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I'm in a state of confusion. Not only am I baffled as to why Frankie Cocozza is still in the competition and bewildered that Sophie Habibis isn't, I'm also extremely undecided as to how to play the two best singers still in with a shout of winning.

Last week saw Rhythmix change their name, a member of The Risk quit, and Kelly Rowland temporarily replaced by Alexandra Burke on the judging panel, the only important news is that for the first time since this year's X Factor commenced I find myself admitting that absolutely anyone can win this, except Cocozza of course.

Earlier this week the leading three in the Winner market prior to Saturday night's live show - Janet Devlin (3.7), The Risk (5.5), and Misha Bryan (8.4) - all drifted in the betting, whilst the other acts (excluding Cocozza) all shortened, and in Marcus Collins' (7.4) and Craig Colton's (6.4) case, shortened dramatically.

That's thanks in large to Saturday's performances. Devlin's rendition of Every Breath You Take was good without being spectacular, but I agree with Gary Barlow's concerns that she is singing the same kind of dreary song each week. It's ok for me to say this, though it's a bit rich coming from Barlow when two of his Boys - Cocozza and Colton - have sang in exactly the same fashion every week thus far.

The Risk, with yet another tweak to their line-up, killed Michael Jackson all over again with an out-of-tune rendition of Thriller (why did they receive such positive comments?), whilst Bryan, despite a fantastic performance, is suffering, as I feared she would, from the bullying allegations she endured last week.

Bryan being in the bottom two on Sunday night was a complete injustice quite frankly. Along with Kitty Brucknell (36.0) she is easily one of the better, and more consistent, performers in the competition. If only the public would vote on what they see and hear on stage, and not on what the judges have to say or what is said in the media, then this betting lark would be far more straightforward.

But unfortunately that's not how it works and the public can vote how they see fit. And this is why I'm fearful of backing Bryan and Brucknell in any market as they appear to be generally un-liked. Both have been in the bottom two now, and because so I'm reluctantly leaving them go un-backed... for now.

And it's the problem of public perception and popularity that makes this year's competition wide open. Johnny Robinson's bandwagon, as I predicted it would, did roll on and he's now available to back at 22.0 to win (and at 3.5 in the Top Three market for those of you who took my advice to back him at 6.0 last week). As I've said on almost a weekly basis, he's vocally not good enough to win, but his popularity is immense and he's miles clear in the clap-o-meter ratings.

Colton and Collins are very steady performers but we don't know exactly how popular they are, whilst it's impossible to rule out girlband Little Mix (15.0) with any confidence also. It's an incredibly difficult puzzle to solve, believe me.

All that makes this week's Eighth Elimination market very intriguing. Cocozza is yet again the strong favourite to go at 2.1 and I believe this could be the week that his sleazy sexploits do catch up with him. But I'm also going to have a one point wager on Collins at 15.0 and place an order to lay him at 5.0. This means that if Collins performs poorly on Saturday and does hit our lay price of 5.0 then we'll make a two points profit (on this bet only) regardless of who gets eliminated. If he doesn't hit the lay price then we'll require him to be eliminated on Sunday to make a massive 14 points profit.

Recommended Bets
Back Frankie Cocozza @ 2.1 in Eighth Elimination market (2pts)
Back Marcus Collins @ 15.0 in Eighth Elimination market (1pt)
(place order to lay Collins at 5.0)


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