Lawro v Nobby Butcher, star of ‘Grimsby’

BBC Sport expert Mark Lawrenson

BBC Sport’s football expert Mark Lawrenson is pitting his wits against a different guest each week this season.

Lawro’s opponent for this weekend’s Premier League fixtures is Nobby Butcher – aka Sacha Baron Cohen, star of new comedy film ‘Grimsby’.


Sacha Baron Cohen plays Nobby Grimsby – a football fan turned super spy, who says “I’m the head of the Mark Lawrenson fan club, Grimsby chapter’

Butcher told BBC Sport: “I’m very experienced at the beautiful game and once had a trial with Grimsby United.

“But unfortunately it clashed with another trial I had for breaking and entering, for which I got a three-year contract that dropped to two for good behaviour.

“I love football, though. I come from Grimsby and have lived there all my life but I never do the obvious so, instead of supporting Manchester United, I actually went for Grimsby.”

Nobby did not make a prediction for Sunday’s Capital One Cup final but you can hear more from him on Football Focus on Saturday at 12:10 GMT on BBC One and the BBC Sport website.

Our scoring system has changed this season and a correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is now worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.

On FA Cup fifth-round weekend, Lawro got four correct results from eight ties, with no perfect scores.

His score of 40 points saw him beat BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull, who picked three correct results but no perfect scores for a total of 30.

The scores from those FA Cup ties do not count towards the totals for Lawro and his guests (below).

Make your own predictions now, compare them to Lawro and other fans and try to take your team to the top of the leaderboard by playing the BBC Sport Predictor game.


All kick-offs 15:00 GMT unless otherwise stated



West Ham v Sunderland (12:45 GMT)

I was at Ewood Park last weekend to see West Ham take Blackburn Rovers apart in the FA Cup.

The Hammers impressed me a lot with the way they responded when they went behind in the first half, and there was never any doubt that they would go on and win that tie.


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Highlights: Blackburn 1-5 West Ham

Slaven Bilic’s side showed they are not just a good side, they can adapt their style depending on the opposition too – they can either out-play you or they can battle with you.

The return of former Hammers boss Sam Allardyce means this will be the latter, and it should be a close one.

Sunderland were already out of the FA Cup so they had the week off but, beforehand, they were just starting to show that they are beginning to find their feet a little bit.

They took four points from their last three games against Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United and were a bit unlucky not to pick up even more.

There is talk Allardyce might get a mixed reception from the home supporters on Saturday but, as a West Ham fan, why would you boo him?

He kept your team in the Premier League and made some good signings who are still there. Now they have improved and are playing really well, but he has played his part in that too.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

Nobby’s prediction: 0-27


Leicester v Norwich

Norwich have picked up only eight points out of a possible 39 on the road, and only Newcastle have a worse away record in the Premier League this season.

Canaries boss Alex Neil’s best bet here is probably to just try to shut up shop and try and pinch a positive result because if they open up against Leicester then the Foxes will take them apart.

I am at this game for BBC Radio 5 Live and just don’t see Norwich as having the defensive ability or the mental strength they will need to get something out of the game.

This is the start of a tricky-looking run of games for Leicester that will test their title prospects because they will largely be up against opposition from the bottom half of the table that is just trying to stop them from playing, rather than taking the game to them.

We will also find out how they respond to losing so late on against Arsenal last time out.

But, the last time they were beaten by the Gunners, back in September, they faced the same six sides that they play next, only in a different order.

The Foxes won five and drew one of those games, so a repeat of that run would obviously keep their title bid ticking over quite nicely.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Nobby’s prediction: 2-0


Southampton v Chelsea

Chelsea have improved under Guus Hiddink but they are still nowhere near the team they were in the first half of last season.

Hiddink has not lost a domestic game since he took over before Christmas, but extending that record will not be easy because Saints are not conceding goals and will be full of confidence

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Nobby’s prediction: Reputations mean nothing in this league so, if they turn up and don’t show any fear, then I say Chelsea can get a draw. 1-1


Stoke v Aston Villa

I find Stoke a very difficult team to predict, unless they are playing Aston Villa – you have got to predict everybody to beat them.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Nobby’s prediction: I think Villa are going to surprise everyone this week by showing a real improvement and only losing 3-0.


Watford v Bournemouth

Watford have only lost one of their last six games in the Premier League and FA Cup and are close to securing their top-flight status – if they win on Saturday, they will have 39 points.

Bournemouth, in contrast, have been beaten in their last three matches and they have got a lot of work to do before they can talk about being safe.

The Cherries are still four points clear of the bottom three but they need to stop the rot before they get sucked into the relegation scrap.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Nobby’s prediction: Watford to win, and I also predict that by the time this game is on Match of the Day, I will be tucked up asleep in bed. 1-0


West Brom v Crystal Palace (17:30 GMT)

Palace have been struggling for points and goals in the league but they got a good win over Tottenham in the FA Cup and the return of Yannick Bolasie from injury was a big boost.

West Brom were knocked out by Reading but I am backing them to bounce back for a couple of reasons.

Baggies boss Tony Pulis is great when he has his back against the wall – he will want to shut up some of his own team’s fans who have been criticising him, and he is up against his old club Palace so he will have a point to prove against them too.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

Nobby’s prediction: 1-3



Capital One Cup final: Liverpool v Man City (16:30 GMT)

I spoke to a load of Manchester City fans on my way back from their Champions League win over Dynamo Kiev and they were very unsure about what to expect from their team at Wembley.

Liverpool are just as unpredictable at the moment, though.

If Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge turn up, then they will give City a real game but if they don’t, then I think Manuel Pellegrini’s side might win comfortably.

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Sturridge angry at ‘disrespectful’ criticism

Pellegrini got it right against Kiev by putting Fernandinho on the right in his 4-2-3-1 formation, because that gave David Silva room to play in the middle.

It will be interesting to see what he does against Liverpool, who were so impressive when they beat City 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium before Christmas.

I don’t think Jurgen Klopp’s side will catch City napping again like they did that day, but I am still backing Klopp to come out on top.

City have got the better players but I think this will be one of those games where Liverpool’s manager gets them over the line.

In a one-off shoot-out, I think Klopp will find a way to win, although I didn’t say that to those City fans at Kiev Airport.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1


Man Utd v Arsenal (14:05 GMT)

The more I look at Louis van Gaal’s situation at Manchester United, the more I think he is the right man in the right place at the wrong time.

I am starting to feel a little bit sorry for him because he has been a great manager with a fabulous record, but that was yesterday and football has moved on so much.

The days of being solid, staying in position and trying to pick the opposition off have gone. You need to have pace and the ability to tear through teams in the last third, and Van Gaal has not really grasped that.

He was the right man for United, but his time was five or 10 years ago.

We are at the stage where it is not a case of if Van Gaal loses his job, but when.

A bad result here will not help his cause and Arsenal are more than capable of winning at Old Trafford.

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Stats behind Messi’s goals at Arsenal

The Gunners played well against Barcelona but lost out to a team with the best front three I have ever seen.

United’s attack does not quite carry the same threat, does it?

Lawro’s prediction: 1-2

Nobby’s prediction: This is the big one, El Clasico. A big shout-out to everyone watching this game in the Trawlers Arms in Grimsby – leave one for me and give it a wipe. 1-2


Tottenham v Swansea (14:05 GMT)

Tottenham played poorly against Crystal Palace and are out of the FA Cup but I am not reading too much into that performance, or the result.

People will ask ‘are they tired?’ especially because they play in the Europa League again ahead of this weekend, but they just had one bad game.

I don’t expect the same to happen against Swansea, who are still teetering a bit above the drop zone.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Nobby’s prediction: 2-0

Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

Lawro’s best score: 160 points (week 19 v Guy Mowbray)

Lawro’s worst score: 20 points (week one v Graeme Swann week 23 v Ice Cube and Kevin Hart)


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