Sofabet's Daniel Gould has a straight-forecast bet for the X Factor final.
The last few weeks have been a reminder of how much can change during an X Factor live show. Before last Saturday's quarter-final, I had been expecting Saara Aalto to be given the worst treatment. Instead, she was given the most praise for her great rendition of 'The Winner Takes It All', and the coveted final slot in the running order for her second song.
That catapulted the Finn, who was involved in the first two singoffs, to 5/2 second favourite. A 125/1 shot early doors, victory would be the most amazing comeback the show has ever seen. This weekend's treatment will tell us if this is something producers are willing to tolerate. If her vocals are allowed to shine with some stripped back performances, that'll be useful for her; but a big production with wacky costumes will allow judges to call her "cheesy" again.
Matt Terry is not looking so secure at the top of the market, having been overshadowed by Saara last weekend, but remains the 4/6 favourite. But Simon's comment that Matt looked like a guest performer on the Sunday show indicated to me that as of last weekend, he was still Cowell's preferred winner. He's the only semi-final contestant who looks like a shoo-in for the final.
Favourites for elimination this week at 11/8, having survived last week's singoff, are Five After Midnight. The lowest polling quarter-finalist usually gets eliminated in the semi-final. That has been the case every year since weekly stats were published in 2008 with one exception - Luke Friend in 2013. Still, as a group that have been consistently namechecked for the final since the start of the competition, it's not a price that makes any great appeal given the amount of uncertainty surrounding this Saturday's show.
Producers intentions for Emily Middlemas - second favourite in the elimination market at 7/4 - remain unclear. One argument is that she'll bring less than any other act to an arena final in terms of spectacle. That puts her in danger this week. However, another argument is that in recent years the final two on the climactic Sunday have usually steered clear of any previous singoff. That only applies to Emily and Matt among the final four.
What's more, if Matt remains the preferred winner, Emily is a safer opponent for him on that final Sunday. In short, Matt can out-sing Emily on the winner's single to get the result producers want; but Saara is capable of out-singing Matt in the same situation. There are quite a few permutations possible over the last two weekends, but this feels like a logical denouement based on recent years. As such, the value call this week is to back Matt to beat Emily in a straight forecast at 6/1 with Skybet. But if you are betting on the show, do watch Saturday's semi-final carefully for further clues.