Lawro’s predictions – Europa League final special v Tom Grennan

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May 26, 2021
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    Lawro's predictions

    You can listen to live coverage of the Europa League final on BBC Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website, with coverage starting at 19:00 BST on Wednesday.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hoping to win his first trophy as Manchester United manager in Wednesday's Europa League final.

    But will United beat Spanish side Villarreal, who are managed by former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, when they play them in Poland?

    BBC football expert Mark Lawrenson has made a prediction for every Premier League game and FA Cup tie this season, and now he is taking on singer and United fan Tom Grennan to try to guess what will happen in Gdansk.

    Tom GrennanGrennan, who hit number one spot with his latest album Evering Road in March, was on the books of Luton, Northampton and Stevenage as a youngster, before choosing music over football

    Europa League final prediction: Wednesday, 26 May (20:00 BST)
    Result Lawro Tom
    Villarreal v Man Utd x-x 0-2 1-2

    Villarreal boss Unai Emery and Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar SolskjaerEmery and Solskjaer have met in the Europa League before, when Emery's Sevilla side beat Molde 3-1 on aggregate in the last 32 on their way to winning the competition in 2016. In total they have gone head-to-head on five occasions, with two wins apiece and one draw

    Lawro – 'Emery could come up with a masterplan'

    I remember going to watch Villarreal a lot in the years they were doing well and were in the Champions League, but this side is not a patch on the one they had back then, in the 2000s.

    The Yellow Submarine are playing for their first major trophy as well as a place in next season's Champions League after finishing seventh in La Liga and missing out.

    Emery has plenty of experience of winning things, however. This is his fifth Europa League final, and he won three of them with Sevilla, getting the better of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool in the 2016 final.

    He could come up with a masterplan this time but, ultimately, who wins on Wednesday is going to come down to who has the better players.

    Unai Emery kisses the Europa League trophyEmery won the Europa League three years in a row with Sevilla, from 2014 to 2016. He was also a losing finalist with Arsenal in 2019

    Tom Grennan – 'A first trophy as United manager would seal the deal for Solskjaer'

    Solskjaer has had a lot of criticism at different times since he took charge of United but I always thought he deserved a proper chance to prove himself, and he has done that this season.

    Being United boss is a tough job. Everyone just needed to settle down and let him get on with it.

    Ole has sussed out what the players he had were all about, and what else he needed. It took him time to work out who should play where, and it feels like he has done that now.

    He has grown into the role and put his own stamp on this team. I used to see him as a substitute teacher, when he needed to be the headmaster, but he has got the authority he needs now.

    Tom GrennanPaul Scholes was Tom's first United hero and he has a few favourites in their current squad. He explained: "On the ball Bruno Fernandes can do everything and, off it, he works hard and is tough. He's got a bit of everything. Mason Greenwood is something else, though. Watch out for him in the next couple of years."

    This is his first final as our manager, which is a step forward after losing his first four semi-finals.

    Winning his first trophy would seal the deal and I just feel like it could be the start of something special.

    Lawro – 'The perfect time for a big Pogba performance'

    Paul Pogba celebrates after winning the Europa League in 2017Pogba was part of the United side that won the Europa League in 2017 – the club's last major honour

    Villarreal got past Arsenal in the semi-finals but I don't think their attack is going to cause United too many problems.

    Emery's strength as a coach is all about defensive organisation, but I just think United will have too much for them. They have got the better players, and more of them – they just need them to turn up, and most of them will.

    Bruno Fernandes has been brilliant all season so United can rely on a big performance from him. For me, though, Paul Pogba is still an enigma. We all know he has got outstanding ability, but how often have we seen it?

    This would be the perfect time for him to have a big night and show people what he can really do.

    Tom Grennan – 'Harry Maguire really holds us together'

    Villarreal are going to be well organised and horrible to break down but I honestly feel like we will get on the ball, and out-pass and outplay them.

    It's a big occasion but we are are ready for it. When I was growing up I was used to seeing United do really well when we got to finals, and I think this team is going to do the same – we've got quality right though the side.

    Goals are not a problem. Edinson Cavani is so clever and strong, and I love it when he and Mason Greenwood link up in attack. They can both finish anything.

    There is a lot of creativity too, including from our defenders. Luke Shaw at left-back has really come out of his shell and loves getting forward.

    Bruno Fernandes: 'It's an honour' to be compared to Eric Cantona, says Man Utd midfielder

    We will have to keep Villarreal out too, of course and I am still hoping Harry Maguire can help us do that.

    I know it's unlikely he will play but he hasn't been ruled out completely by Solskjaer yet, and that's why I'm hopeful.

    Maguire would make a big difference – he really holds us together and is a calming influence on the rest of the side.

    I just have a feeling he is going to lead us out and we are going to win it, but I am still confident even if he is not fit enough.

    Tom's prediction: United to win 2-1. I'm not nervous. We can win the game late on if we have to and, even if we go behind, we have fought back so many times to win already this season so no-one will panic if that happens in the final.

    Lawro – 'Man Utd have so many match-winners'

    Man Utd defender Harry Maguire (l) and goalkeeper Dean HendersonMaguire (left) made it on the plane to Gdansk, but will he play?

    It doesn't look like Maguire will feature, which is a blow for United, but I just can't see them losing anyway.

    I'd expect Eric Bailly to come in and partner Victor Lindelof at the back because of his experience. He will also know a lot about Villarreal because he used to play for them.

    They will be weaker without Maguire but I don't think it will matter because they have so many match-winners and they also have a winning mentality too.

    Lawro's prediction: United to win 2-0. It might be closer than that, but they will be stronger on the bench if they need to make any changes, and they will find a way to win.

    Lawro and Tom were speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

    How did Lawro do last time?

    From the final round of Premier League fixtures, Lawro got seven correct results from 10 matches, including two exact scores, for a total of 130 points.

    He beat Noel Gallagher, who got four correct results, with no exact scores, giving him a total of 40 points.

    How did Lawro do this season?

    Lawro made a prediction for all 380 Premier League games this season and the final table based on all of his scores is at the bottom of this page.

    In Lawro's league table, Manchester City finished as champions, Sheffield United, West Brom and Fulham were relegated and 11 teams finished within two places of their final positions in real life.

    "It was the strangest Premier League season I can remember," Lawro said. "Covid obviously played a huge part in that, and the later start to the campaign meant a relentless schedule.

    "It took a little while for away teams to realise that going to places like Anfield and Old Trafford was going to be easier without any crowds, but we ended up seeing a lot of shock results.

    "That even meant the end of Liverpool's 159-game unbeaten run – according to my predictions anyway. Hopefully things will be back to normal for everyone soon."

    Lawro's League Table graphic

    TEAM P W D L PTS +/-
    1 Man City 38 34 4 0 103 0
    =2 Chelsea 38 28 6 4 90 +2
    =2 Man Utd 38 28 6 4 90 0
    4 Tottenham 38 28 5 5 89 +3
    5 Liverpool 38 25 12 1 87 -2
    6 Leeds 38 25 1 12 76 +3
    7 Leicester 38 19 6 13 63 -2
    8 Arsenal 38 19 5 14 62 0
    9 Wolves 38 14 11 13 53 +4
    10 Everton 38 14 10 14 52 0
    11 West Ham 38 13 7 18 46 -5
    =12 Brighton 38 12 8 18 44 +4
    =12 Burnley 38 11 11 16 44 +5
    14 Southampton 38 11 5 22 38 +1
    =15 Aston Villa 38 8 8 22 35 -4
    =15 Newcastle 38 10 5 23 35 -3
    17 Crystal Palace 38 8 7 23 31 -3
    18 Sheff Utd 38 5 7 26 22 +2
    19 Fulham 38 3 1 34 10 -1
    20 West Brom 38 0 5 33 5 -1


    Score Guest
    110 Sister Bliss, Brandon Crook, Matthew Lewis, Amy Macdonald, Dot Major, Steve White
    100 Tubes
    90 Adam Devonshire, Becky Hill, Passenger, Chris Shiflett
    85 Lawro (average after 38 weeks)
    80 Celeste, Dan Flint, Frank Harper, Peter Hooton, Raye
    70 Sam Carter, Lou Cotterill, Ben Thatcher
    60 Majestic, Caroline Weir
    50 Ace, David Gray, Declan McKenna, Billy Monger, Paul Smith, Alex Sprogis, DJ Target
    40 Gavin 'Mo' Edgeley, Noel Gallagher, Ben Howard
    30 Rick Astley, Lewis Evans, Steve Guttenberg, Gethin Jones, Fraser T. Smith
    20 Charlie Forbes, Dougie Payne
    10 Theo Ellis
    0 Rema
    Total scores after week 38
    Lawro 3,220
    Guests 2,520
    Lawro v Guests
    P38 W21 D2 L15


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