Premier League predictions: Chris Sutton faces Afrobeats star and Man Utd fan Maulo


Sutton's Predictions

The Premier League title race is only just getting started, but can anyone stop BBC football expert Chris Sutton’s charge to victory when it comes to predictions?

Sutton has declared himself “the one and only” after seeing off Chesney Hawkes in the festive fixtures – the fifth successive week he has won the battle with his guests. He now leads 11-5 overall.

“Should I be handed the title now?” asked Sutton. “I think am actually nine ahead technically, because some weeks I have beaten two guests, not just one. If my lead gets to double figures, they are not coming back from that.”

Sutton is making predictions for every top-flight game this season against a range of guests.

You can take him on too, using the voting buttons for each game below, and so far you have made more correct predictions than Sutton or his guests have managed from the 156 Premier League games that have been played this season.

For the latest set of fixtures, from 30 December to 1 January, he is up against Afrobeats star and Manchester United supporter Maulo.

Maulo’s latest single, Roll It, was featured on Radio 1’s Future Artists slot by Jack Saunders. He will be releasing a new EP alongside his debut headline show in 2023.

Maulo
Maulo teamed up with his cousin, former world heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua, to create their global hit Ambition, which Joshua used as his ringwalk song when he fought Oleksandr Usyk in 2021

Maulo was one of the musicians who made World Cup predictions for the BBC. He was wrong, sadly, when he picked England to win it, but still enjoyed the tournament.

“It was the best World Cup I’ve ever seen,” he told BBC Sport. “There were so many great games where either side could win, and then the final was absolutely amazing.

“I don’t think I’ve ever watched a match as intense as that. It felt like no-one knew what the outcome was going to be, until the very last minute.

“Growing up, I’ve always been more of a Cristiano Ronaldo fan than Lionel Messi, so part of me didn’t want Messi to win it. But take that out of it and it was just a brilliant game to enjoy – it’s mad to think how many people were watching it around the world.”

There was no shortage of entertainment either when the Premier League returned this week. Maulo no longer has Ronaldo to cheer on at United but Marcus Rashford has hit the ground running since his return from Qatar.

“Rashford has come back firing,” Maulo added. “He is just a man on a mission at the moment. He was the same at the start of the season for United but he kept it up right through the World Cup and he has not stopped yet.

“He looks like he is having fun again and enjoying his football, which is great to see – especially from United’s point of view.

“After a difficult start, it feels like the manager Erik ten Hag is doing a great job too.

“He’s dealing with superstars and is trying to build a team so it’s not realistic to expect him to just come in and have success straight away, but it really feels like we are heading in the right direction – the sky’s the limit, really.”

Result Sutton Maulo
FRIDAY, 30 DEC
West Ham v Brentford x-x 1-1 2-0
Liverpool v Leicester x-x 3-1 2-0
SATURDAY, 31 DEC
Wolves v Man Utd x-x 1-2 1-3
Bournemouth v Crystal Palace x-x 1-1 1-2
Fulham v Southampton x-x 2-0 2-2
Man City v Everton x-x 5-0 3-0
Newcastle v Leeds x-x 2-0 2-0
Brighton v Arsenal x-x 2-1 1-2
SUNDAY, 1 JAN
Tottenham v Aston Villa x-x 2-2 1-2
Nott’m Forest v Chelsea x-x 1-2 1-0

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

SUTTON’S PREDICTIONS

Games kick off at 15:00 GMT unless otherwise stated

FRIDAY, 30 DECEMBER

West Ham v Brentford

West Ham v Brentford (19:45 GMT)

West Ham’s defeat by Arsenal means they have lost five of their past six league games, but they have been underachieving pretty much all season.

I keep expecting them to get results and to kick on, but it hasn’t happened yet and you start to wonder if they are ever going to click and go on a run.

The Hammers are slipping closer to the relegation zone and they will be desperate for a win but this time, I’m not going to say they will get it.

Snapshot of the bottom of the Premier League: 15th Leeds, 16th West Ham, 17th Everton, 18th Wolves, 19th Nottingham Forest & 20th Southampton
West Ham are 16th in the table but are bottom of the pile when it comes to form from the past six games after taking only three points from a possible 18

Brentford are going to be really awkward opponents as Tottenham found out last time out.

I correctly backed the Bees to get a point from that game and I think they will get another draw here.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-1

Maulo’s prediction: 2-0

Liverpool v Leicester

Liverpool v Leicester (20:00 GMT)

Cody Gakpo is an excellent signing for Liverpool and I’m looking forward to seeing how he fits into their attack when his deal goes through in January.

I wrongly thought Liverpool would slip up against Aston Villa in their last game – Villa did have some chances but the Reds ended up winning comfortably.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are going to be pushing hard for the top four in the new year and I think they will end 2022 with a win too.

James Maddison’s knee injury is a concern for Leicester but I still think they will get a goal at Anfield – I just think Liverpool will score more than them.

Sutton’s prediction: 3-1

Maulo’s prediction: My dad is a Liverpool fan so I’ve watched them quite a bit. Darwin Nunez always looks like he is going to score goals. 2-0

SATURDAY, 31 DECEMBER

Wolves v Man Utd

Wolves v Man Utd (12:30 GMT)

This is a tricky one to call because Wolves will be full of confidence after their last-gasp win over Everton in Julen Lopetegui’s first game in charge.

They will have a real go at Manchester United but I think the progress Erik ten Hag’s side have made means they will be able to deal with that.

United were dominant in their win over Nottingham Forest and we are starting to see them play the way Ten Hag wants them to.

It definitely helps that no-one is talking about Cristiano Ronaldo any more, and whether the team is better off with or without him.

He has gone and, although it’s a bit early to say the club is more in harmony now, the team are certainly playing that way.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-2

Maulo’s prediction: I’d love to say 10-0 to United with Rashford scoring six but I’m going to try to be realistic here! We don’t know how Wolves will approach this but they will be full of belief under Lopetegui so this is going to be difficult for us. I’m still going for a United win, though! 1-3

Bournemouth v Crystal Palace

Bournemouth v Crystal Palace

I didn’t see Crystal Palace’s heavy home defeat by Fulham coming and I am beginning to lose faith in them – a little like I am with West Ham. I keep thinking there is a big result around the corner for them but it never comes.

This is an important game for Bournemouth too, given their run of form. This is not a good time to be on the slide.

The Cherries improved in the second half against Chelsea but it was too little, too late – they have been exceeding expectations under Gary O’Neil but they have now lost five of their past six league games and you have to remember their target this season is all about whether they can beat the drop.

This is a game where a win would lift the mood massively for either team but I have a feeling that it might end up being a draw.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-1

Maulo’s prediction: Palace are a strange team. I’ve watched them quite a lot and one minute they look like they are on fire, then the next minute they are really struggling. They seem to struggle against the smaller teams but I am going to go with them to win this time. 1-2

Fulham v Southampton

Fulham v Southampton

I need to apologise to Fulham fans because I have been writing them off all season and it’s become apparent that they are a very well-balanced team who deserve to be where they are in the top half of the table.

Fulham got a brilliant win at Crystal Palace and that was not the first time they have surprised people this season – they are not just well organised defensively, they always carry a threat too.

Southampton, in contrast, have got big problems. They are bottom for a reason.

The alarm bells were ringing when I heard their new boss Nathan Jones talk about how easy his side made it for Brighton after Saints had lost his first game in charge. He has got a lot of work to do.

Sutton’s prediction: 2-0

Maulo’s prediction: I always used to love watching Fulham when Scott Parker was playing for them. They are doing pretty well at the moment, especially in attack with Aleksandar Mitrovic in form, but I think Southampton might surprise a few people here. 2-2

Man City v Everton

Man City v Everton

I really am worried about Everton. They have won only one of their past nine games in all competitions, so a trip to Etihad Stadium is the last thing they need.

How do Frank Lampard’s side approach this? Well, they will try to be resilient, to stay in the game for as long as possible and defend deep – but conceding an early goal would be disastrous for them.

The only question about Manchester City is who will play – the old ‘Pep Roulette’ upsets thousands of Fantasy Football players every week because you never know who will start.

I don’t think Pep Guardiola’s selection will make much difference to the outcome against Everton, though. City will wipe the floor with them.

Sutton’s prediction: 5-0

Maulo’s prediction: There are going to be a few goals here, all of them from City and at least one by Erling Haaland. Everton have got no threat, really. 3-0

Newcastle v Leeds

Newcastle v Leeds

Leeds found it tough going against Manchester City on Wednesday and this is another difficult game for them because Newcastle are playing with so much confidence at the moment.

We know Leeds will give it everything but Newcastle are solid at the back and they have got plenty of goals in them too.

Sutton’s prediction: 2-0

Maulo’s prediction: Leeds have got a great work rate but Newcastle are doing so well and I am expecting them to carry on doing what they are doing. 2-0

Brighton v Arsenal

Brighton v Arsenal (17:30 GMT)

What a game this will be. If Arsenal go to Brighton and win then that will be a sign that they can go all the way and win the title.

Snapshot of the top of the Premier League: 1st Arsenal, 2nd Man City, 3rd Newcastle, 4th Tottenham, 5th Man Utd & 6th Liverpool

It was massive for the Gunners that Eddie Nketiah scored in their win over West Ham, and he took his goal really well too, but this is a big test of their resolve, and the sort of game where they will miss the injured Gabriel Jesus.

Brighton knocked Arsenal out of the Carabao Cup earlier in the season but they actually have a decent record against them in the Premier League in recent years, and beat them at Emirates Stadium in April.

I’m going for another Seagulls success here, although the way they play means Arsenal will have chances.

Sutton’s prediction: 2-1

Maulo’s prediction: The break for the World Cup could have hurt Arsenal but they looked pretty good against West Ham. 1-2

SUNDAY, 1 JANUARY

Tottenham v Aston Villa

Tottenham v Aston Villa (14:00 GMT)

I just don’t know what to expect from Tottenham. For a team that is fourth in the table, they are extremely inconsistent and very unconvincing at times.

Which Spurs side will turn up here, why does their manager Antonio Conte always say they are tired and why do they go behind in games so often?

Aston Villa were well beaten by Liverpool in the end but they were pretty lively going forward.

So, I have a sneaking feeling this will end up in a draw, although I suppose that is mostly because I have no idea what kind of performance we will see from Tottenham.

Sutton’s prediction: 2-2

Maulo’s prediction: 1-2

Nottingham Forest v Chelsea

Nottingham Forest v Chelsea (16:30 GMT)

Chelsea got a much-needed win over Bournemouth last time out, and they deserved it too.

Nottingham Forest huffed and puffed a bit against Manchester United without ever really looking like they would get anything out of the game.

Chelsea’s biggest issue this season has been goalscoring but Forest have got bigger problems in that department and they don’t have enough of a threat up front.

It feels like Forest’s hopes of staying up rest on their home form, because they are so poor away, but I can’t see them picking up any points this time. I’m going for a narrow Chelsea win.

Sutton’s prediction: 1-2

Maulo’s prediction: I’ve got to say that I am a big Jesse Lingard fan. He’s had a difficult time since joining Forest so it’s been great to see him back among the goals again and I’d love to see him get the winner here. 1-0

Chris Sutton and Maulo were speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

How did Sutton do last time?

From the festive fixtures played between 26 and 28 December, Sutton got five correct results from 10 matches, including one exact score, giving him a total of 80 points.

He beat singer Chesney Hawkes, who also got five correct results, but with no exact scores, for a total of 50 points.

Ali Bruce-Ball 110
Ian Broudie, GK from Bad Boy Chiller Crew, Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno, Editors bassist Russell Leetch, Aaron Moorhead, Phoenix singer Thomas Mars 70
Chris Sutton (average after 16 weeks) 66
Ross MacDonald from The 1975, Ryan Porteous 60
Justin Benson, Al Greenwood from Sports Team, Dapz on the Map, Chesney Hawkes 50
Blake Bowman, Tom from Dry Cleaning 40
Jessica McHale, Olivia Chomczuk 30
Juice Menace, Patrick Whelan 20
Chris Sutton 1,060
Guests 980

How did you get on?

Only 13% of you went for a Fulham win over Crystal Palace but, otherwise, you did pretty well with seven correct predictions.

Position Correct results
1. You* 7/10
=2. Chris 5/10
=2. Chesney Hawkes 5/10

*Win, draw, loss prediction based on highest % of vote for each match.

1. You 83/156 (53%)
2. Chris 78/156 (50%)
3 Guests 75/156 (48%)

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