Checking the pundit’s accuracy: How Lawrenson gets Arsenal oh so wrong.

By Tony Attwood

Just how easy is it to be a pundit?

Mark Lawrenson has, for many years, earned to corn by punditing (or would that be punditting with the double t – I’m not too sure) on the BBC each week, predicting the scores.  You can see one of his recent efforts here.

What has happened is that the Manchester World website collected his guesses together and recorded them week by week.  What we’ve done below is turned that collection into a league table.

Now one of the things to remember here is that this was not a prediction at the start of the season running all the way through.  These are predictions made week by week, meaning that one has all the data up to the previous match.  (If you’ve never seen how we do it, take a look here – the links to the rest of the articles concerning the match are also given).

So that should make it moderately easy to guess the outcome of the games each matchday.  After all, you know each day before making a prediction, where the team actually is in the league and how the results have been running.

And indeed anyone reading Untold Arsenal will know what the home and away form is as well.

Lawrenson obviously uses this information as part of his prediction, and because of this he is able to get a lot of the data right.

But if we compare the first two columns of our analysis – predicted position and actual position in the league table below – we can see that despite making each prediction knowing exactly what has gone on before, he persistently gets some clubs wrong.

For example, Lawrenson’s projections made before each game, with full knowledge of the league table thus far, suggest Manchester City would have 69 points, whereas they actually only got 63.

But more than anything, we can see that Lawrenson has repeated predicted wins for teams in the top seven positions, and under-predicted wins for teams in the rest of the league.

For some bonkers reason which I am sure he will never explain, he constantly predicts wins for Leicester, Leeds and Manchester United, and so has predicted they will each have between 15 and 17 more points than they have actually received.

And let me emphasise if I may, these predictions are made before each match.   So Lawrenson clearly sees himself going wrong time after time after time, and yet does nothing to correct his errors.

I am not quite sure what he has got against Wolverhampton but he constantly predicts them to lose but they keep getting points, but he goes on and on and on and on predicting them to lose, and he is wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong again – but he simply can’t stop himself.  One wonders why the BBC wastes money on him.

Besides, quite what the old codger sees in Manchester United is quite beyond me.  But whatever it is he keeps on believing they are now, at last going to win, win, and win again.  (Extremes in errors are highlighted in red).  Thus the win, draw, lose columns are what Lawrenson predicted.

Predicted Pos Actual pos Team Pl W D L Lawro Pts Actual Pts Diff pts
1 1 Manchester City 25 22 3 0 69 63 +6
2 4 Manchester Utd 25 20 2 3 62 46 +16
3 2 Liverpool 24 17 7 0 58 57 +1
4 3 Chelsea 24 17 6 1 57 50 +7
5 8 Totteham Hots 22 12 7 3 43 39 +4
6 11 Leicester City 22 12 6 4 42 27 +15
7 15 Leeds United 23 13 1 9 40 23 +17
8 6 Arsenal 22 10 5 7 35 42 -7
9 12 Aston Villa 23 10 5 8 35 27 -8
10 5 West Ham 25 9 7 9 34 42 -8
11 9 Brighton 24 7 6 11 27 33 -6
12 7 Wolverhampton 23 7 3 13 24 40 -16
13 16 Everton 22 6 3 13 21 22 -1
14 10 Southampton 24 6 3 15 21 32 -11
15 17 Newcastle Utd 23 5 5 13 20 22 -2
16 13 Crystal Palace 24 4 6 14 18 26 -8
17 14 Brentford 25 5 1 19 16 24 -8
18 19 Burnley 24 4 4 13 16 17 -1
19 18 Watford 23 2 5 16 11 18 -7
20 20 Norwich City 24 2 4 18 10 17 -7

The clubs the old scamp gets almost right are Liverpool, Everton and Burnley.  In each case with his pre-match predictions added together, he is only one point out. As for the rest…

What this clearly shows is that “expert” predictors – at least in the form of Mark Lawrenson, clearly haven’t a clue.  Indeed if one simply looked at the home and away records thus far in the league and predicted on the basis of that, one would be more accurate.

So for the forthcoming match at home to Wolverhampton on Thursday, we would look at Arsenal’s home form and Wolverhampton’s away form.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
3 Arsenal home 12 8 2 2 20 9 11 26
5 Wolverhampton Wands away 12 7 2 3 13 8 5 23

Comparing the home and away form we can see the teams are evenly matched, with the one standout point being that Wolverhampton can hardly score more than one goal a game away from home, while Arsenal are headling toward two goals a game.

Beyond that, the defences are fairly evenly balanced – and so we might conclude that Arsenal will win by the odd goal: 2-1 would be the most likely score.

Of course, I might be completely wrong in this prediction, but I’m just doing this as a one off.  Lawrenson is employed to write this stuff (or at least dictate it) by the BBC, which means I, as a license fee payer, am paying part of his salary (which gives me the right to comment!)

Quite why Lawrenson over estimates Manchester United, Leicester City and Leeds United all the time, while under-estimating Wolverhampton, I am not sure.   But maybe it is because no one has ever told him that it is the points that matter, not goals scored.


12 Replies to “Checking the pundit’s accuracy: How Lawrenson gets Arsenal oh so wrong.”

  1. I usually do follow his predictions before the games starts,he’s always skeptical about Arsenal especially, i hardly see him praise the team or write something favourable for Arsenal,same thing with Garth Crooks whenever he wants to make his totw. What am just happy about is how Arsenal keep disappointing them,can’t wait for Arsenal to make the top 4 and they have eggs on their faces since none of them predicted Arsenal to be in the top 4.

  2. Stephen

    The problem is they don’t see it as egg on their face as I believe they know they know full well they are talking crap most of the time, it is just criticising Arsenal is what they do, it’s what they are paid to do. So rather than wiping egg of their face, they just either continue predicting imminent failure, or just find something else to criticise us about. The notion they should ever concede they was wrong, display any contrition, or heaven forbid admit to talking out of their backsides, would never enter their little heads. Wrong about Arsenal being crap ? Of course not. I mean, how was they supposed to know others were going to be even worse ?

    Remember when we came second to Leicester? That was nothing to do with us if you recall, it was all down to Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea all going through a ‘transition’.

  3. 18th minute
    ajax 1 benfica 0
    tadic on target; “weaker” foot – what an outstanding football player he is, just watch for yourselves
    high-press masterclass; benfica just can’t catch their breath

  4. breathtaking game in lisbon
    about tomorrow … rafa silva looks like he is the only portuguese player the wolves scouting department have missed out on , and for that i’m extremely thankful
    benfica had fielded basically the same team as they did against us 2 years ago in the Europa: knockout stages of the CL is where our young squad belongs

  5. And the latest gem from “The BBC’s Football EXPERT”

    Lawro’s prediction: Burnley 1-2 Tottenham

    You can make that +7 for Spurs now!

    I really hope he doesn’t predict a win for us tomorrow !!

  6. Conte following the win at Man City:

    “This group of players is fantastic. Honestly this is one of the best group of players I’ve worked with in my career”.

    Conte following tonight’s defeat Burnley:

    From Sam Matterface

    “The way Conte just spoke to me just now he was clearly suggesting that he was going to quit as Spurs manager. ” I have to talk to the club”.

    It’s his own fault. Did Conte actually have a look at what Spurs have achieved over the last 20 years or did he just believe what talkshite said about them ?

  7. Interesting. Fourth is not a trophy still clings to my memory.
    And now Conte talks about the race for fourth place….
    Guess Mr Wenger was right all along, and was right before all the othes again

    As for Arsenal’s situation, 4th is there for the taking. Winning against the top 3 is less important then beating the teams below us, which is precisely what Arsenal has been capable of doing regularly all season. I’d rather we beat Wolves then Pool! right now. Wouldn’t mind beating both however.

  8. It is great seeing Lawrenson billed as “the BBC’s football expert” who takes on random pop stars, actors, overseas non-footballing sports players with his predictions each week. Sometimes they will predict their favourite EPL team to win 10-0 and their rivals to lose 10-0. Yet still they often beat Lawrenson with their predictions (apart from the 10-0 bit obviously!).

    I think he more than adequately demonstrated his “expert” credentials in the most recent world cup (or was it the Euro’s??). He and all the BBC commentators and pundits all gave their predictions match by match for every game of the tournament. There were about 20 or 30 of them I recall. Lawrenson finished rock bottom by a long way. “Football expert”… arse!

  9. It looks like Spurs will need to take over 28 points from their remaining 14 games to make the top 4. Conte is becoming increasingly erratic during interviews. Will he still be there at the end of the season? If not, who would take the job? Mark Hughes is not available.

  10. “For some bonkers reason which I am sure he will never explain, he constantly predicts wins for Leicester, Leeds and Manchester United, and so has predicted they will each have between 15 and 17 more points than they have actually received”.

    And so it continues. Today he predicted a 3 – 0 win for Man Utd. Final score:

    Man Utd 0 – 0 Watford.

    That makes 18 points too many he has predicted for Man Utd so far.

    If indeed United had been as good as Lawro thinks they are they we now be sitting top of the table.

    And he gets paid for this ‘twaddle’

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