FA Cup semi-final & Premier League predictions: Lawro v Def Leppard frontman & Sheffield United fan Joe Elliott

Manchester City and Liverpool meet again on Saturday, in the FA Cup semi-finals. This time we have to have a winner, but who will it be?

“We saw these two teams at their very best when they drew at Etihad Stadium last weekend,” said BBC football expert and former Reds defender Mark Lawrenson.

“The intensity of that game was ferocious and relentless, and for various reasons it is going to be hard for this one to match it. Mind you, it is still going to be very close because there is so little to choose between them.”

As well as the FA Cup, Lawro is making predictions for all 380 Premier League matches this season, against a variety of guests.

This week he takes on Joe Elliott, frontman of rock legends Def Leppard and a lifelong Sheffield United fan.

Def Leppard’s new album Diamond Star Halos is released in May and they start a tour of the United States and Canada with Motley Crue in June.

“We can’t wait,” Joe told BBC Sport.

“It would be even better if United go up because I will be bouncing on to that stage a little bit taller – but we are just looking forward to getting back out on the road so much because we thrive on it and we have missed it so much in the past couple of years.”

Def Leppard
Def Leppard have sold more than 100m records since they formed in Sheffield 45 years ago. Their new album is their first since the self-titled Def Leppard topped the charts in 2015, and their new single, Kick, is out now

Sheffield United are chasing an instant return to the Premier League after being relegated last year, and Joe has got everything crossed that they can secure a play-off place

“This is what Sir Alex Ferguson used to call ‘squeaky bum time’,” he added. “It’s in our hands, and three of our last five games are at home, but there is so much playing on everyone’s minds that you worry about every game.

“The only advantage we’ve got is that everyone else is in the same position too.

“We beat QPR at the start of the month and we have got them again soon, and then we are at home to leaders Fulham on the last day.

“That won’t be easy but we beat them at their place in December so anything is possible.

“It is so exciting. I’d much rather be where Fulham are, so we could just relax now and metaphorically be on the beach, but considering we were joint-16th at the start of December when Paul Heckingbottom took charge, then it is pretty crazy that we are where we are now.”

Snapshot of the top of the Championship: 1st Fulham, 2nd Bournemouth, 3rd Huddersfield, 4th Nottingham Forest, 5th Luton & 6th Sheff Utd
Sheffield United play Reading on Friday and Joe is going for a Blades win. “We don’t really let a lot in so I am going to say 1-0,” he explained. “We have done nil a lot recently but we don’t score a lot either.”

Blades legend Tony Currie was Joe’s hero when he was growing up and, while he has a couple of current favourites, it is another skilful playmaker – on-loan Wolves midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White – who he feels stands out.

“I am a huge fan of Chris Basham, who has barely put a foot wrong for us since he joined in 2014, whatever division he has played in,” Joe explained.

“Billy Sharp is obviously a legend too. The guy is a Sheffield boy and he is a Blade through and through, he has done some magnificent things for us down the years.

“But Morgan is like a breath of fresh air. The guy is just oozing talent. I just hope we can keep him next season, but even if we go up I doubt we could afford him.”

FA Cup semi-final predictions
Result Lawro Joe
SATURDAY
Man City v Liverpool x-x 1-2 1-1P*
SUNDAY
Chelsea v Crystal Palace x-x 2-0 2-0

* Liverpool to win on pens

There are no replays in the FA Cup semi-finals, and the ties will be decided by extra-time and penalties.

Premier League predictions – week 33
Result Lawro Joe
SATURDAY
Tottenham v Brighton x-x 2-0 3-0
Man Utd v Norwich x-x 2-0 2-0
Southampton v Arsenal x-x 1-1 0-1
Watford v Brentford x-x 1-2 0-1
SUNDAY
Newcastle v Leicester x-x 2-1 1-1
West Ham v Burnley x-x 1-1 2-0

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

LAWRO’S FA CUP & PREMIER LEAGUE PREDICTIONS

Key for ‘who they beat’ section of FA Cup predictions
PL = Premier League C = Championship
L1 = League One L2 = League Two
NL = non-league r = won after replay
H = Home A = Away

SATURDAY

Tottenham v Brighton (Premier League, 12:30 BST)

Brighton got a brilliant win at Arsenal last weekend, but it is hard to see a repeat of that result on their return to north London, because Tottenham are absolutely flying at the moment.

Spurs have won their past four games and with the Gunners, Manchester United and West Ham all dropping points recently, they are now in a strong position in the race for fourth place.

A couple more wins, and they could be even further ahead. They will know that, and that should keep them focused.

Snapshot of 4th to 9th in the Premier League: 4th Tottenham, 5th Arsenal, 6th West Ham, 7th West Ham, 8th Wolves & 9th Leicester
Spurs have taken 12 points out of 12 in their past four games – at least double what any of the teams immediately below them have managed. In the same period, Arsenal have picked up 3/12, West Ham 6/12 and Manchester United 4/12.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Joe’s prediction: Tottenham are on a real upswing in form. I’m a huge fan of Son Heung-min – he has got to be one of the greatest players in the Premier League right now and he is a joy to watch because he loves playing, and you can tell. He and Harry Kane always know where each other are – they are almost telepathic, it’s like watching two bats. 3-0

Man Utd v Norwich (Premier League, 15:00)

Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.

Norwich are hanging on in there aren’t they? They have not thrown in the towel yet, and showed it with their win over Burnley last weekend.

There has been plenty of talk that Ajax boss Erik ten Hag is about to become Manchester United’s next manager but, for the time being, Ralf Rangnick is still interim boss and it is not working for them.

That arrangement can work – Guus Hiddink showed that when he had four months with Chelsea and won the FA Cup in 2009 – but the Blues had a strong and united dressing room to help to run the team the right way, which United clearly don’t have.

They should still beat Norwich, of course, but too many of their players seem to be thinking ‘does it really matter?’ right now, and that won’t change until the new manager arrives.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Joe’s prediction: This is obviously far from being the greatest season Manchester United have ever had, but I still can’t see Norwich getting much joy at Old Trafford. 2-0

Southampton v Arsenal (Premier League, 15:00)

Southampton have lost five of their past six games in all competitions but, with three defeats out of four, Arsenal are having a wobble as well.

The Gunners are without Thomas Partey as well as Kieran Tierney and they are really missing the pair of them. I don’t look at them and think they are going to go to St Mary’s and win.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Joe’s prediction: Southampton is the game I look forward to watching most on Match of the Day because it seems as if they either always concede six goals, or James Ward-Prowse scores another worldy. Arsenal have taken a bit of a battering recently but I think we might see a reaction from there here. 0-1

Watford v Brentford (Premier League, 15:00)

Brentford are on a roll now, with four wins out of their past five games.

I don’t know what is going to happen with Christian Eriksen because I am reading how all sorts of teams want to buy him in the summer, but he has arguably been the signing of the season and I’d love it if the Bees could find a way to keep him.

Watford, in contrast, have lost four of their past five games. Usually, when you look at teams trying to stay up, you point to their home form being crucial but the Hornets have a dreadful record at Vicarage Road, and I don’t think it will improve on Saturday.

Graphic showing Premier League table based on home form: 15th Aston Villa, 16th Leeds, 17th Burnley, 18th Brighton, 19th Norwich & 20th Watford
Watford beat Aston Villa at home on the opening day of the season but have only won once at Vicarage Road in the league since – a 4-1 win over Manchester United on 20 November

Lawro’s prediction: 1-2

Joe’s prediction: Apologies to [Hornets fan] Elton John, but Watford are done this season. Brentford have got momentum, and they have got Eriksen too. 0-1

Man City v Liverpool (FA Cup semi-final, 15:30)

Watch live on BBC One. Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Premier League (1st) v Premier League (2nd)
Who did they beat?
QF: Southampton (PL) A QF: Nott’m Forest (C) A
5R: Peterborough (C) A 5R: Norwich (PL) H
4R: Fulham (C) H 4R: Cardiff (C) H
3R: Swindon (L2) A 3R: Shrewsbury (L1) H

I make Liverpool slight favourites here, because they are fresher.

City had to travel to Spain in midweek, they had a gruelling game against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League and picked up a couple of injuries while, on the same night, Jurgen Klopp could leave out a lot of his big-hitters out against Benfica.

Because of that, I’m expecting City to make some changes from what is, arguably, their best team but Liverpool to be a strong as they can be – and that swings the tie for me.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-2

Joe’s prediction: Wow! Seeing these two play is becoming a permanent fixture – it’s like Adele at the O2, night after night after night.

You need a wafer-thin piece of paper to separate them because there is nothing between them at the moment – they have slightly contrasting styles but they both work brilliantly. That game on Sunday was the most awesome advert for English football that you will ever see – it was stunning stuff.

If anything, Liverpool look a bit more frantic in defence when they try to play out from the back and I always think City are well capable of pouncing on any slight mistake, but if Mohamed Salah is on form and Diogo Jota plays well, Liverpool can do the same thing.

There has to be a winner but I think it is going to the distance, although it helps Liverpool that they had the easier European game on Wednesday night. 1-1 AET – Liverpool to win on penalties

SUNDAY

Newcastle v Leicester (Premier League, 14:15 BST)

I was getting a bit worried about Newcastle last week because their form had slumped, but they improved against Wolves and got the win as well.

Before then, the Magpies had lost three in a row but all three of those defeats were away from home and I’d expect them to be better at St James’ Park.

I’m backing them here too, although Leicester are so up and down it makes predicting their results very difficult.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

Joe’s prediction: This is a tricky one. Newcastle are probably safe now unless something completely ridiculous happens – like it did when we went down on the final day of the 1993-94 season.

I remember we were something like 14th at 4.15pm but half an hour later, Glenn Hoddle headed the ball for the first time in his life and flicked it on for Mark Stein to score a last-minute winner for Chelsea, and we went down.

A point here just gets the Magpies closer to being sure of staying up and they are capable of getting it. 1-1

West Ham v Burnley (Premier League, 14:15)

Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Burnley’s result at Norwich last weekend was as bad as their result over Everton a couple of days before was good.

I expected the Clarets to kick on after beating the Toffees but to follow up a huge win like that by going to the bottom side and losing is a big set-back. I know Maxwel Cornet missed a big chance to equalise at 1-0, but I thought Norwich were comfortable.

What might help Sean Dyche’s side here, is that West Ham have a huge Europa League game on Thursday night – they have a small squad and that is the game where David Moyes will pick his strongest team. Even so, I don’t see the Hammers losing this one at home.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Joe’s prediction: Who is wearing claret and blue here then!? West Ham have been fantastic all season, and if Michail Antonio plays well he is a match-winner. Sadly for Burnley, they seem to be lacking their usual end-of-season spark. Maybe it is just one year too far for them in the top flight. 2-0

Chelsea v Crystal Palace (FA Cup semi-final, 16:30)

Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Premier League (3rd) v Premier League (10th)
Who did they beat?
QF: Middlesbrough (C) A QF: Everton (PL) H
5R: Luton (C) A 5R: Stoke (C) H
4R: Plymouth (L1) H 4R: Hartlepool (L2) H
3R: Chesterfield (NL) H 3R: Millwall (C) A

Chelsea played so, so well on Tuesday against Real Madrid but still went out of the Champions League.

That performance told us a lot about the mentality of Thomas Tuchel’s side, though, and it helps them that things seem to be settling down in terms of what is happening to Chelsea off the pitch.

They have got over the shock of the club being put up for sale and their futures being uncertain, and you just know they will be up for this tie after losing their European crown.

Crystal Palace are a talented and very energetic side, but their young players will need to handle the occasion at Wembley as well as deal with Chelsea. It’s a big ask.

I think Tuchel will find a way to keep Palace’s front three quiet and, as we saw from the chances they created against Real, Chelsea look very dangerous when they come forward. I have a feeling they will get the job done.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Joe’s prediction: Chelsea are brilliant one minute, then they lose 4-1 at home to Brentford the next. I think they will give everything and get through this one though, because it’s their last hope of a trophy.

I love Patrick Vieira and I think he is going to be a brilliant manager, but Palace are still finding their feet. 2-0

Lawro and Joe were speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

How did Lawro do last time?

Last weekend, Lawro got five correct results from 10 matches, including one exact score, for a total of 80 points.

He beat Blossoms duo Tom Ogden and Joe Donovan – Tom got four correct results with one exact score to leave him on 70 points, while Joe got two correct results with one exact score for a total of 50 points.

+/- DENOTE POSITION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAWRO’S TABLE AND ACTUAL POSITION
TEAM P W D L PTS +/-
1 Man City 31 27 4 0 85 0
2 Liverpool 31 23 8 0 77 0
3 Chelsea 30 23 6 1 75 0
4 Man Utd 31 23 3 5 72 +3
5 Tottenham 31 20 7 4 67 -1
6 Arsenal 30 15 6 9 51 -1
7 Leeds 32 15 4 13 49 +9
8 Aston Villa 31 13 9 9 48 +4
9 Leicester 29 13 8 8 47 0
10 West Ham 32 12 8 12 44 -4
11 Wolves 32 10 6 16 36 -3
12 Brighton 31 9 7 15 34 -1
13 Southampton 31 8 6 17 30 +1
14 Everton 30 8 6 16 30 +3
15 Brentford 32 9 2 21 29 -2
=16 Crystal Palace 31 5 9 17 24 -6
=16 Newcastle 31 6 6 19 24 -1
18 Burnley 30 5 7 18 22 0
19 Watford 31 2 6 23 12 0
20 Norwich 31 2 5 24 11 0

GUEST LEADERBOARD 2021-22

Score Guest
150 TJ from Ezra Collective
130 Jamie Webster
110 Jelani Blackman, Friction, Reuben James, Jeremy Piven, She Drew The Gun, S-X
100 ArrDee, Dev from Idles, Johnny Marr
80 Call Me Loop, Tom McFarland
78 Lawro (average after 32 weeks)
70 Ben Cajee, Elena Cole, 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
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, Roland Orzabal, Michael ‘Venom’ Page, Roger Taylor, Zuzu
10 Mez, Tom Hughes
Total scores after week 32
Lawro 2,490
Guests 2,140
Lawro v Guests
P32 W18 D5 L9
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