The 141st FA Cup final takes place at Wembley on Saturday – will it be trophy number two of the season for Liverpool, or will Chelsea get revenge for their defeat in the Carabao Cup final?
BBC football expert Mark Lawrenson has pitted his wits against a different guest in every round of this season’s FA Cup.
For the final, he is up against mixed martial arts legend Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley, who is set to end his 19-year career at Bellator 281 at Wembley Arena on Friday.
Coverage of the main card will be live on BBC Three & BBC iPlayer from 21:00 BST.
You can watch Daley go for a 44th victory in his final fight against Brazil’s Wendell Giacomo – but how will he fare against Lawro?
Daley moved from London to Nottingham as a boy and was a talented footballer who played in the same junior teams as England international turned Match of the Day pundit Jermaine Jenas.
“I played for Clifton All Whites, who were my Saturday team, and county football for South Notts and Nottingham,” Daley explained.
“I was at the Nottingham Forest School of Excellence for a year or so when Jermaine was there too – I was a left-winger, pacey and powerful, but I wanted to be a ninja so I always preferred karate.”
Daley is looking to end his MMA career with a bang on Friday, but he has already ruled out a return to football when his fighting days are over.
“I have watched some games in the Saturday and Sunday leagues in my local area and they seem a little rougher than the sport I do now,” he said.
“So, no, I am going to give football a miss even though I’ve probably got the right skillset for it.”
|FA Cup final prediction|
|Chelsea v Liverpool||x-x||1-2||1-2|
There is no replay for the FA Cup final, and the tie will be decided by extra time and penalties if required.
LAWRO’S FA CUP FINAL PREDICTION
Chelsea v Liverpool (FA Cup final, 16:45 BST)
Usually with cup finals, I expect them to be really tight with extra time and maybe even penalties – like we saw when these two teams met at Wembley in the Carabao Cup final in February.
This time, though, I think Liverpool will win it pretty comfortably, and in normal time too, just because Chelsea are not at their best right now.
I know Chelsea beat Leeds easily enough on Wednesday but I didn’t see that as them returning to form. It was because Leeds had a player sent off.
I was at Villa Park on Tuesday to watch Liverpool. They had some good moments, and a few ordinary ones but they still won. They are going through a bit of a patch where they are not at their very best, but they have still taken four points from their past two games – their record this year is still just amazing.
So, Liverpool are favourites for me. They will be without the injured Fabinho, which is a blow, but Jordan Henderson will just come in there. Up front they can go with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz.
That’s a forward line to win a cup final, because I don’t see Chelsea keeping them out.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Paul’s prediction: This is a shout-out to my barber, Wayne, at People’s Barbers in Nottingham. He is a massive Liverpool fan – I just went in for my pre-fight haircut and the cup final was a massive topic of conversation. He was adamant they would win it and get to the next stage of their quadruple bid.
A cup game is like a fight – both of them end up with someone being knocked out. You can prepare for it and do everything right but it is a one-off that comes down to who performs best on the day, and I feel like Liverpool will have the edge. 1-2
As well as the FA Cup, Lawro is making predictions for all 380 Premier League matches this season, against a variety of guests.
Daley has also looked at the eight league games being played on the penultimate weekend of the season.
|Premier League predictions|
|Tottenham v Burnley||x-x||3-0||2-0|
|Aston Villa v Crystal Palace||x-x||2-1||1-0|
|Leeds v Brighton||x-x||1-1||1-0|
|Watford v Leicester||x-x||0-2||0-2|
|West Ham v Man City||x-x||1-2||0-0|
|Wolves v Norwich||x-x||2-0||2-0|
|Everton v Brentford||x-x||2-0||1-0|
|Newcastle v Arsenal||x-x||1-1||2-1|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
LAWRO’S PREMIER LEAGUE PREDICTIONS
Games kick off at 14:00 BST unless otherwise stated.
Tottenham v Burnley (12:00)
Mike Jackson made a brilliant start as Burnley boss but they did not have any kind of spark when they lost at home to Aston Villa last weekend.
They didn’t really put up much resistance, which was very unlike them. It is going to be very interesting to see how they react here, and whether they can make life difficult for Tottenham.
Spurs’ top-four hopes are still not in their own hands but they are very much alive after their win over Arsenal on Thursday and I think they will put in another big performance here.
Whatever happens, Burnley are going to be watching anxiously when Leeds play Brighton a little later on Sunday.
I think Everton are safe from here, because Leeds’ poor goal difference means they are effectively three points behind the Toffees with two games to play, but Burnley still have some work to do.
|Remaining Premier League fixtures|
|Sun 15 May||Brentford (h)||Tottenham (a)||Brighton (h)|
|Thu 19 May||C Palace (h)||Aston Villa (a)|
|Sun 22 May||Arsenal (a)||Newcastle (h)||Brentford (a)|
Lawro’s prediction: 3-0
Paul’s prediction: Tottenham showed they are a top team with their win over Arsenal. 2-0
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace
Aston Villa had a real go against Liverpool on Tuesday and made enough opportunities to get something out of the game.
Villa are at home again here and I think they will make more chances, although Crystal Palace are in a decent run of form and are clearly going to pose an attacking threat themselves.
There is nothing for either side to play for other than a top-half finish, but we should see an open and entertaining game.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Paul’s prediction: I am going to go with Villa on this one because a nephew of mine is a massive fan and goes to all their games. 1-0
Leeds v Brighton
It is Leeds who I am most worried about from the three teams who could still go down with Watford and Norwich.
Jesse Marsch’s side are playing angrily, rather than using their brains, and you cannot win games like that. It is one thing being committed but they have had players sent off in their past two games and that has cost them dearly at the worst possible time, not just in those matches but because they are suspended now too.
Marsch has been reading out quotes from Gandhi, JFK and Mother Teresa before games, but I’m not convinced by that. When a player steps out on the pitch, he is not going to be thinking about that kind of stuff.
The Leeds team have probably heard quotes from Kipling, but think it’s Mr Kipling. Either way, I don’t think it is going to help them much now.
By the time they play this game, Leeds will know how Burnley got on at Tottenham. It could be that a point will be enough to get them out of the bottom three and, if so, that has to be their absolute goal.
It won’t be easy, though. Brighton are going really well and are a much better footballing team than Leeds. The Seagulls keep possession really well. The only way Leeds can get anything out of this is by being ultra-competitive, but they need to keep 11 men on the pitch for starters.
They also need to stay in the game. Channelling Mother Teresa won’t help there – Marsch needs to tell his players that they start this game with a point and in their present predicament they have got to make sure they finish the game with one, at the very least. It might mean setting up defensively, and getting people behind the ball rather than flying around at 100mph but that really doesn’t matter now.
What they do have on their side is their fans at Elland Road. They were fabulous and stuck with them all the way through Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat by Chelsea, and I’m sure they will do the same here.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Paul’s prediction: When I was young, Leeds were originally the team I followed, just because of Eric Cantona – he was such a character and I was a massive fan. When he went to Manchester United I started following them because I thought I didn’t want to watch Leeds unless he was playing. I think more and more people do that these days with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and support a player rather than a team, but back then it wasn’t very common. Anyway, in honour of Cantona I am going with a Leeds win. 1-0
Watford v Leicester
Leicester look a totally different team now Jamie Vardy is fully fit and finding some form.
He makes the pitch bigger for the Foxes’ creative players too, because opposing centre-backs take a couple of steps backwards because of his pace, which opens things up more for the likes of James Maddison to get on the ball.
After 11 successive defeats at Vicarage Road, Watford got a point against Everton last time out at home, but they offered very little going forward. I can’t see them holding out this time.
The Hornets already know they are going down and have appointed Forest Green boss Rob Edwards as the man to try to take them back up to the Premier League next season. It is going to be a busy summer for him, because I think quite a few players will be looking to move on.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Paul’s prediction: Ooh, I know the Forest fans are not going to like this but I have to go with Leicester here. A former coach of mine, Dave, is a season-ticket holder with the Foxes and if I don’t say they will win I will probably get a phone call. 0-2
West Ham v Manchester City
Fernandinho and Aymeric Laporte both got injured against Wolves so it looks like Manchester City might be missing a couple more players at the back, which makes things interesting.
It’s not so much of a problem in open play, because we know West Ham won’t have much of the ball, but if City have a makeshift defence they will have to be very careful when they defend set-pieces because the Hammers pose a real threat there.
How they get on in those situations will be the key. It helps City that they can afford to draw here, because that way they would still finish above Liverpool if they beat Aston Villa on the final day of the season.
I actually think they will go to London Stadium and win, though.
It won’t be as spectacular as their 5-1 win at Molineux on Wednesday because I think West Ham will keep things tight and try to pinch it, but City’s attacking power means they should edge it.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-2
Paul’s prediction: This is an awkward one for City. 0-0
Wolves v Norwich
Wolves were on a poor run of form even before they got taken apart by Manchester City on Wednesday, but this is a great chance for them to sign off for the season with a win in front of their own fans, in their last home game of the campaign.
Norwich are already thinking about next season in the Championship and might give more chances to some of their younger players after 19-year-old winger Tony Springett did well against Leicester. This will be great experience for them but it’s hard to see them getting anything at Molineux.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Paul’s prediction: 2-0
Everton v Brentford (16:30)
Everton are not mathematically safe yet, but they have worked so hard to get in this position that I cannot see them easing up now.
Their fans will not let that happen anyway. The atmosphere at Goodison Park and the backing they have given their team in such a difficult season is one of the biggest reasons Frank Lampard’s side are probably staying up – and it will be the same again on Sunday.
Brentford are full of confidence at the moment and playing well but I am backing Everton to go at them, the same way they did against Chelsea at Goodison at the start of May.
Their physicality played a part in that victory and I think it will be the same again here – they have found a formula for winning at home, and it works.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Paul’s prediction: Everton are fighting, really fighting. I always go for the teams who are fighting for something. 1-0
Newcastle v Arsenal (20:00)
Arsenal endured a horrible night in Thursday’s north London derby, but they cannot afford to dwell on what went wrong for them against Spurs.
It’s typical Arsenal, really, because they always seem to get themselves in a good position but whenever something goes against them, they just seem to collapse. At times this season it has looked like they have become stronger mentally – but they haven’t.
They are under pressure now, too. If Spurs beat Burnley on Sunday, and I think they will, then Arsenal will have to win at St James’ Park or fourth place will be out of their hands on the final day of the season.
We know Tottenham have a record of messing up too, but they play bottom side Norwich on the final day and Arsenal obviously do not want to be relying on the Canaries to do them a favour.
|Who will finish fourth? Remaining Premier League fixtures|
|Sun 15 May||Burnley (h)|
|Mon 16 May||Newcastle (a)|
|Thu 19 May||Leicester (h)|
|Sun 22 May||Watford (h)||Norwich (a)||Everton (h)|
That might be the scenario the Gunners are facing, though.
We all know how much Newcastle have improved in the past few months, and they have been very strong at St James’ Park. Beating them there is a very big ask.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Paul’s prediction: This is going to be close but I think we will see a response from Arsenal here. 1-2
Lawro and Paul were speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
How did Lawro do last time?
From the midweek Premier League games, Lawro got five correct results from six Premier League matches, including one exact score, for a total of 80 points.
He beat DJs Majestic and Joel Corry. Majestic got four correct results, with one exact score, giving him 70 points, while Corry got two correct results, with no exact scores, giving him 20 points.
|+/- DENOTE POSITION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAWRO’S TABLE AND ACTUAL POSITION|
GUEST LEADERBOARD 2021-22
|190||TJ from Ezra Collective|
|110||Jelani Blackman, Friction, Reuben James, She Drew The Gun, S-X|
|100||ArrDee, Dev from Idles, Johnny Marr|
|82||Lawro (average after 36 weeks)|
|80||Will Kennard from Chase & Status, Call Me Loop, Tom McFarland|
|70||Austin Brown, Ben Cajee, Elena Cole, Majestic, Tom from Blossoms|
|60||Femi from Ezra Collective, Haydn Craven, James Spence of Rolo Tomassi|
|50||Aqib Khan, Jim Piddock, Joe from Blossoms, Shaun Thomas, Bobbie Vylan|
|40||James Arthur, Dan Haggis of The Wombats, Murray & Tav from FUR, Martin Noble, Curt Smith, Taka from Feeder, Justin Young|
|30||Dan McCarthy from KAWALA, Mez, Roland Orzabal, Michael ‘Venom’ Page, Roger Taylor, Zuzu|
|20||Joel Corry, Joe Elliott|
|Total scores after week 36|
|Lawro v Guests|
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