One more win will see Manchester City crowned Premier League champions for a second successive season, but can Brighton spoil Pep Guardiola’s party on the south coast?
Sadly for both of former Liverpool and Seagulls defender Mark Lawrenson’s former clubs, the BBC football expert is not expecting any surprises on the final day of the 2018-19 campaign.
“It is hard to see anything but a City win here simply because of what we have seen from them in the past few weeks,” Lawro said.
“It is not just that they have kept on winning that is impressive – and they have triumphed in their past 13 league games – it’s the way have managed those matches brilliantly.
“City have never been behind in any of those games, and they have conceded only three goals. At the other end, whenever they have really needed a goal, they have got one.
“They have had to keep winning to stay above Liverpool and defend their title, and I can’t believe they will fall at the very final hurdle, against a team who are 17th in the table.”
Lawro is making predictions for all 380 top-flight matches this season, against a variety of guests.
He will find out his opponent for the final weekend of the season on Friday.
|Premier League predictions – week 38|
|Brighton v Man City||x-x||0-3|
|Burnley v Arsenal||x-x||1-1|
|Crystal Palace v Bournemouth||x-x||2-1|
|Fulham v Newcastle||x-x||1-2|
|Leicester v Chelsea||x-x||2-0|
|Liverpool v Wolves||x-x||2-0|
|Man Utd v Cardiff||x-x||2-0|
|Southampton v Huddersfield||x-x||2-0|
|Tottenham v Everton||x-x||2-1|
|Watford v West Ham||x-x||1-1|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
All kick-offs 15:00 BST.
Brighton v Man City
Brighton are safe and they have started scoring goals again.
With one in each of their past two games, they are hardly prolific – but that is a big improvement after they went seven games without managing any at all.
The Seagulls’ strength is definitely in their defence and, although their fans would probably prefer to see them have a little bit of a go here, I can see them focusing on making things difficult for City rather than going out to attack them.
Chris Hughton’s side only lost to City by a single goal in last month’s FA Cup semi-final, but that was because their gameplan was to stop them, rather than try to hurt them. He will probably try to keep things tight again this time too.
There could still be some nervous moments for Pep Guardiola’s side, the longer the score stays at 0-0 or even 1-0, and if there are reports coming in of Liverpool getting goals at Anfield, but they are used to dealing with that kind of pressure.
I am expecting them to win comfortably but, even if it comes to the crunch in the final 10 minutes and City still need a goal, I think they will get it.
However they manage it, a win would mean City are champions and end an absolutely brilliant title race.
The top two teams are miles ahead of the rest and, as things stand, I don’t see that changing next season.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-3
Burnley v Arsenal
Arsenal have struggled on the road, losing eight of their 18 away league games so far this season, and I cannot imagine they are looking forward to this trip too much.
Burnley kept City out at Turf Moor for an hour at the end of April but I don’t think the Clarets will sit in like that against the Gunners. Why would you?
Arsenal’s big weakness is at the back and this will be another test for their defence. I can see Burnley getting it forward to their front two and thinking they can pose Unai Emery’s side some problems.
I would give Emery a 7/10 for his first season as Gunners boss, but that would rise to an 8/10 if he won the Europa League and got into the Champions League that way, but they are not going to make it through their league position.
Yes, they can still match Tottenham’s points tally, but they will not be able to better their goal difference.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Crystal Palace v Bournemouth
Crystal Palace have lost only one of their past five games to climb to 12th place and I think they will finish off their season on a high note.
Bournemouth are one place below them after a topsy-turvy campaign but, just as with the Eagles, I have never felt that they are in serious danger of the drop.
The Cherries are very good going forward and, if they had sorted themselves out defensively, they would have been looking at only their second top-10 top-flight finish, to go with the ninth place they managed in 2016-17.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Fulham v Newcastle
This is Fulham’s final game as a top-flight club for at least the next 15 months.
I am sure they would love to sign off with a win in front of their own fans but Newcastle are awkward opponents at the moment, as Liverpool discovered on Saturday.
The big questions, as ever, for the Magpies are will manager Rafa Benitez stay, and will he get the money that he wants to spend?
I think the answers are ‘yes’ and ‘no’… but he will get some of it, and enough to make some more improvements to his squad.
We already know Magpies owner Mike Ashley is never going to splash the cash, because he could give Benitez £100m and he is realistically only going to finish seventh, at best.
They are halfway up the table right now, so how many more places up the table are they going to get as a return for his money?
That is Ashley’s way of thinking. He is a businessman and Newcastle made an £18.6m profit last season, so he is never going to agree with the fans urging him to spend.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-2
Leicester v Chelsea
I was really impressed by Leicester’s performance against Manchester City on Monday and the way they were set up.
Yes, they eventually lost but they posed a real threat on the break and, from Liverpool’s point of view, it is just a pity that the only real chance that they had went to Kelechi Iheanacho, because he was not quite ready for it.
If it had gone to Jamie Vardy in front of goal then I think there would have been a very different outcome, and Liverpool might have been given the upper hand in the title race.
Chelsea play on Thursday night, when they could book their place in the Europa League final.
The Blues have already made sure of a Champions League spot through their league position, so the pressure is off them a bit.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Liverpool v Wolves
I am back at Anfield again on Sunday after watching Liverpool’s amazing victory over Barcelona on Tuesday and, whatever happens this time, there is no way the atmosphere will feel flat.
Liverpool need to win to have any hope of winning the title, and hope City slip up, but even the first bit of that task is tough because Wolves are a good side, and they have got a goal threat.
But, even if City are winning comfortably at Brighton, Anfield will still be buzzing because the Reds fans have got the Champions League final to look forward to.
Wolves will give them a good game but, just like with City, I have seen enough of Liverpool recently to know that if they need a goal, they will get one.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have had an absolutely brilliant season and all they can do to on Sunday is win. If they do that and finish second with 97 points then they cannot really do much more.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Man Utd v Cardiff
Manchester United are facing a huge summer in terms of which players stay or leave the club.
It would be a huge job for a seasoned manager, let alone Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who does not have much experience but will stand or fall by what he decides over those ins and outs.
In terms of the game, well, Cardiff will have a bit of a go but United should beat them.
But there is nothing riding on the result – it is what happens next that is important, and the same applies to the Bluebirds.
I think their hopes of making an instant return to the top flight rely on whether Neil Warnock stays on when his contract ends, which is after this game.
Warnock has an outstanding record in the Championship and he does not have to spend fortunes to get his teams up.
If he is still in charge next season, I think they will be very competitive, if he is not, then I would not be too sure about where they will finish.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Southampton v Huddersfield
Huddersfield are another team saying goodbye to the top flight, and although the Terriers got a good result against Manchester United last weekend, I don’t see then signing off on a high note.
Southampton can look forward to next season under manager Ralph Hasenhuttl with lots of optimism, and it will be interesting to see who he signs in the summer.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Tottenham v Everton
Tottenham are virtually certain of finishing in the top four, and of course they are also in this season’s Champions League final after their own astonishing comeback against Ajax.
Spurs will be on such a high after their triumph in Amsterdam, and I would like to think Mauricio Pochettino will play a strong team on Sunday because their date with Liverpool in Madrid is still three weeks away.
I am sure some of the Everton fans at this game will be wishing Spurs luck against the Reds, and the Tottenham team will obviously get a heck of a send-off from their own supporters too.
l am expecting Everton to go out and play, because there is not much point them sitting in, and I actually think this will be an entertaining game.
Even if they lose this weekend, Toffees boss Marco Silva can be encouraged by the way his side have ended their campaign. I think he knows his best team now, and where he needs to strengthen.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Watford v West Ham
Watford have got the FA Cup final to look forward to and, if they avoid defeat on Sunday, then they will secure a top-half finish in the top flight for the first time since 1986-87.
The Hornets were never going to sustain their flying start, which saw them win their first four league games, but they have been far more consistent than the Hammers.
West Ham, who are looking to sign off with a third successive win, have been much improved of late but they have plenty of blips over the course of the past nine months.
Every time I think they are going to kick on, they have gone missing – which must be frustrating for their manager Manuel Pellegrini – but overall they have also had a decent season.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
How did Lawro do last time?
Lawro got six correct results, including one perfect score, for a total of 90 points.
He beat golfer Tommy Fleetwood who got four correct results, with no perfect scores for a total of 40 points.
|Total scores after week 37|
|Lawro v Guests|
|+/- DENOTE POSITION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAWRO’S TABLE AND ACTUAL POSITION|
GUEST LEADERBOARD 2018-19
|140||The 1975’s Ross MacDonald|
|120||Melvin Odoom, Joe Thomas|
|110||Tom Kerridge, Yatez|
|90||Jim Glennie, Mario Hezonja, Karl Pilkington, Chris Stark|
|87||Lawro (average after 37 weeks)|
|80||Adebayo Akinfenwa, Richard Ashcroft, Dina Asher-Smith, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg James, Johnny Marr, Mark Wahlberg|
|70||Matt Fitzpatrick, RED, Yungen|
|60||Jamie Dornan & Paul Conroy, Idris Elba, Tom McFarland, Dolph Lundgren, Mumford & Sons, Dillian Whyte|
|50||Bring Me The Horizon, Theo Ellis, Drew McIntyre, Mohamed Sanu, Ten Tonnes, Dolph Ziggler|
|40||Tommy Fleetwood, Tom Grennan, Josh Warrington, Taka|
|30||Ryan Fitzpatrick, Danny Howard, Oti Mabuse, Scott Mills|
Lawro’s best score: 260 points (week seven v Karl Pilkington)
Lawro’s worst score: 20 points (week 24 v Grime star Yizzy, week 25 v Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarter-back Ryan Fitzpatrick and Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, and week 31 against Radio 1 DJ Danny Howard)