Players: 46 out of 49. Points scored: 245. Highest score: 12 (Haresh Mirani). Average score: 5.32. Prediction of the Week: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Chelsea (Haresh Mirani, Sally Moon).
Results: Bolton 0-1 Everton (0); Charlton 1-0 Manchester City (17); Fulham 1-0 Everton (4); Liverpool 2-0 Reading (16); Manchester United 3-0 Portsmouth (7); Newcastle 0-1 Sheffield United(2); Watford 2-0 Middlesbrough (4); Aston Villa 2-0 Blackburn (8); Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Chelsea (2); West Ham 1-0 Arsenal (0).
The streets of Chiswick are silent this week because Hope Arnold (75 points) has reclaimed pole position from West London gambling magnate Nick Watson (74), but it’s tighter at the top than a sumo wrestler’s mawashi.
In another exciting twist to this intriguing Predictorship season, both Christine Butters and Dave Taylor score eight points to close the gap on the leaders and Haresh Mirani, whose clever combination of Sally Moon and John Collins’ predictions has so far reaped rewards beyond his wildest dreams, fires in a massive 12 points. The Bengal Mumbai man soars from 11th to 5th with a stupendous five correct scores (the games at Charlton, Manchester United, Newcastle, Aston Villa and Tottenham). Incredibly, Haresh now has 20 correct scores in 11 weeks.
It’s a disastrous week for three of the bottom four predictors with no Premiership teams finding it in themselves to conjure up a draw. What it all boils down to is Stuart Claxton and Norman No Mates sinking deeper into the “relegation” mire and Della Torra, who earlier in the season was living it up in 4th place, about to topple into the doom-laden swamp.
News that the Los Angeles Galaxy (the only club to use the definite article, I wonder?) are interested in rescuing David Beckham from his bench-warming duties at Real Madrid is great news for all Stateside predictors – and the US economy. From David’s point of view, the chance to hook up with Alexi Lalas, the former Galaxy, New England Revolution, MetroStars and Kansas City Wizards defender, and the only man on the planet who could convincingly win a Chris Barron (lead singer of the Spin Doctors – anyone remember ‘Two Princes’?) lookalike contest, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Brand Beckham + Major League Soccer = ka-ching!
The Predictorship might be a whole new kettle of fish if potty pundit Andy Gray gets his way. The Scottish journeyman, who once scored an incredible 46 goals for Dundee United in just 62 appearances (1973-75), wants to make the goals higher and wider to produce “100-150 more goals a season”. “If we don’t try it, we don’t know,” he gleefully told BBC Radio 5 Live last week, to which a listener replied why not just play with two balls, or smaller balls, have nine-a-side matches or play in the dark.
Another caller, tongue firmly in cheek, suggested top teams should have smaller keepers, no more than 5’8″ tall, leaving giant glovemen to sides such as “Watford and Charlton”. Football purists like Norm No Mates are livid that anyone – let alone a pillar of society like Gray – should suggest such a lame way of doing away with sleep-inducing 0-0 draws. “7-0 to the Arsenal just hasn’t got the same ring to it,” argues Norm. “And you set a dangerous precedent when you start offering the paying public value for money: the motorways would be jammed, Christmas shopping would never get done and stadiums would collapse under the weight of capacity crowds week in, week out expecting nine-goal thrillers, resulting in premature death or serious injury”. Where will all this madness end?
And finally, in tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson, who celebrated 20 years at Manchester United on Monday, here are a few memorable quotes from the durable Scot:
“The lads ran their socks into the ground”; “It’s a conflict of parallels”; “The philosophy of a lot of European teams, even in home matches, is not to give a goal away”; “It was particularly pleasing that our goalscorers scored tonight”; “As with every young player, he’s only 18”.
More next week …