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Premier League predictions: Lawro v NBA stars Dario Saric & Aron Baynes

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Manchester City travel to Liverpool on Sunday in a mouth-watering fixture - but will the Premier League leaders’ unbeaten record survive their trip to Anfield, and will the game live up to its billing?

BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson: "It is the biggest game of the weekend and hopefully it is the best game of the weekend in terms of the football both teams play.

"I think there is a good chance of that happening. I can’t think that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will play defensively, will he? Liverpool can’t play that way anyhow.

Lawro is going for a 1-1 draw - do you agree? You can make your own predictions now, take on Lawro and other fans, create your own league and try to make it to the top of the table by playing the new-look BBC Sport Predictor game.

The scores from the FA Cup third round did not count but, from the last round of Premier League games, Lawro scored 90 points in week 21, which leaves him in 2,853rd place out of more than 345,000 users.

He will be making a prediction for all 380 top-flight games this season, against a variety of guests.

This week, Lawro takes Dario Saric of the Philadelphia 76ers and Aron Baynes of the Boston Celtics, who meet at the O2 Arena on Thursday in the eighth regular season game to take place in London.

New Zealand-born Baynes admits he does not know much about football and struggles a bit with some of the team names when it came to making his predictions - West Town and South Hamilton both feature - but he did try the sport growing up in Australia, and enjoyed watching it too.

He told BBC Sport: "It was mostly six-a-side - just playing around after school.

"I never really played the big organised 11-a-side game but the town I grew up in, Mareeba, had a lot of Italian and Spanish people living there so soccer was definitely at the forefront out there, up in North Queensland.

"I watched a lot of the Premier League growing up - one of my best friends was from England and they were pretty hardcore Manchester [United] fans, so I watched a bit of the Premier League when I was over at his place.

"His dad would always have it on, so to try to give them a little bit of a dig I would support anyone else who was up against Manchester [United] at that point in time.

“Then my brother started following Chelsea a lot and I tried to give it to him a little bit as well - so mainly when other teams were playing those two I would go for the opposition and have a little bit of fun that way.”

Saric, who is from Croatia, also played in his youth and was a fan of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, although his favourite player was former Juventus and AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi.

“Football is like the main sport in Croatia,” Saric told BBC Sport. "We have had a lot of legendary players and we have some very good ones at the moment too.

"As a kid, you start to play on the street, and you play against your neighbours and your friends.

“I chose to play basketball but even now I follow football more than the basketball and know more football players than NBA ones because of the area I grew up in and the people I grew up with.”

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

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

I was at the FA Cup tie between Fleetwood and Leicester on Saturday and Claude Puel’s side did not play well, but he had made a lot of changes so you cannot read too much into that performance.

Jamie Vardy, who was injured for that tie, is one of the Foxes players who should be back this time. A lot of them have had a rest, which will be good for them.

Chelsea have had a busier schedule and played the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final against Arsenal on Wednesday, but they have home advantage and I think they will make it count.

Saric’s prediction: Leicester this season are like last year - not so good. Chelsea will win. 2-0

Baynes’s prediction: Let’s go Leicester! Give it to my brother’s old team. 0-1

Burnley have been hiccupping in terms of results - their FA Cup defeat by Manchester City was their sixth successive game without a win.

But the Clarets have still been playing pretty well and it took very late goals for Manchester United to deny them a win and Liverpool to steal victory during that run.

Crystal Palace are also out of the FA Cup, but their league form has been much better in the same period.

This is a tough one to call because I am expecting a very close game, but I just have a feeling the Eagles might slip up after their really good run.

Baynes’s prediction: Crystal. They have got the glassware, so let’s go 1-0.

West Ham survived their FA Cup trip to Shrewsbury and have only lost one of their past seven league games too. They have won three of them, so David Moyes is on a good run at the moment.

Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham are the only teams to have beaten Huddersfield at home this season, but I just don’t see the Hammers losing here.

Baynes’s prediction (he is clearly not au fait with the Hammers): I am giving it to the West Town here. 0-2

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez is still trying to bring players in - but might have to face up to the fact that this is going to be a frustrating month for him and just get on with things.

Even if they don’t sign anyone, I would still give the Magpies more hope of staying up than Swansea.

Swansea also need new players but I don’t know who they will be able to sign that could make a difference and, from the sounds of it, neither does their new manager Carlos Carvalhal.

If Rafa thinks he has it hard, then he should probably ask Carvalhal what he is thinking at the moment.

Both of these teams won their FA Cup ties last weekend but this is not exactly a meeting of two in-form sides - Watford and Southampton have both taken four points from the past 27 available.

Southampton are surely going to strengthen, because what is the point of selling Virgil van Dijk now if they are just going to bank the money?

Saints need to do something to stop their slide - they are only above the relegation zone on goal difference - and a draw would probably be a decent result for them. They really need a win, though.

Baynes’s prediction (again, I don’t think he grew up a fan of Alan Shearer or Matt le Tissier): Watford v South Hamilton? I am going one-nothing to South Hamilton. 0-1

West Brom beat Exeter City in the FA Cup to give Alan Pardew his first victory as their manager, at the ninth attempt.

Pardew played a pretty strong team against the League Two side - which you would do in his position - just to get a win.

The Baggies have not won in the Premier League since 22 August, but they are still fighting and I think they will finally put that right this weekend.

Brighton are another team in the bottom half of the table and still very much involved in the relegation scrap - everyone is from Watford, who are in 10th place, down - and, if they do lose here, it just makes things even tighter.

There are so many teams in it and they will all have to play each other, so I think it will go to the wire. It could be that a team look safe but then lose their last six games of the season and end up going down.

Everton have now lost three games in a row following their FA Cup defeat by Liverpool - and I think Tottenham might make it four.

We are likely to see the Toffees’ new signing Cenk Tosun at some point - even if boss Sam Allardyce doesn’t start with him up front - but it will take him some time to adjust to the pace of the Premier League.

Tottenham are just starting to find their stride a little bit - their only defeat in their past eight league games was against Manchester City and the only other game where they have dropped points in that run was against West Ham.

Allardyce will try to contain Spurs and keep them out, but I don’t think he will manage it.

Baynes’s prediction: I played for San Antonio Spurs and won the NBA championship, so I am going to give it to Spurs here. 2-1

Arsenal’s defence of the FA Cup ended in style, if you can call it that, at the hands of Championship side Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

Bournemouth are still in it, but only just after battling back to draw 2-2 with League One leaders Wigan

I’m going to go with another draw in this game too, because Arsenal are pretty inconsistent away from home - which is a worry.

It should be quite an open game, but I can see the Gunners dropping more points.

I don’t see manager Arsene Wenger’s touchline ban having anything to do with it, though, especially at Bournemouth where the stands are so close to the pitch. He can still communicate with his players during the match and speak to them at half-time as well.

Manchester City have just been absolutely brilliant but this will be a tough test for them. Going to any of the top four away from home is hard.

They have already won at Manchester United and Chelsea but I am going for a draw for Pep Guardiola’s side this time.

Guardiola will not change his approach to the game - City will play the same way and go on the attack.

It will be interesting to see what the atmosphere is like and what difference that makes to both teams.

I know what it is like at Anfield for a game like this where probably not many of the home fans are expecting to win. There is different feel to the place then - a bit like a colosseum atmosphere - which might be a bit different for City.

Whatever happens, I don’t think it will stop City’s march towards the title. They are going for four trophies this season, and I think they will end up winning three of them.

The Champions League is the only one they have only got a 50-50 chance of winning. The way they are going in the league, where they just keep on winning, they can afford to go for the domestic cup competitions too.

This is Liverpool’s first game since losing Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona, and having Adam Lallana fit again does soften the blow somewhat.

I am not sure Jurgen Klopp will look to bring someone else in because I think he will look and think he has got enough to get them into the Champions League places.

Baynes’s prediction: That’s a toss-up for me. I am going to go with Liverpool. 2-1

Stoke are still without a manager at the time of writing, and it will be very interesting to see who they appoint.

Will it be someone to get them out of a mess, or are they looking for someone more long term?

The tried and trusted managers that struggling clubs like Stoke might have turned to - the likes of Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis - are all in jobs.

And, if it is someone more long term, then he might not be able to keep them in the Premier League.

Whoever is in charge, I don’t see them having any success at Old Trafford.

Manchester United have started playing well and winning again - and I think that will continue on Monday.

Baynes’s prediction: Let’s go Stoke, come on! You can pull this one out. 0-1

Which Premier League player could make it in the NBA? Baynes: Pogba is an amazing athlete and he is very explosive, so I think he could get up and down the court a lot quicker than some of the current players. That would be a fun one to see.

On FA Cup third-round weekend, Lawro got 12 correct results, including four perfect scores, from the 32 ties for a total of 240 points.

He was up against comedian Guz Khan, who also got 12 correct results, but with two perfect scores. That gave him a total of 160 points.

Those scores do not count towards Lawro’s total for the season from Premier League fixtures or appear on the guest leaderboard.

*Foster and Cram both provided predictions on week one, but only Foster’s score contributes to the guest total.

**Anderson and Moeen both provided predictions on week nine, but only Anderson’s score contributes to the guest total.

_*_Witter and Johnson both provided predictions on week 17, but only Johnson’s score contributes to the guest total.

Lawro’s worst score: 40 points (week four v Umenyiora and Bell, week five v Non Stanford and week 21 v Darren Campbell)

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Summary of non-mainstream articles: 12/01/2018 03:47:02

| | Everton set to make big bid for Walcott amid Saints linksREADSOUTHAMPTON |

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Tickets for #SaintsFC’s home tie with #WatfordFC in the #EmiratesFACup are on sale to Season Ticket holders: http://sfcne.ws/WFC270118

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Sourced from Daily Echo article

Pellegrino gets timely injury boost

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Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino is hoping for a hat-trick of injury boosts to his squad for Saturday’s crunch game at Watford.

Jeremy Pied, Cedric Soares and Wesley Hoedt have all returned to training, and are in contention to be involved at Vicarage Road.

It might be that the game comes a bit too soon for Cedric, who has been missing for several weeks, but Pellegrino will analyse them in training tomorrow before naming his side.

He said: “All of them have been training today with the team.

“They are not 100 per cent but tomorrow I think they will be part of the team in training.

“Until we decide because one thing is the medical condition and the other is the football condition. We analyse and we decide.

“The good news is all of them are ready.”

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Summary of non-mainstream articles: 12/01/2018 09:48:03

| | Saints to rival Liverpool and Tottenham for Norwich starREADSOUTHAMPTON |

| ‘Actions speak louder than words,’ ‘Do something then’ - Southampton fans react to manager’s transfer updateFOOTBALLFANCAST |

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The Ugly Inside News for Southampton

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Read Southampton

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| Pellegrino on whether or not the Saints will buy or loan in January | Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino says he would like to pursue permanent signings in January, rather than … 12-01-2018 |

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#SaintsFC boss Mauricio Pellegrino looks ahead to the trip to #WatfordFC in the #PL this weekend:

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Report: Winchester City 0-3 Saints

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Southampton’s youngsters progressed to the semi-finals of the Senior Cup with a 3-0 victory over Winchester City at the Simplyhealth City Ground.

Nathan Tella opened the scoring on 16 minutes, when he found space on the left following a well-worked move before driving the ball across goal into the far corner.

That was before second-half goals from Tyreke Johnson and Siph Mdlalose made sure of their passage into the semi-final stage.

Radhi Jaïdi’s young charges were in the ascendancy for the most part against their non-league opponents, who had progressed past AFC Stoneham and Nursling previously.

Their early pressure paid dividends when Tella picked up the ball inside the area and gave the keeper no chance with a low shot.

Callum Slattery and Thomas O’Connor were instrumental in creating a host of chances from set-pieces with Mdlalose going close right on half-time. He took the ball in from Slattery’s incisive pass before hitting a bouncing ball just over the top from a tight angle.

Jaïdi and Danny Butterfield made two changes at the interval as Tyreke Johnson and Kameron Ledwidge replacing Tella and Will Wood.

And Johnson soon made an impact upon proceedings. O’Connor’s superb switch of play was picked up by Mdlalose, whose deft control and low cross helped tee up the onrushing Johnson at the far post.

Moments later, Mdlalose was on the scoresheet himself when he made it three with a composed finish from close range after a scramble in the box.

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:speaking_head: “It’s a massive game. Everybody is conscious about how we are and what we need to change the situation." #saintsfc http://sfcne.ws/MPPreWatfordA

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A small number of restricted view tickets have become available for #SaintsFC’s visit to #WatfordFC tomorrow. Buy h… https://twitter.com/i/web/status/951789859475218433

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Summary of non-mainstream articles: 12/01/2018 12:48:37


| Arsenal transfer rumour: Everton and Southampton hold high-level talks with Gunners for Theo WalcottIBTIMES |
| | Missing out on this £18m-rated star to Everton could be a blessing for Southampton – Agreed? | | Where football …THETRANSFERTAVERN |

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Pellegrino looks ahead to Watford

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Saints travel to Vicarage Road hoping to build upon a 1-0 success against Fulham in the FA Cup, and begin to pull clear from the lower echelons of the table.

“I think our preparation it was good and in the last two games I observed that everybody is conscious about how we are and what we need to change the situation,” Pellegrino said.

“I think in all aspects we have moved one step forward and we want to show in the game against Watford that we are growing.”

The hosts currently sit 10th and having already shown their qualities at St Mary’s with a 2-0 win, Pellegrino is wary of what his side will come up against.

He said: “It’s a massive game because Watford are a difficult side. Obviously I feel we are much better prepared than the game at home because that was before an international break.

“Now we have to do something away that we couldn’t do at home. My team is better prepared.

“They can change it two or three different ways. They can play with five defenders, 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 but for me the most important is the style. They have got individual qualities, important qualities.

“Also as a team they are a difficult side.”

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Ticket Information: Saints vs Watford

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Saints host Watford in the FA Cup on Saturday 27th January (3.00pm). Ticket information is as follows:

Due to competition regulations, some Season Ticket holders will be displaced from their usual seat in order to accommodate the allocation given to Watford. The following seats will be unavailable for purchase:

Displaced Season Ticket holders can purchase in the initial window for Season Ticket holders, while they will also then have an additional exclusive period to purchase an alternative seat on Tuesday 16th January. If you have been displaced check alternate seat availability here: tickets.saintsfc.co.uk

Existing Season Ticket holders who are not being displaced will automatically have their Season Ticket seat added to their basket, simply login to your account and checkout at tickets.saintsfc.co.uk/Basket

Fees may apply, all tickets purchased are subject to the Ticket Terms and Conditions and Ticketing Policy.

Tickets are restricted to one per Supporter Number. Fans can purchase more than one ticket in each transaction by linking other eligible accounts with theirs using our friends and family function.

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Everton FC transfer news: Toffees set to table £20million bid for Arsenal winger Theo Walcott

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The Toffees are expected to table a £20million bid for the winger, who has fallen out of favour at the Emirates.

Southampton are also interested in Walcott, who came through their academy, but Sam Allardyce is confident of winning the race for the 28-year-old.

Walcott has scored 108 goals in 396 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal since his arrival from the Saints in 2006.

But he has fallen down Arsene Wenger’s pecking order to such an extent that he is still yet to start a Premier League game this season.

Walcott’s latest snub came on Wednesday for the Carabao Cup semi-final against Chelsea, when Alex Iwobi was picked ahead of him despite breaking club rules by partying ahead of the FA Cup defeat at Nottingham Forest.

Now the 47-cap England international looks set to move on with Everton hopeful of doing a £20m deal this month.

The Merseysiders are ready to match Walcott’s £110,000-a-week Arsenal wages to ensure he snubs interest from Southampton and joins them.

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Put your knowledge of #SaintsFC and #WatfordFC to the test with our pre-match quiz: http://sfcne.ws/QuizWFCA1718

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Pre-match quiz: Watford vs Saints

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It’s Watford this weekend for Southampton! Ahead of the game, can you correctly identify the 20 players from the below list who played for Saints, but who did not play for the Hornets as well?

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Video: Pellegrino previews Hornets test

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If you never had the privilege to watch a game under Graham Taylor…because of age or because you hadn’t yet starte… https://twitter.com/i/web/status/951765334943510528

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