Players: 37 out of 49 (disappointing). Points scored: 198. Highest score: 9 (Tom Palmer, Mark Young). Average score: 5.35. Prediction of the Week: Mazair Sattari (Fulham 0-1 Reading).
Results: Aston Villa 1-1 Middlesbrough (5); Bolton Wanderers 3-1 Arsenal (0); Charlton Athletic 1-1 Everton (8); Fulham 0-1 Reading (1); Liverpool 1-0 Manchester City (3); West Ham United 1-0 Sheffield United (10); Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea (5); Newcastle United 1-0 Portsmouth (3); Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Wigan Athletic (3); Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Cardiff City (1).
It was billed as the match of the season, the title decider (in November?! – are you serious?), a battle to the death between Rooney red and Ballack blue. Hope Arnold (Manchester United) and Dave Taylor (Chelsea) went into the weekend with much more than three points at stake.
Indeed, the opportunity to put some diminishing daylight between pole position and the runner-up spot, snaffle the psychological advantage and take a sizeable leap towards wrestling the Predictorship title from Mike Dufficy had to be more important than a meaningless Premiership clash at Old Trafford. And so it proved.
While Manchester United and Chelsea were cancelling each other out on Sunday afternoon (much to the chagrin of this writer, who was banking on a 1-0 home win to rescue a wretched weekend of predicting), Dave was 1-0-ing his way to a three-point lead at the top of the table.
Dave was one of four predictors to return home with three correct scores (Tom Palmer, Nick Watson and Mark Young were the others) while Hope was busy “forgetting to submit her scores because of Thanksgiving”. Luckily for the turkey-gobbling United fan, three one-all draws and a goalless Championship encounter at Sheffield Wednesday gave her five points – just two less than Dave – to keep her title aspirations very much alive and kicking, which is more than can be said for the poor turkeys.
Nick Watson is a point behind Hope after predicting a “goal shy week” (18 goals in 10 games confirmed his suspicions), Mark Young moves into the top 10 for the first time after “giving thanks for lots of correct results” (six, in fact) and Tom Palmer makes headway in mid-table after netting nine times to share this week’s top score spoils with Mark.
Although they narrowly missed out on “prediction of the week” to Mazair Sattari, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that John Collins, Cathryn Harker and the aforementioned Mark scored maximum points for Tottenham 3 Wigan 1, which, in a drab week for goals, is highly commendable.
At this time of year, it’s important to spare a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves. This week’s unfortunate is Gabe Bevilacqua, mourning the loss of Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, who sensationally “blew out his knee” (sounds painful!) on November 19 to pretty much end the Eagles’ season. We hope you can come to terms with your loss, Gabe.
Quote of the week: “We bought 23 single tickets at Hangar Lane station and our unsung hero was Jay Tabb, who knew we had to change at Hammersmith to go to Shepherd’s Bush. I feel a bit sorry for him as I didn’t even put him in the team” – Coventry manager Micky Adams on his squad’s London Underground adventure after their team bus got stuck in traffic on the way to Shepherd’s Bush-based QPR.