The penultimate gameweek of the season saw surprisingly few managers bring in the in-form goalscorer in the game. In a low-scoring gameweek, those that did were rewarded handsomely, securing medal positions and sealing divisional records. Things remain poised on a knife-edge ahead of the Final Day.
With only eight players in the whole of the Premier League producing double-figure hauls this gameweek, the margin for error was always going to be slim. For Grinchy Vogt, his blunder may well have cost him his hopes of the silver medal. Opting against signing Newcastle’s on-loan midfielder Willock, he regretted his decision as soon as the teamsheets were announced and he saw that Big Steve had brought in the midfield maestro. Vogt’s nerves turned to horror as Willock, on-loan from the Grinch’s beloved Arsenal, fired in eleven crucial points to leave Vogt’s aspirations of a second-place finish hanging by a thread.
The other big name manager to utilise the eleven-point man also had one of the seven other haulers, Patrick Bamford. For the Dragon, the risk of faltering at the last was slim, but having been soundly whitewashed by Jockin’ Jeeves in the Gentlemen’s Trophy Grand Final, he was taking nothing for granted. While his lead at the top of the division slipped a little, the twenty-three points secured from his two budget attackers ensured that, not only is his top-place position virtually-unassailable, the Final Points Total record set by King Ding has been obliterated. Now 35 points ahead of the previous-best figure, the Dragon has one final gameweek to come with which to ensure his new record will be uncatchable for years to come.
Further down the table, the drama persists with the race for the final qualification spot for next season’s Gentlemen’s Classic. It was a devastating gameweek for Deadly Daz, who missed last gameweek’s transfer deadline and was severely punished. This gameweek, The Ox obliterated the Dazzler’s total to render his hopes of avoiding the play-offs virtually non-existent; the Ox’s use of the Bench Boost also ensured a healthy gap developed between himself and Iceman Newton, his last main threat of ensuring his place in the premier early-season FPL competition for next season.
What we must remember about the Final Day, though, is that huge points swings are possible and anything can happen. With only the Champions League spots to play for in the Premier League, and with three English clubs involved in European finals shortly after the Final Day, mass rotation of starting elevens remains a grim possibility. It is the one thing the Gentlemen fear the most, and with little to play for in real life, we could yet see a Final Day where teams have only five or six of their line-ups in action. Conversely, the Final Day often sees footballers abandon defensive predilections and go all-out to give the fans something memorable ahead of the summer break. With wide-open, attacking football very much on the agenda, and with the potential for unfamiliar line-ups to take the field, upsets and goal-fests are very much on the cards. Think relegated Newcastle thrashing Champions League-qualifying Spurs 5-1 with ten men; think West Brom and Manchester United playing out a 5-5 draw in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final match; think Brighton beating Manchester City 3-2 in this very gameweek. The Final Day is always the most unpredictable of the season, and there will be points aplenty for the Gentlemen if they can get their transfers, captains and team selections correct.
Before our thoughts turn to the last gameweek of the season, however, let us first look back at what happened in Gameweek Thirty-Seven. With the Gentlemen’s Trophy Grand Final settled in a whitewash, there are no Cup Chronicles to report this week; instead, it’s all about the League of Gentlemen itself.
The League of Gentlemen:
It looks like time has run out on Private Parvesh, who only closed the Wildman down by four points this week, leaving him with a massive 52 extra points to find on the Final Day in order to avoid coming dead last. Wooden Spoon Helling has no prospect of finishing bottom this year, but neither will he catch Maverick Mikey above him. The Maverick was overtaken by Big-Time Birkett after reverting to his huge hit ways, a -16 being too much of a deficit to overcome. Metal Marc’s late-season resurgence sees him replace Mack Daddy McMahon in eighteenth after a division-high 74 points, but Who Horner will end the season in seventeenth; too far ahead to fall a place, too far behind to climb. The Masterchef broke the two-thousand-points barrier but a disappointing 31 points saw Slick Rick climb above him into fifteenth. Deadly Daz remains in fourteenth, and needs a Final Day miracle to make the automatic qualification spots for the Gentlemen’s Classic; the crucial twelfth place is held by The Ox, who moved 46 points clear of Deadly Daz and thirteen ahead of Iceman Newton with a Bench Boost-assisted 57 points. Red Hot Rob falls to eleventh after his Bale captaincy gamble backfired; the doubling of the one-point cameo from the Spurs substitute doing little to help his late-season push for respectability. He’s level on points with King Ding, who has followed his usual trend of a disappointing season after a top-100k finish; both men were usurped by Sirloin Sean, who avoided a third-successive huge hit and moved eight points clear of both. All three men are within thirteen points of the Chasing Pack, and while it has been a disappointing season whatever happens, all will hope to avoid the ignominy of ending the Final Day stranded in Irrelevants.
The Chasing Pack
A five-week run of green arrows comes to an end for Lord Geord, who only remains in the Chasing Pack by virtue of Lingard securing a late assist and two additional bonus points. The injury to Jota caused the Lord to deviate from his original planned transfer of Leno to Dubravka, instead bringing in Greenwood and benching Bamford. This decision had huge ramifications, with Leno bringing in four points fewer than his planned-replacement and Bamford outscoring Greenwood by a huge ten points. Had Lord Geord followed through on his original gameplan, he would be one point off sixth place and virtually-assured to finish outside of the Irrelevants; now, he faces a nervy Final Day, with some selection dilemmas ahead of him. Remaining five points ahead after posting an identical score is Hitman Hodgson, who had Digne’s clean sheet and bonus points to thank. Benching the in-form Iheanacho looked to have paid off when the Leicester hitman was left on the bench, only for Killer Kelechi to treble the score of starting strikers Calvert-Lewin and Kane with just a third of their playing time. Small returns from Dallas, Digne, Lingard and Bruno was as good as it got for the Hitman, who faces a tricky Final Day, with only four of his fifteen-man squad having fixtures determined as ‘green’ by the Fixture Difficulty Ranking system.
Five points ahead in sixth is Flash Funk, who extends his advantage over the Chasing Pack behind him by virtue of Soucek’s own goal later being wiped-out by the Goal Accreditation Panel. A Soucek goal at the right end was critical to his above-average score, while Antonio’s late strike meant two of his five returns came from West Ham United. It’s been a tough 2021 for the Funkmaster, who lost his groove after the Gentlemen’s Classic final and has struggled for motivation and momentum ever since. With a Bench Boost still to play, he remains the strong favourite to finish ahead of the Hitman and Lord Geord, though with Meslier confirmed to be out of the Leeds starting XI and Jota and Kabak injured, the chip will have little consequence without a transfer hit or two. Sixth place is as good as it can get for Flash, who is over a hundred points behind Gentlemen’s Trophy winner Jockin’ Jeeves, whose traditional late-season drive has failed to materialise. Instead, he has fallen two points further adrift of the Title Contenders in the last three gameweeks, with the bronze medal moving an extra seven points away this time out. The West Brom-West Ham match was critical for Jeeves, who saw three of his five returns secured by participants in that game, with the Merseyside right-backs Coleman and Alexander-Arnold producing the other two. Five returns, though, is just too few for the Rap Rob Roy at this stage; with 32 extra points required to take third place outright on the Final Day and five of his eight attackers identical to his rival, he will require the intervention of the FPL Gods themselves to avoid finishing outside of the medal places for the first time in the division’s eight-year history.
The Title Contenders
Fourth-place Ginger Ben has a smaller margin to make up to place in the medals, being nine points ahead of Jockin’ Jeeves, but he is another who will require some divine intervention. Selection mistakes were what cost the Eliminator, who failed to heed the warning given in the Spurs press conference and started one-point Bale ahead of twelve-point Bamford. With nine-point Rudiger outscoring eight of the ten players selected ahead of him, it left Ginger Ben eighteen points further adrift of the medals than he otherwise would be; had he got his selection right and avoided the hit to replace Maddison with Greenwood, he would be just one point off third, rather than twenty-two. Five players did manage to secure returns, while Foden brought in one of the few hauls in the division this week, but the Ginger Goliath will see his 51-point score as a massive missed-opportunity at just the wrong time.
While his grip on the bronze medal became tighter, the silver medal now looks an unlikely prospect for Grinchy Vogt, having fallen five points further away. Second-guessing the decision to sign Willock cost him dearly; having declared to Jez Messing that he would be bringing in the Geordie goal-getter, he instead opted to make no transfers, to give himself two free transfers on the Final Day. He then watched in horror as Son, the man due to be sold, brought in only two point while Willock, signed by the Gentleman he is hunting down, smashed home a huge eleven points. That nine-point swing, in addition to the seven additional points he could’ve had by starting Trossard over Kane, could well come back to haunt the Grinch. Reguilon scoring the own goal of the season brought further pain, rendering the player’s assist irrelevant, and leaving Grinchy Vogt with 29 extra points to find on the Final Day in order to steal the silver. That total may seem unreachable, but it was only three gameweeks ago when the Grinch outscored his rival by 26 points, and he has beaten Big Steve by greater than 29 points on three occasions this season: by 34 points in Gameweek Seventeen, by 44 points in Gameweek Eighteen and by 40 points in Gameweek Twenty. With only three matching players and with two free transfers to play with, Grinchy Vogt has every chance of ensuring the Butcher suffers a second-successive Final Day heartbreak.
Still, there’s no denying that Big Steve is the heavy favourite to secure back-to-back silver medals. The signing of Willock proved a masterstroke, with eleven points fired home by the Newcastle midfielder, though the advantage would’ve been greater had two-point Greenwood been sold, rather than six-point Sigurdsson. Sterling’s absence through injury paved the way for seven-point Pereira to rise from the bench, with Watkins, Iheanacho, Godfrey, Dallas and Alexander-Arnold providing further returns. The Butcher’s gameweek total of 62 points was the highest in the division outside Metal Marc, and closed the gap on the Dragon by seven points. In regards to the title race, it is a case of too little, too late; with 77 points an impossible total to overcome in one gameweek, the Final Day target for Big Steve is ensuring he fends off Grinchy Vogt. The cushion of 28 points should be enough, but the scars of last season remain, and could affect the Butcher’s gameplan. However, with a comfortable lead and enough money in the bank to bring in any player he wants, the advantage lies with Big Steve, and it’s hard to see it being squandered.
The Man Who Would Be King
A remarkable season continued for champion-elect Dan the Dragon, who smashed King Ding’s existing League of Gentlemen Final Points record with a gameweek to spare. There was an air of inevitability about it, with just twenty-one points required from Gameweeks Thirty-Seven and Thirty-Eight to achieve the total required, and it was Patrick Bamford who broke through the glass ceiling in Gameweek Thirty-Seven’s second match, with his late assist and subsequent three bonus points ensuring the fall of the King’s record. Taking the King’s Overall Ranking record on the Final Day will be tough; with the Dragon 27 points off the top-ten thousand, achieving a final overall rank of 7,043 seems virtually-impossible, given the fine margins in play at the upper reaches of the global game. Still, King Ding only secured that record last season with a bumper Final Day performance, so the precedent is there; with all the pressure off, the Dragon can enjoy the Final Day and take some risks, if he so desires. Hauls from Willock and Bamford were supplemented by returns from Alexander-Arnold, Dallas, Lingard and Bruno as the Dragon smashed through the 2400-point mark; with one gameweek to go, the Dragon can crown an unbelievable debut season by setting an overall points record that could stand unbreakable for years to come.
That concludes our review of a low-scoring penultimate gameweek, one that saw The Ox move into pole position for the final Gentlemen’s Classic qualifying spot, which saw Grinchy Vogt’s uncharacteristic reserve in the transfer market increase the Butcher’s chances of the silver medal, and which saw Dan the Dragon smash King Ding’s League of Gentlemen Overall Points Record with a gameweek to spare. With only one gameweek left of the season, the potential drama seems to be at a minimum, but we all know anything can happen on the Final Day. So, for the last time this season: May all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.
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