In the third-to-last gameweek of the season, Lord Geord finally got to tweet a pun he’d been hyping up for two years, and has sacrificed this intro to highlight it, despite it having little effect on proceedings bar denying Cancelo a clean sheet.
This game, this blasted misery we call FPL, very rarely affords its participants genuine joy. Heartbreak, dejection, frustration, agony and despair, yes. But joy, that is one emotion that is in scant supply in this game. It’s something we have to grab whenever it comes, however tangential or barely-relevant that joy may be. Gameweek Thirty-Six, with the title already sealed and with only peripheral prizes to contend for, somehow managed to conjure up the greatest memory of Lord Geord’s season. For two years, he has been waiting to share the title pun, the greatest pun he has ever thought of. Against the newly-crowned English champions, Emil Krafth leapt like a salmon to eradicate Manchester City clean sheet points, and to afford the Lord that chance. The goal truly was the Worldie of Wor Krafth.
Of course, like everything in this bloody game, it comes tinged with disappointment. The blasted blank gameweeks that preceded this momentous moment, mixed with Piss-Taker Pep’s Merry-Go-Round of Misery, meant that the only teams with Manchester City defenders remaining that were ahead of Lord Geord – who had benched Dias, knowing Big Game Bruce’s Magic Magpies would produce the goods – had those City defenders replaced in their starting elevens by whoever their substitute defender was. A moment of glory two years in the making, one where the Lord not only makes a brave call but is rewarded with the opportunity to unleash the pun, rendered almost-ineffective on an FPL level, with only the odd Gundogan clean sheet point denied to the Lord’s rivals. As ever with the bastard FPL Gods, they step in to intervene and deny the unadulterated celebration so wished for. They can’t allow anyone to be happy, not even for one night.
One day, Geord’s Lords will have their vengeance. This time next season, they’ll be Lording it over the whole division, runaway leaders of the League of Gentlemen, chasing down the world number one. They may say the Lord is delusional, but that’s never hindered him before. Delusion is only a disadvantage if the dream is impossible. Lord Geord will be back, and he’ll have more than puns and quips. He has vowed to secure that elusive League of Gentlemen title, and if it means selling out his maverick, multi-hit dreamers approach and adopting a safety-first, defensive strategy, then that’s what he’ll do.
This year, however, belongs to Dan the Dragon. With two gameweeks to go, he has extended his lead at the top yet again, this time to 84 points. His remarkable consistency has seen him render the title chase settled, too far ahead to catch barring a miracle and the greatest amount of luck the game of FPL, never mind the League of Gentlemen, has ever seen. We may not be able to mathematically declare him the champion just yet, but in seven days, he will be the man overthrowing King Ding and taking the throne. All that is left to determine are the Silver and Bronze medallists, the man burdened with the Wooden Spoon, and the final automatic qualification place for next season’s Gentlemen’s Classic, and those three contests will go right to the wire.
Before we get to the review, and see where things lie heading into Gameweek Thirty-Seven, there is the small matter of the Gentlemen’s Trophy Grand Final, where Jockin’ Jeeves holds a 1-0 lead over the Dragon heading into the second of three head-to-head clashes. Let us find out together what transpired in the Second Stage of the Grand Final.
The Cup Chronicles
The Second Stage begins with Jockin’ Jeeves being given a four-point advantage by the Dragon, courtesy of an eight-point hit that eclipsed the Rap Rob Roy’s own four-pointer. An early opportunity to close that gap washed by the Dragon when Dias failed to play for Jeeves, a situation that got worse for the league leader when six-point Struijk rose from the Juggernauts bench, while the Dragon’s Bamford scored just one point. Clean sheets for Meslier and Dallas, with Jeeves’ Wood going flaccid, gave the Dragon with a two points advantage. Blanks from the Dragon’s Vestergaard and Jeeves’ Antonio and Sanchez, as well as the dual-owned Lingard, brought the scores level as Saturday’s play ended, with six players left for both teams to play.
Entering Sunday, the Dragon had Ward, Sigurdsson and Kane as his difference-makers; for Jeeves, the men who could win him the trophy with a gameweek to spare were Coleman, Pereira and Salah. While both men owned Salah and Kane, the captaincy choices were what made them potential match-winners for both men. A disastrous start to the Dragon’s day saw Ward secure zero points, only for the tie to turn on its head with a goal and two bonus points for his captain, Kane, to move him eight points ahead with Sigurdsson to play. A Salah goal and bonus point would level the tie, a goal he secured along with, to the Dragon’s despair, a maximum complement of three bonus points, while Pereira also secured an assist to move Jeeves seven points clear. The gloom deepened for the Dragon as Coleman started for Jeeves, while his last hope, Sigurdsson, was named on the bench. A shock first goal for Sheffield United’s seventeen-year-old striker, Jebbison, denied Jeeves a Coleman clean sheet. It all came down to what Sigurdsson could do in his forty-five minutes from the bench, with a goal and three bonus points required to tie the contest, a tantalisingly-close proposition. Should Sigurdsson score and Coleman either get booked or concede a second, the Dragon would win outright.
Everton continued to struggle, but Sheffield United could not find the second goal required to take a point from Coleman, nor did the Everton defender lose his discipline. The only thing that would save the Dragon was a Sigurdsson goal, which would take the Second Stage to a Tiebreaker that he would win. First one Sigurdsson opportunity went begging, then a second. The Dragon’s dream of a trophy double in his debut season was lessening every moment. With Everton fighting to keep their European dream alive, they through everything forward. The ball broke loose. It fell to Sigurdsson. This was it, the moment the Dragon was waiting for. The Icelander let fly. The ball was flying towards goal, the keeper unsighted. A certain goal, and with it, three bonus points. Then, from nowhere, John Egan threw his entire body in front of the ball. With the determination of a man playing to win the World Cup final rather than participating in a dead-rubber, the already-relegated defender managed to get between the ball and the goal, denying Everton an equaliser and, far more importantly, ensuring the Gentlemen’s Trophy Grand Final Second Stage winner, by a score of 54-46, was Jockin’ Jeeves. It was a result that sealed a 2-0 Grand Final victory for the Juggernauts, ensuring that, should they fail to obtain a medal in the league, the season still ends with some silverware.
The League of Gentlemen:
For the fifth gameweek in the last six, Private Parvesh has cut the gap to Wildman Whitfield as he seeks to avoid finishing rock-bottom. The gap has shrunk from 141 points to fifty-five in that period, but time is running out for Parvesh, who needs to outscore the Wildman by twenty-eight points in each of the final two gameweeks. Wooden Spoon Helling’s 55 points moved him clear of the race to the bottom, while Metal Marc’s two-place fall saw Maverick Mikey and Mack Daddy McMahon each rise a place. With Who Horner, Slick Rick and the Masterchef all out of the running for the crucial twelfth place final position, the three-horse race took a potentially-fatal turn for Deadly Daz, who suffered the FPL Nightmare of missing the deadline and, as a result, taking the field with just six players and no captain. His nineteen points opened the door for The Ox to establish a 24-point cushion, but he found himself stunned by Iceman Newton’s 58 points, with Mitchell’s thirteen-pointer critical in the Iceman’s overtaking of The Ox by five points. One of these three men will take the final qualifying slot, and the odds are against Deadly Daz, who needs to cover a 29-point deficit in two gameweeks. Sirloin Sean took a huge hit for the second gameweek running, but there was no lucky escape this time, with his 24-point hit seeing him fall three places. King Ding remains in tenth position, ten points off the Chasing Pack, with Red Hot Rob just a point ahead in ninth.
The Chasing Pack
In Gameweek Thirty-One, Lord Geord took a huge gamble, taking a twenty-point hit to re-shape his squad after a run of four red arrows in five gameweeks. Resigning himself to another red that gameweek, he gambled that the short-term pain would be outweighed by the benefits gained in the run-in. It’s those rolls of the dice that have ensured Lord Geord has never sustained a title challenge in the eight years the League of Gentlemen has been active, yet this time, it has worked a charm. Five consecutive green arrows since Gameweek Thirty-Two, and the division’s highest score for the second gameweek running, have seen Geord’s Lords climb half a million places in the overall rankings and, with Alioski’s ten points stepping-in for the injured Jota, a late return to the Chasing Pack. Had Salah secured a second goal, the three-place rise in the table would’ve been four, but Hitman Hodgson lives to fight another day. Retaining seventh place by a midfielder’s goal’s-worth of points, the Hitman’s position was saved only through Southampton’s double-barrelled duo Ward-Prowse and Walker-Peters both posting assists on the board. Unfortunately for him, he placed the captaincy on another double-barrelled dueller, but Calvert-Lewin’s weapon was firing blanks. With only Dallas and Kane finding extra returns, it left the Hitman with a disappointing 36 points for the gameweek.
Even with such a poor score, he still managed to close the gap on Flash Funk, whose season showed such promise until Christmas, before petering out badly following his defeat in the Gentlemen’s Classic final. He has the lowest total in the top ten over the past six gameweeks, is now 98 points off fifth place, and is only 34 points off falling out of the top ten altogether. Eighth-place Lord Geord has made up a whopping seventy points on him in two gameweeks, while the Hitman has narrowed the gap by nineteen in the same timeframe, leaving Flash’s seemingly-comfortable sixth place under serious threat. Taking the field with only eight players following two late injuries to his Liverpool men, he saw only three players secure returns for a measly final score of 33 points, a total fifth-place Jockin’ Jeeves exceeded by twenty-one points. It was a week where the importance of the substitute’s bench was demonstrated by the Gentlemen’s Trophy winner, with Struijk, Sanchez and Pereira all called into action and delivering thirteen crucial points. Jeeves also got his captaincy correct, with the armband given to Salah, the only man in his team to haul. The hit to bring in Coleman and Antonio failed to manifest any additional points, though their replacing players without games in Gameweek Thirty-Six meant nothing was lost by those transfers. Jeeves’ total of 54 points will leave the perfectionist frustrated, especially given the larger hits taken by the Gentlemen above him, but the gap to the bronze medal has been closed by five points; not a great amount, yet one that has to be seen as a success in a gameweek where three substitutes were called into action. A big Gameweek Thirty-Seven score is required if the Rap Rob Roy is to make up the twenty-four point gap to third place.
The Title Contenders
Having tasted such success from his twenty-point hit last week, Ginger Ben tried to repeat the trick this time out, but lightning did not strike twice. One new signing, Foden, failed to take the field at all, while the other three – Bale, Son and Antonio – only just managed to break even on the hit. While many would say nothing has been lost, the problem Ginger Ben has is that he removed in-form players to get those men in. With Greenwood and Rashford both playing Fulham next time out, there is a strong chance those transfers could come back to haunt him, especially with Bale and Antonio both injury-prone and Foden very vulnerable to rotation. One pleasant surprise for the Eliminator has been Benteke, a bargain striker who has scored three goals in two gameweeks. The twenty-two points the Palace plunderer has procured have given the Ginger Goliath real hope of ending his second season in FPL with the bronze medal; he is sixteen points behind Grinchy Vogt right now, but holds a two-transfer advantage should the final scores be level. Given the gap between the two is just a midfield captain’s goal plus three bonus points, it could well come down to who has made the fewest transfers come Sunday night.
Grinchy Vogt’s focus will not be on those behind him. While he has managers snapping at his heels, his gaze is focused on the target Big Steve has on his back in that silver medal position. It’s a target that moved two points closer this gameweek, but it should have been so much more. While the four-point hit taken to replace the non-playing Iheanacho and Vardy with Bamford and Antonio was a worthy gamble, even if it didn’t pay off, the Grinch couldn’t stop himself getting greedy. Despite the pleas of his advisors and inner circle to refrain from any further transfers, he saw the injury to de Bruyne and thought he could steal even more points by gambling on Gundogan to rediscover his imperious form from earlier in the season. When Silky Ilkay curled in a beautiful assist early on, the Grinch thought his Christmas had come early. Yet, despite a goalfest in Geordieland, no further points were gained by Gundogan. That isn’t the worst of it, oh no. The man he sold to secure the City schemer was Harrison of Leeds, who went on to hammer home a monster haul of sixteen points, meaning the Grinch’s transfer gluttony cost him fifteen crucial points. With the silver medal still 23 points away and only two gameweeks left to make up the gap, the Grinch could well end up facing a long, hot summer of regret.
Whatever happens in the next two gameweeks, it will be more summertime sadness for Big Steve. Having come so close to glory last season, this one was about redemption, about righting the wrongs, and about defeating the men he dominated for 37 gameweeks only to be pipped at the post. This season, he has done just that, holding court above all of last season’s rivals for the majority of the run-in. The problem for the Butcher is that, while he is accomplishing his aim of besting those he came so close to ruling last season, he could not foresee the vast improvement of the newcomer to the league, Dan the Dragon. From his pre-League of Gentlemen record, the Dragon should’ve been nestled somewhere between sixth and ninth in the division. It goes to show just how the League of Gentlemen drives its competitors to vast improvement that the Dragon has been the man to deny the Butcher that top place, but the incredible standards it has taken to deny Big Steve over the past two seasons will not make the silver – or even the bronze – medal any more of a comfort. It was the same story this time out as it has been for most of the run-in; no matter what the Butcher does, the Dragon makes it irrelevant. This time out, Big Steve was actually able to outscore his rival by a point; a victory so meaningless as to actually be even more frustrating. There remains the slightest chance the Butcher could steal the title; it would probably take back-to-back weeks of scoring the most points in the world, while the Dragon somehow gets no returns, but mathematically it is not over yet. Realistically, though, all the Butcher can do is secure the silver medal, then come back in August refreshed and ready for another tilt at the title. Were he to pull it off, it would undoubtedly be the most popular title win of all time.
The Man Who Would Be King
This season, though, the glory belongs to Dan the Dragon. His title triumph has felt inevitable for some time – King Ding declared in January that he felt nobody would be able to deny him – and there are only two gameweeks to go until his coronation is confirmed and he takes the throne. Defeat in the Gentlemen’s Trophy final may have denied him the opportunity to match King Ding’s double from last season, while the huge scores achieved in Treble Gameweek Thirty-Five, from those with chips remaining elsewhere in the world, look set to ensure the King’s record-highest overall ranking will remain, but this is still a sensational triumph. Not only has the Dragon soared above the rest of the competition in his debut year, he also needs just twenty-one points from the final two gameweeks to achieve the League of Gentlemen total points record. There remains a chance he could beat the King’s record overall ranking, but it’s asking a lot; the Dragon’s 46-point week leaves him 32 points off the top-10k, and he’d need to get to 7,043 to surpass the division’s greatest legend. They often say the second title is the hardest to win; the only League of Gentlemen champion to ever break the King Ding – Jockin’ Jeeves duopoly, Spencer Anderson, fled the division in fear rather than face the wrath of the King. The Dragon is made of sterner stuff, and he’ll be back next season not only to defend his title, but to challenge for the Gentlemen’s Trophy, the Gentlemen’s Classic and the King’s records. The Dragon isn’t chasing titles, he’s chasing immortality. With the ability and mentality shown this season, few would bet against him achieving it.
That concludes our round-up of Gameweek Thirty-Six, one which saw Deadly Daz’s deadline disaster leave him desperately hoping for a miracle, which saw Lord Geord’s late-season form launch him three places into the Chasing Pack, and which saw Jockin’ Jeeves win the Gentlemen’s Trophy in a stunning 2-0 whitewash. With the penultimate gameweek taking place over Tuesday and Wednesday evening, the Gentlemen have just two chances left to achieve their goals, find some respectability and lay a marker down for next season. As always, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.
It really is a bloody good pun.
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