Maziar Sattariâ€™s Gooners are the pride of Seattle â€“ and north London â€“ with 12 points, a return that lifts the Arsenal fan up to 14th.
Maziarâ€™s magic haul, matched or bettered by only five predictors this term and one up on his two scores of 11 in weeks 2 and 19, is made up of four correct scores: the games at Blackburn, Reading, Wigan and â€“ most impressively â€“ Newcastle, where King Kevâ€™s second coming was expected to herald the return of the â€œYou score four, weâ€™ll score fiveâ€ mentality. Not a bit of it. Only Maziar and, with alarming predictability, Norma No Mates, were perfectly in toon with the ensuing goalless bore draw.
For the first time this season, all 10 fixtures attracted at least one correct prediction, which goes some way to explaining this weekâ€™s healthy average (7.59) and impressive, double-digit returns for Stewart Newport (11), Joe Zalewski (11), Rob Dimery (10), Steve McHugh (10) â€“ who sets a new seasonal high as he rises from 23rd to 20th â€“ and Ted Warland (10). Furthermore, we very nearly had a full turn-out of predictors this week: 42 took to the field of play with only you-know-who absent for the 13th consecutive week.
Itâ€™s the same old story at the top, with Mike Dufficy extending his lead to 10 points over Dave Taylor, who ended up cursing injury-time goals by Manchester United and Tottenham that scuppered his chances of picking up another two 1-0 results and a total of nine points. Seven it was.
David Roberts and Janet Jones, meanwhile, Church Langleyâ€™s bride- and groom-to-be, understandably have other things on their minds as their wedding day looms on the horizon, but Davidâ€™s three points and Janetâ€™s four hastily bring the words â€˜focusâ€™ and â€˜take each weekend as it comesâ€™ and the odd flying teacup and/or boot into, and hurtling across, the coupleâ€™s respective dressing rooms.
The Predictorship Cup …
The draw has been made for Round 1 of The Predictorship Cup, which kicks off next weekend (26th-27th January). To counter allegations of match-fixing, the 32 teams involved were numbered 1-32 in alphabetical order, from Benfica to Wycombe Wanderers, and subjected to Nick Watsonâ€™s tamper-proof Randomizer 32, which, as the name suggests, chucked out the numbers in a fashion that can only be described as random.
One tie sticks out like a sore thumb: barely seven days after both reeled in 10 points in week 24, Mike Dufficyâ€™s Jersey United, 10 points clear at the top of the league, welcome Charlton Athleticâ€™s Nigel Birrell, showing an increasing degree of menace in fifth, to the largest of the Channel Islands.
The only other tussle involving teams currently residing in the leagueâ€™s top 10 pits Dave McAleerâ€™s sixth-placed Crystal Palace against Cathryn Harkerâ€™s eighth-placed Clapton F.C., while Cup minnows, Michael Whittyâ€™s Bunch of Losers, down and almost out in 41st, will bus it to Saleel Satheâ€™s 10th-placed Liverpool Reserves. The full draw looks something like this:
Round 1 (26th-27th January)
1. BLACKBURN ROVERS (Sally Moon) (9) v WATFORD (David Roberts) (17)
2. SOUTHAMPTON (Tom Palmer) (30) v WYCOMBE WANDERERS (Stewart Newport) (29)
3. LIVERPOOL RESERVES (Saleel Sathe) (10) v BUNCH OF LOSERS (Michael Whitty) (41)
4. PETERBOROUGH UNITED (Steve McHugh) (20) v TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (Simon Gold) (19)
5. SUNDERLAND (Trevor Morris) (34) v QUEENS PARK RANGERS (Marion Waller) (36)
6. JERSEY UNITED (Mike Dufficy) (1) v CHARLTON ATHLETIC (Nigel Birrell) (5)
7. LIVERPOOL (Joe Zalewski) (21) v WEST HAM UNITED (Wendy Nathan) (7)
8. CRYSTAL PALACE (Dave McAleer) (6) v CLAPTON F.C. (Cathryn Harker) (8)
9. TRICKY TREES (Alex Iskandar Liew) (16) v WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (Pete Yoder) (28)
10. STARSENAL (Iain Starr) (33) v MANCHESTER CITY (Christine Butters) (3)
11. EVERTON (Hope Arnold) (32) v CHELSEA (Dave Taylor) (2)
12. DARTMOOR ROVERS (Jill Taylor) (12) v PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (Gabe Bevilacqua) (15)
13. SEATTLE GOONERS (Maziar Sattari) (14) v BENFICA (Steven Dunlop) (18)
14. NOTTINGHAM FOREST (Matthew White) (4) v NORTHAMPTON TOWN (Ben Wallis) (23)
15. NEW ENGLAND (Anuradha Shenoy) (11) v FC SQUAN 1980 (Patrick Bevilacqua) (13)
16. WEST BROMWICH ALBION (Mark Young) (22) v IPSWICH TOWN (Nick Watson) (24)
* Figures in brackets show league position on 21st January.
The best of luck to all 32 teams this weekend. And remember, even if youâ€™ve already been knocked out of the Cup, where youâ€™re in the good company of previous winners Millwall and Sheffield Wednesday, there are still important league points up for grabs.
If youâ€™ve been living under a rock, or opted out of reading this full report, let me be the first to break the news: King Kevâ€™s back – again – at Newcastle. Overlooking the Daily Starâ€™s revelation that BOTH his daughters are dating Manchester United fans, we take a more considered view of Keeganâ€™s jaw-dropping appointment by offering you 20 of his most quotable quotes, in no particular order of daftness:
* “The 33 or 34-year-olds will be 36 or 37 by the time the next World Cup comes around, if they’re not careful”
* “I’ll never play at Wembley again, unless I play at Wembley again”
* â€œThe tide is very much in our court nowâ€
* â€œIt’s like a toaster, the ref’s shirt pocket. Every time there’s a tackle, up pops a yellow cardâ€
* â€œThe ref was vertically 15 yards awayâ€
* â€œGoalkeepers aren’t born today until they’re in their late 20s or 30sâ€
* â€œYou can’t do better than go away from home and get a drawâ€
* â€œI’m not disappointed – just disappointedâ€
* â€œA tremendous strike which hit the defender full on the arm – and it nearly came offâ€
* â€œI know what’s around the corner – I just don’t know where the corner is. But the onus is on us to perform and we must control the bandwagonâ€
* â€œIn some ways, cramp is worse than having a broken legâ€
* â€œIt’s understandable that people are keeping one eye on the pot and another up the chimneyâ€
* â€œI’d love to be a mole on the wall in the Liverpool dressing room at half-timeâ€
* â€œArgentina won’t be at Euro 2000 because they’re from South Americaâ€
* â€œThey’re the second best team in the world, and there’s no higher praise than thatâ€
* â€œLuis Figo is totally different to David Beckham, and vice versaâ€
* â€œI want more from David Beckham. I want him to improve on perfectionâ€
* â€œYou get bunches of players like you do bananas, though that is a bad comparisonâ€
* â€œShaun Wright-Phillips has got a big heart. It’s as big as him, which isn’t very big, but it’s biggerâ€
* â€œNicolas Anelka left Arsenal for Â£23 million and they built a training ground on himâ€
Premier League Results (Week 25): Birmingham 0-1 Chelsea (4); Blackburn 1-1 Middlesbrough (5); Fulham 0-3 Arsenal (7); Newcastle 0-0 Bolton (2); Portsmouth 3-1 Derby (2); Reading 0-2 Manchester United (16); Tottenham 2-0 Sunderland (7); Manchester City 1-1 West Ham (8); Wigan 1-2 Everton (17); Liverpool 2-2 Aston Villa (2).
* Figures in brackets show the number of correct predictions for each game.
Highest Score (Week 25): 12 â€“ Maziar Sattari.
Average Score (Week 25): 7.59.
Predictions of the Week (Week 25): Simon Gold and Marion Waller (Portsmouth 3-1 Derby); Iain Starr and Ted Warland (Liverpool 2-2 Aston Villa).
Top of the Table (Week 25):
1. Jersey United (Mike Dufficy) â€“ 187 pts
2. Chelsea (Dave Taylor) â€“ 177 pts
3. Manchester City (Christine Butters) â€“ 176 pts
4. Nottingham Forest (Matthew White) â€“ 175 pts
5. Charlton Athletic (Nigel Birrell) â€“ 174 pts
6. Crystal Palace (Dave McAleer) â€“ 171 pts
7. West Ham United (Wendy Nathan) â€“ 170 pts
8. Clapton F.C. (Cathryn Harker) â€“ 170 pts
9. Blackburn Rovers (Sally Moon) â€“ 168 pts
10. Liverpool Reserves (Saleel Sathe) â€“ 168 pts