Last updated on .From the section Premier League
You all know Chris Sutton as a former Premier League winner – but it turns out he might have made it in the NBA instead. Well, maybe.
“I was a Norfolk county champion at basketball with Hellesdon High School,” BBC Sport football expert Sutton said. “I was slam dunking all over the place back then, but I was always more interested in playing football.”
Sutton turned out more like Joe Jordan than Michael Jordan when it came to his sporting prowess, but how will he get on against two stars of the British Basketball League when it comes to making predictions?
For this weekend’s fixtures, he is up against Leicester Riders duo Patrick Whelan and Blake Bowman, who are both Manchester United fans.
Bowman grew up in Derby, so why United? “It was down to my mum, because all of her side of the family supported Manchester City when I was younger,” he told BBC Sport. “I didn’t want to follow along, I wanted to be a little different.
“Cristiano Ronaldo was probably my first United hero, and right now it is Marcus Rashford. I must admit I really liked Yaya Toure too though, even when he was at City.
“I know that’s quite a controversial thing to say as a United fan, but when I played football when I was younger, I looked up to him because like me he was really tall – I was usually the biggest guy on the pitch too.”
Family played a part in Warrington-born Whelan’s choice too, although United were not actually the first team he followed.
“I lived in Uganda for the first five years of my life and my brothers made me pick a football team from Teletext,” he explained.
“At the time Arsenal were top of the table so I thought I’d go with them, they had a player called Patrick too – Vieira – so it seemed to make sense.
“But after that I grew up in Warrington and I thought: ‘I can’t live here and support Arsenal.’ The rest of my family are United fans, so I followed them in the end.
“I loved watching strikers such as Ruud van Nistelrooy and Robin van Persie. I like the guys who score the goals – a bit like myself in basketball, I guess.”
|Nott’m Forest v Liverpool||x-x||0-2||0-2||0-3|
|Everton v Crystal Palace||x-x||1-0||1-1||1-2|
|Man City v Brighton||x-x||5-1||4-0||3-1|
|Chelsea v Man Utd||x-x||1-0||1-2||2-3|
|Aston Villa v Brentford||x-x||1-1||1-3||0-2|
|Leeds v Fulham||x-x||2-1||2-1||2-2|
|Southampton v Arsenal||x-x||0-2||0-3||0-3|
|Wolves v Leicester||x-x||1-1||1-2||1-1|
|Tottenham v Newcastle||x-x||1-2||3-1||3-0|
|West Ham v Bournemouth||x-x||2-1||2-2||1-1|
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
Nottingham Forest v Liverpool (12:30)
Nottingham Forest only lost narrowly to Liverpool in last season’s FA Cup but they obviously have a completely different team now, and they are struggling.
Forest held out for a point at Brighton on Tuesday and got a clean sheet, which might give them a bit of confidence, but they offered very little in front of goal.
They need to get the balance right between defence and attack and they badly need a victory, but it is hard to see them managing any of that against Liverpool.
The Reds were far from great themselves against West Ham in midweek but, even if they are not at their best, I’d still expect them to win.
Sutton’s prediction: 0-2
Patrick’s prediction: I know where this one is going! 0-2
Blake’s prediction: Liverpool to win, especially after that great game against Manchester City. 0-3
Everton v Crystal Palace
Quite a lot went on when Crystal Palace came to Goodison Park at the end of last season, when Everton came from 2-0 down to win and secure their Premier League safety, and Eagles boss Patrick Vieira had an altercation with a fan who had come on to the pitch at the final whistle.
It is not ‘all or nothing’ for Frank Lampard’s side this time, but they do need a good result here after three defeats on the bounce.
This is hard to call, because Crystal Palace are a dangerous side and I am very tempted to say they will pick up a point – but I am going to back Everton to come good.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin will still be rusty after just coming back from injury, but he might give the Toffees the edge.
Sutton’s prediction: 1-0
Patrick’s prediction: These two teams are quite similar… I have to go with Patrick Vieira to get something with Palace though! 1-1
Blake’s prediction: Palace are in better form, so let’s go with them. 1-2
Man City v Brighton
Manchester City are too good not to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat by Liverpool. They have got a bit of a point to prove after that performance.
Brighton are still without a win in four games under Roberto de Zerbi, which is starting to become a concern.
The Seagulls took the game to Liverpool when they went to Anfield and drew 3-3. They will probably try to do that against City too, but things could get a bit messy for them.
Sutton’s prediction: 5-1
Patrick’s prediction: This is pretty easy to call. A Pep Guardiola team coming off a loss only ever really respond one way. Erling Haaland to bag two, at least. It is rare to see a player who is so tall, and also so fast. 4-0
Blake’s prediction: You can’t look past City here. Haaland hardly touches the ball sometimes, but is pretty much unstoppable. 3-1
Chelsea v Man Utd (17:30)
It’s a good thing for Manchester United that ‘Old Sulky Pants’, Cristiano Ronaldo, will not be involved after throwing his toys out of the pram against Spurs. Fair play to Erik ten Hag for banishing him, because you cannot have a player behaving like that.
But I’m still really not sure what to expect from United. They were poor against Newcastle then excellent against Tottenham on Wednesday – what idiot would have predicted a Spurs win at Old Trafford?
Chelsea’s draw against Brentford on the same night was probably a bit of a disappointment given their other results under Graham Potter, who has made a good start as manager and is unbeaten in his seven games in charge.
I keep backing United to lose under Ten Hag, which is going down well with their fans – as you would expect – and I’ve probably got more stick incoming on social media with my prediction here.
Their past four meetings with Chelsea have all ended in draws but this time I think there will be a winner, and I’m going with Potter to get it.
It will be close and the Blues are not exactly free scoring at the moment, but even I scored for them against United – it was my only league goal for Chelsea too – and, with Kepa Arrizabalaga in such good form, one goal might be enough.
Sutton’s prediction: 1-0
Patrick’s prediction: This should be a good match, but we’re going to win it. 1-2
Blake’s prediction: You never know what United you are going to get, but I am going to back us. 2-3
Aston Villa v Brentford (14:00)
You expect a bit of a bounce when a new manager is installed, or at the very least you have an idea of what their teams’ playing style is like.
But Aston Villa are managerless after sacking Steven Gerrard on Thursday. They have some good players, who are not performing to the level they can, but I have to be honest and admit I don’t have a clue what to expect from them here under caretaker boss Aaron Danks.
Brentford got pumped 5-1 at Newcastle in their last away game, but they have recovered well with a win and a draw at home to Brighton and Chelsea, and I’d be surprised if they lost this one given Villa’s circumstances.
Sutton’s prediction: 1-1
Patrick’s prediction: We were all kind of expecting Gerrard to go if he lost at Fulham, it felt inevitable. I don’t see Villa winning without him either, and I am big fan of Brentford’s Ivan Toney, who is a big-time goalscorer. 1-3
Blake’s prediction: I really enjoy watching Brentford, especially Toney – who I’d like to see get a chance with England too. 0-2
Leeds v Fulham (14:00)
Leeds were absolutely awful against Leicester on Thursday.
After watching them tear into Arsenal on Sunday, I thought they would get at the Foxes, but in the end they barely laid a glove on them and I was made to look pretty foolish for saying they would win 4-1.
Surely things will be different against Fulham, back at Elland Road, though? They need to be, because the Leeds fans made their feelings clear to Jesse Marsch at the end of the Leicester game, and he has taken only two points from his past seven games.
Fulham will have a say too, of course, and they will be lively with Aleksandar Mitrovic leading the line for them.
But I am banking on Leeds playing like they did against Arsenal or in the first half against Crystal Palace, getting their intensity back and finding a way to win.
If they don’t, then the pressure on Marsch is going to build.
Sutton’s prediction: 2-1
Patrick’s prediction: It feels like Leeds’ backs are against the walls a little bit, and they need a win. 2-1
Blake’s prediction: I’m going for some goals here. 2-2
Southampton v Arsenal (14:00)
Southampton helped to finish off Arsenal’s hopes of making the Champions League places last season when they beat them at St Mary’s in April.
This is a very different Gunners side, though. They should have too much quality up front for Saints to deal with, and they also have more steel if things are not going well.
Arsenal’s mindset in their last win, against Leeds, epitomised that. Yes, maybe they got a break or two, but they also have the belief now that they can get through games even when they don’t play well.
Sutton’s prediction: 0-2
Patrick’s prediction: I read something the other day that said Pep Guardiola is the only manager who is so good he needs to create competition for himself, so he sold all those players to Arsenal. Gabriel Jesus in particular is doing so well, and it is interesting that City let him go there. I think Arsenal keep rolling here, and they are turning into a really good team. 0-3
Blake’s prediction: I am really hoping Arsenal drop some points but it is not going to happen! 0-3
Wolves v Leicester (14:00)
Because Wolves don’t score many, it means they always have problems even in games where they are on top.
Leicester have kept a couple of clean sheets in a row now, and Wout Faes has been playing well in their defence, but they have still conceded more goals than any other Premier League side this season.
So, it’s hard to make a compelling case for either side to win this one – instead I am going to cop out of calling it one way or another, and go with a draw.
Sutton’s prediction: 1-1
Patrick’s prediction: Leicester were a bit unfortunate earlier in the season when they were losing a lot of games. I think they’ve got a really good team, especially James Maddison and Harvey Barnes, and they are starting to show their quality now. 1-2
Blake’s prediction: I know I play for the Riders but I don’t think Leicester are going to win. 1-1
Tottenham v Newcastle (16:30)
I really like what Eddie Howe is doing at Newcastle. They are defensively sound, but they always create chances too and they are a team full of confidence.
Tottenham have been getting some good results without playing particularly well, or at least they were until they went to Old Trafford on Wednesday.
That defeat would have been worse if not for some good saves by Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris, and they might need him to keep him in this game too.
Sutton’s prediction: 1-2
Patrick’s prediction: Newcastle are a good team but I see Spurs winning this, with Harry Kane in form and Son Heung-min looking more like his usual self too. 3-1
Blake’s prediction: I am impressed with Newcastle but I think Alexander Isak’s injury is a blow for them. Kane is having a great season – if it wasn’t for Haaland, he would probably end up being player of the year. 3-0
West Ham v Bournemouth (20:00)
Massive apologies to Bournemouth fans. I knew as soon as I finally predicted they would win, against Southampton on Wednesday, that their unbeaten run under Gary O’Neil would soon be over.
All I can say is that it won’t happen again. Well, I certainly won’t tip them to beat West Ham anyway.
The Hammers were really unlucky not to get anything at Anfield on Wednesday and, that game aside, they have been in pretty decent form.
Sutton’s prediction: 2-1
Patrick’s prediction: Bournemouth have surprised a few teams already this season, so I think they will get something here too. 2-2
Blake’s prediction: I do like West Ham and I really rate Declan Rice, but Bournemouth always seem to be well organised. 1-1
Chris Sutton, Patrick Whelan and Blake Bowman were speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
How did Sutton do last week?
Sutton got three correct results from nine matches, with no exact scores, giving him 30 points. Yes, he was wrong about Bournemouth again too.
With one match still to be played, that means the best he can do is draw with Phoenix singer Thomas Mars, who got seven correct results, with no exact scores, giving him a score of 70 points so far.
Mars has gone for a 1-1 draw between Arsenal and Manchester City. Any points earned will be added to his total, and to Sutton’s, when that game takes place.
|Ian Broudie, GK from Bad Boy Chiller Crew, Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno, Editors bassist Russell Leetch, Phoenix singer Thomas Mars||70|
|Chris Sutton (average after 11 weeks)||67|
|Ross MacDonald from The 1975, Ryan Porteous||60|
|Chris Sutton (average after 11 weeks)||59|
|Al Greenwood from Sports Team||50|
|Tom from Dry Cleaning||40|
How did you get on?
Only 22% of you thought United would beat Spurs, but you did get five results right.
|1. Thomas Mars||7/9|
*Win, draw, loss prediction based on highest % of vote for each match.
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