Chelsea beat Tottenham convincingly over two legs in their Carabao Cup semi-final earlier this month, but will it be the same story when they meet in the Premier League on Sunday?
“Chelsea are doing well in the cups but they keep on dropping points in the league,” BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson said. “I just feel that their manager Thomas Tuchel is sending out the wrong message when he talks about how his team are mentally tired and have been travelling so much.
“I don’t think you should ever give your players a reason or excuse for feeling tired. It’s very strange to see Tuchel do it, because the thing with Chelsea is that they have got lots of players to pick from.”
Lawro is making predictions for all 380 top-flight matches this season, against a variety of guests.
This week’s guest is singer and Chelsea fan Call Me Loop, whose new single, Year of the Ex, was released last week.
Call Me Loop, aka Georgia Buchanan, grew up a Chelsea fan because of her dad, who is a season-ticket holder at Stamford Bridge.
“My dad started supporting Chelsea when he was about 10 because his best friend from school took him along,” she told BBC Sport. “They used to take crates to stand on so they could see.
“In today’s money, it cost them 10p to get in, and he was a Chelsea diehard from then on.
“It was kind of always going to be the same for me and my mum is the same – unfortunately my brother, however, is a Manchester United fan because he loved David Beckham when he was little. He had the haircut, and every birthday and Christmas he would get Beckham’s boots and a shirt.
“To be fair, I haven’t always been totally loyal to the cause either. I shouldn’t really admit to this, but between the age of 10 to 12 I dabbled with other teams depending on which of my brother’s friends I fancied at the time. I did find my way back to Chelsea pretty quickly though.
“I am going with my dad on Sunday actually – I only get the call if there is a spare ticket because one of his friends can’t go.
“It’s a really nice thing for me and my dad to do together. Me and my mum speak all the time and I don’t talk to him quite so much even though we are just as close, but we go to the games and we go for lunch first and it is like our little dad and daughter time.
“He’s always taken me along in the past but a couple of years ago I was able to return the favour because I got invited to the Nike box at Stamford Bridge, and that time I was able to bring him with me.”
Chelsea’s title challenge has faded in recent weeks but that has not affected Loop’s opinion on Tuchel, who was appointed almost exactly a year ago.
“It’s a shame that results have dipped in the past few weeks because up until the start of December things were looking pretty good, and we were right in the mix in a three-way title race,” she said.
“Now we are looking over our shoulders a bit in third. I am a bit worried about the teams below us, especially Spurs, because they have got some games in hand on us.
“It not the manager’s fault that we have lost ground at the top of the table, though. I’ve got a real soft spot for Tuchel because he has been amazing since he arrived. Let’s remember we are the European champions, so we have got to keep the faith there.”
|Result||Lawro||Call Me Loop|
|Watford v Norwich||0-3||2-1||2-1|
|Everton v Aston Villa||x-x||2-1||1-3|
|Brentford v Wolves||x-x||0-1||0-3|
|Leeds v Newcastle||x-x||2-0||3-1|
|Man Utd v West Ham||x-x||2-1||1-2|
|Southampton v Man City||x-x||0-2||0-3|
|Arsenal v Burnley||x-x||1-1||2-0|
|Crystal Palace v Liverpool||x-x||1-1||1-2|
|Leicester v Brighton||x-x||2-1||1-1|
|Chelsea v Tottenham||x-x||2-1||5-0|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
Games kick off at 15:00 GMT unless otherwise stated.
This is probably the biggest game of the weekend, when you think about how much is riding on it.
Both teams ended six-game losing runs last weekend, with Norwich beating Everton and Watford drawing at Newcastle.
Norwich’s win was the only victory any of the bottom four teams have managed between them in the 20 league games they have played in total since 4 December.
It lifted the Canaries up two places off the bottom of the table and shows how precious three points would be to both of these sides here.
The scenario will probably make it a very nervy match, with both teams afraid of making a mistake, but I think home advantage will help the Hornets edge it – just about.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Call Me Loop’s prediction: 2-1
I usually expect the atmosphere at Saturday lunchtime kick-offs to be flat, but not this one.
Instead it could almost feel gladiatorial with Duncan Ferguson in the Everton dugout after they sacked Rafa Benitez, and we know from his previous stint as their caretaker boss that he won’t tolerate any slacking.
The whole mood at Goodison Park will be different now Benitez has gone, and the fact Villa boss Steven Gerrard is on the touchline too will ratchet it up another notch or two as well.
Villa are in good shape at the moment, as they showed with their fightback against Manchester United last weekend, and their new signing Philippe Coutinho will be fitter and sharper after getting another week’s training under his belt too.
But I am expecting an improved performance from Everton. You tend to get that anyway whenever a team changes manager, but I think it is especially the case with Big Dunc in charge.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Call Me Loop’s prediction: I know all the Everton fans will be absolutely desperate to beat Gerrard, but it’s not going to happen – especially now Villa have got Coutinho. 1-3
Brentford are still creating chances but they haven’t been scoring as many recently, and they have started letting in a lot of goals – 10 in their past three games to be exact.
In contrast, Wolves are going great at the moment, and they have got the top six in their sights.
We know how good Wolves are defensively and, although they don’t score lots of goals, they don’t concede many either – only 15 in 20 games so far. Manchester City are the only top-flight team with a better record than that at the back.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-1
Call Me Loop’s prediction: I am not going to lie, my knowledge of Brentford and Wolves is not great, but looking at their last few matches Wolves are hard to beat and Brentford are always conceding. 0-3
Leeds have just won back-to-back league games for the first time this season and, after a six-month hangover, they are starting to look more like the team we expected them to be.
They are still in the bottom six, but they are pulling away from the relegation zone and I’m expecting them to keep on doing that.
Newcastle, in contrast, remain in big trouble. They are getting linked with players every single day of this transfer window, which is understandable given the situation they are in, but their problem is that they are still not winning games.
They don’t really look like they are going to win games, either – including this one.
The signings they have made this month, defender Kieran Trippier and striker Chris Wood, have improved them but not enough to change their fortunes. Until they get more signings done, I just think they are going to be beaten.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Call Me Loop’s prediction: Newcastle are still in a bit of a mess. 3-1
The race is on for the Champions League places with only two points separating West Ham in fourth and Manchester United in seventh.
Ralf Rangnick’s side, who have got a game in hand on the Hammers, are still a hotchpotch of a team, but they managed to beat Brentford on Wednesday which was hugely important for their season.
The Hammers are pretty consistent, but the problem with predicting Manchester United games at the moment is that you don’t know what kind of performance you are going to get from them. Every time they play it seems to be a different story.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Call Me Loop’s prediction: This was one I felt could go either way. Apologies to my brother, but I am going with West Ham to win it. 1-2
Southampton played really well when they came to Etihad Stadium in September. They got a point and were unlucky not to get all three.
But this Manchester City team is a different beast now compared with the way they were playing four months ago. They have won their past 12 league games and just look irresistible.
Saints were in pretty good form before they lost to Wolves last time out, and I am sure they will have a go at City, but Pep Guardiola’s side seem to have an answer for everything at the moment.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Call Me Loop’s prediction: City are just smashing it in the league this year. Whoever Pep puts out there, they are going to win which is a bit of a shame – my grandad is a big Southampton fan but I can’t predict a win for him here. 0-3
Burnley are going to be playing three times a week soon to get all their games played after having so many matches postponed, and with such a small squad that is going to cause them problems down the line.
For now, though, that is not a factor. I know losing Chris Wood to Newcastle was a blow for the Clarets, but I think they might have a point to prove here that they can cope without him.
So I am going for a bit of a surprise result here. Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi-final with Liverpool is Arsenal’s biggest game of the week and, if they take their eye off the ball on Sunday, the Clarets could nick something.
I am going to go for a draw because, let’s face it, Burnley are one of the Premier League’s draw experts anyway.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Call Me Loop’s prediction: Arsenal are usually pretty good at home. 2-0
Like Arsenal, Liverpool also come into this game on the back of a huge cup game and, as with the Gunners, I think it could affect them on Sunday.
While Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are away, Liverpool have to work harder for a breakthrough whoever they play, and Palace are good enough defensively to make it really difficult for them.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Call Me Loop’s prediction: Even without Salah and Mane, Liverpool will be too strong. 1-2
Brighton just keep pulling results – and late goals – out of the hat. Graham Potter is doing an excellent job as manager, and it is clear that they are a well-run club from top to bottom.
Leicester’s last-gasp defeat against Tottenham on Wednesday was just crazy, really, but it sums up their up-and-down season.
The Foxes’ sequence of league results in their 10 games since the end of October – LDLWDLWLWL – has not seen them get the same outcome in two successive games, so I am going to follow that pattern and predict them to win this one.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Call Me Loop’s prediction: Brighton have been a bit annoying for Chelsea in the past few weeks. They frustrated us twice and I am going for another draw here. 1-1
I really do think Chelsea have to just deal with their busy schedule and get on with it.
The Blues are not in good form but it probably helps them that they are playing Tottenham, firstly because they kept them at arm’s length in both their Carabao Cup semi-final games recently, and also because this will be feisty and that should bring the best out of Tuchel’s team.
Spurs still haven’t lost in the league under Antonio Conte, in a fantastic run that has lasted nine matches. I think that will end on Sunday, although it is going to be close.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Call Me Loop’s prediction: I am worried I am going to jinx it, but I do feel like I have got to back my boys. Spurs will be missing Son Heung-min, and the last two times we played them this month they have not even posed the teeniest, tiniest threat. 5-0
Lawro and Call Me Loop were speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
Last weekend, Lawro got four correct results from eight matches, with one exact score, for a total of 70 points.
For now, it goes down as a draw, because his guest in week 22, grime artist S-X, also got three correct results and one exact score, giving him a total of 70 points.
Two matches were postponed, and any points gained by Lawro or S-X when they are played will be added to their totals.
|Burnley v Leicester||0-2|
|Tottenham v Arsenal||3-1|
This week saw three rearranged games. The first, Brighton’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Tuesday, was brought forward from February so Lawro did not have a guest making a prediction but he did not score any extra points in any case, because he went for a 2-0 Chelsea win.
From Wednesday’s games – Tottenham’s 3-2 victory at Leicester and Manchester United’s 3-1 win at Brentford – Lawro scored 20 points after correctly going for 2-1 and 1-0 away wins.
That means – for now – he edges ahead of Sea Power guitarist Martin Noble, his guest in week 17 when both those games were meant to be played.
Noble went for a 1-1 draw at King Power Stadium and thought Manchester United would win 2-1, giving him 10 points and leaving the overall score at 50-40 in Lawro’s favour.
There is still one game from that set of fixtures to be played – Burnley v Watford.
|110||Friction, She Drew The Gun|
|100||TJ from Ezra Collective|
|90||Dev from Idles|
|72||Lawro (average after 22 weeks)|
|70||Ben Cajee, Elena Cole, Jelani Blackman, S-X|
|50||Aqib Khan, Shaun Thomas|
|40||Femi from Ezra Collective, Dan Haggis of The Wombats, Murray & Tav from FUR, Martin Noble, Justin Young|
|30||James Arthur, Dan McCarthy from KAWALA, Roland Orzabal, Michael ‘Venom’ Page, Curt Smith, Roger Taylor, Zuzu|