IKTS Week 18: At Brighton.

Arsenal dominated the first half but played mostly in first gear, and a rare miscue by Saliba resulted in a penalty for a foul in the surface on Bowen, duly dispatched by Benrahma. The second half saw the Gunners play at a higher tempo, leading to an equalizer by Saka, a goal for the lead by Martinelli, and an icing on the cake goal for Nketiah. All three goals were of high quality with Nketiah's spin and conversion likely the best. Overall, a good first game after a long and untimely recess.

The first game of the return of the Premier League saw Brentford score two goals on defensive mistakes by the noisy neighbors who then scored two goals and even threatened to win the game late on. Crystal Palace lost two players to red cards and 0-3 to Fulham. Everton scored first, conceded an equalizer, and lost at the death to visiting Wolverhampton. Leicester conceded three goals to Newcastle in the first half without scoring and lost without really threatening after a scoreless second half. Southampton lost 1-3 to Brighton in the South coast derby. On Tuesday, Chelsea took care of Bournemouth 2-0 while Manchester United went 3-0 over Nottingham Forest. Finally, on Wednesday, Leeds lost 1-3 to Manchester City with Haaland scoring a brace for the visitors.

Overall, the 13 active participants (Mulz forgot to post any predictions) combined for 140 points, for an average of 10 and 10/13 points per active participant, and there was a grand total of 24 (!) correct IKTS predictions. There were 34 goals over 10 fixtures, and there were only 3 home wins versus 6 wins by visiting teams but only one draw.

Scores for the week:

Purple & Proud 15 (4)
skinnejay 15 (2)
Seidman 13 (2)
Geaux_HR 12 (3)
Ray from Norfolk 12 (3)
billvacation 11 (2)
ClevelandJames 11 (2)
hansdampf 11 (2)
ben from portsmouth 10 (1)
AsemBuckets 9 (1)
rswansont 8 (1)
Sonny from Suffolk 7 (1)
luismamontes 6 (0)

Stars of the week: Purple and Proud is first on 15 points (and four correct IKTS predictions) with skinnejay in second also on 15 points (but only two correct IKTS predictions) while Seidman is in third place on 13 points (and two correct IKTS predictions) but Geaux_HR and Ray from Norfolk are right behind the leading trio, with 12 points each.

Clever pick of the week: Only skinnejay predicted a draw for Brentford versus Tottenham, earning two points, with all the other participants earning moldy bagels. There were two exact scores for Everton versus Wolverhampton and another two for Arsenal versus West Ham. There were also three correct scores for Manchester United versus Nottingham Forest and another three for Leeds versus Manchester City. In addition, there were five exact scores for Aston Villa versus Liverpool. Finally, there were nine (9!) correct scores for Chelsea versus Bournemouth.

Crisis pick of the week: Only billvacation failed to score any points due to a ludicrous prediction for a 2-2 tie while all the other active participants scored 1, 2, or even 3 points as The Arsenal won.

Standings after week 17:

skinnejay 143 (23)
Ray from Norfolk 142 (16)
Geaux_HR 137 (23)
luismamontes 128 (14)
Purple & Proud 127 (19)
Sonny from Suffolk 125 (16)
hansdampf 124 (18)
rswansont 120 (13)
ClevelandJames 119 (12)
ben from portsmouth 117 (11)
Mulz 113 (16)
AsemBuckets 113 (9)
billvacation 109 (13)
Seidman 109 (13)
DustyGooner 9 (2)

After week 17, skinnejay leads Ray from Norfolk by a single point and Geaux_HR by six points.

Upcoming schedule: Friday December 30, Saturday December 31, and Sunday January 1:

West Ham - Brentford
Liverpool -Leicester
Wolverhampton - Manchester United
Bournemouth - Crystal Palace
Fulham - Southampton
Manchester City - Everton
Newcastle - Leeds
Brighton - Arsenal
Tottenham - Aston Villa
Nottingham Forest - Chelsea