Cheltenham Townâ€™s Rob Dimery (26th), New Englandâ€™s Anuradha Shenoy (9th) and Nottingham Forestâ€™s Matthew White (3rd) take the honours in week 17, each weighing in with 11 points.
Robâ€™s FOUR correct scores smear a whole lot more icing on a cake he all but decorated in week 14 when he registered a seasonâ€™s best score of 13. GWRâ€™s seasoned editorial wonderkid now has a magnificent 25 correct scores to his name, more than any other predictor bar runaway leader Mike Dufficy, who has 26.
Rookie predictor Anuradha, who usurps her other half, Saleel Sathe (13th), returns to the top 10 and is now just one place shy of her personal best. Eight correct results and three correct scores make it all possible for Indiaâ€™s new heroine.
Matthew, with more correct results to his name â€“ 107 â€“ than any predictor on the face of the planet and eyeing a fourth consecutive top 10 finish in the league, rises to a new peak thanks to an inspired goalless draw prediction for the Portsmouth-Everton match plus two more maximums.
A bunch of fives: The aforementioned Mike (129 points) â€“ five weeks in pole position â€“ has a comfortable five-point lead over Chelseaâ€™s Dave Taylor (124), with Matthew (123), Charlton Athleticâ€™s Nigel Birrell (122) and Clapton F.C.â€™s Cathryn Harker (122) in close attendance. The top five now enjoy a five-point cushion over the nearest raider, West Hamâ€™s Wendy Nathan (117).
Not content with making the usual 10 predictions, some players took it upon themselves to offer additional commentary on the weekendâ€™s fixtures â€“ and much more besides.
â€œFat Samâ€ (Allardyce) will be sacked after Newcastleâ€™s 3-0 defeat at Blackburn, warned Rob Molloy. (Not yet.) â€œI feel your pain on the Croatia thing,â€ sympathised Gabe Bevilacqua. (Er, thanks.) Ipswich-Barnsley (in the Championship) has â€œhumdinger written all over it, literally,â€ enthused Nick Watson. (If by â€œliteral humdingerâ€ you mean a scoreless draw, then yes it was.) And as for Stewart Newport, there was no stopping him as he embarked on another commentary crusade.
â€œExcitement with Sunderland-Derby and Reading-The Boro,â€ began Stewartâ€™s latest missive in response to David Robertsâ€™ fixture list introduction. â€œI think you are overexcited. Now, if the following happened this weekend, then excitement abounds:
* Aston Villa-Arsenal: Wenger’s bad mood from Tuesday hangs over and he lamps Martin O’Neill;
* Blackburn-Newcastle: Toon Army shout â€œyou are not fit to wear the shirtâ€; Big Sam (aka â€œFat Samâ€) obliges and puts one on. He looks like a stripy Michelin man;
* Chelsea-West Ham: Avram Grant maintains a calm air â€¦ the man is dull, devoid of excitement. (Sadly the only true statement here.);
* Portsmouth-Everton: Police arrest David James (whilst looking for Harry after a daring escape from custody in a helicopter) for a haircut in the shape of a copper’s helmet: he had even installed a flashing blue light;
* Reading-Middlesbrough: Steve Coppell gets quite excited at the win but then remembers he is a thinker and goes into one on the angularity of Gareth Southgate’s chin being not unlike the formation of his midfield;
* Sunderland-Derby: Roy Keane rubs his stubble and makes his hand spontaneously combust. Paul Jewell refers to the Derby fans as â€œgreatâ€;
* Wigan-Manchester City: Sven is seen getting the number of a police woman. (This has to be true as well.);
* Liverpool-Bolton: Rafa is seen wearing a Stars and Stripes tie;
* Tottenham-Birmingham: Robinson saves a penalty and makes several good saves, wakes up, realises he has missed the game and finds out he was replaced by the team mascot, Peter, aged 8, from Hertford. He has a tidy game but gets booked for time-wasting;
* Manchester United-Fulham: Fergie warmly congratulates the ref on a good game and even gives up on his childish season-long strop and is seen talking to â€˜Match of the Dayâ€™ post-match.
Now back to reality. Are you â€œUp for the Cupâ€?
The Predictorship Cup returns on the weekend of 5th & 6th January with a Preliminary Round for players occupying positions 22-43 in the Predictorship table as of 1st January 2008.
If youâ€™re lucky enough to be in the top 21 positions on 1st January, you won’t take part in the Preliminary Round and your name will go straight into the hat for Round 1 (26th & 27th January), along with the winners of the 11 Preliminary Round ties.
(Note: it’s just been confirmed that there’s a double double-header of Predictorship fixtures over the festive period, so there are points galore up for grabs between now and 1st January and more than enough time to secure a top-21 place for those languishing near the bottom of the league – or fall like a stone into the nether regions of the table).
The Predictorship Cup is a straight knock-out competition. You predict the weekâ€™s fixtures in the normal way and the points you score not only count towards your League campaign but also your Cup score. In simple terms, if you score more points than your Cup opponent, you progress to the next round at his or her expense.
If you score the same number of points as your opponent, the tie goes to a replay the following weekend. If the replay ends in a draw, the player with the most correct scores in the replay (or over the two weekends if players still cannot be separated) progresses to the next round. If there is still no winner, the highest-ranked player in that weekâ€™s league table goes forward to the next round.
The rest of this seasonâ€™s Predictorship Cup dates are: Round 2 (16th & 17th February); Quarter-Finals (8th & 9th March); Semi-Finals (5th & 6th April); Final (17th May). All dates correspond with FA Cup weekends.
A round-up of the weekendâ€™s Predictorship Cup action will appear on FC Camena alongside the regular League updates.
Millwallâ€™s John Collins won the inaugural Predictorship Cup in 2006, and Sheffield Wednesdayâ€™s Janet Jones â€“ the first predictor to do the League and Cup double, albeit in different seasons â€“ walked off with the trophy in 2007. Will you add your name to this list of winners in 2008?
Premier League Results (Week 17): Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal (11); Blackburn 3-1 Newcastle (0); Chelsea 1-0 West Ham (3); Portsmouth 0-0 Everton (2); Reading 1-1 Middlesbrough (4); Sunderland 1-0 Derby (14); Wigan 1-1 Manchester City (10); Liverpool 4-0 Bolton (1); Tottenham 2-3 Birmingham (0); Manchester United 2-0 Fulham (9).
* Figures in brackets show the number of correct predictions for each game.
Highest Score (Week 17): 11 â€“ Rob Dimery, Anuradha Shenoy and Matthew White.
Average Score (Week 17): 7.39.
Prediction of the Week (Week 17): Rob Molloy (Liverpool 4-0 Bolton). Honourable mentions to Nicola Savage and Gary Waller, the only two predictors who thought Alex McLeishâ€™s new charges, Birmingham, were capable of picking up three points at Tottenham (both went for a 2-1 win for the Blues).
Top of the Table (Week 17):
1. Jersey United (Mike Dufficy) â€“ 129 pts
2. Chelsea (Dave Taylor) â€“ 124 pts
3. Nottingham Forest (Matthew White) â€“ 123 pts
4. Charlton Athletic (Nigel Birrell) â€“ 122 pts
5. Clapton F.C. (Cathryn Harker) â€“ 122 pts
6. West Ham United (Wendy Nathan) â€“ 117 pts
7. Watford (David Roberts) â€“ 116 pts
8. Manchester City (Christine Butters) â€“ 116 pts
9. New England (Anuradha Shenoy) â€“ 114 pts
10. Crystal Palace (Dave McAleer) â€“ 113 pts
â€œDuring actual matches, it is as though everybodyâ€™s brains are switched off. People play by instinct, how they did when they first discovered footballâ€ â€“ Chelseaâ€™s Florent Malouda has a go at the Premier League.
â€œYou can eat whatever you like, drink Coke or anythingâ€ â€“ Florent Malouda.
â€œI have been warned about the Christmas periods in English football. They sound terribleâ€ â€“ Surprise, surprise, itâ€™s Florent Malouda again.
â€œIn all fairness, we (the USA) over-performed in 2002, but reverted to the mean in 2006. We have a pretty cushy set-up for qualifying for things, and don’t play very many real matches against quality teamsâ€ â€“ Gabe Bevilacqua. You heard it here first.