Ghana's No. 1

Lawro's Premier League predictions v rapper & Arsenal fan Jelani Blackman

Published on: 26 November 2021

Michael Carrick won his first game as Manchester United's temporary manager, at Villarreal on Tuesday, but how will he fare at Stamford Bridge in what is expected to be his last game in charge before Ralf Rangnick arrives as interim boss?

Chelsea are top of the Premier League table, 12 points ahead of United and on a 10-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

"Not only are Chelsea winning most of their games, they are playing extremely well too," said BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson. "It's a very big ask for United to get anything on Sunday, whoever is in their dugout."

United have lost five of their first 12 Premier League games this season and conceded a total of 21 goals - only the bottom two, Norwich and Newcastle, have conceded more

Lawro is making predictions for all 380 top-flight matches this season, against a variety of guests.

This week's guest is rapper and Arsenal fan Jelani Blackman, whose debut 12-track project, Unlimited Mixtape, was released in October.

Radio 1 DJ Jack Saunders says Jelani is "one of the most exciting things out there right now". He starts a European tour in January

Jelani grew up in west London but his dad supported the Gunners and made sure he did likewise.

"There were a lot of Chelsea fans about so he gave me a bit of a hard steer and gave me a yellow Arsenal shirt with JVC on the front," he told BBC Sport.

"That started it, and as I got into it I was lucky because it was the time of the Thierry Henry generation and we were great to watch. I just got swept along by all of that.

"People like Henry, Freddie Ljungberg and Patrick Vieira were my heroes. It feels like the kind of energy they had is back now, with the new generation of players at Arsenal.

"We had lost that for a little bit but if you go through our team now, whether they are kids who have come through or recent signings, we have got the spirit of the old Arsenal back."

Can Arsenal crack the top four this season for the first time since they finished second in 2015-16? "It's going to be difficult, but yeah, I think we are contenders," says Jelani. "Realistically there is only one place up for grabs. But we always seem to have a problematic winter which leaves us playing catch-up. If we can stay near enough until the end of January, we always end up having a really good run at the end of the season, but in the past couple of years we have left ourselves a little bit too much work to do."

Jelani puts Arsenal's recent revival down to manager Mikel Arteta and is confident that their improved form so far this season - last week's defeat at Liverpool was their first in 10 games in all competitions - will last this time.

"It's been great to see the team find their feet under Arteta because he had a really hard time last season," he added. "We've been a lot more consistent and that is a sign of progress.

"A lot of people were losing faith in him, but not me. I don't think people give managers enough time before saying it is time for a change, and when you do that you basically have to start again.

"You can see how much Arteta has improved us, so I'm really glad we stuck with him. We're still not a side that can flick a switch and really dominate games in the way, say, Liverpool and Manchester City do it, but we have their hunger and there's also no way you could call us a soft touch any more."

Premier League predictions - week 13ResultLawroJelaniSATURDAYArsenal v Newcastlex-x2-02-1Crystal Palace v Aston Villax-x1-12-0Liverpool v Southamptonx-x2-04-0Norwich v Wolvesx-x1-11-2Brighton v Leedsx-x0-22-2SUNDAYBrentford v Evertonx-x2-10-2Burnley v Tottenhamx-x1-21-0Leicester v Watfordx-x3-03-2Man City v West Hamx-x2-02-2Chelsea v Man Utdx-x2-13-1

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

SATURDAYArsenal v Newcastle (12:30 GMT)

Arsenal were doing pretty well at Anfield last week until their manager Mikel Arteta reacted to a Sadio Mane challenge and woke the crowd up.

It was like Liverpool brought on an extra man when that happened, and they scored their goals at the right time to take control of the game and then finish it off.

That defeat ended the Gunners' long unbeaten run but I can see them bouncing straight back here, because they should have too much quality for Newcastle.

Newcastle are the only top-flight team without a win this season

If Newcastle are as open as they were in their 3-3 draw with Brentford last week, they will carry on leaking goals.

It's not a bad idea for them to be more attacking under Eddie Howe because, in the position they are in, they need to win games. They will beat some teams playing that way - but not Arsenal.

Lawro's prediction: 2-0

Jelani's prediction: This is a much harder game than it would have been a few weeks ago but I am still pretty confident. We have been playing well and have got some consistency with our results too. I don't think last weekend's defeat by Liverpool is a fair reflection of where we are at, and I don't think it will knock our belief either. 2-1

Crystal Palace v Aston Villa

Steven Gerrard got off to a great start as Aston Villa manager with their late win over Brighton last weekend, and understandably his arrival has brought a bit of a buzz to the club.

Patrick Vieira has been in charge at Palace a bit longer and is doing a great job - his side's seven-game unbeaten run is the longest in the Premier League at the moment. You can see why they are doing so well because they are a well-balanced side.

Vieira and Gerrard enjoyed a few midfield tussles as players, but this is the first time they have met as managers. I don't think it will be dull, but I can see the points being shared.

Lawro's prediction: 1-1

Jelani's prediction: I'm a huge Vieira fan and it's really good to see him doing so well. He has completely turned things around at Palace and they are looking really confident. I like Palace because he's there, but also because I really like their identity as a team - they are really good to watch. 2-0

Liverpool v Southampton

Liverpool have responded to their defeat by West Ham with two really good wins, against Arsenal and Porto.

Southampton's form was just starting to pick up until they lost at Norwich last time out. I can't see them doing any better at Anfield.

The Reds' comfortable Champions League progress meant they were able to rest players against Porto on Wednesday, and they will be ready and waiting for Saints.

Lawro's prediction: 2-0

Jelani's prediction: Liverpool could do a lot of damage - I'm going for some goals here. 4-0

Norwich v Wolves

Just as it did at Aston Villa, the famous 'new manager bounce' happened again with Norwich last week, with Dean Smith winning his first game in charge of the Canaries. The question for them is, how long will it last?

Wolves are developing into a very good side and they can be very dangerous, as West Ham found out last week. The only thing they are lacking right now is a bit of consistency - before the international break they lost to Palace, and they did not really turn up.

Lawro's prediction: 1-1

Jelani's prediction: Every team that has changed their manager this season seems to have seen it make an instant impact, Norwich included, so I can see why clubs have done it. It felt a bit harsh to see Smith lose his job at Aston Villa though, because he was trying to build something. I hope he gets the chance to do that at Norwich, but their problem is that their squad looks too good for the Championship but not good enough for the Premier League. I'm going with a Wolves win but the Canaries are at home and they might pinch a goal. 1-2

Brighton v Leeds (17:30)

It's been a while since Brighton have won - seven league games to be precise. The Seagulls didn't seem to create a lot of chances when they were beating teams, but the difference is that they were taking the ones they did get.

Leeds have been struggling a bit too but looked a bit more like their old selves, in the first half anyway, against Tottenham last week. If they carry on improving then they should take the points here.

Lawro's prediction: 0-2

Jelani's prediction: Leeds are a bit 'win or bust' but Brighton do like a draw. 2-2

SUNDAYBrentford v Everton (14:00)

Both of these sides are on a bad run of results, but it is Everton who I am most concerned about because they have been playing poorly too.

At least Brentford's draw at Newcastle last week was a step in the right direction after four straight losses. Yes, the Bees have started to concede a lot of goals, but Everton just don't look capable of punishing them at the moment.

Rafa Benitez's side started the season really well but injuries have taken their toll on a shallow squad. I look at them now and they are just a shadow of their former selves.

With the Merseyside derby coming up next week, Benitez needs a positive result, and fast. I don't see him getting one in west London though.

Lawro's prediction: 2-1

Jelani's prediction: Everton have been struggling but I still think they have got a better squad than Brentford. 0-2

Burnley v Tottenham (14:00)

Antonio Conte has made a strong start at Spurs with four points from his first two games in charge and he will know exactly what to expect at Turf Moor.

Burnley have just started building a nice little unbeaten run, with a win and three draws in their past four league games, but I don't see them stopping Spurs.

Lawro's prediction: 1-2

Jelani's prediction: This is just because I'd like to see it happen, but I am going with a Burnley win. They could actually do it too. 1-0

Leicester v Watford (14:00)

Watford boss Claudio Ranieri goes back to King Power Stadium with his old side Leicester struggling to find their feet.

The Hornets have been very up and down under Ranieri. They didn't build on their other big win under him - 5-2 at Everton - so I don't really fancy them to win here either, even though they did a job on Manchester United last time out.

Leicester should win, but then I have been saying that a lot about them this season.

Lawro's prediction: 3-0

Jelani's prediction: Leicester have not really got going yet this season but they will be looking at the table and thinking they are still in the race for the Champions League places. They are going to burst into life at some point, surely. 3-2

Manchester City v West Ham (14:00)

Manchester City seem to have found a bit of rhythm since the international break - they went through the gears to beat Everton last weekend and then played very well in their win against Paris St-Germain on Wednesday.

We saw the Hammers put in a really impressive performance to beat Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, but I just wonder if they might hit a bit of a sticky patch after their good run was ended by Wolves.

They will have to be back at their best to have any chance of leaving Etihad Stadium with anything at all, because I am backing City here.

Lawro's prediction: 2-0

Jelani's prediction: David Moyes has really built something at West Ham and I think they can get something here. They can hold City, unless City are having a very good day. 2-2

Chelsea v Manchester United (16:30)

Chelsea showed you can have a successful season with an interim manager when they won the FA Cup under Guus Hiddink in 2009, but it is a big call for Manchester United to go down that route.

United's track record when it comes to big decisions is hardly impressive recently, is it? Chelsea, meanwhile, seem to have made a very good one by appointing Thomas Tuchel at the start of the year.

Lawro's prediction: 2-1

Jelani's prediction: I can't see them stopping Chelsea, who are just so dominant at the moment, but it is going to be interesting to see what happens with Manchester United in the weeks to come because their squad is incredible. Where they end up might make or break our hopes of a top-four place because I think our fight is going to be with them. 3-1

Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

How did Lawro do last week?

Last week, Lawro got four correct results from 10 matches, with two exact scores, for a total of 100 points.

He beat singer-songwriter Zuzu, who got three correct results with no exact scores, for a total of 30 points.

+/- DENOTE POSITION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAWRO'S TABLE AND ACTUAL POSITIONTEAMPWDLPTS+/-1Man City12102032+12Man Utd1292129+6=3Leicester1284028+9=3Liverpool128402805Chelsea1275026-46Leeds1281325+117Aston Villa1271422+88Tottenham1255220-19West Ham1254319-510Brighton1253418-111Arsenal1244416-612Newcastle1233612+8=13Wolves1232711-7=13Southampton1232711015Burnley1231810+316Everton123099-5=17Brentford122197-3=17Crystal Palace122197-7=19Norwich1203930=19Watford120393-3GUEST LEADERBOARD 2021-22ScoreGuest110Friction, She Drew The Gun80Tom McFarland78Lawro (average after 12 weeks)70Elena Cole60Haydn Craven50Aqib Khan, Shaun Thomas40Dan Haggis of The Wombats, Murray & Tav from FUR, Justin Young30Michael 'Venom' Page, Roger Taylor, Zuzu10Tom HughesTotal scores after week 12Lawro930Guests630Lawro v GuestsP12W9D2L1

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