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FA Cup third-round predictions – Lawro v Ladhood star Liam Williams


There will be an upset somewhere on FA Cup third round weekend – but who will be the victims?

BBC Sport’s football expert Mark Lawrenson has taken a look at all 32 of this weekend’s ties and given his verdict on who might spring a surprise.

For selected matches, including the BBC’s two televised games – Liverpool v Everton (16:01 GMT KO on Sunday) and Arsenal v Leeds United (19:56 on Monday) – BAFTA nominated comedian and Ladhood star Liam Williams has made his predictions too.

Ladhood is based on Liam Williams’ experiences growing up in Garforth. As a Man Utd fan he idolised Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantona – “I wasn’t hard in the way Cantona probably is but I could relate to his hot-headedness. Sometimes anger would get the better of me,” he explained. “But there was a certain poetry to what Eric did and I used to love the way he confused everyone. He is still doing it now actually.”

Ladhood is a coming-of-age comedy featuring Liam, who has flashbacks to his adolescence as he deals with situations as an adult in the present day.

The show is based in Leeds, which is where Liam grew up, but he supports Manchester United – despite the best efforts of his parents.

“I think I was a Leeds fan for maybe even a few weeks when I first got into football, when I was about five or something,” he told BBC Sport.

“My dad is from London and supports Tottenham, while my mum was not a huge football fan – but they got me a Leeds kit, so I was kind of into Leeds for a bit.

“But I was never able to get to a game so there was no way of watching them live because they were not on terrestrial TV either while Manchester United were, because they were in the Champions League.

“There was a boy who lived on my street, whose family were from Manchester and he was a United fan and he sort of inspired me to be one too.

“So it was not complete glory-hunting when I chose United, but there was probably a degree of that to it – this was the mid-1990s so I got into them at the right time with the double and treble seasons around the corner.”

Arsenal 2-0 Man Utd: We were too slow in first half – Solskjaer

It is a much tougher time to be a United fan these days, but Liam thinks Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should have time to prove himself as a manager.

He added: “I am giving him a chance. I am not singing ‘Ole’s at the wheel’ but, since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013, it feels like we have been pretty much the same almost every season.

“So we are performing at the level we have pretty much been at for the past few years now, only Ole is a bit more likeable.”


Premier League v non-league

When? Gap Result Lawro
Sheff Utd v AFC Fylde 104 x-x 2-0

Gap = how many league positions separate each team

This is the first time AFC Fylde have played a Premier League club and it is going to be a great day for them – this is the biggest game in their history.

I don’t give them much hope of an upset because they are away from home and are in a relegation scrap in the National League, but this tie is a reward for their fans who have followed their rise up the non-league pyramid.

Some people might see Sheffield United as dark horses for the FA Cup this season but I actually think they will have bigger fish to fry in terms of their league position, and focusing on finishing as high as possible in the Premier League.

At the moment the Blades are on course for their best top-flight finish since they finished sixth in 1974-75, and if they stay in the top half then that would be a big achievement in itself.

Premier League v League Two

When Gap Result Lawro
Man City v Port Vale 74 x-x 3-0

Manchester City are the FA Cup holders and are clearly going to be overwhelming favourites to progress here.

But this is another tie where a smaller club will get a pretty substantial windfall from the gate receipts and, when you look at what has happened to the likes of Bury and Macclesfield recently, you realise how important this game is going to be for Port Vale’s finances.

Premier League v League One

Gap Result Lawro
Rochdale v Newcastle 49 x-x 1-1*
Burnley v Peterborough 35 x-x 2-0
Watford v Tranmere 46 x-x 2-0
Gillingham v West Ham 39 x-x 1-2

* Away team to win at home in the replay

Newcastle have got a whole load of injuries to deal with after their festive programme. Yes, they knew they had a busy schedule just like every else did, but if you don’t have the biggest of squads then you are not able to rotate like the big teams do, and you pay the price.

‘One of those awful afternoons’ – Steve Bruce on Leicester loss

The Magpies have been left short defensively, which will not help here, and they are going to find it tough if they try to rest too many more players at Spotland (also known as Crown Oil Arena), because it is a tight little ground and it feels like the crowd are breathing down your neck.

Rochdale had a scare themselves in the second round, where they needed a replay to beat non-league Boston, but they held Tottenham here in the fifth round a couple of years ago and they will be confident of doing the same on Saturday, and securing another pay-day with a replay.

FA Cup highlights: Rochdale v Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup fifth round

Burnley are on a run of three defeats in the Premier League but their tie with Peterborough could actually help them get their season back on track, to boost their confidence as much as anything.

The Clarets are meant to be watching Peterborough striker Ivan Toney, who is the top scorer in League One with 15 goals, so they will get a chance to take a closer look at him at Turf Moor.

Watch the best goals from the FA Cup second round

While Watford are on the up, Tranmere are struggling a bit – they got thumped at home by Coventry on New Year’s Day – and it is hard to see them getting anything at Vicarage Road.

There is an argument that Hornets boss Nigel Pearson will see the FA Cup as a distraction from their relegation fight so this is a game he could do without.

But, now they are winning again and playing well, another victory will build even more momentum.

New West Ham boss David Moyes is in a similar situation before his side’s trip to Gillingham, where he is looking to keep things going, so it will be interesting to see how many changes he and Pearson make.

West Ham 4-0 AFC Bournemouth: Moyes credits players’ attitude for ‘fabulous’ performance

The Gills have got an excellent home record – they had won seven in a row at Priestfield before Wednesday’s draw with Pompey – but it is only a short hop for the Hammers so they will have a big following and I would back them to edge this one.

For all of these top-flight sides playing lower-division teams, it is a case of picking a team that you think is capable of beating the opposition.

That’s different to a lot of Premier League games, because half the time you are only thinking about stopping the opposition. If you are going out to win, then you pick your strongest side.

For various reasons, that is not going to happen this weekend, so the challenge is to get the balance right between resting players and winning the tie.

Premier League v Championship

Gap Result Lawro
Brighton v Sheff Wed 13 x-x 2-1
Fulham v Aston Villa 8 x-x 1-1*
Southampton v Huddersfield 28 x-x 2-0
Preston v Norwich 9 x-x 0-2
Bournemouth v Luton 26 x-x 2-0
Leicester v Wigan 40 x-x 2-0
Chelsea v Nottingham Forest 20 x-x 2-1
Middlesbrough v Tottenham 30 x-x 1-1*
Crystal Palace v Derby County 28 x-x 0-1
Arsenal v Leeds 11 x-x 2-0

* Away team to win at home in the replay

Crystal Palace have impressed me this season with the way they keep coming back in games – and they did it again against Norwich on New Year’s Day.

But Eagles boss Roy Hodgson will rest a few players and I just have a feeling that Derby County are going to surprise a few people here.

They have not played well for most of the season but Wayne Rooney will be in the team and he could lift them.

As far as other shocks go, Fulham are decent at home and Aleksandar Mitrovic will be a handful for Aston Villa, who I think will be happy to take the tie back to their place.

Burnley 1-2 Aston Villa: ‘The lads wanted it’ – Smith

Villa tried a different formation, a 3-4-3, in their win over Burnley last time out. It worked, but they saw striker Wesley and goalkeeper Tom Heaton get injured, which will not help them on Saturday.

Tottenham might find it tough against Middlesbrough too. They will be without Harry Kane (hamstring) and were not having a good time of it anyway.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho will have to be careful in this tie – I was at Deepdale on Wednesday when Boro beat Preston and they are a strong team physically, with plenty of height in their attack, and they have found a bit of form too.

Sheffield Wednesday have had a bit of a slump since Christmas, suffering three straight defeats, but I don’t think that is any real cause for concern – that is just what it is like in the Championship where lots of teams go on very good runs, then go a few games without a win.

I would back Brighton to beat them, though, and the Seagulls might fancy a bit of a FA Cup run this year because they have got a bigger squad, and there is a bit of a buzz about the way they are playing under Graham Potter.

‘Courage, effort & quality’ – Potter on Brighton draw

Southampton have impressed me lately and they should be too strong for Huddersfield, and I think it will be the same story for Norwich against my old team Preston. I hate to tip my own side to be beaten, but I am not expecting any surprises there.

We are at Deepdale for Focus earlier on Saturday but, speaking as a Preston fan, this tie has come at a bad time for us. We looked exhausted against Middlesbrough.

Like Norwich, Bournemouth badly need a win and they should get it against Luton, who are bottom of the Championship and cannot stop shipping goals – they have conceded 56 in 26 league games this season, so more than two a game.

FA Cup: Newport County 2-1 Leicester City highlights

Last season Leicester suffered a shock exit in round three at the hands of Newport County after making a load of changes but that was under Claude Puel.

Things are very different with Brendan Rodgers in charge, as we saw when he rested lots of people over Christmas and his side still beat West Ham.

Wigan got their first league away win of the season when they beat Birmingham this week, but while they will make life difficult for the Foxes, I don’t see them beating them.

And, while Chelsea seem to be better away from home at the moment, they should see off Nottingham Forest at Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal 2-0 Man Utd: Mikel Arteta reflects on ‘perfect’ first win

I love watching Leeds play and they are good enough to give Arsenal a test too (live on BBC One and the BBC Sport website at 19:56 GMT on Monday).

But they have seen previous promotion challenges fade in the second half of the season and I don’t think Marcelo Bielsa will want a cup run.

Leeds will still come and have a go at Emirates Stadium, but I don’t think they will do it with their first XI.

Liam Williams: I genuinely like to see Leeds do well. Obviously most people in Leeds hate Manchester United but I always enjoyed going to see Leeds and felt sad about their decline.

These days my brother in law is a big Leeds fan and I do want them to get promoted. I actually dislike Arsenal more than Leeds – perhaps irrationally – so poetically I will go for a 2-1 Leeds win here.

Premier League v Premier League

Gap Result Lawro
Wolves v Man Utd 2 x-x 2-1
Liverpool v Everton 10 x-x 2-1

I know Wolves were beaten by Watford on Wednesday but generally they have been excellent.

Manchester United are not great on the road and while people say they are inconsistent, I would just call them soft, mentally. They are not competitive enough, and they don’t have enough strong characters in their side.

It is not so much their results that are the problem, it is the fact that when they do get beaten, they are usually absolutely woeful.

It is a fact of life in football that when the other team are playing well and you’re not, you have to stop them. And United just cannot do that.

Watch: The last time Liverpool & Everton met in the FA Cup in 2018

Liverpool against Everton (16:01 GMT KO and live on BBC One and the BBC Sport website) is quite a difficult one to call.

We already saw Reds boss Jurgen Klopp make a load of changes for the league match against Everton and I would not be surprised if he gambled again.

That would be a risk against this Toffees side, who already look a different proposition under Carlo Ancelotti. It will be lively too – because there will be a different atmosphere, there will be a lot more Everton fans inside Anfield for this one – but I still think Liverpool will get through it.

Liam Williams: This is a big game for United and I am going to back them here. I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will want the FA Cup and I can see a 3-1 United win.

An exciting Merseyside derby would be very enjoyable, so that’s I am hoping for. I think it will mean more to Everton than Liverpool – so I am going for them to get a 2-2 draw, then win the replay.

Championship v League Two

Gap Result Lawro
Millwall v Newport County 55 x-x 2-0
Cardiff v Carlisle 56 x-x 3-0
Crewe v Barnsley 27 x-x 2-1

Millwall have done great under Gary Rowett – they were 17th when he took charge in October, but are in the play-off places now.

So, I don’t see any FA Cup heroics happening for Newport this year, or from fellow League Two side Carlisle either.

FA Cup: Dulwich Hamlet 1-4 Carlisle United highlights

It doesn’t help the Cumbrians that their opponents, Cardiff, lost 6-1 at QPR on New Year’s Day. It would have been much better for them if they had won by six because Bluebirds boss Neil Harris can just send them out to rectify that display.

But Crewe are scoring goals for fun at the moment, and they can definitely upset Barnsley.

Championship v League One

Gap Result Lawro
Bristol City v Shrewsbury 27 x-x 2-0
Rotherham v Hull 18 x-x 0-1
Reading v Blackpool 20 x-x 2-0

Bristol City have lost five of their past six matches, but I would still back them at home against Shrewsbury.

Rotherham are doing well at the top of League One and have already provided one of the stories of this year’s competition with their comeback to beat Dulwich in round two.

But Hull got a couple of good wins at the turn of the year, and they have got plenty of firepower with Jarrod Bowen in their side.

Solihull Moors 3-4 Rotherham United highlights

Reading are the form team in the Championship at the moment, with four straight wins, while Blackpool have gone five games without a win in League One.

The Royals are another big, strong, athletic team and they should be able to deal with Blackpool striker Armand Gnanduillet, who can be a threat with his physicality.

Championship v Championship

Gap Result Lawro
Birmingham v Blackburn 5 x-x 2-1
Brentford v Stoke 18 x-x 2-0
Charlton v West Brom 17 x-x 1-1*
QPR v Swansea 5 x-x 1-2

* Away team to win at home in the replay

Birmingham have been on an awful run ahead of their tie with Blackburn but that has to end at some point.

Brentford are flying at the moment, and a few Premier League teams are looking at their striker Ollie Watkins, so watch out for him.

Stoke are improving, slowly, under Michael O’Neill but I am going for a Bees win in this one.

Charlton have had a lot of injuries to contend with and I think West Brom will get the better of them, eventually.

QPR versus Swansea will be tight too – the Swans are generally one of the most difficult sides to play against in that division, and I think they might sneak it.

League One v Non-league

Gap Result Lawro
Oxford Utd v Hartlepool 59 x-x 2-0

Oxford were beaten by Doncaster on Wednesday but they have been playing very well recently.

Hartlepool have had some great results to get here, but I think it is going to be very hard for them to stop them.

FA Cup: Hartlepool 1-0 Exeter (aet) highlights

League One v League Two

Gap Result Lawro
Burton Albion v Northampton 18 x-x 0-1

I’ve not predicted many upsets so far, but I am going to go for a minor one here.

Northampton are in the third round for only the second time in the past 14 seasons, and they have not been any further since 2004 – but I think they can keep the flag flying a little longer for League Two this year.

League One v League One

Gap Result Lawro
Fleetwood v Portsmouth 2 x-x 1-0
Bristol Rovers v Coventry 5 x-x 0-2

Fleetwood and Portsmouth are both on the fringes of the League One play-off race but Fleetwood’s home form – they have only lost once at Highbury Stadium this season – should see them through.

I’ve been impressed by Coventry when I’ve seen them this season. Sky Blues boss Mark Robins has got goals in his side, and I think they can go to Bristol Rovers and win.

FA Cup: Ipswich Town 1-2 Coventry City highlights

How did Lawro do last time?

So far, from the Premier League games on New Year’s Day, Lawro has three correct results, including one perfect score, from nine matches, for a total of 60 points.

He is trailing comedian Kojo, who currently has four correct results, with one exact score, for a total of 70 points.

Any points they score from Thursday’s game between Liverpool and Sheffield United will be added to their totals. Lawro is going for a 3-0 home win while Kojo is going for a 1-1 draw.

1 Man City 21 20 0 1 60 +2
2 Liverpool 20 18 2 0 56 -1
3 Tottenham 21 16 4 1 52 +3
4 Chelsea 21 14 4 3 46 0
5 Arsenal 21 10 7 4 37 +5
6 Man Utd 21 10 6 5 36 -1
7 Leicester 21 9 5 7 32 -5
8 Watford 21 9 3 9 30 +11
=9 Burnley 21 8 3 10 27 +6
=9 West Ham 20 8 3 9 27 +7
11 Aston Villa 21 7 4 10 25 +6
12 Everton 21 6 6 9 24 -1
=13 Bournemouth 21 7 2 12 23 +5
=13 Newcastle 21 7 2 12 23 0
=13 Wolves 21 7 2 12 23 -6
16 Southampton 21 5 3 13 18 -4
17 Brighton 21 5 2 14 17 -3
=18 Crystal Palace 21 3 5 13 14 -9
=18 Sheff Utd 21 4 2 15 14 -10
20 Norwich 21 1 7 13 10 -10


Score Guest leaderboard
160 Gabriel Luna
140 Arnold Schwarzenegger
100 Adam Peaty
90 Avelino, Helen Housby, Jo Harten, Bobby Seagull, Geraint Thomas
80 Andy Murray, Stephen Graham
76 Lawro (average after 21 weeks)
70 David Baddiel, Richard Hawley, Kojo, Michael Johnson, Craig Mitch, Alex Scott
60 Sonny Bill Williams, Serge from Kasabian, Stefan Ratchford
50 Chelcee Grimes, Reece Parkinson, Sam Warburton
40 Stephen Fry, Neil Jones, Tommy O’Dell
30 Seth Rollins
Total scores after week 21
Lawro 1,600
Guests 1,480

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