King Arthur to be crowned

  • By: Chris Hammer
  • Last Updated: December 18 2012, 15:22 GMT

James Arthur: Arguably the most credible potential winner

2pts James Arthur to win X Factor at 9/2 (sportingbet).

So this year's X Factor is edging closer towards the climax and with six acts remaining, it's pretty obvious who the final three should be.

Ella Henderson headed into live stages as the hot favourite and even touched odds-on prices after just a couple of weeks but since then the judges and producers have done their best to ramp up the talents of Jahmene Douglas and James Arthur in an effort to prevent the series from becoming a foregone conclusion.

As it stands Jahmene has now sneaked to the head of the betting in places at no bigger than 13/8 while 16-year-old Ella is still strongly fancied to triumph at a best of 7/4.

James is not far behind at odds ranging from 3/1 to 9/2 and in my view he represents the best value selection out of the three at this time.

Whereas the show bosses will believe Ella and Jahmene are young enough and have the vocal talents to be turned into relevant record-selling machines, the apparently 'cooler' Middlesbrough singer is more unique and arguably has the edge creatively in terms of what he does with his song choices each weekend.

It's probably fair to say the leading pair in the market both have superior vocal ranges but James' style wouldn't look at out of place alongside other popular names in the music industry right now and he's already been publically backed by the likes of Ed Sheeran, Conor Maynard, Emeli Sande, Labrinth and even last year's winners Little Mix.

Whether any of these acts are to your own tastes or not, there's no doubt they'll strike a chord with many X Factor viewers and this could feasibly help the 23-year-old's chances of continuing his momentum towards the final.

This all said, the three that 'should' survive the longest are by no means guaranteed to even escape the bottom two this weekend when you consider the odds.

James and Ella are as short as 5/2 and 9/4 respectively to be in the sing-off while Jahmene is hardly on steady ground at odds ranging from 9/2 and 15/2.

Unless they come up against each other, it would be a travesty if the judges send any of these acts home in favour of Union J, Christopher Maloney or Rylan Clark although you'd then have to worry about their apparent lack of fanbase and if there was enough time to turn it around.

After all, no act has ever been in the bottom two in the show's history and gone on to win.

So why is the bottom two betting so close at the moment if the top three of six are miles ahead in the talent stakes?

Lets start with the most unworthy act of them all - Rylan Clark.

The judges have been trying to convince the country from day one that the controversial Essex 'performer' has the entertainment factor and that people supposedly can't wait to watch him every week.

But if that was completely true he wouldn't have finished in the bottom two twice already when up against a field of several rather mediocre acts.

If there was any justice in talent shows such as these then Rylan would have perished in week one but he survived 'deadlock' only after Louis Walsh dubiously decided to change his mind and opt to send Caroline home.

Since then the members of the public who don't buy into tacky gimmicks have had to put up with his irritating over-the-top performances but they were given false hope in week five when he found himself in the sing off against Kye Sones. Deadlock was also required on this occasion as he sneaked through yet again.

Some would say he makes this pretty bland series more interesting and has given the papers something to write about as well as providing the public with a topic to fill their daily awkward silences. Sadly, if Rylan really is the saviour of the X Factor then it surely proves once and for all that this series should be the last.

Moving onto Christopher Maloney, who has seen his odds steadily cut from 66/1 at the beginning of the live shows to his current price of 16/1 following reports he's been topping the public vote.

Gary Barlow's final act was nicknamed the 'Karaoke King' by the other judges in the wake of his rendition of Elton John's 'I'm Still Standing' last weekend and it's highly unlikely he'll ever be able to win them round.

Nevertheless the former cruise ship singer has somehow avoided the bottom two thus far so could these supposed voting leaks be true?

Well, if you cast your mind back to 2009, Jedward were widely believed to be winning the weekly vote but when the figures were revealed at the end of the series it transpired they never even reached the top three during their seven-week stint.

And remember everybody getting worried about reports which claimed Wagner was easily in the top half of the vote every week a year later - but this speculation was also completely false.

The Brazilian ex-PE teacher was always in the lower region of the pack and his best result in terms of the most number of contestants below him came in week one when finishing 12th out of 16th, picking up a whopping 1.91% of the vote.

The point is every year there are joke acts that somehow manage to progress several weeks due to there just being enough voters who believe them to be entertaining - but eventually their opinion is dwarfed by the majority of fans who seek a credible winner.

If this year is any different then it'll be another reason to consign X Factor to the scrapheap.

Finally we have Louis Walsh's sole surviving group Union J, who certainly don't seem to have the same appeal that One Direction had a couple of years ago.

They escaped the sing off with District 3 on Sunday and therefore this weekend will be the first time they don't have a similar act splitting the boyband vote.

This could prove decisive in helping them through another week but if they haven't built up a strong enough fanbase of their own accord by now then the damage of having two boybands in the competition for so long may prove irreversible at this stage.

  • Preview posted at 0905 GMT on 15/11/2012.