Happy New Year!
Mike Dufficyâ€™s 24 points over the frantic festive period establishes a mammoth 10-point lead over the chasing pack. Predictorship HQ might as well book the cross-Channel ferry now to transport the winnerâ€™s trophy to Jersey in May.
Mike netted 10 points in week 20, eight in week 21 and six in an extremely tough week 22 to notch up a 10th consecutive week in pole position. The previous table-topper was Dave Taylor, whose final fling at the top came in week 12.
Despite an under-achieving 19-point Christmas, Dave remains (a distant) second, one point clear of reigning champion Christine Butters. The pride of Manchester (City) matches Mikeâ€™s three-week total of 24 points to move into third. Nobody has retained their title in Predictorship history, but just as Chelsea will eventually slip up at Stamford Bridge, Portsmouth will eventually score at Fratton Park and Reading will tire of 10- or 11-goal thrillers, it will happen sooner or later …
Dave McAleer (8th) was the wisest man over Christmas with 27 points, including a Christine-equalling 11 points in week 20. However, Nick Watson, still to see his beloved Tractor Boys lose at fortress Portman Road in the Championship this season, brought home an even better 13 points in week 20 â€“ a week that saw a probable record 69 correct scores predicted. Sadly, Nickâ€™s joy was short-lived when he forgot to submit his Boxing Day fixtures.
To complete the picture, Simon Gold, who himself opted out of a festive week, bounced back with 10 points in week 21, two more than anyone else, and seven players recorded eights in week 22.
The Predictorship Cup kicks off this weekend with 11 Preliminary Round ties (see below). The line-up, concocted by 2007 Cup winner Janet Jones all the way from Chelsea Gardens, sees Janet host Tom Palmerâ€™s Southampton, fellow Cup victor John Collins feed Millwall to Pete Yoderâ€™s Wolves, Ted Warlandâ€™s Arsenal locks horns with Iain Starrâ€™s Starsenal in an intriguing same stadium clash and Evertonâ€™s Hope Arnold make the short trip down the road to Mark Lawrensonâ€™s Liverpool. If she wishes to do so, Hope is in the enviable position of being able to check out Lawroâ€™s predictions on the BBC Sport website on Friday before returning her completed fixture card. I think thatâ€™s what you call â€˜away advantageâ€™.
A mouth-watering tie against one of the top 21 league predictors at the end of January awaits Preliminary Rounders who score more points than their opponent. Submit your scores as normal and letâ€™s see how it all pans out â€¦
Preliminary Round (5th-6th January)
1. READING RESERVES (Rob Molloy) (38) v TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (Simon Gold) (24)
2. WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (Pete Yoder) (33) v MILLWALL (John Collins) (27)
3. SUNDERLAND (Trevor Morris) (36) v LINFIELD (James Bradley) (41)
4. SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (Janet Jones) (37) v SOUTHAMPTON (Tom Palmer) (26)
5. LIVERPOOL LAWRO (Mark Lawrenson) (23) v EVERTON (Hope Arnold) (31)
6. WYCOMBE WANDERERS (Stewart Newport) (29) v THE NIL-NILS (Norma No Mates) (43)
7. IPSWICH TOWN (Nick Watson) (22) v Q.P.R. (Gary Waller) (30)
8. WINCHESTER CITY (Nicola Savage) (39) v PETERBOROUGH UNITED (Steve McHugh) (25)
9. QUEENS PARK RANGERS (Marion Waller) (35) v CHELTENHAM TOWN (Rob Dimery) (34)
10. ARSENAL (Ted Warland) (28) v STARSENAL (Iain Starr) (32)
11. BUNCH OF LOSERS (Michael Whitty) (40) v CYPRIARKOS F.C. (Neil Hayes) (42)
* Figures in brackets show current league position.
Premier League Results (Week 22): Birmingham 1-1 Fulham (2); Chelsea 2-1 Newcastle (8); Everton 1-4 Arsenal (0); Portsmouth 0-1 Middlesbrough (1); Sunderland 3-1 Bolton (0); Tottenham 6-4 Reading (0); West Ham 2-1 Manchester United (0); Wigan 1-2 Aston Villa (11); Derby 1-2 Blackburn (9); Manchester City 0-0 Liverpool (2).
* Figures in brackets show the number of correct predictions for each game.
Highest Score (Week 22): 8 â€“ Christine Butters, Steven Dunlop, Janet Jones, Dave McAleer, Tom Palmer, Iain Starr and Matthew White.
Average Score (Week 22): 5.21.
Prediction of the Week (Week 22): Rob Dimery (Portsmouth 0-1 Middlesbrough).
For the record â€¦
Highest Score (Week 21): 10 â€“ Simon Gold.
Highest Score (Week 20): 13 â€“ Nick Watson.
Average Score (Week 21): 5.94.
Average Score (Week 20): 7.65.
Prediction of the Week (Week 21): Tom Palmer (Tottenham 4-1 Fulham). Actual result: Tottenham 5-1 Fulham.
Prediction of the Week (Week 20): Mike Dufficy and Marion Waller (Middlesbrough 1-2 West Ham).
Most Popular Correct Prediction (Week 21): Everton 2-0 Bolton (10 Predictors).
Most Popular Correct Prediction (Week 20): Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham (17 Predictors).
Top of the Table (Week 22):
1. Jersey United (Mike Dufficy) â€“ 164 pts
2. Chelsea (Dave Taylor) â€“ 154 pts
3. Manchester City (Christine Butters) â€“ 153 pts
4. Nottingham Forest (Matthew White) â€“ 153 pts
5. Clapton F.C. (Cathryn Harker) â€“ 152 pts
6. Charlton Athletic (Nigel Birrell) â€“ 151 pts
7. West Ham United (Wendy Nathan) â€“ 149 pts
8. Crystal Palace (Dave McAleer) â€“ 148 pts
9. FC Squan 1980 (Patrick Bevilacqua) â€“ 145 pts
10. Blackburn Rovers (Sally Moon) â€“ 145 pts