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Matt Cardle (2.62 Winner market; 1.18 Top 3 market)

Matt is a fantastic singer no doubt and he fully deserves to be favourite to win this year's contest. Even my 'degree-in-music, league two football-loving' friend thinks he will win so that's good enough for me. The one question I will pose to you all though is, has he played his trump card too early? His rendition of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face was spine-tingling admittedly, but that's the song that got the judges' attention at Bootcamp and I would have thought he'd have saved it for later in the show. His propensity for high-pitched songs might catch him out as the competition progresses, but somehow I doubt it as he is in such a strong position now, one below-par week won't be too detrimental to his chances of winning.


Rebecca Ferguson (3.5 W; 1.34 T3)

This girl has an incredible recording voice and without a shadow of a doubt she will be a star. Don't pay any attention to the fact that people are saying she is too shy, that trait didn't do Leona Lewis any harm. And wasn't it refreshing to hear her admit she had to fight to stop herself from crying on Saturday (in contrast to a few other females in the competition who shed tears at every opportunity)? Pulling off a few up-tempo numbers will enhance her chances of winning, but whatever she sings, she'll definitely be in the final three.


One Direction (5.7 W; 1.5 T3)

This manufactured boy band are arguably one of the best groups the X Factor has ever seen, or at least they have the potential to be. They've done nothing wrong so far and can only get better from here on in. The advantage they have for the time being is that they are Simon Cowell's only remaining act. Not only will they get the pop mogul's full attention then, but it also means they won't have to sing in one of the graveyard slots (first or second) for a while. They've got a lot of female fans, so as long as they avoid controversy off the stage they'll be in the final three with Matt and Rebecca.


Cher Lloyd (15.0 W; 2.32 T3)

Whether I'm right or wrong in other people's eyes, I like to think that I say things as I see it, and regarding Cher and her mentor Cheryl Cole I just don't like them. Lloyd had an element of rap in her first three performances and was criticised for it, so to her credit she proved that she didn't have to rap when performing brilliantly in week four. So quite bizarrely, she then goes back to rap in week five! Even more extraordinary is that Princess Cole had the audacity to criticise Mary Byrne (week three) and Aiden Grimshaw (in his VT prior to his week five performance) for singing in the same style each week. How does that work then?


Aiden Grimshaw (22.0 W; 5.0 T3)

Aiden has to be the most boring contestant ever to appear on The X Factor. Some will argue that as long as he can sing - and he can - then it doesn't matter. Unfortunately it does matter however. If you don't connect with the public (ala Treyc Cohen) then you simply won't win. In week one he was dull but brilliant, but in the following weeks he has been just as dull and not so brilliant. He's like the pop equivalent of the Grim Reaper; let's just hope the axe falls on him before his performances kill me off.


Mary Byrne (50.0 W; 6.6 T3)

Mary was spectacular in week's one, two and three, good in week four, and poor - actually make that awful - in week five. It's certainly not the progression of a potential winner that's for certain. Ignore what the judges think is my advice and let Mary belt out those Shirley Bassey classics. After all, she's a real person according to her mentor Louis Walsh, as opposed to his other remaining act Wagner who is a complete and utter muppet!


Wagner (55.0 W; 8.2 T3)

Purely and simply the worse contestant ever to reach this stage of The X Factor. Some will point to Chico and Jedward being particularly poor but at least their only crime was that they couldn't sing. Wagner not only can't sing, but he can't keep up with the music, he can't dance, and contrary to what other people might think, he isn't entertaining. If he were a racehorse his form figures would read 000FP; the 0's meaning he finished way down the field in weeks one, two and three, the F meaning he was so far behind the music in week four he would have fell, and the P meaning he would have been pulled up last week for being so poor.


Paije Richardson (90.0 W; 13.0 T3)

Paije has almost sneaked up unnoticed this year, quietly surviving week by week without doing anything special. He's not a great singer, but he's very likeable and something like big band week (though it's reportedly been axed this year) would be right up his street. Failing that, allowing him to sing soul or jazz might see him survive a bit longer but he'll be gone sooner rather than later.


Katie Waissel (200.0 W; 20.0 T3)

I'll give drama queen Katie some credit, she's a hell of a fighter. Three times she's been involved in a sing-off and each time she's won the backing of the judges. But how Cowell saved her on the grounds that, "I'm going to base this on who, as a viewer, I would like to see next week", was rather baffling. It was only a few weeks ago Cowell was saving an act based on how they performed in the sing-off because that's how it is supposed to be (his words not mine). And doesn't Katie being in the bottom two three weeks out of five suggest that the public don't like her? Contradicting judges and Katie's yoyo style performances mean she is one to avoid in any betting market.


By Mike Norman

(read more at betting.betfair.com)
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