The last-minute abandonment of Man City-Arsenal turned the division on its head; some managers revelling in success, others suffering catastrophic losses. In the Gentlemen's Trophy, some major players stand on the verge of becoming slain giants.
As the Coronavirus continued its tear through Europe this week, the Premier League continued unabated. A Double Gameweek loomed, one that featured Premier League big-hitters Manchester City and Arsenal. Managers prepared their teams accordingly, with some taking hits to increase their chances of big points further. They woke up on Wednesday morning to dramatic news: Manchester City vs Arsenal had been cancelled, due to Arsenal meeting the Corona-infected Olympiakos chairman several days ago.
This had drastic implications for the managers in the League of Gentlemen. Lord Geord was delighted, his prayers answered, with nineteen-point Harvey Barnes rising from the bench to replace the fit-again de Bruyne, sure to feature in the Wednesday night clash. All-Star Vogt, however, was devastated, his eight-point hit to load up on two-match players rendered a huge mistake. The remaining managers hovered between those two extremes, with Jockin’ Jeeves’ use of his Bench Boost giving him the week’s highest score, yet one that was tempered with the hint of his own FPL Nightmare.
Round Two of the Gentlemen’s Trophy got under way in Gameweek 29, with the first leg of the eight ties producing some tantalising prospects for next week. The top two in the division, The Butcher and King Ding, both stand on the precipice of defeat, though both remain within four points of success and remain the favourites to progress. Six of the eight matches ended the first leg with a difference of five points or less, with only Jockin’ Jeeves and Lord Geord having any sort of a cushion for the return tie. While Lord Geord’s massive forty-point lead over Slick Rick should be insurmountable, Jockin’ Jeeves’ thirteen point cushion is still a little precarious – indeed, without the use of his Bench Boost, the two-time League of Gentlemen winner would be behind in the tie, and he will be aware Lord Geord nearly threw away a fifteen-point lead in Round One.
The Round Two, First Leg results in full:
Jockin’ Jeeves 83 - 70 Private Parvesh
Ginger Ben 51 - 47 Big-Time Birkett
Tits-Up Thompson 47 - 44 The Butcher
King Ding 55 - 59 Iceman Newton
The Masterchef 45 - 46 Wooden Spoon Helling
Jie 48 - 46 Mikey P
Slick Rick 33 - 73 Lord Geord
Deadly Daz 46 - 41 All-Star Vogt
As we approach Gameweek Thirty, there is lots to think about for managers. De Bruyne’s injury remains a concern, with Aguero also picking up a knock. Leicester look back to their free-flowing best, with talisman Vardy back in the goals. Liverpool’s rock-solid defence looks shaky now Allison is out, while Newcastle’s cheap options look less appealing following Dubravka’s injury. Manchester United’s impressive run of form continues, with Bruno raising the standards of all around him, while Chelsea continue to prove effective, bringing to an end the good run of Everton with a thumping 4-0 victory. Spurs, meanwhile, look in complete disarray, with Mourinho seemingly entering his third-season meltdown after less than four months. With Blank Gameweek 31 on the horizon and the Coronavirus Cancellations having begun, the transfer market becomes even more complex, with those managers who retain their chips having a distinct advantage.
Exciting times in Fantasy Premier League, with Gameweek 29 throwing things right up in the air. Let’s take a look in more detail at this week’s winners and losers in the League of Gentlemen.
The League of Gentlemen:
No changes in the Also-Rans, with every scoring within six points of each other after hits were deducted. Mikey P remains bottom, the gap having grown by six points, but he has given himself every chance in both the Gentlemen’s Trophy and the fight to avoid last place by only making one transfer. Farcselona are now 39 points ahead of Suicide Squad, the return to form of Vardy proving crucial. Rodallega Bombs left two-goal Vardy as their third sub, a critical mistake that could end up costing them dear in their second leg against The Butcher. With a big gap both ahead and behind them, they are unlikely to change position in the table, though they have the potential to be the Gentlemen’s Trophy’s ultimate spoilers. Wooden Spoon Helling remains eighteenth, too far ahead of Tits-Up Thompson to worry, too far behind Jie to challenge, yet he is another that could make a surprise advance in the Gentlemen’s Trophy. Indeed, while the clash between Jie and Mikey P guarantees an Also-Ran in the Quarter Finals, the first leg performances of Wooden Spoon Helling and Tits-Up Thompson mean we could enter the Quarter Finals with three Also-Rans among the eight teams. Jie needs a big week next week, to ensure progression in the cup and to keep up the push for Lower Mid-Table. The gap extended slightly, but Micky Quinnaj remain just seven points away from escaping the basement section, giving them two big reasons to give their all in Gameweek Thirty.
Retaining sixteenth place is Ginger Ben, who extended the gap over the Also-Rans by three points, while closing the gap on the team above him to just ten points. A beneficiary of the Corona Cancellation, Cuthben87 saw twelve-point Lundstram step in to take non-playing de Bruyne’s place. Only Baldock and captain Salah secured further returns, limiting Ginger Ben’s advancement, but preventing him slipping back into the Also-Rans. His next target is catching Slick Rick, who obtained the worst score in the division this week, and maintaining his four-point advantage over Big-Time Birkett in the cup. Only Salah and Ward secured returns for the Tiptoppers, while twelve-point McCarthy wasted away on the bench. Making Slick Rick’s gameweek a true FPL Nightmare was his cup performance, with the Tiptoppers smashed in the first leg by Geord’s Lords. With their league campaign fading to nothing and little hope of a cup miracle, the season is coming to a tepid end for Slick Rick. Fourteen points ahead of him is Who Horner, who dropped places this week. A below-average score of 50 points was secured through three defensive returns, Mane and Fernandes, but the dejection following such a dramatic cup exit last week meant the White Warriors were unable to lift themselves enough to prevent the red arrow.
Overtaking them into thirteenth were Oxsmorons, despite the continued absence of The Ox in the dugout. They overcame their lack of a goalkeeper with an impressive defensive display, securing 29 points from four players. A further eighteen points from captain Salah ensured a 55-point total, though questions remain as to whether The Ox will ever return to management. If he does, he has a great opportunity to catch Flash, who is now just seven points ahead following a below-average gameweek. Lack of substitute options meant Cows Arse Shovel fielded just nine players this week, and transfer decisions meant this week was a true FPL Nightmare. The sales of Vardy and Willian for de Bruyne and Jesus backfired, with the Manchester City duo securing zero points, while the sold players scored twenty-four. Factoring in the four-point hit and that’s a massive twenty-eight point swing, plus the massive loss of squad value from the one-week sale of de Bruyne last week. While Henderson, Pereira, Ayew and captain Salah secured returns for Flash, it wasn’t enough to prevent Iceman Newton climbing above him into eleventh. A limitation of only having ten players proved little hindrance to Madelaine Milan, with Patricio and Van Dijk’s returns complementing the double-figure hauls of Lundstram, Mane and Vardy to end the week with 59 points, a green arrow and a four-point lead over King Ding heading into the second leg next week.
The Chasing Pack
A tough assignment for Private Parvesh this week, up against the Bench Boosting Jockin’ Jeeves in the cup. Acquitting himself well, PKG FC achieved the third-highest score in the division, with double-figure returns from McCarthy, Lundstram, captain Salah and Vardy, plus a solid six-pointer from O’Connell resulting in a 70-point gameweek. There was a touch of fortune to it, with Vardy only being promoted to the field from second sub through the non-appearances of de Bruyne and Guendozi, but after a horrific eighteen-pointer last week Private Parvesh was due a dose of luck. In doing so, he closed the gap to ninth-place All-Star Vogt by a massive 29 points. It really was a massive FPL Nightmare for All-Star, who took an eight-point hit to secure five players with a double gameweek. While new signing Leno managed a double-figure haul, his other new signings Jesus and Saka scored three points between them, while the players they replaced – Harvey Barnes and Vardy – scored thirty points. While losing out on 26 points through transfer folly and the Corona Cancellation was bad enough, making matters worse was Aurier’s twelve-minute cameo costing him the substitute appearance of twelve-point Lundstram, making it a massive 37 points lost through misadventure and misfortune, as well as a position in the table. Five points behind Deadly Daz in the cup and seventy points off the Title Contenders, it’s going to be hard for the All-Star to lift his team for next week. Thirteen points ahead of him is Big-Time Birkett, who also fell a place in the table. While he did not suffer from the abandoned match due to having no Manchester City or Arsenal representation, Really were only able to secure returns from Coady, Bruno and captain Salah, leaving them with just 47 points for the gameweek and four points behind Ginger Ben in the Gentlemen’s Trophy. Big-Time needs a response from his team in Gameweek 30, as he looks to secure his Quarter-Final place and reverse his fall from this week.
Moving two points ahead of him, following a stunning gameweek, was Lord Geord, who had a true dream weekend in FPL. On Saturday morning, torn as to who to start between Saint-Maximin and Harvey Barnes, the Lord prayed to the FPL Gods for guidance. As he undertook his mid-morning nap, he had a dream of Saint-Maximin slotting it into the bottom corner at the far post. He awoke just twenty minutes before the deadline. Is this a dream, he thought, or is this a vision? Is this divine intervention from the normally-bastardic FPL Gods? Having prayed for a sign, he felt obliged to answer the call, and promoted Saint-Maximin into his starting XI. He could not believe his eyes when, with the minutes ticking away, The Saint harried the defence, stole the ball and slotted it into the bottom corner at the far post. The dream was a vision, and Saint-Magicman’s goal was a reality. Even then, it threatened to turn into an FPL Nightmare, when Harvey Barnes secured nineteen points on Monday night. Awakening to the news of the Corona Cancellation and the realisation that Barnes would be promoted to his starting XI, the Lord understood that the FPL Gods had intervened again, rewarding him further for his faith. Further returns from Henderson, Stevens, Bruno and double-figures Mane gave the Lord a massive 73-point total, propelling him two places up the table and giving him a forty-point advantage over Slick Rick in the cup. It’s been a 680k overall ranking rise in the three weeks since the Lord used his Wildcard, and it could have been even better, had he started Boly and Lascelles over Alexander-Arnold and Gomez. Rather than ponder what might have been, this week Lord Geord is just grateful for the blessings he has received. His next task is overcoming the sixth-place Masterchef, who lies 28 points ahead. The triple-Sheffield United defence of Henderson, Lundstram and Baldock gave Hugh G. Rection XI a 25-point platform to build from, yet the only further return came from van Dijk, leaving the Masterchef with just 45 points this week. It’s been a marvellous debut season from the Masterchef, who outperformed all expectations by being right among the Title Contenders for large spells. The fear is that the form of Hugh G. Rection XI has plateaued, with 55 points being their best score for six gameweeks now. While still a very good debut season, if the Masterchef can work his transfer magic and help his team push on in the final weeks, it could go from very good to great. Only 29 points off the Title Contenders and just one point behind Wooden Spoon Helling in the Gentlemen’s Trophy, next week could prove the most pivotal in the Masterchef’s season.
The Title Contenders
Suffering not quite an FPL Nightmare, but a definite FPL Bad Dream, was Deadly Daz. Buoyed by his overtaking of Jockin' Jeeves and rising to third last week, he had his sights firmly set on cutting the gap to King Ding and The Butcher. However, Wolves' 0-0 draw and Everton's thrashing meant four of his attackers were completely negated, while Ighalo, the man he took a four-point hit for, made only a cameo one-point appearance. Returns from Henderson, Van Dijk, Lascelles, Salah and captain Bruno gave him a score of 46 points after his hit was deducted, and with it a five-point lead over All-Star Vogt in the cup, but he saw The Butcher and King Ding pull further away, while Jockin' Jeeves obliterated him to retake third. Making the situation worse was Hitman Hodgson outscoring him by nineteen points, relegating the Dazzlers to fifth. The Hitman saw six players secure returns, including double-figure hauls from captain Salah and Mane. Both the Dazzlers and Does It Mata saw Lascelles rise off the bench with six points, which will please them both as Newcastle fans, and the challenge for them now is to re-apply the pressure on Jeeves this weekend. With £2.1m in the bank, it will be easier for the Hitman to do so, though if Everton can show the defeat to Chelsea was an aberration, Deadly Daz could soar up the table once more.
Both teams will have to be at their very best to catch the Juggernauts, who are now 32 and 35 points ahead of fourth and fifth respectively. Jockin' Jeeves used his Bench Boost to gain that advantage, gambling that the fixtures were kinder for his players this week than they would be in the double-gameweeks to come. A massive 83 net points were secured through returns from Henderson, Doherty, Saiss, Salah and double-figure hauls from McCarthy and vice-captain Mane, promoted to the captaincy after the Corona Cancellation rendered de Bruyne absent. Yet, despite the highest score in the division, Jockin' Jeeves will be disappointed. Missing out on two games of de Bruyne meant the Bench Boost's power was limited, with only nineteen points scored off his bench. In a double-gameweek, four substitutes playing sixty minutes twice produces a score of sixteen points, meaning only a three-point benefit from the base score in a double-gameweek. Making it worse was the reactionary signing of Ismaila Sarr costing him 21 points, with the nineteen points of Harvey Barnes sold for a four point hit. Were that transfer not made, the Juggernauts would've become the first League of Gentlemen team to make the 100 club. As it is, they have to settle for a very good gameweek, a thirteen-point advantage in the cup, and the fear of what King Ding and The Butcher might produce with their Wildcards and Bench Boosts.
The King's week was much more tepid, returns from Webster, Bruno, Salah and double-figure hauls from McCarthy and Lundstram resulting in 55 points secured. The Corona Cancellation punished him in the sense that captain Aubameyang only played one fixture, though with the Butcher also captaining the Arsenal hitman, that damage was mitigated. De Bruyne's absence did result in six-point Webster rising from his bench, however, keeping him in the cup tie with the Iceman and helping close the gap on the Butcher. Before this gameweek, the King needed to make up an average of 7.2 points a week to retain his title; this week, he outscored his rival by eleven points, bringing the average points per week required down to 6.8. A few more weeks of this, and the Butcher will start to feel the King breathing down his neck. The King will need to exercise caution, however, with Jockin' Jeeves now only 34 points behind. Given King Ding's chip advantage, his focus will not be on his former nemesis; his energy will be fully concentrated on first beating Iceman Newton, then hauling back the Butcher. Given his title-winning experience, fans of the Ringers have every reason to believe in their King.
The Man Who Would Be King
Still leading them all, by a comfortable gap of 61 points, is the Butcher, though he will be desperately disappointed with Dumb and Dummett's performance this week. Only Soyuncu, Mount, Martial and Salah secured returns, and all single-figure ones at that, leaving the Butcher with a below-average gameweek score of 44 points. Compounding the frustration is the three-point deficit to Gentlemen's Trophy Giantkiller Tits-Up Thompson; while the Butcher will be very confident of securing the points required for progression in the second-leg, it being as challenging as it has been is another irritant. Winding the Butcher up further is the minor injuries to Mount, Martial, Chilwell and de Bruyne, and the inevitability that, whichever player he replaces in the market, he'll turn out to be fit and one that he kept will be out. With the King closing the gap, proving himself the fly the Butcher can't swat, Dumb and Dummett need a big Gameweek 30 to redeem themselves to their manager; with a Wildcard still in the bank, none of their places are secure. Still within the top 10k at 7,017, it remains a remarkable season for the Butcher. As we approach the title run-in, few would bet against him rising to the occasion and pulling even further away.
That concludes another thrilling week in the League of Gentlemen, one that saw some big-hitters left on the verge of elimination from the Gentlemen's Trophy, one that saw the Corona Cancellation cause utter chaos, and one that saw the FPL Gods blessing the Lord with a vision of the future. As we approach Gameweek 30, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.
'The FPL Nightmare: How to Lose the World's Greatest Mini-League in 38 Simple Steps'
Available now on Kindle and the Kindle app on smartphones, only £1.99: