Sam Lavery could find herself in peril on Halloween-themed X Factor this weekend.
Watching a Halloween-themed X Factor is always an extra challenge for elimination backers. That's because a lot of the tactics used to dampen an act's votes - scary outfits, hellish lighting - are no longer the exception but the rule. What punters have to consider is that we're nearly at the halfway point of the live shows. At this point we should have a good idea about which acts producers consider disposable, and which they are likely to continue promoting.
In the former category we can put Ryan Lawrie, Saara Aalto and Four of Diamonds, all of which have already appeared in the bottom three at least once. These acts rightly dominate the next elimination market, and you can make a case for any of them leaving this time. Ryan has relied on the Sunday flash vote to keep him out of trouble the last two weeks, but there's no guarantee producers will keep that for another week.
The acts considered more commercial or good for ratings, and have so far been treated more kindly, are Matt Terry, Five After Midnight, Honey G, Emily Middlemas and Gifty Louise. Of these, a change of tactics and hair for Gifty last week indicates she's not polling as well as producers would hope.
The one act not mentioned so far is Sam Lavery. She's a more debatable case, but some poor staging and no sniff of a great slot in the running order suggests to me she goes in the disposable category, despite high praise from judges throughout. Previous high praise didn't do Relley C any good last week. A lack of realistic or sharp criticism can create a lack of interest in an act, or any motivation to vote for them.
Last week's sharp criticism for Five After Midnight, for example, can be seen as a desperate attempt to keep them talked about, and create a narrative of "bouncing back" this week. If that happens, it's not a good sign for Four of Diamonds as the other group standing. But having tipped the girlband at 3/1 for bottom two last week, they are odds-on to repeat that this week.
It's a slightly tricky week, but with some tabloid stories being unfairly harsh on Sam Lavery, it may be worth chancing her to face some extra scary staging on Halloween that puts her in the bottom two. She has expressed a desire to sing Evanescence, which was the start of Ella Henderson's downfall when an odds-on favourite for the win back in 2012.
Coincidentally, Sam is 3/1 to be bottom two with Ladbrokes, as Four of Diamonds were last week. I'm not quite as confident, so will keep stakes smaller. Another option for punters is to back Sam to be eliminated at a best-priced 12/1, and trade on that if she has a frighteningly bad experience on stage. As always, watching the show on Saturday will tell us more about who producers are looking to sacrifice on Halloween weekend.£30 Risk Free Bet