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It goes from bad to worse, betting wise that is, for me on this year's X Factor and it's time to apportion some blame. I'm not one to point an accusing finger usually but needs must, and you lot are the ones I'm not happy with.

Do you not remember that the week before last you loved Amelia Lily, you voted her back into the competition, and you saved her from elimination with ease? And do you not remember you disliked Misha Bryan and put her in the bottom two for the second time in three weeks?

This is not a singing competition remember. We all agreed to put the acts in an order based on how much we like them, and then we proceed to vote off the least favourite each week. On Sunday we were supposed to get rid of Bryan, not Craig Colton. Anyway, I've had a whip round and I've managed to put a few quid together to wager on a few certainties this weekend. But remember, stick to the plan; Lily and Bryan are still bottom of our list.

Nothing should surprise us anymore on this year's show. Just look at Little Mix (Rhythmix). They were matched at 150.0 to win the competition five or six weeks ago, now they are vying for favouritism at around 3.2. In fact, every one of the five remaining acts has been favourite at some point.

To be fair, Little Mix have arguably been the best performers in recent weeks, and Saturday's rendition of En Vogue's Don't Let Go elevated them to the 'very possible winners' status. For a girl group to get to the last five on the X Factor is some achievement, but for a girl group to get to the last five from 16 finalists having never been in the bottom two of a public vote speaks volumes for both their talent and popularity.

And it's that talent v popularity debate that is oh so vital from this point in.

I was being flippant earlier when I said that The X Factor isn't a singing competition, but there is more than an element of truth to that comment. All five remaining acts have proved they are capable of winning the competition; in other words, on their day they're as good as each other. And that means that who wins simply boils down to who has the most fans.

Singing ability is almost a second requirement now. True, a good or bad week on the stage might win or lose a performer 5,000 votes, but that is likely to make very little difference to someone who has a whole country (Janet Devlin - Ireland) or city (Marcus Collins - Liverpool) behind them.

And it's the popularity factor that means I can easily rule out Lily (9.0) and Bryan (14.0) from winning this year. I live in a town just outside of Middlesbrough and there's very little support for 'our' girl up here; nothing in the local papers, nothing on the local news, and 'Boro itself - and the surrounding towns - are tiny in population. Bryan on the other hand just seems generally unpopular, and it appears a day doesn't go by without some negative press about her. This will surely take its toll this weekend or next.

It's difficult to work out how much support, and where from, Little Mix have, so at this stage I'd be reluctant to get them on side. But if you haven't already had a bet this year then my advice would be to split your stakes on Collins (3.2) and Devlin (5.2) in the Winner market - both of whom appear to have huge support.

To this week's bets then. I will be gutted if Little Mix get eliminated without me backing them after being unsure of their support, so a small wager goes on them at 21.0 in the 12th Elimination market.

But I have to make Lily my main bet in this market at 3.5 with a saver on Bryan at 3.1. A Lily or Little Mix exit will result in a good profit, a Bryan exit will result in us breaking even on this market. A bet on Misha/Amelia at 3.2 in the Bottom Two Combo market is also recommended, just in case the public follow the plan. You never know.

Recommended Bets
Back Amelia Lily @ 3.5 in 12th Elimination market (5pts)
Back Little Mix (Rhythmix) @ 21.0 in 12th Elimination market (1pt)
Back Misha Bryan @ 3.1 in 12th Elimination market (3pts)
Back Misha/Amelia @ 3.2 in Bottom Two Combo market (2pts)


For more X Factor betting articles, go to http://betting.betfair.com/specials/xfactor/
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