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Lawro’s Premier League predictions v Strictly star Ed Balls

BBC Sport expert Mark Lawrenson

BBC Sport’s football expert Mark Lawrenson will be making a prediction for all 380 Premier League games this season against a variety of guests.

Lawro’s opponent for this week’s Premier League fixtures is Strictly Come Dancing star Ed Balls.

The former shadow chancellor, who is chairman and lifelong fan of Norwich City, is also tipping the Canaries to beat Rotherham in the Championship.

“Will we win? Of course,” he told BBC Sport.

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Balls and his Strictly dance partner Katya Jones will be back in action in week four of the show at 18:30 BST on Saturday on BBC One

You can make your own predictions now, compare them with those of Lawro and other fans, and try to take your team to the top of the leaderboard by playing the new BBC Sport Predictor game.

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

In the round of games before the international break, Lawro got four correct results, including one perfect score, from 10 Premier League matches. That gave him a total of 70 points.

He was beaten by comedian and actor Elis James, who got six correct results, with three perfect scores, for a total of 150 points. James finished joint-bottom of last season’s guest leaderboard (below) with 10 points but he is top of the table so far in 2016-17.

LAWRO’S PREDICTIONS

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

SATURDAY

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Chelsea v Leicester (12:30 BST)

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte needs more time to work with his players but he did not get that during the international break because most of them will have been away.

The Blues won at Hull in their last game, when Conte switched to a three-man defence, but his side still have issues at the back.

I expect Leicester to put up more of a fight than the Tigers did but the Foxes have lost three out of three away games in the Premier League this season.

On Saturday, I think they will make it four away defeats out of four.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Ed’s prediction: Chelsea’s form has been variable this season and I fancy Leicester to turn things around. 2-2

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Arsenal v Swansea

I am expecting an energetic performance from Swansea’s players in Bob Bradley’s first game in charge.

It sounds like Bradley was very convincing in his interview but I still see his appointment as a gamble.

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Focus Forum: Will Bob Bradley fix Swansea problems?

The Emirates Stadium is obviously a difficult place for Bradley to get started, especially against an Arsenal team who have won their last five league games and are on a great run of form.

The Gunners did not start the season very well but most of their players who were at the European Championship are back available now, and Aaron Ramsey is not far off a return either after being injured in the first game of the new campaign.

One of the things this Arsenal side has got is competition for places in every position and the fact their players are fighting for their place is definitely helping them at the moment.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Ed’s prediction: Arsenal have been romping away in recent weeks and I think that run will continue. Bradley looks a shrewd choice by Swansea but away at the Emirates is such a tough start. 4-1

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Bournemouth v Hull

Mike Phelan has finally been given the Hull manager’s job permanently – my only question there is ‘what took them so long?’

It always looked a big ask for the Tigers to stay up but the uncertainty was not helping anyone and, after taking one point from their last five games, Hull had begun to plummet.

Bournemouth have been heading in the opposite direction after a slow start, and their upturn in form was much needed.

The Cherries have taken seven points from their last four games and will see this game as an opportunity to continue that improved run.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Ed’s prediction: It’s a furnace at the Vitality Stadium and Bournemouth thumped us there last year. 2-1

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Man City v Everton

Manchester City will be expecting to bounce back after their 100% winning start to the league season was ended by a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham.

The Toffees became City’s bogey team when David Moyes was in charge but it has been a different story recently and Everton have not won any of their last six league meetings.

I do not think that will change on Saturday, but I do think it might be a frustrating afternoon for City.

They will be desperate to give a good reaction after that Spurs game but they have had players scattered around the globe over the past week or so, and may not be at their best.

It is the same for Everton of course but, if both teams are below par, I would still expect the Toffees to leave with a point.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Ed’s prediction: Man City started brilliantly. They had a hiccup last week but will be too strong for Everton. 3-1

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Stoke v Sunderland

Stoke will feel better about themselves after picking up a point at Old Trafford last time out.

It is the same for Sunderland, who scored a late equaliser against West Brom, but the Black Cats’ injury list just seems to grow, which is a big concern.

These two are the only teams without a win in the Premier League this season – but I am going for Stoke to finally get a victory on the board.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

Ed’s prediction: I think Stoke will dig themselves out of the bottom three. 3-1

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West Brom v Tottenham

For most of last season, people were asking how Spurs would do if Harry Kane got injured but now we know, and they can definitely cope without him.

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Too early for title talk – Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino

West Brom have made a solid start to the season but this Tottenham team look very convincing at the moment, and they are going to be hard to stop.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Ed’s prediction: Tottenham are another team who have started very well. West Brom are good at home but Spurs will be too strong. 1-2

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Crystal Palace v West Ham (17:30 BST)

Crystal Palace are one of the form teams in the country at the moment. It’s safe to say that West Ham aren’t.

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West Ham United: Bilic says London Stadium is ‘not a problem’

Dimitri Payet got the Hammers out of jail against Middlesbrough with that superb solo goal to earn them a point.

I think they would be happy with the same result at Selhurst Park,

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Ed’s prediction: West Ham are floundering, while Palace are on the up and scoring goals. 2-0

SUNDAY

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Middlesbrough v Watford (13:30 BST)

Middlesbrough are another team in need of a win, especially at home.

Boro have slipped into the bottom third of the table in recent weeks but, to be honest, that is where they are expected to be.

As good as Watford were when they beat Manchester United, I watched them at Burnley and they were totally unconvincing.

That makes this hard game to predict either way – so I am going for a draw.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Ed’s prediction: 1-1

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Southampton v Burnley (16:00 BST)

Burnley’s big problem this season is going to be picking up points away from home.

The Clarets have lost both their games on the road so far, and have not looked threatening at all – against Chelsea and Leicester they did not score and had a total of two shots on target.

I think they are in for another tough afternoon at St Mary’s Stadium too.

I have been impressed by Southampton boss Claude Puel, and it looks like Saints are set for another good season.

You could say it is same old Southampton, actually. Whether they lose their manager or sell some of their best players, it does not seem to make much difference.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Ed’s prediction: I am expecting a goal from former Norwich forward Nathan Redmond for Southampton. 2-0.

MONDAY

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Liverpool v Man Utd (20:00 BST)

Liverpool have made a very good start to the season, and their home form is particularly impressive.

They have only played Leicester and Hull at Anfield so far, but they have scored a total of nine goals and really swept both teams away.

It will be interesting to see how Manchester United cope with the Reds’ gegenpressing because I think Liverpool have been the best team in the league without the ball this season – they are as good when they don’t have possession as they are when they do.

I think United will struggle to deal with that. Quite often with these big games I go for a draw but on this occasion I fancy Liverpool.

I just think at the moment, with the way they are playing, with their pace and the speed of their passing, the Reds will have the edge.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Ed’s prediction: I fancy Liverpool at home. 3-1

Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

Lawro’s best score: 140 points (week three v Laura Trott)

Lawro’s worst score: 30 points (week four v Dave Bautista)

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37573231