The Gentlemen's luck was out in Gameweek Thirteen, with the majority of the big names failing to produce. With points being hard to find, a 23-point swing sees a new name at the top.
It's fitting, really, that Gameweek Thirteen proved unlucky for most managers in the League of Gentlemen. There are those who will argue that luck doesn't exist, that luck is for losers. With only four players in the whole of the Premier League getting more than one return, and with only one of those four having previously achieved more than one return in a game this season, you simply wouldn’t have got a decent score this week without a bit of luck. Gameweeks like this can’t be planned for; sometimes, the big players collectively fail to produce.
What gameweeks like this provide, though, is an opportunity. If you can get just four or five players to find a return, immense gains in the league can be made. Winning the League of Gentlemen isn’t about 90+ point returns every week, it’s about outscoring your rivals. This week, Ginger Ben gave the Title Contenders hope with a poor score of 37 points, hope Dan the Dragon seized upon with a barnstorming sixty-pointer. That 23-point swing took the Dragon to the top of the table, and the Ginger One faces a real tough challenge to regain top place next week. In his press conference, Ginger Ben was quoted as saying, “This happened last time and within a week I was back at the top,” quotes that could come back to haunt him if they fire up the Dragon. When it was put to him that he was feeling the pressure, he responded, “No pressure here, none at all. I’m exceeding expectations – I would’ve been happy with a top ten finish at the start of the season.” Should his slide continue in the coming weeks, you can’t help but feel he won’t be as happy as he would’ve been thirteen gameweeks ago.
Elsewhere in the division, the low-scoring nature of the gameweek resulted in little movement in position, bar in the Irrelevants where five teams switched positions. As the teams jostle and scrap to reach the Chasing Pack, the gaps between teams get closer and closer, with just fourteen points separating eleventh from sixteenth. For the second week running, it is the Masterchef who is the closest to escaping the Irrelevants; his gameweek score of just 48 points was the highest in that section of the division, and it narrows his gap to the Pack to just three points. Having beaten Sirloin Sean by more than three points in each of his last six gameweeks, Gameweek Fourteen will surely see the Masterchef fry off Sirloin and swallow him whole.
The latest challenge facing the Gentlemen is the announcement of Blank Gameweek Eighteen and Double Gameweek Nineteen. With ten teams playing twice in the latter, it provides the first real opportunity for the Gentlemen to use their Bench Boost to great advantage. How they get there, though, is the question. Flash Funk, Wooden Spoon Helling, Red Hot Rob and King Ding have the upper hand in this regard, with each of them still having their first Wildcard to play. That makes the strategy of Wildcard Gameweek Sixteen, Free Hit Gameweek Eighteen, Bench Boost Gameweek Nineteen by far the best option, knowing they can set up to have fifteen players playing twice while still retaining their second Wildcard for the double gameweeks to come. For the rest of the division, the dilemma will be whether to use their second Wildcard in Gameweek Seventeen and adopt the same strategy, or whether to tailor their transfer strategy over the next five weeks to reach as close to fifteen players with doubles as possible. This is where the folly of the early Free Hit becomes so apparent; with Ginger Ben unable to cover the Gameweek Eighteen blanks with that particular chip, his title challenge could seriously falter.
These are the dilemmas that determine seasons, the decisions that create champions. With every manager in the league still retaining hope of a successful season, navigating these next few weeks will be crucial to those dreams.
The Cup Chronicles
In the Gentlemen’s Classic, one group winner was decided, while the other group was blown wide open. Emerging from Group A into the Grand Final is Flash Funk, whose incredible run of form culminated in a 53-41 victory over Deadly Daz. It has been a second-stage to forget for Deadly Daz, who was expected to provide a real threat yet has lost all but one of his games. He enters Matchday Twelve with nothing but pride to play for, yet it is perhaps his greatest grudge match, taking on the man who only pipped him to last year’s bronze medal after the advantage of leaked team news, Jockin’ Jeeves. For Flash Funk, he can afford to use this weekend as a transitional weekend if he wishes to take transfer hits, knowing that, even if he loses and Jockin’ Jeeves wins, he holds the head-to-head advantage and is guaranteed the place in the two-legged tie to determine the winner of the Gentlemen’s Classic.
Who he plays in that tie remains open for question, with every member of Group B retaining hope of topping the group. It should have been wrapped-up already, but Ginger Ben took the decision to take a minus-four to replace seven-point Dallas with one-point Cancelo. That ten-point swing meant The Ox was able to grab a victory against the then-league leader, taking himself to one point behind the Ginger One with one game remaining. In the other game, Hitman Hodgson was unable to find a single goal, leaving Sirloin Sean free to claim his second victory in two weeks. Sirloin’s hopes of progression rest on a knife-edge, with him needing to defeat Ginger Ben while outscoring him by nine goals and hoping The Ox and Hitman Hodgson play out a draw with the Hitman scoring less than five goals. In the event Sirloin does beat Ginger Ben, then all the Hitman and the Ox need to do is beat each other to progress. Going into Matchday Twelve, it’s all on the line in Group B.
Gentlemen's Classic, Matchday Eleven results:
Flash Funk 53 - 41 Deadly Daz
Slick Rick 34 - 39 Jockin’ Jeeves
The Ox 41 - 37 Ginger Ben
Hitman Hodgson 30 - 42 Sirloin Sean
Gentlemen's Classic, Stage Two tables:
The Eliminator claimed its latest high-profile victim this week. In a disastrous week for his team, which produced zero goals, zero clean sheets and just two assists, Hitman Hodgson became the latest to fall at the hands of the most gruelling competition in FPL. He actually scored the same amount of points as Slick Rick, but the hit he took meant four points were removed from his score, confirming his exit from the competition. Agonisingly for the Hitman, the hit he took was to replace Salah with de Bruyne; with the Liverpool man as captain, he would still be in the competition, as would he be had he started nine-point Neto over Tielemans, a man without a return in five games prior to this week. Alas, his gambles did not pay off, making him the latest manager defeated by the Eliminator.
Still to be Eliminated: Dan the Dragon, Ginger Ben, Iceman Newton, Slick Rick, Flash Funk, Big Steve, The Ox, The Masterchef, Jockin' Jeeves, Who Horner, Lord Geord, King Ding, All-Star Vogt, Wildman Whitfield.
The League of Gentlemen:
A tough week for Maverick Mikey saw his eight-point hit fail to pay off, leaving him stranded on 537 points at the bottom. Private Parvesh moved 29 points clear of him in second-bottom, though the gap to third-bottom Metal Marc extended by a further five points, with Metal Marc now on 594 points. A thirty-point gap emerges to Big-Time Birkett, lying in 21st on 624 points, with another 21 point distance to Wildman Whitfield in twentieth. It tightens up after that, with Mack Daddy McMahon six points ahead in nineteenth, with another ten points needed to catch All-Star Vogt in eighteenth. King Ding retains a 28-point cushion over the All-Star, a gap that extended by three points this week. His focus will be on catching Lord Geord in sixteenth, a gap that extended by three points this week. After Lord Geord, it gets very tight, with just seventeen points between him and tenth-placed Jockin’ Jeeves. Those two men, along with Red Hot Rob, Deadly Daz, Who Horner, Hitman Hodgson and Wooden Spoon Helling, who lie between them, will all be focusing on catching The Masterchef, who stands at the top of the Irrelevants with 727 points. Should any of them find an extra four points on the gap between themselves and the Masterchef, they could even find themselves enjoying Christmas in the Chasing Pack.
The Chasing Pack
Clinging on to his place in the Chasing Pack is Sirloin Sean, who saw four players get returns but neither of them score more than six points. It’s been a tough run of gameweeks for the Appleby Assassin, who now faces the very real prospect of spending Christmas having faded to Irrelevants. Having so much money tied up in goalkeepers seems a mistake, with neither Ederson nor Allison troubling the top of the goalkeeper points charts. Indeed, having money invested in two goalkeepers is often a waste, but if you were going to do it, signing Pope and Martinez – the two top-scoring keepers who both have extra games to play – seems to be the way to go. It’s hard to say how Sirloin can fix his team’s issues, but he needs to find the answer quick. He did manage to make up a point on the Ox by virtue of Konsa’s illness leaving Oxsmorons with only ten players. The Ox saw only three players secure returns, but the goal and bonus points picked up by Son ensured seventh place remains his. It’s long been speculated having two non-playing defenders will cost the Ox, and so it proved this week, with nobody able to come off the bench once Konsa failed to appear. The replacement of Jota with Grealish, however, means the Ox is dependent upon Konsa regaining fitness this weekend, with no funds now available with which to upgrade one of his substitute defenders without taking a hit. Just outside the top-1m overall on 734 points, the Ox will be hoping for a stroke of fortune to close the gap to sixth and break into the top-1m players this weekend.
Big Steve continued his fightback with a solid 43 points, secured through four returns though, again, none of those returns was for more than seven points. Frustratingly for the Butcher, his highest-scoring player, nine-point Neto, was his third substitute, despite three returns in the four games prior to this weekend. His aim at the start of the weekend would’ve been to make up ground on Ginger Ben, a task he did manage to accomplish. Frustratingly for him, the Dragon destroyed the Ginger One, displacing him at the top and extending Big Steve’s mountain to climb by an extra six points. The Butcher will be hoping his experience provides the springboard to success over the next six gameweeks, with the action coming thick and fast and culminating with a double-gameweek that could change the entire course of the season. The man 25 points ahead of him in fifth, Flash Funk with 785 points, holds all the cards in that regard. The only man in the top ten with all his chips intact, he can use his first Wildcard to maximum impact, while also knowing two of the four players ahead of him have already thrown away their Free Hit. He gave himself a great platform with the second-highest score of the gameweek, his 57 points second only to new league leader Dan the Dragon. Martinez, Chilwell, Son, Salah, Neto and Calvert-Lewin provided the points, with the only real blotch on the copybook being the bizarre decision to leave Bamford, a man in supreme form against a Covid-ravaged Newcastle, on the bench to play new signing Welbeck. Despite that predictably backfiring and costing him the four points needed to secure the highest score of the week, Flash remains in the driver’s seat for December’s manager of the month. If he can maintain this form for the rest of December, he’ll not only end up in the Title Contenders, but pushing for top spot come the turn of the year.
The Title Contenders
Dropping back into fourth this week is Slick Rick, who now has just a nine-point lead to protect over Flash following the 23-point gain made by the Funkmaster this week. It couldn’t really have gone much worse for the Slickster, with only Son and Calvert-Lewin gaining returns for the team, while the seventeen points of Alioski and Neto remained entrenched in his bench. The lowest score in the top ten by some distance, he secured twenty-six points less than the league leader, leaving him 38 points off the top of the table. The real positive for Slick Rick is that he has real squad depth; with only Kilman in his squad who doesn’t play, the opportunity is there to upgrade him with some of the £1.3m he has in the bank. There are storm clouds on the horizon, however, the main one being that nine of his squad have fixture difficulty ratings in the red this weekend. While he has room for flexibility in his selections, how he approaches the transfer market this weekend will be crucial.
Moving a point clear of Slick Rick on 795 points is Iceman Newton, who secured 42 points this week. Chilwell, Dallas, Son and Calvert-Lewin brought in the points, though there are signs emerging that the Iceman is feeling the heat. He made the nonsensical decision to not only bring in Greenwood, with just one goal to his name this season, but also to give him the captaincy armband. Bringing in an out-of-form player and hoping to catch the change in fortunes is one thing, but giving him the armband – especially when you have a teammate, Bruno, with 121 points in 11 away games – is borderline ridiculous. Inevitably, Greenwood failed to produce, being withdrawn on 73 minutes after another ineffective performance. Rubbing salt in the Iceman’s wounds, his team-mate Martial secured a goal and an assist, while his other team-mate, Rashford, scored two goals. While the decision not to award Bruno the armband was proven correct, these sorts of wild gambles will only ever lead to detrimental performance over the long-term. If the Iceman can learn from his mistake, he can continue to prove dangerous over the second portion of the season. Given he has no Free Hit and he has used his first Wildcard, he simply cannot afford to be so reckless in the coming weeks.
Dropping into second on 824 points, 29 points clear of the Iceman but now eight points off the top, is Ginger Ben, who could not have got this gameweek more wrong. He brought in Cancelo for a hit to replace Dallas, a decision which cost him ten points. He started James over Robertson, a decision that cost him another four points. He started Soucek over Lamptey, a decision that cost another four points. He brought in McGinn for Jota then left him on the bench, a transfer that proved effective only in saving £0.1m in Jota’s dropped price, but one which could’ve been put off by two days and saved four points on the hit that had to be taken for Cancelo. All these mistakes resulted in him being smashed by the Dragon to the tune of 23 points and seeing him fly over him to the top of the league. It’s been a great run so far for Ginger Ben, but Gameweek Thirteen could be where we see his season turn. With six members of his attack having fixtures rated in the red, it could be another low-scoring gameweek next time out, while Cancelo will surely have to be benched given he plays two members of the Ginger One’s attack. What a pointless transfer, taking a hit to bring in someone likely, at best, to score six points, essentially a two-pointer after the deduction. With no Free Hit to navigate the upcoming blank, and the prospect of having to use his second Wildcard in order to benefit from the double gameweek, Ginger Ben’s inexperience could destroy the great start he has made. While no-one would be happier than me to see a Mackem fail to win the title, it would be a real shame if his misfortunes result in him sliding down the table. Indeed, his idolatry of Sunderland is inspiring many of the division to try even harder to succeed; he is raising the standards of everyone around him. The challenge for him is to recover in Gameweek Fourteen and take back control of the narrative.
The Man Who Would Be King
A stunning sixty points in the most difficult of circumstances sees Dan the Dragon take top spot for the first time this season, moving eight points clear on 832 points. Martinez, Robertson, Dallas, Son, Wilson and Calvert-Lewin all secured returns to support captain Salah’s double-figure total, though he was another who made the foolish decision to sign Greenwood. At least he had the sense not to captain him, though he would’ve been better off bringing in a cheap midfielder, starting Soucek and promoting six-point Lamptey from the bench. With the Dragon unsure about the starting potential of Soucek long-term, he faces a real dilemma with whether to stick with the woefully-underperforming Mahrez or sign someone who can produce the goods on a regular basis. Getting to the top is worthy of celebration, but staying there is the real challenge; the Dragon will need to get his transfer correct this week to prevent Ginger Ben repeating his trick of regaining top spot this weekend. With the fixtures in his favour and the points in hand, few expect the Dragon to fall in Gameweek Fourteen; one thing he has proven so far is that, once he attains a position, he cements it before building further. He is proving a very worthy competitor in his debut League of Gentlemen season, and his own standards have risen considerably – his best finish before joining the division was 243,150, while now he finds himself ranked 33,305 overall. A remarkable improvement, and now the question is just how high he can rise, and whether he could possibly surpass King Ding’s 7,044 final overall ranking from last season, the highest in the history of the division. A lofty ambition, but one well worth pursuing. If he gets anywhere near, it will take something very special to prevent him finishing the campaign as champion.
That concludes our round-up of Gameweek Thirteen, which proved unlucky for some, not least Ginger Ben. After a low-drama Gameweek Twelve was followed by the lowest-scoring gameweek of the season, the Gentlemen will be chomping at the bit to get some real points in the bag in Gameweek Fourteen, the final Gameweek before Christmas and the one that will determine who joins Flash Funk in the Grand Final of the Gentlemen’s Classic. As always, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.
Gentlemen’s Classic fixtures, Gameweek Fourteen:
Jockin’ Jeeves vs Deadly Daz
Flash Funk vs Slick Rick
Ginger Ben vs Sirloin Sean
The Ox vs Hitman Hodgson
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