Manchester United begin life under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a trip to Cardiff on Saturday – but how will they fare?

BBC Sport’s football expert Mark Lawrenson says: “Straightaway we will see a very different United performance because the players who had fallen out with Jose Mourinho will know the spotlight is on them, and they have got to perform.

“One or two of them need to look in the mirror and start to play because, whatever you think of Mourinho, they have not performed to their best level this season.

“Hopefully Solskjaer will just say ‘go for it’ to his team and this is a great opportunity for him.

“He does not have to worry about contracts because they are nothing to do with him – the only people knocking on his door will be the players who want to play.

“United’s performances this season have been as dull as dishwater so he won’t have to do much to get the fans enjoying themselves again, and I am expecting him to start with a win.”

Lawro is making predictions for all 380 top-flight matches this season, against a variety of guests.

This week’s guest is boxer Dillian Whyte, who fights Dereck Chisora in London on Saturday.

The 6ft 4in heavyweight used his size and strength when he played football as a boy, telling BBC Sport: “I played a little bit when I was growing up – I was a good goalkeeper and a very good defender.”

Plenty of football players have watched Whyte in action, including Wycombe striker Adebayo Akinfenwa – aka ‘The Beast’.

“The Beast is all right!” Whyte said. “He has come to a few of my fights and [Stoke and Wales defender] Ashley Williams has as well. I met him through a friend of mine.

“There are a few other players who come along as well but on fight night I am so focused I don’t really see anyone – I am in the zone.”

Could there be a career in boxing for ‘The Beast’ after football? Whyte is not sure…

“I don’t know – kicking the ball and taking punches in the face are two different things. But if Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff can do it, then why not?”

Premier League predictions – week 18
Wolves v Liverpoolx-x1-21-2
Arsenal v Burnleyx-x2-02-0
Bournemouth v Brightonx-x2-01-0
Chelsea v Leicesterx-x2-03-0
Huddersfield v Southamptonx-x1-10-0
Man City v Crystal Palacex-x3-00-1
Newcastle v Fulhamx-x2-03-0
West Ham v Watfordx-x0-23-1
Cardiff v Man Utdx-x0-21-2
Everton v Tottenhamx-x1-11-3

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


All kick-offs 15:00 GMT unless stated.


Wolves v Liverpool

Wolves v Liverpool (20:00 GMT)

After a run where they took only one point from six games, Wolves have found their form again, with three wins in a row.

Snapshot of top of Premier League: 1st Liverpool, 2nd Man City, 3rd Tottenham 4th Chelsea, 5th Arsenal, 6th Man Utd

But I cannot see them continuing that against Liverpool. Not only are Jurgen Klopp’s side playing well and getting some very good results, the ball is rolling for them a little bit too.

We saw that with Xherdan Shaqiri’s two deflected goals against Manchester United last weekend.

Klopp has made plenty of changes to his team over the past couple of weeks but everything is working, and they look in very good shape.

We have already seen Manchester City and Chelsea drop points at Molineux this season, but I am backing Liverpool to leave with three points.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-2

Dillian’s prediction: 1-2


Arsenal v Burnley

Arsenal v Burnley (12:30 GMT)

Arsenal chased the victory at 2-2 against Southampton but eventually got beaten – it was a howler by Bernd Leno that cost them and saw their 22-game unbeaten run come to an end.

I saw it as a positive that Gunners boss Unai Emery did not want a draw, he wanted to win.

Since then, they have gone out of the Carabao Cup after losing at home to Tottenham, but I think they will beat Burnley.

Snapshot of bottom of Premier League: 15th Newcastle, 16th Crystal Palace, 17th Burnley, 18th Huddersfield, 19th Southampton, 20th Fulham

It won’t be straightforward, though. The Clarets are back in the relegation zone after last week’s late defeat by Tottenham, but I think they have got a bit of their mojo back recently.

Sean Dyche’s side are looking a bit more like the team they were last season, when they spent the entire campaign in the top half of the table.

Arsenal will have to work hard to see them off, but I think they will find a way.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Dillian’s prediction: 2-0

Bournemouth v Brighton

Bournemouth v Brighton

Bournemouth have not been playing badly but they have lost seven out of their past eight games.

I still think they will beat Brighton though – the Seagulls’ away form is poor and they don’t carry much of a goal threat on the road.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Dillian’s prediction: 1-0

Chelsea v Leicester

Chelsea v Leicester

Jamie Vardy’s persistent groin problem must be a concern for Leicester with the games coming thick and fast over Christmas. If you are flyer, which he is, then it is a bad injury to have.

He missed Tuesday’s Carabao Cup defeat by Manchester City but could be back for this game.

The Foxes look more dangerous when Vardy plays, but I can’t see him making too much of a difference here even if he is fit enough to feature.

Chelsea seem to be back on track following their defeat by Wolves at the start of December.

To finish in the top four you need the ability to respond to a poor result by putting together a run of wins. The Blues have clearly got that – and having Eden Hazard obviously helps too.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Dillian’s prediction: 3-0

Huddersfield v Southampton

Huddersfield v Southampton

Ralph Hasenhuttl got a big win last weekend against Arsenal in his first home game as Southampton boss.

He got his reward for going for the win at the end and I think that tells us a lot about how he is going to manage.

Huddersfield are only a couple of points worse off than Saints at the bottom of the table, but they have lost their past four games and they are really struggling at the moment.

The Terriers have the worst home record in the Premier League in 2018-19, with just five points and three goals to show for their nine games so far.

If they are going to have any chance of staying up, then that needs to improve dramatically.

It is hard to make a case for the Terriers winning because of that lack of goals, but I think they are capable of getting a point. Saints have not turned into a really good team on the strength of that one win over the Gunners.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Dillian’s prediction: 0-0

Man City v Crystal Palace

Man City v Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace got a much-needed win over Leicester last weekend but I just don’t see them getting anything at Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City are just relentless, even when Pep Guardiola rests players, and the good news for them is that Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero should be fit to start on Saturday.

It is massive for them to have that pair coming back into contention. Eagles boss Roy Hodgson will try to do a job on them but I don’t think they will have enough to keep them out.

Lawro’s prediction: 3-0

Dillian’s prediction: Palace are going to smash Man City. They are my local team, that’s why I have to go with Palace. I am always the underdog so I am going to go with the underdog here too. 0-1

Newcastle v Fulham

Newcastle v Fulham

Fulham had their chances in their defeat by West Ham last week, but could not take any of them.

Cottagers boss Claudio Ranieri has been in charge for just over a month now, and I am sure he will have been sizing up his squad and deciding who he wants to bring in when the January transfer window opens.

I know Fulham spent a bit of money in the summer, but they need to spend again because they are not going to stay up with what they have got.

Newcastle still have their own relegation worries and their home form is a problem, but I am backing them to win this one.

Results-wise the Magpies are still a little bit up and down, but overall their form has been a lot better than it was at the start of the season.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Dillian’s prediction: At school I had a teacher who was a massive Newcastle fan – I hope he sees this, because I am backing them to win. He used to rave on about Newcastle all the time and I used to think, ‘Mate, I don’t care – I am just here to hear the final bell so I can get out of school quickly!’. 3-0

West Ham v Watford

West Ham v Watford

West Ham have found some great form and have now won four in a row. The Hammers defence, which was all over the place at Liverpool in the opening weekend of the season, is a completely different proposition now.

This game is hard to call, though. I have been impressed by Watford in the past couple of weeks – in their draw with Everton and their win over Cardiff.

West Ham have been on such a good run that they will probably be expecting to win, but when I have seen Watford away this season they have been unlucky to lose – and I just have a feeling they will leave with the points this time.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Dillian’s prediction: 3-1

Cardiff v Man Utd

Cardiff v Man Utd (17:30 GMT)

Cardiff have won four of their past five home games but this is going to be a very tough game for them.

Whenever a new manager comes into any club, all the players are instantly far more focused.

I can guarantee you that in United’s training sessions this week, everything will have been really sharp and I would expect them to translate that into a convincing performance.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was not a success when he was Cardiff manager in 2014, but this is a completely different situation for him.

I think he will get results, but what happens next at United is going to be very interesting,

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Dillian’s prediction: 1-2


Everton v Tottenham

Everton v Tottenham (16:00 GMT)

The situation at United obviously has a knock-on effect for Tottenham, with their manager Mauricio Pochettino supposedly among the front runners to get the post permanently in the summer.

If he is offered the job it will be a big temptation for him and it will be a decision that will keep him up at night. That could affect Spurs’ season too of course.

Right now, this trip to Merseyside is the only thing Pochettino will be focused on as they look to continue their run of good results since they lost to Arsenal at the start of December.

Tottenham’s recent record at Goodison Park is decent – they have not lost in any of their past five visits – but Everton’s home form this season is good and I cannot see them being beaten.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Dillian’s prediction: 1-3

How did Lawro do last time?

From last weekend’s Premier League games, Lawro got six correct results, with no perfect scores from 10 matches, for a total of 60 points.

He lost to former France winger David Ginola, who got seven correct results, including three exact scores, for a total of 160 points that puts him top of the guest leaderboard.

Total scores after week 17
Lawro v Guests
Lawro's League Table

1Man City17152047+1
2Man Utd17143045+4
11Crystal Palace1755720+4
=13West Ham1753918-4


160David Ginola
140The 1975’s Ross MacDonald
120Joe Thomas
90Karl Pilkington, Chris Stark
84Lawro (average after 17 weeks)
80Richard Ashcroft, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg James, Mark Wahlberg
60Idris Elba, Dolph Lundgren, Mumford & Sons
50Bring Me The Horizon, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre.
40Tom Grennan, Josh Warrington

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)


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