Having disappointed in his first double gameweek of the season, Havertz had a point to prove in Gameweek 28, and he helped Go Cartin close the gap at the top in spectacular fashion.
I had a feeling a gameweek like this was coming, one where every marginal decision went wrong and all momentum was lost. Now, it has arrived, and I’m just relieved the punishment wasn’t more severe.
Gameweek 28 swung on my two transfer decisions. With two free transfers in the bank and with a lead of 42 points, I felt confident I had the upper hand, especially with regards to signing Chelsea assets. With my choices either Havertz or Mount and either James or Rudiger, I decided to opt for the safer picks, the ones more secure in the starting line-up. While Havertz was the man in possession of the shirt, the spectre of Lukaku hung over him, while James – by far the more explosive asset – was returning from an injury and had played more minutes in the build-up than recommended by the physios. Mount and Rudiger, I thought, were far more likely to start both fixtures, and with my advantage, there was no need to take huge risks.
You cannot defend your position in FPL. You have to go out and win it. That was the lesson I should have remembered. While James ends the gameweek injured, with varying reports as to the extent of his absence, he scored eighteen points in the one fixture he played, beating Rudiger’s score by twelve points. That’s not so bad, I thought, as the news of his injury filtered through. I still have Rudiger to play Norwich. With just one attacking return to go with the inevitable clean sheet, he’ll probably score the same, if not more, than James has managed, while also being fit for the gameweeks ahead. Then the teamsheet came in.
Twelve points down the pan, due to being too conservative in that decision-making process. Twelve extra points that two of my three closest rivals gained on me. In that one decision, my lead was slashed. At least Mount started both games, I thought. He should be able to make up the deficit. He did well, I can’t deny that. Sixteen points is a great return, especially from a captain. The problem is, it’s nowhere near as good as the 26 points Havertz secured, the 26 points that my closest rival, Go Cartin, saw added to his tally.
The pain did not end there. Coutinho, overlooked by myself a few gameweeks ago on account of my thoughts that he was overpriced in comparison to his teammate Ramsey, but selected by Go Cartin, scored 23 points. Ramsey scored six. Ramsey may have had the higher xG heading into the gameweek, but football is made of moments of quality, and Coutinho produced them when it mattered. Saka, long overlooked by myself because of apparent inconsistency, secured his third double-digit haul in six gameweeks – a run in which scored in one of the other gameweeks, to go with a goal and two assists in the three gameweeks prior. He wasn’t overlooked by Jockin’ Jeeves and Ginger Ben. The three other players of mine who got returns – Son, Robertson and Alexander-Arnold – were all owned by Cartin, meaning no ground was gained through owning them.
In the end, my lead was cut to 26 points, a situation which looked far bleaker before Mount rescued the situation in the gameweek’s final match. The goal and assist from my captain were the difference between that 26-point advantage and one of just four points, once the three bonus points were factored in. When you consider that Cartin gave his captaincy to Salah, who scored just three points, rather than James, Coutinho or Havertz, who all outscored Mount and who all had two games to Salah’s one, I feel like this gameweek has been somewhat of a lucky escape. Yes, I’ve taken a battering, but I’ve survived in decent shape. With a chip advantage over Cartin, Jeeves and Ginger Ben, I should be okay come Gameweek 30, especially when I still have a Wildcard to go.
The problem is that Gameweek 29 needs to be navigated first, and it is inevitable that Cartin will have extra players with two fixtures, and most likely Jeeves and Ginger Ben will, too. I can only hope that the damage is kept to a minimum, while also praying that the FPL Gods look kindly on me. That, as we all know, is something that can never be relied upon.
The Cup Chronicles
Round One of the Gentlemen’s Trophy came to a close this gameweek, and the big story was that of Private Parvesh, who blew everyone in the division away by scoring over two hundred points over the two legs, the only Gentleman to do so. His unlucky opponent was Mack Daddy McMahon, who would have progressed from nine of the sixteen Round One clashes, but was unfortunate enough to be drawn against someone in imperious form. In the clash featuring three of the top five, it was Jockin’ Jeeves who emerged triumphant, in a result which also has massive implications on the league table. In the rematch from last year’s competition, The Ox achieved his revenge over Big Steve with a resounding victory, while the hope of a brother vs brother grudge match in the later stages was kept alive with all four of Dan the Dragon, Hitman Hodgson, Deadly Daz and myself making it through. Go Cartin, Ash the Bash, Stone Cold Stephen Levins, Sirloin Sean, Brad the Lad and Terminator Tris all had comfortable victories, while Slick Rick, Lionheart Lamb and Wooden Spoon Helling provided the upsets, with the three men from the bottom seven in the table taking out higher-ranked opponents.
There were a wild range of scores in the Irrelevants this gameweek, seeing five Gentlemen enter the Hundred Club while one manager decided to sabotage his team for reasons known only to him. The gameweek’s two biggest scorers both came from this section of the division, with Deadly Daz’s huge 128 points only surpassed by the 139 of Private Parvesh. Daz’s heroes were the Villa duo of Ings and captain Coutinho, who secured him 66 points between them, while Parvesh saw five players hit double figures in addition to the huge haul of captain Coutinho, results which saw both men climb four places in the table, to eighteenth and thirteenth respectively. Also entering the Hundred Club from the Irrelevants were Ash the Bash, Gladiator Glen and Mack Daddy McMahon, while Sirloin Sean and Brad the Lad both scored over a hundred but came back below the threshold due to transfer hits.
It wasn’t quite such good news elsewhere in the Irrelevants. Who Horner, Metal Marc, Lethal Lee, Glorious Gaz and Daredevil Daisy all failed to break a half-century, with a further four Gentlemen failing to reach sixty points. Meanwhile, Grinchy Vogt scored -56 points after a failed attempt to fake his team being attacked by the FPL Hackers. Jez Messing didn’t even need to be called in to crack the case, after a series of errors in Vogt’s pathetic effort to dismiss the season as void. His transfers weren’t maxed-out, his team name and manager name remained the same, no chip was played and there were no pun name combinations of players put into the squad. Without a strike force of Hwang – King, Vogt left himself looking like the crusty sock hidden under the bed, and his season has now faded into complete Irrelevants.
Meanwhile, in the upper reaches of the basement group, two men are level in points ahead of the rest. Hitman Hodgson and Ash the Bash are both on 1675 points, just five away from reaching the Elite. With eleventh-place Red Hot Rob 34 points adrift, both men can focus their attentions fully on climbing the table in the coming gameweek.
For the second time this season, King Ding falls just short of the Hundred Club, though his final tally of 98 points was enough to ensure his place in the Elite remains secure for another gameweek. His five-point cushion is a slender advantage, but having made up 23 points on seventh-place Terminator Tris this gameweek, his ambitions will be to climb the table next time out. The Terminator now finds himself sandwiched between the last two winners of the competition, following the Dragon Wildcarding his way to 116 points and a four-place rise in the table. Remarkably, only five players secured returns of any description for the Dragon, but the 76 points of James, Alexander-Arnold and captain Coutinho provided a strong foundation to build on, with the Wolves duo of Sa and Jimenez each adding another nine points. Also captaining Coutinho was Mighty Mouse, with the Villa man outscoring the total of the rest of his team combined. That nobody else could contribute for Mighty Mouse was deeply disappointing, as there will be few better chances for him to make up the huge gap to those above him than this gameweek, with a final score of 88 points closing the gap to fourth place, but leaving him further adrift of the medal places.
Still, it could have gone worse. For Ginger Ben, this could well be the gameweek that saw his title dreams come to an end. Despite the use of his Bench Boost, he found himself outscored by every other team in the top ten, with Jockin’ Jeeves outscoring him by twenty points to move into third and further ground being lost on the top two. It all looked so promising when James smashed home his eighteen points, but the abject failure of captain Raphinha and a twelve-point hit left him with just 76 points for the gameweek. His title challenge is not yet over, with the extra 56 points needed to reach top spot more than achievable given the volatility of the fixture list, but what hurts him the most is that the managers ahead of him all hold chip advantages over his head. With only six players in his squad featuring in Blank Gameweek 30, the Ginger One now faces a huge challenge in navigating the rest of the season with only one Free Hit, and he must decide whether to take extreme hits, go without a full team or use his last weapon in the blank gameweek, none of which are great options. Ahead of him, both Jockin’ Jeeves and Go Cartin have made up 23 points in two gameweeks on my table-topping team, and with both likely to have more players doubling-up next time out, they will be looking to hack away even more of my advantage. Indeed, Go Cartin – only 26 points off top spot – will believe he can displace me next time out, having already outscored me by that total in Gameweek 24.
The Man Who Would Be King
So, with ten gameweeks to go in the season, I find myself 26 points clear at the top of the table, with an expectancy of that number shrinking further next time out, but with a two-chip advantage over my closest rival. The pressure is growing, as is my second-guessing of my decisions, and the margin for error is growing ever smaller. Still, I must look at the positives. I have dreamt of being in this position since joining the League of Gentlemen eight seasons ago. I have the lead, I have the chips, and the amount of gameweeks remaining moves into single figures after the expected pain of the coming gameweek. Even if I am displaced at the top, I will enter the run-in with the weapons to make the difference, and I will have achieved my ongoing target of being in title contention after Gameweek 30. I cannot afford too many more slips. This gameweek, I got both fifty-fifty calls wrong, and paid the price. With either James or Havertz in my team, my position would feel far stronger; now, I feel like a man on the brink. Yet, both Rudiger and Mount could still prove themselves the correct call, should they make up the difference before my Wildcard. It’s easy to get bogged-down by the outcomes of a single gameweek, but I must stay focused on the bigger picture. Not only am I still top while holding a chip advantage, I’m still inside the top-50k, and I still have the best opportunity I will ever have to end this FPL Nightmare. Even if I do suffer next time out, I will be activating the Free Hit chip immediately after the transfer deadline, and I will be able to attack Gameweek 30 with a blank canvas. Plus, you just never know, maybe Gameweek 29, the cards will fall in my favour.
That concludes our round-up of Gameweek 28, which saw six Gentlemen enter the Hundred Club, which saw Round One of the Gentlemen’s Trophy reach its conclusion, and which saw Go Cartin and Jockin’ Jeeves turn up the ante in the title race. Ahead of Gameweek 29, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods be in your favour.
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All Lawes wants is to win The League of Gentlemen, yet the FPL Gods are bastards that conspire against him.
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