Premier League opening weekend: Lawro’s predictions v Cram and Foster

BBC Sport expert Mark Lawrenson

The Premier League is back – but who will come out on top in the opening round of fixtures?

BBC Sport’s football expert Mark Lawrenson has made his predictions for the first 10 games of the new campaign, which include Arsenal hosting Leicester on Friday night, champions Chelsea against Burnley on Saturday and last season’s runners up Tottenham against newly promoted Newcastle on Sunday.

You can make your own predictions now – take on Lawro and other fans and try to take your team to the top of the leaderboard by playing the new-look BBC Sport Predictor game.

Lawro will be making a prediction for all 380 Premier League games this season against a variety of guests.

His opponents for the opening round of Premier League fixtures are BBC athletics commentators Brendan Foster and Steve Cram.

BBC Athletics commentators Brendan Foster and Steve Cram<!–

Foster and Cram have been commentating on the World Athletics Championships, which is being held at the London Stadium in Stratford.

Foster, who supports Newcastle, and Sunderland fan Cram saw their teams swap divisions last season, with the Magpies promoted back to the Premier League at the same time as the Black Cats went down.

“It’s great to have my team Newcastle back in the Premier League,” said Foster. “Particularly – and he is standing next to me laughing as I say this – because Steve’s team are not in the Premier League any more. So that is good news.”

Cram is not confident Sunderland will bounce straight back to the top flight either, adding: “I have got friends who are a bit worried that we are going to go straight down again.

“It is not going to be easy and I would be amazed if we won promotion this season. I am always hopeful and always look on the positive side… but I don’t sound confident, do I?

You can hear more of their tales of Tyne-Wear derby banter and the mixed fortunes of north east of England football clubs on Football Focus at 12:00 BST on Saturday on BBC One and the BBC Sport website.

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

Remember you can try to beat Lawro yourself by playing the BBC Sport Predictor game.

LAWRO’S OPENING WEEKEND PREDICTIONS

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

FRIDAY

Arsenal v Leicester<!–

Arsenal v Leicester (19:45 BST)

I was at Wembley on Sunday for the Community Shield to see Arsenal beat Chelsea on penalties, and it is interesting watching the Gunners play with this back three.

I am not sure they will stick with it – yes it suits Per Mertesacker, but Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi are going to come back into their defence when they are available.

Arsenal used that system in the final 10 games of last season, and won nine of them, but I am still to be convinced by it – or by Arsenal full-stop.

They are a very good footballing side but that goal they conceded against the Blues reminded me of so many I have seen teams score against them in the past.

It was down to an old problem of Arsenal’s that does not seem to have changed – a lack of basic organisation.

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Victor Moses scores to give Chelsea the lead against Arsenal

It is interesting to see teams coming after Leicester’s players – Danny Drinkwater is the latest to be linked with a move away and Riyad Mahrez looks like he is going.

But getting striker Kelechi Iheanacho from Manchester City was a good signing for the Foxes, as was defender Harry Maguire from Hull City.

So this looks like being a good game to open up the new season on a Friday night. Leicester will put up a fight, but I think Arsenal will win it.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

Cram’s prediction: 2-0

Foster’s prediction: 3-1

SATURDAY

Watford v Liverpool<!–

Watford v Liverpool (12:30 BST)

Andre Gray scored nine league goals for Burnley last season and Watford will be hoping he scores a few more after paying about £18.5m for him this week.

I think the Hornets will be better than they were last season with Marco Silva as manager – he will get more out of his players than his predecessor Walter Mazzarri did.

The focus on Liverpool is about Philippe Coutinho, and whether he will join Barcelona – but he has a back injury so he won’t play in this game anyway. Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is without Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge too.

Emre Can scores for Liverpool against Watford<!–

Emre Can’s acrobatic effort against Watford won last season’s Match of the Day ‘goal of the season’ award

Liverpool won here late last season thanks to an outstanding Emre Can goal, but I am probably going to go for a draw this time because Silva will make Watford hard to beat at Vicarage Road.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Cram’s prediction: 0-2

Foster’s prediction: 0-4

Chelsea v Burnley<!–

Chelsea v Burnley

Chelsea look short of players and I think Blues boss Antonio Conte made his point about the strength of his squad by putting some young players on the bench for the Community Shield, as well as some of his summer signings.

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Antonio Conte – We need to improve our squad and the quality

The defending champions are without the injured Eden Hazard on Saturday, but I still think they will have too much for Burnley, who managed only one away win last season and rarely looked much of a threat on the road.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Cram’s prediction: 2-1

Foster’s prediction: 4-0

Crystal Palace v Huddersfield<!–

Crystal Palace v Huddersfield

New Crystal Palace manager Frank de Boer has not made many signings yet, while Huddersfield have been very busy.

It will be interesting to see how the Terriers play, because they did try to play football last season in the Championship.

Promoted teams always have a real bounce about them early in the season and I think that will help Huddersfield get something here.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Cram’s prediction: 0-1

Foster’s prediction: 0-0

Everton v Stoke<!–

Everton v Stoke

Everton need reinforcements up front because I am not sure where the goals are going to come from at the moment.

I know they have signed Sandro Ramirez from Malaga – and they can throw him in – but are they going to play Wayne Rooney behind him or try to get Gylfi Sigurdsson in from Swansea?

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Swans boss Clement eyes Sigurdsson decision ‘in next few days’

It took Stoke until their eighth league game to get their first win last season, and their seventh game in 2015-16, so it will be interesting to see if they have examined what they did in pre-season and changed anything this time.

This is a tough opening game for the Potters but, even if they make another bad start, I am never seriously worried about Stoke – whenever I have done in the past they always start winning.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Cram’s prediction: 3-0

Foster’s prediction: 2-0

Southampton v Swansea<!–

Southampton v Swansea

Both of these teams have players who obviously want to leave – Saints defender Virgil van Dijk and Swansea midfielder Sigurdsson.

I think they will both get the moves they want and neither of them are likely to play – why risk them when they are probably not fully fit?

In their absence, I am going for a Southampton win, but I still think Swansea will have a decent season under Paul Clement.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

Cram’s prediction: 2-0

Foster’s prediction: 0-0

West Brom v Bournemouth<!–

West Brom v Bournemouth

Bournemouth have made some good signings in the shape of Jermain Defoe on a free and Nathan Ake and Asmir Begovic for a combined £30m from Chelsea.

We know what West Brom are like at The Hawthorns but I like the way Bournemouth go at teams and I am very interested to see how they get on this season. I think they will improve on last season’s ninth-place finish.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-2

Cram’s prediction: 0-1

Foster’s prediction: 2-1

Brighton v Man City<!–

Brighton v Man City (17:30 BST)

It is absolutely fantastic to see my old team Brighton back in the Premier League, although they start with a very difficult game.

What happens here will be absolutely no indication of what will happen to the Seagulls this season – that will come when they play the teams that I think will be down in the bottom six.

I played for Brighton the last time they played their first game back in the top flight – in the old Division One at their former home, the Goldstone Ground, in 1979.

We lost 4-0, but we finished 16th [out of 22] and stayed up.

Mark Lawrenson of Brighton and Nottingham Forest's Garry Birtles pictured at the Goldstone Ground in 1980<!–

Lawro marks Nottingham Forest striker Garry Birtles at the Goldstone Ground in 1980

Manchester City look really strong and they are my tip for the title.

Their summer signings have improved the team and I don’t think Pep Guardiola has stopped spending yet.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Cram’s prediction: 1-3

Foster’s prediction: 2-1

SUNDAY

Newcastle v Tottenham<!–

Newcastle v Tottenham (13:30 BST)

Tottenham’s great problem this year will be Wembley because it will be like playing away from home every week.

Spurs were beaten 5-1 at St James’ Park on the last day of the 2015-16 season after they had missed out on the title and Newcastle had been relegated.

It is good to see a club like Newcastle back in the top flight, but I am expecting a very different outcome this time.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Cram’s prediction: 1-1

Foster’s prediction: 5-0

Man Utd v West Ham<!–

Man Utd v West Ham (16:00 BST)

I see West Ham as a mid-table side looking upwards, but it is asking a lot for them to get anything at Old Trafford.

Manchester United have got a massive squad – in terms of quality as well as numbers, I think it is the best in the Premier League – and I think they are going to have a real go in every competition this season.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Cram’s prediction: 2-0

Foster’s prediction: 2-0

Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

How did Lawro do last season?

In Lawro’s league table based on his 2016-17 weekly predictions, Chelsea and Liverpool finished joint champions.

Overall, he had four teams out of 20 in their correct positions, with seven more only one place out (see bottom of the page).

Lawro’s best score: 140 points (week 22 v James McAvoy)

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

Lawro's League Table<!–

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