Players: 46 out of 49. Points scored: 238. Highest score: 8 (Basil Bradley, James Bradley, Paul Dolan, Saleel Sathe, Dave Taylor, Pete Yoder, Joe Zalewski). Average score: 5.17. Prediction of the Week: Wigan 3-2 Charlton (Patrick Bevilacqua).
Results: Manchester City 0-0 Newcastle (1); Chelsea 4-0 Watford (2); Everton 0-1 Aston Villa (0); Middlesbrough 1-0 West Ham (7); Portsmouth 1-1 Fulham (3); Sheffield United 2-2 Bolton (3); Wigan 3-2 Charlton (1); Blackburn 0-1 Manchester United (3); Arsenal 3-0 Liverpool (0); Reading 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur (0).
Eight weeks after relinquishing pole position to Hope Arnold, Chelsea’s Dave Taylor bounces back to the summit with eight points – a top score matched by six other predictors this week.
Dave, who always delivers 1-0 or 0-1 predictions, struck gold with the games at Middlesbrough and Blackburn but shot narrowly wide with the week’s third 1-0 scoreline, Everton 0-1 Aston Villa.
By her very high standards, Hope has an average week (six points) but joins Dave on 81 points with three fewer correct scores. It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that Dave and Hope represent the Premiership’s runaway leaders, Chelsea and Manchester United. With a three-point cushion and Arsenal’s Ted Warland nowhere in sight, these are dark days for league underdogs everywhere.
With no change at the wrong end of the table, there’s just time to mention Patrick Bevilacqua’s marvellous Wigan 3 Charlton 2 prediction, which will go forward to a Match of the Day-style Prediction of the Season competition where you can vote for your favourite, er, prediction of the season. Another trophy please, Mr Chairman!
And now for some important Predictorship Cup news …
Whether you’re “up for the Cup” or loathe the unnecessary distraction from the bread and butter of the league, you’ll all be entering the Predictorship Cup again this season.
In fact, when I say “all”, I mean everyone except Norman No Mates, who, due to an uneven number of predictors this season is expelled (not to mention the fact that he cheekily progressed to Round 1 last season at the expense of bona fide, subscription-paying Predictorship legend Simon Gold). The top 16 predictors as at December 31 will automatically progress to the first round proper and the rest (32 predictors) will scrap for the remaining 16 places in Round 1 in a nerve-jangling preliminary round which eliminated just about everyone working at GWR’s old Euston Road office last season. So much for home advantage.
Following a professionally-conducted draw, the preliminary round will take place on FA Cup Round 3 weekend (January 6-7), with the first round proper on January 27-28 (FA Cup Round 4 weekend). The other dates for your diary (which all correspond with FA Cup weekends) are: February 17-18 (Round 2), March 10-11 (quarter-finals), April 14-15 (semi-finals) and May 19 (final).
Lion John Collins is in no mood to loosen his grip on the magnificent Predictorship Cup trophy which sits proudly on a bookcase in the lounge of his Suffolk home for all to admire. John is confident of repeating his 2006 success and making it a famous double, so the rest of us had better pull our socks up and get stuck into the Cup when it returns in the new year. It would be rude not to.
On the subject of Cups, news has reached us on this side of the Pond that “The Men in Orange”, Houston Dynamo, saw off the New England Revolution to lift the Major League Soccer Cup.
Dynamo, who rose out of the ashes of the San Jose Earthquakes when they relocated (so I’m reliably informed) triumphed 4-3 on penalties after it finished 1-1 in “regulation time”. A gold star to anyone outside the US who knew Kenny Dalglish’s son, Paul, is a Dynamo forward or that former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol coaches the Revolution. And a knighthood and the freedom of New England to anyone who knew the Revs have the only Welsh player in Major League Soccer in their ranks – midfielder Andy Dorman. Flintshire’s Andy is apparently great at “evincing attacking flair”. Has John Toshack got his number?
“No-one hands you cups on a plate” – former Newcastle, Liverpool and England midfielder Terry McDermott