The 239th Merseyside derby takes place at Goodison Park on Wednesday with out-of-form Everton hoping to stop a free-scoring Liverpool side in their tracks.
“We know how Rafa Benitez will set Everton up,” said BBC Sport football expert and former Reds defender Mark Lawrenson. “He will make sure they are well organised.
“But even taking the occasion into account, and knowing the game will be played at 200mph with the tackles crunching in, I just cannot see them keeping Liverpool quiet.”
Lawro is making predictions for all 380 top-flight matches this season, against a variety of guests.
This week’s guest is CBeebies presenter and West Ham fan Ben Cajee.
You can see Ben on the big screen in the CBeebies Christmas Show, The Night Before Christmas, which lands in UK cinemas on 4 and 5 December and features your favourite CBeebies stars.
The show follows the adventures of Jack – played by Ben – and his sister Holly as they send their wishes to Father Christmas on Christmas Eve, but have them stolen by the mischievous Wish Taker.
It’s a scenario Ben knows only too well in real life as a Hammers fan, because they have not won a trophy since before he was born – and the closest they have come was the day Steven Gerrard played the role of the Wish Taker.
“I am still not over the 2006 FA Cup final yet,” Ben told BBC Sport. “Match of the Day Kickabout once made me talk about Gerrard’s goal that made it 3-3 for a piece, which was pretty painful to be honest.
“They showed it to me and, as it comes out to him I obviously know what happens, but I was still thinking ‘he is not going to score from there’… which of course he did.”
Ben was born in Ipswich and grew up in Somerset, the Midlands and Devon – but, wherever he lived, he was always a West Ham fan because of his dad.
“We haven’t won a trophy since 1980 so no-one can call me a glory supporter,” he added. “But I don’t remember ever making a choice of supporting West Ham. It’s not like I was forced into it, but it’s as if it was always a thing – it’s always been part of my existence.
“Every Christmas and birthday, I just got West Ham stuff. Everything from wallpaper border, curtains and bedspreads to pencil cases and shin-pads, if I had it, then it had West Ham on it. It didn’t matter to me at all that a lot of the time back then our team wasn’t very good.
“When we lived in the Midlands, between 1994 and 1998, we’d always go and watch the Hammers when they played around there but, in the 1990s, I mostly had to follow them on matchdays via Ceefax.
“If West Ham were at home, we would always be on the last page. So, when I was waiting for it to click through, I would just be so excited and almost praying that we had scored.
“My first heroes were Ian Bishop and Trevor Morley, and big Ludek Miklosko in goal, and I loved it when Harry Redknapp was in charge and we signed John Hartson and Paul Kitson and they saved us from the drop.
“A bit later on, we had so many good young players – Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe and especially Joe Cole. I’ve got so many great memories of that time but our current team is pretty special too.
“I call David Moyes ‘Sir David’ anyway and the man is a football genius but if he wins us a trophy, well, then build him a statue because it would be the greatest day of my life.
“Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t. Thinking about it, it probably won’t.”
|Newcastle v Norwich||x-x||2-1||2-1|
|Leeds v Crystal Palace||x-x||2-1||2-1|
|Southampton v Leicester||x-x||1-2||1-1|
|Watford v Chelsea||x-x||0-3||0-3|
|West Ham v Brighton||x-x||2-0||2-1|
|Wolves v Burnley||x-x||1-0||1-0|
|Aston Villa v Man City||x-x||1-1||1-3|
|Everton v Liverpool||x-x||0-2||0-2|
|Tottenham v Brentford||x-x||2-0||3-1|
|Man Utd v Arsenal||x-x||2-1||2-0|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
Newcastle v Norwich (19:30 GMT)
I hate to use the phrase ‘must-win’ but that is what this game is for Newcastle, who haven’t managed a single victory in their first 13 games and are entering the desperation stage of their season.
It’s a big night for next-to-bottom Norwich too, but they come into it unbeaten under new boss Dean Smith and having taken seven points from their past three games.
I think the home crowd will play a big part here, because they realise relegation is staring them in the face. That might be enough to get Newcastle over the line, and get them a win – at last.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Ben’s prediction: This is massive for Newcastle and under the lights at St James’ Park I think they will get a very important win. If Callum Wilson is fit and firing then they carry a real threat. 2-1
Leeds v Crystal Palace (20:15 GMT)
Leeds have only scored 12 goals in their first 13 games of this campaign, compared with 22 by the same stage of last season.
That’s a big reason why they are not winning many games – they held on for a draw against Brighton on Saturday, but they are just not the same threat they were going forward.
It might take until Patrick Bamford returns from his ankle injury to get the Leeds attack firing again but they are not on a bad run of results, having lost only one of their past five league games.
This is a tough one to call, because Crystal Palace have been playing well. I just have this feeling Leeds will burst into life soon, the way Leicester did against Watford at the weekend.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Ben’s prediction: Leeds have lost a lot of points from winning positions this season but this time they will see it through. 2-1
Southampton v Leicester (19:30 GMT)
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl got it wrong with his team selection against Liverpool and he might decide to be less attack-minded against Leicester, who seem to have got their spark back.
The Foxes have been up and down all season but James Maddison is playing well at the moment, and Jamie Vardy is back among the goals too so I fancy them to get another win here.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-2
Ben’s prediction: There won’t be much in this one either way, so I am going to be boring and sit on the fence. 1-1
Watford v Chelsea (19:30 GMT)
Chelsea did not get the result they wanted against Manchester United on Sunday, but their performance was really good.
I’d imagine we will see more of Blues striker Romelu Lukaku here after he came off the bench late on against United, and that is not good news for Watford.
Hornets boss Claudio Ranieri lost out to one of his former clubs, Leicester, on Saturday, and I don’t think he will have much joy against Chelsea either.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-3
Ben’s prediction: As a West Ham fan I don’t want to say it, but Chelsea just look formidable at the moment. I do like Watford though and they have got some good players – I read a few days ago that their former chairman [and life-president] Elton John is playing a gig at Vicarage Road in July, so hopefully they will still be in the Premier League then. 0-3
West Ham v Brighton (19:30 GMT)
It’s now eight games since Brighton won in the league but they have drawn six of those and are still in the top half of the table.
They created loads of chances against Leeds on Saturday so it was pathetic for some Seagulls fans to boo them off after that game finished 0-0.
West Ham need a win too – they played well at Manchester City on Sunday but slipped to a second successive defeat. They are at home, and I think they will get one.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Ben’s prediction: I love how we play now, genuinely. It doesn’t really matter who is in the team because we still use the same system – everyone knows how we will set up and we are going to play. We press the ball so well, we are great on the counter-attack and I love our flair players. We are usually terrible against Brighton because they are a good team, and they are usually dull games as well, so my head says this will be a draw, but I’ve got to back us to win, haven’t I? 2-1
Wolves v Burnley (19:30 GMT)
Wolves are still in decent form but Burnley are on a four-game unbeaten run and had the weekend off because of the snow.
This feels like it will be a close game, and there won’t be many goals in it.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-0
Ben’s prediction: Wolves are quietly flying. I looked at the table and thought ‘how are they sixth?’ But they are just playing great and getting on with it. I did a MOTD community feature at Burnley and met Sean Dyche, who was so kind to everyone there. I would not want to get on the wrong side of him, but I would also never want to disappoint him because he was such a good bloke. 1-0
Aston Villa v Man City (20:15 GMT)
With two wins from two games it is so far, so good for Steven Gerrard as Aston Villa boss – but this is by far his toughest test yet.
Manchester City go to Villa Park after a very good week that has seen them beat Everton, Paris St-Germain and West Ham, and all without Kevin de Bruyne, Phil Foden or Jack Grealish who have all been ill or injured.
De Bruyne is still out, Grealish might miss his return to Villa Park and Foden remains doubtful and I just wonder if that gives Villa a sniff of a shock result.
If Grealish and Foden are back, I’d be more confident of a City victory. Without them, Villa might nick something, especially because their tails are up at the moment.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
Ben’s prediction: Even though I am still not over what happened in the 2006 FA Cup final, it is actually nice to see Stevie G back in the Premier League. Manchester City are going to win though, and how good would it be if Grealish scored and then went over to their fans and got a pair of clippers and shaved off his hair. 1-3
Everton v Liverpool (20:15 GMT)
This was the game where Virgil van Dijk got injured last season so if it is possible to have any more spice than a normal derby, Wednesday night will be it.
However you look at the game, Liverpool have to be favourites. Everton have not won since the end of September and when I watched them against Brentford on Sunday, they never ever really looked like scoring. The Bees could even have won by another goal or two.
Benitez will be hoping his defensive block will hold out, but I don’t see it – especially when Everton have got so little to offer at the other end. They won’t be able to give themselves a breather during the game, when I think they will need one.
Quite often going into these derby games, I think it doesn’t matter whether teams are at the top or bottom of the table because they feel so different but, this time, the sheer quality of Liverpool means I cannot see them creating chances without taking some of them.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
Ben’s prediction: Everton are on a terrible run and Liverpool are flying. 0-2
Tottenham v Brentford (19:30 GMT)
I was impressed by Brentford in their win over Everton. I always thought they would win enough games to stay in the Premier League and that is becoming evident.
I am going with a Tottenham home win here, though. Their game at Burnley on Sunday was snowed off and that just means Antonio Conte will get even more time with his players.
I just picture him constantly working with them tactically, as well as on their fitness, and I think his good start at Spurs will continue here.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
Ben’s prediction: I would like Brentford to get a result here, but I think Spurs will win. 3-1
Man Utd v Arsenal (20:15 GMT)
I liked what stand-in Manchester United boss Michael Carrick did against Chelsea on Sunday, with Nemanja Matic, Fred and Scott McTominay screening the defence and the whole team working extremely hard.
United still don’t look right at the back but a point at Stamford Bridge was a step in the right direction and, if Aaron Wan-Bissaka hadn’t had a rush of blood, they might have taken away all three.
Surely they will build on that improvement and, whether Ralf Rangnick is in the Old Trafford dugout or watching from the stands, I am sure we will see more of the same against Arsenal.
The Gunners got back to winning ways against Newcastle, and created loads of chances in that game, but United playing at home in front of their new manager will have something to prove.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
Ben’s prediction: I’ve read a lot about Rangnick and it seems a shrewd appointment, which is surprising given their recent record. United’s Premier League fixtures in December are very kind [after Arsenal, they play Palace (h), Norwich (a), Brentford (a), Brighton (h), Newcastle (a) and Burnley (h)] so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they go on a very good run. 2-0
Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
How did Lawro do last week?
Last weekend, Lawro got six correct results from nine matches, including one exact score, for a total of 90 points.
He beat rapper Jelani Blackman, who got four correct results with one exact score, for a total of 70 points.
Arsenal fan Jelani backed Burnley to beat Tottenham 1-0, but that game was postponed because of heavy snow. Any points he scores when that game is played will be added to his total.
GUEST LEADERBOARD 2021-22
|110||Friction, She Drew The Gun|
|78||Lawro (average after 13 weeks)|
|70||Elena Cole, Jelani Blackman|
|50||Aqib Khan, Shaun Thomas|
|40||Dan Haggis of The Wombats, Murray & Tav from FUR, Justin Young|
|30||Michael ‘Venom’ Page, Roger Taylor, Zuzu|
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