Never before has there been so much wanton destruction at the business end of the Predictorship table: the leading eight predictors mustered just 20 points between them.
With Mike Dufficyâ€™s two points banked early in the totting up process, forward-thinking Predictorship scribes were surmising that the door to the title race was about to be flung wide open. How wrong they were. The door is now padlocked, bolted and boarded up as, remarkably, Jerseyâ€™s top man maintains his 10-point cushion. Boo and, indeed, hiss.
The Predictorship has become cagier than a high-security prison, with all the top dogs erring on the side of caution rather than outmanoeuvring their similarly cautious rivals by predicting a sneaky draw here or an unexpected away win there. Playing it safe is the new taking a risk.
Speaking from bitter experience and delving into the thought process of a so-called title contender, there was no way JosÃ© that Chelsea or Manchester United were ever going to drop points in their tricky away fixtures on Saturday. The result? Two 1-1 draws, two points each for last weekâ€™s top four and the unbearable stench of stalemate.
The movers are shakers this week are those brave souls who put their necks on the line and diverted the oncoming locomotive of despair: Patrick Bevilacqua predicted 1-1 draws for Birmingham, Portsmouth and Newcastle. Spot on. Nine points. David Roberts missed out on Birmingham but nabbed the other two. Eight points. Sally Moon was one of four players to record sevens, aided by 1-1 predictions for BOTH Chelsea and Manchester United. The other three all struck gold with either Chelsea or United. The moral of this tale: When you remove the cage, you unleash a point-scoring beast.
Or, is it acceptable in this day and age, to throw caution to the wind when you have little or nothing to play for? You can only look silly if it doesn’t work, and that’s no crime round these parts. Discuss.
Consequently, with Mike crawling towards the 200-point milestone, Sally and Patrick join the nine-man race for second spot and, all rather prettily, there are now three teams on 186 points, three on 184 and another three on 182.
Marion Waller has been devilishly inconsistent this season, slugging it out in mid-table, but her powers of predicting the unexpected remain admirably undimmed. She collects her third consecutive â€˜Prediction of the Weekâ€™ accolade this week (her fourth in the last five weeks and seventh in total this season) for Manchester City 1 Arsenal 3. If there was an award for â€˜Predictor of the Seasonâ€™ that excluded the league champion, Marion would already be a leading contender, if not the ONLY contender.
In other news, Cathryn Harkerâ€™s Clapton F.C. have made it through to Round 2 of The Predictorship Cup with a 3-2 win at home to Dave McAleerâ€™s Crystal Palace. Stay tuned for news of the Round 2 draw. The ties kick off on the weekend of 16th-17th February.
Did you hear about the 44-year-old Yorkshireman who defied odds of 6,802-1 to scoop Â£7,000 from a Â£1 bet predicting the results of 31 games in the UK and abroad? Well I did. The lucky punter cashed in before the 32nd game in the sequence, a fixture that was postponed and would have signalled an end to his remarkable run of good fortune. How ironic in a week when the average score is 4.24 and many of us cannot even match one correct score in 10, let alone 31. Maybe we should track him down and invite him to join The Predictorship next season.
Premier League Results (Week 27): Birmingham 1-1 Derby (5); Blackburn 0-0 Everton (2); Liverpool 3-0 Sunderland (7); Manchester City 1-3 Arsenal (1); Portsmouth 1-1 Chelsea (9); Reading 0-2 Bolton (0); Tottenham 1-1 Manchester United (3); Wigan 1-0 West Ham (1); Fulham 2-1 Aston Villa (1); Newcastle 1-1 Middlesbrough (5).
* Figures in brackets show the number of correct predictions for each game.
Highest Score (Week 27): 9 â€“ Patrick Bevilacqua.
Average Score (Week 27): 4.24.
Predictions of the Week (Week 27): Janet Jones (Fulham 2-1 Aston Villa) and Marion Waller (Manchester City 1-3 Arsenal).
Top of the Table (Week 27):
1. Jersey United (Mike Dufficy) â€“ 196 pts
2. Manchester City (Christine Butters) â€“ 186 pts
3. Chelsea (Dave Taylor) â€“ 186 pts
4. Nottingham Forest (Matthew White) â€“ 186 pts
5. West Ham United (Wendy Nathan) â€“ 184 pts
6. Blackburn Rovers (Sally Moon) â€“ 184 pts
7. Charlton Athletic (Nigel Birrell) â€“ 184 pts
8. FC Squan 1980 (Patrick Bevilacqua) â€“ 182 pts
9. Crystal Palace (Dave McAleer) â€“ 182 pts
10. Clapton F.C. (Cathryn Harker) â€“ 182 pts
Quotes of the Week (all from â€˜Match of the Dayâ€™) â€¦
â€œSometimes he must even amaze himselfâ€ â€“ Steve Wilson on Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese scored his 27th goal of the season with one of the most outrageous free kicks the Premier League has ever seen.
â€œWeâ€™ve shown inconsistency the whole season. Itâ€™s been up-and-down rollercoaster stuffâ€ â€“ Birminghamâ€™s clichÃ©-ridden gaffer Alex McLeish.
â€œSven Goran Eriksson is looking as close to angry as he can getâ€ â€“ Guy Mowbray as the Swedeâ€™s team of odd-balls, Manchester City, go from bad to worse.
â€œAshley Cole (is) getting a good deal of stick. You expect that when youâ€™re playing away from homeâ€ â€“ Another legendary line from the top drawer of ace commentator Steve Wilson, who was watching Chelsea pick up a point at Portsmouth. Could anyone hear what the Pompey crowd were shouting about Coleâ€™s wife Cheryl?