult to beat – but you cannot just conjure up drastically different results overnight with the same pool of players.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Ross’s prediction: 2-2
Wolves v Chelsea
Wolves’ defeat at Cardiff means they have now taken only one point from their past six games, and things are not going to get any easier for them against Chelsea.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s team need to find a decent performance from somewhere but, even if they do show some improvement here, that might not be enough for them to get a positive result.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-2
Ross’s prediction: 2-1
Man Utd v Arsenal (20:00 GMT)
Sunday’s north London derby was the perfect script for Arsenal, where they started well, found themselves 2-1 down but came back with a massive bang.
They would have probably beaten anybody with the way they played in the second half – they were that good.
Manchester United dropped more points in their draw at Southampton, but it was not a huge surprise. It was the same old story in many ways, in that they did not play well but managed to get a result.
Despite the contrast in both sides’ form, I still have a feeling United will find a way to win game.
They need the three points if they are going to have any chance of making the top four by the end of the year, which is Jose Mourinho’s target.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Ross’ prediction: 1-2. This is painful for me to say but I have gone for Arsenal because United are woeful and they could not even turn up at home against Young Boys.
I struggle to see United scoring, let alone beating an Arsenal team who are playing very well.
Tottenham v Southampton (20:00 GMT)
It was strange to see Southampton boss Mark Hughes get sacked after his side put in such a good performance against Manchester United, but he has paid the price for a string of poor results previously.
Whoever gets the job will have a chance to get to know the Saints squad before the January transfer window opens, and you can envisage him being busy next month – he will need to be.
Tottenham will be stinging after their derby defeat by Arsenal and we will see a reaction here. Whoever is in charge of Southampton will probably be leaving Wembley empty-handed.
Lawro’s prediction: 3-0
Ross’ prediction: 4-1
How did Lawro do last time?
Last week, Lawro got five correct results, with two perfect scores, from 10 matches for a total of 110 points.
He beat Creed II star Dolph Lundgren, who got two correct results, including one exact score, for a total of 60 points.
|Total scores after week 14|
|Lawro v Guests|
|+/- DENOTE POSITION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAWRO’S TABLE AND ACTUAL POSITION|
GUEST LEADERBOARD 2018-19
|90||Karl Pilkington, Chris Stark|
|84||Lawro (average after 14 weeks)|
|80||Richard Ashcroft, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg James, Mark Wahlberg|
|60||Idris Elba, Dolph Lundgren, Mumford & Sons|
|50||Bring Me The Horizon, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre.|
Lawro’s best score: 260 points (week seven v Karl Pilkington)
Lawro’s worst score: 40 points (week three v Idris Elba, week eight v Chris Stark and week 12 v Mumford & Sons)