The choice of Triple Captains had a massive impact at the top of the league. For the Butcher, his choice of Alexander-Arnold over Mane secured a 32-point victory over King Ding, all secured through that one decision. After six consecutive head-to-head losses saw his lead over the King slashed from 110 points-plus to just fifteen, Big Steve has extended it back to 47 points, a comfortable cushion that will likely take more than one gameweek to overhaul. Had the King had the courage to go with Liverpool’s star full-back, Big Steve would be under immense pressure. Now, by going with the seemingly-safe choice, the FPL Gods have intervened in dramatic fashion. Making matters worse for the King, Jockin’ Jeeves outscored him by 35 points, cutting the gap from third to second to 32 points. The Juggernauts had been at risk of fading into irrelevance in the title race, but now enter Gameweek 25 re-energised, with the King firmly in their sights as the first target.
Deadly Daz and Hitman Hodgson were the other big winners in Gameweek 24. Neither manager played the Triple Captain, Deadly Daz having used it in Gameweek 6, while the Hitman opted to retain it for later in the season. Despite only having a standard captaincy each, Deadly Daz secured his position in the Title Contenders, pulling away from the Chasing Pack while cutting the gap to the Masterchef in fourth. Meanwhile, the Hitman rose to sixth, with Private Parvesh’s choice of Mane as Triple Captain resulting in a 25-point loss to Does It Mata. Having established a comfortable distance to the teams behind him, the Hitman now moves his focus to attacking the Title Contenders, though he’ll find it tricky to make up the 23-point gap to the Dazzlers.
The other big news to come out of Gameweek 24 is that we now know which teams will not feature in Gameweek 28. With Aston Villa and Manchester City reaching the Carabao Cup final, their matches against Sheffield United and Arsenal respectively will be rearranged. The confirmation Manchester City will have a double gameweek will be music to the ears of those four managers who retain their Triple Captain chip, especially with the fragile Arsenal defence offering great potential for the likes of Sterling, Aguero and de Bruyne to rack up big points. However, in the next five weeks, Manchester City have one blank week, as well as three away fixtures at Spurs, Leicester and Manchester United, making their players somewhat undesirable for the first time in several years. The challenge for managers now is planning around the blanks. Any team entering Gameweek 28 with four or more players from Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Manchester City and Arsenal will play the gameweek with less than eleven players; whether they gamble on going without a full team in hope of huge rewards down the line, or change their transfer strategy in the lead-up to the blank gameweek, is the dilemma they have to tackle. With Lundstram and de Bruyne in almost every squad, and the likes of Grealish, Mahrez and Henderson popular too, managers will have to ensure they have sufficient cover. Complicating matters further is the knowledge Gameweek 28 is the second leg of the first round of the Gentlemen’s Trophy. While only ten teams compete in round one, those teams may be forced to gamble they can make it through with ten or less players.
Finally, the Manager of the Month for January has been determined. King Ding entered the final gameweek with a comfortable lead, but saw a late charge from The Ox, fuelled by both teams’ choices of Triple Captains, push him right to the limit. Unfortunately for The Ox, his choice of Ings starting over Jimenez backfired, with the Southampton man bringing in just a single point, resulting in the King winning his second-consecutive Manager of the Month award by just three points. Given the gap that has been re-established by Big Steve, the King will need to make it three on the bounce to get his title challenge back on track.
Dramatic times in the League of Gentlemen, with Gameweek 25 promising to shake things up even more. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how the first double-gameweek of the season affected the division.
Farcselona, Rodallega Bombs and Walney Utd occupy the same places they’ve occupied for several weeks now, with the other big new in the Also-Rans being the very successful Wildcard of Ginger Ben. Seeing every player secure returns except for Cantwell and Lundstram, Cuthben87 brought home a division-high 93 points this week, with 32 from captain Salah. A 42-point victory over Walney Utd means Ginger Ben can now look up the table, with his 49-point victory over White Warriors bringing him to within 22 points of Lower Mid-Table. With some favourable fixtures this weekend, we could yet see a new team in the Also-Rans come Monday morning.
Dropping to thirteenth was Iceman Newton, the second manager to fall as a result of The Ox’s outstanding gameweek. It was a disastrous performance from the Iceman, who secured just four single-figure returns for the lowest gameweek score in the division; had he not captained de Bruyne, it could’ve been even worse. With every chip still at his disposal, there could be a late charge from Madelaine Milan, but the Iceman will need to move fast to avoid this season melting away to nothing. Beating him by 45 points to move 15 clear in twelfth, the Ox’s stunning performance, while not quite enough to pip King Ding to Manager of the Month, has breathed new life into his season. 48-point Triple Captain Salah was his hero, ably supported by returns from Allison, van Dijk, de Bruyne, Traore and Aguero. Yet, the regrets come in the form of starting Lundstram and Ings over Douglas Luiz and Jimenez; had he started the latter pair, he would not only have won the monthly award, but he’d have been the first League of Gentlemen manager into this season’s 100 Club. With six players unavailable in three weeks, however, The Ox has some transfer issues ahead, though his Free Hit could negate them all. Only three points ahead of him now is Flash, whose failed Triple Captaincy of Mane saw Oxsmorons slash the gap to Cows Arse Shovel to just three points from 36. While Flash also left Henderson on the bench, his choice of Pope also secured double-figures, minimising the damage. His real issues came in his attack, with only de Bruyne and Abraham picking up returns. With Mane injured and Abraham doubtful for Gameweek 25, Flash will be desperate for David Silva to get back on the pitch. Should he not, he could find himself the next victim of The Ox’s stampede.
It’s very tight in eighth and seventh, with just one point separating Boom Xhakalaka from PKG FC. Another transfer masterstroke from All-Star Vogt saw him bring in sixteen-point Jordan Henderson and nine-point Firmino in place of Maddison and Rashford, a decision that improved his total by 23 points. Sadly, he failed to back either of them with the captain’s armband, becoming yet another victim of Mane’s injury and ending the week with a disappointing 50 points. Even worse was the performance of Private Parvesh, who not only Triple Captained Mane, but also left three players on the bench who secured returns, leaving him with a total of just 43 points. Following his 35-point week last time out, this was enough to see him drop further in the table, and the pressure is on for him to arrest his decline before the situation gets even worse. Moving 25 points clear of them both into sixth is Hitman Hodgson, who achieved the best gameweek of managers who didn’t play chips. Returns from Robertson, de Bruyne, Firmino, Calvert-Lewin and a 32-point haul from captain Salah brought home 68 points, though it could’ve been 81 had Pope and Traore started over Ryan and Ings. While still 23 points off the Title Contenders, the Hitman will be pleased both new signings bagged points, and will now look to use the £3.1m he has in the bank to apply pressure to those above him. With some favourable fixtures this weekend, he has a great opportunity to close the gap considerably, and an outside chance of rising further in the standings.
Making things far worse for the Masterchef was Jockin’ Jeeves smashing home a net gameweek score of 78 points, his highest score since the opening gameweek of the season. Triple-Captaincy of Salah was again the key, with Alexander-Arnold’s twelve points meaning the Juggernauts scored sixty points from just two players. Still, the big man will be very disappointed with his outcome from the week, knowing that the other nine players were only able to secure 22 points between them, with only de Bruyne and Calvert-Lewin supporting the Liverpool pair with returns. Making matters worse was the absolute mess made in the transfer market. Replacing Kelly with Tanganga backfired, as the Spurs youngster was not selected by Mourinho. Then, the signing of Foster for Button and the subsequent benching of Dean Henderson meant missing out on an eleven-pointer, leaving the end result of his transfers being a cost of 13 points limiting the gap cut to Big Steve at the top. With Jeeves’ anger at his Juggernauts squad inevitable, there is a strong chance we could see him taking further transfer hits this week, as he uses the Mane injury to strengthen his squad. Even closing the gap to King Ding in second to 32 points won’t please Jeeves, as he only has eyes on the top spot. He will be happier, however, with a 100k rise in the overall rankings, taking him back inside the top-200k for the first time since Gameweek 18.
In second place remain the Ringers, who entered the double-gameweek with designs on moving into top spot, only to see King Ding be replaced by Martin Crumbell in the dugout. It was a true FPL Nightmare, with five starting players and all three outfield substitutes scoring just one point – one of whom was Mane, who had been given the Triple Captain armband. While the Ringers did have five players secure returns, the only one who made double-figures was Alexander-Arnold, leaving King Ding scoring just 47 points this time out. While not disastrous in itself – especially considering his back-to-back Manager of the Month titles – when put into the context of the Juggernauts scoring 78 in third, and Big Steve scoring 75 at the top, the Ringers were truly punished for a slack week. From 15 points off the top at the start of play, King Ding has seen himself slide back out to 47 points behind. That being said, the Ringers overall ranking has risen from 795,045 in Gameweek 17 to 69,123 today, and the gap to top has been decimated in the process. While it may be a two-or-three gameweek job to catch the Butcher now, rather than it being doable in the one, the King is in a strong position, while still retaining a 32-point lead over the Juggernauts. He does, however, need a response this weekend; he simply cannot allow this to be more than a one-week blip.
That concludes our round-up of Gameweek 24, which saw Mane break the hearts of his Triple-Captainers, which saw the Juggernauts crash back into the top three, and which saw Dumb and Dummett finally get a big win over his closest contender, who nevertheless was crowned Manager of the Month. With Mane’s injury creating challenges for his owners, how they replace him could be the key factor in determining which managers are successful in Gameweek 25. May all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods be forever in your favour.