A new season – and a new Premier League predictions expert.
BBC pundit Chris Sutton is taking on the challenge from Mark Lawrenson for the 2022-23 campaign and will try to pick the correct scores for every top-flight game against a variety of guests.
“Lawro has left some huge shoes to fill,” said Sutton. “I’m pretty confident, but it’s a tough task – and if I was that good at making predictions, I would be a millionaire by now.”
For the opening weekend’s fixtures, Sutton is up against football commentator Ali Bruce-Ball, his co-host on the BBC Radio 5 Live Fantasy 606 podcast.
“I’m not really worried about Ali,” Sutton said. “I’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
Think you can beat them both? You can make your own prediction about each of the games below.
So how will Sutton do? Bruce-Ball feels he knows his co-host’s mindset well from their time together on Fantasy 606 – and expects Sutton to take a similar approach when he makes his predictions.
“Chris is always brave,” Bruce-Ball said. “He is very maverick with Fantasy Football and sometimes that comes off – and sometimes it doesn’t.
“One of his rules though, is to never do the obvious – and it will be the same with his predictions.
“I know when Lawro did this, he was famous for going years without saying Liverpool would lose a game.
“That will be like a red rag to a bull with Chris, so I am almost 100% certain that he will predict Fulham to beat Liverpool on the opening Saturday of the season.
“I can see him doing that, and I can also see him going for a few wacky results every now and again.
“Some people who make predictions try to play safe and go for 1-1s or 2-0s or whatever, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris chucked in some big numbers at times and also some wild results.
“When they come off, it will be amazing and he will be cock-a-hoop – but I have got a feeling that, if they take it seriously, the guests who take him on will have a decent chance of beating him because he will definitely take risks.”
This week, Bruce-Ball, Sutton and Statman Dave revealed their Fantasy Premier League squads for the new season on their new Fantasy 606 pod, which you can listen to here.
They have introduced new features for the new campaign, including adding a listeners’ team to their mini-league – that you can manage.
“Each week, a listener will be the manager of that team for one week only,” Bruce-Ball explained.
“They can listen to suggestions, but they get the steering wheel and can make transfers, selections, whatever they want. When they come on the pod, the pressure from Dave and Chris – well, Chris in particular – about whether they are making the right calls will be horrendous, but it will be completely down to them.”
To join the main Fantasy 606 League, the code is ahrsf2 and to become a manager of their listeners’ team, email the pod at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Crystal Palace v Arsenal||x-x||1-2||1-1|
|Fulham v Liverpool||x-x||0-3||0-4|
|Bournemouth v Aston Villa||x-x||0-1||1-2|
|Leeds v Wolves||x-x||0-0||1-1|
|Newcastle v Nott’m Forest||x-x||1-0||2-0|
|Tottenham v Southampton||x-x||2-1||3-0|
|Everton v Chelsea||x-x||0-2||0-2|
|Leicester v Brentford||x-x||1-1||2-1|
|Man Utd v Brighton||x-x||1-1||0-1|
|West Ham v Man City||x-x||0-3||0-2|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
Games kick off at 15:00 BST unless otherwise stated
Crystal Palace v Arsenal (20:00 BST)
Arsenal have had a great pre-season, while I’m not sure Crystal Palace are the same threat now Conor Gallagher has gone back to Chelsea.
It’s still a tough game for Mikel Arteta’s side, but everything is pointing towards a Gunners win.
Sutton’s prediction: 1-2
ABB’s prediction: Another tricky away fixture on a Friday night for Arsenal to kick off the season. Last year they crumbled at Brentford, but they are made of sterner stuff now – certainly helped by the additions of Premier League winners Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus. 1-1
Fulham v Liverpool (12:30)
Ali is right to say I’m not going to follow Lawro and back Liverpool to win every week – I want to banish that kind of bias!
But he’s wrong to think I’m going to say they will lose this one.
Liverpool were very good in the Community Shield and Saturday is going to be a difficult day for Fulham on their return to the top flight. I think they will struggle all season too.
Sutton’s prediction: 0-3
ABB’s prediction: Marco Silva hasn’t been very optimistic talking about his squad recently as Fulham try to end their yo-yo existence, bouncing between the Premier League and the Championship. Liverpool will be ruthless and I think this has the potential to be a bit of a mauling. 0-4
Bournemouth v Aston Villa
Bournemouth worry me a bit because they haven’t done a lot of transfer business since winning promotion.
Aston Villa haven’t signed as many players as I thought they would this summer either, but they already had a lot of quality in their squad and this is a great opportunity for them to get off to a good start.
Sutton’s prediction: 0-1
ABB’s prediction: 1-2
Leeds v Wolves
Along with Fulham and Bournemouth, I’ve got Leeds as going down this season. They only just stayed up last time and then sold their two best players, Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha, this summer.
Wolves have got some brilliant creative players but they are lacking firepower at the moment without the injured Raul Jimenez, so who is going to get their goals?
This is a hard one to predict, so I am going to sit on the fence – I know Ali will do exactly the same too.
Sutton’s prediction: 0-0
ABB’s prediction: 1-1
Newcastle v Nottingham Forest
It’s great to see Forest back in the Premier League after 23 years and I hope they do well.
I was born in Nottingham and I was a massive fan of Brian Clough’s European Cup-winning sides when I was growing up. Then I was lucky enough to play under two players from that time, Martin O’Neill and John Robertson, at Celtic.
Forest could do with a player like Robertson now, but they have made a couple of interesting moves in the transfer market already – Jesse Lingard is a good signing and I like the look of their new Belgian midfielder, Orel Mangala, too. I think they will stay up.
Newcastle, meanwhile, don’t have to worry about beating the drop this year. Eddie Howe did such a good job there in the second half of last season and, after it looked like they were in a big relegation fight, they stayed up very comfortably in the end.
Howe played a really good brand of football as well as getting results and I am expecting more of the same this time, although they do need some reinforcements up front.
They are trying to get James Maddison from Leicester but I don’t quite understand why they have left it so late before the start of the season to go for him, and we will have to wait and see how that one pans out.
As far as this game goes, it is another tricky one to call – but I am going for Newcastle to edge it because they have got home advantage.
Sutton’s prediction: 1-0
ABB’s prediction: It’s great to have Forest back in the top flight as they were such a thrilling and successful team as I got into my football in the late 1970s and early 1980s. But Newcastle finished last season strongly under Howe, who improved them significantly at both ends of the field, and I expect them to be too strong for Forest on their return. 2-0
Tottenham v Southampton
There is a lot of excitement around Tottenham, but then it is the same at the start of every season.
I know Richarlison is suspended for this game but it is going to be interesting to see how he fits into their team after joining from Everton.
Dejan Kulusevski did really well after arriving in January and we know how good Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane are, so I don’t know how Antonio Conte will fit them all into his team. Still, it’s not a bad problem to have.
In contrast to the what is expected from Spurs, a lot of people seem to be predicting Southampton will get relegated.
But Saints seem to get written off every season and then prove people wrong.
They have suffered some heavy defeats in recent years but they have also picked up some impressive results under Ralph Hasenhuttl – they drew home and away with Manchester City in the league last season and also won at Conte’s Spurs.
I don’t see a repeat of that result on Saturday, though. Instead, I’m going for the old Kane and Son one-two to get the job done for Spurs again.
In 2020-21, those two broke the record for the most goal/assist combinations that myself and Alan Shearer held from our Blackburn days, and they remain very hard to stop. They still haven’t won the Premier League though, have they?
Sutton’s prediction: 2-1
ABB’s prediction: Tottenham look to have done some excellent business in the transfer market this summer, they’ve had a full pre-season under Conte and I expect them to hit the ground running. 3-0
Everton v Chelsea (17:30)
It’s odd that Chelsea don’t seem to be properly prepared for the start of the season – they are still trying to make signings and their squad is not ready.
But Everton have problems too. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is injured, Salomon Rondon is suspended and Richarlison has obviously been sold – so they have no-one to lead their attack on Saturday.
They are going to have to rely on the Goodison Park crowd to get them through this game, like they did at the end of last season.
Their fans will give them a lift, but they can’t help them by scoring goals.
Sutton’s prediction: 0-2
ABB’s prediction: 0-2
Leicester v Brentford (14:00)
Leicester didn’t have a disastrous campaign last season but it was a step back for them after two fifth-placed finishes.
They have seen keeper Kasper Schmeichel leave this month and if they lose Wesley Fofana and Maddison too, then that would be a major blow for them.
Sampdoria midfielder Mikkel Damsgaard will be a good signing for Brentford if they can get him in, but I am a bit worried about how second-season syndrome will affect the Bees.
This game is another hard one to call.
Leicester had a nightmare at defending set-pieces last season – and Brentford are exceptional at them – but the Foxes have got some very talented attacking players.
Sutton’s prediction: 1-1
ABB’s prediction: 2-1
Man Utd v Brighton (14:00)
I just don’t know what to expect from Manchester United.
The whole Cristiano Ronaldo situation, and whether he will stay or go, is really disruptive and new United manager Erik ten Hag could really do without it.
Playing United at Old Trafford on the opening day used to be a daunting prospect, but not any more.
Brighton stuffed them 4-0 at the Amex Stadium, so they won’t be afraid of them. I love watching the Seagulls under Graham Potter and I think they will get something here.
Sutton’s prediction: 1-1
ABB’s prediction: My ‘surprise’ prediction for the weekend – an awkward opening fixture for United and I sense an early stumble in the offing. 0-1
West Ham v Man City (16:30)
West Ham have signed striker Gianluca Scamacca from Sampdoria but I don’t think he’s up to speed yet.
My main worry with the Hammers, though, is at the back. They spent a few quid on defender Nayef Aguerd earlier this summer, but he is out injured.
So I don’t see the Hammers causing City problems like they did when they drew 2-2 at London Stadium at the end of last season.
City hit five past them there on the opening day a couple of years ago and I think they will get a few goals this time too.
Pep Guardiola’s side were not at their best against Liverpool in the Community Shield but I’m expecting an improvement this time, and I also think Erling Haaland will open his account.
Sutton’s prediction: 0-3
ABB’s prediction: I’m going for the champions to start with a win and Haaland to get off the mark for his new club in the process. 0-2
Chris Sutton and Ali Bruce-Ball were speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
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