In a low-impact gameweek, the only real changes to the division were caused by the ineptitude of Wooden Spoon Helling. Meanwhile, all is still to play for in the Gentlemen's Classic.
Gameweek Twelve proved a quiet one in the League of Gentlemen, with very little movement in positions throughout the division. The main reason for this was a remarkable turn of events, where only one team from last season's top nine - Leicester City - recorded a victory, and four players from the gameweek's dream team secured just nine points. With the big players from the smaller teams failing to fire, and with the main captaincy choices all scoring similar totals, it left points at a premium.
The big winners were those with Leicester assets. While the gameweek's highest-scoring player, Maddison, is not owned by any of the Gentlemen, those with Vardy and Justin reaped big rewards, with Flash Funk's ownership of Justin giving him the upper hand in the Gentlemen's Classic, while Who Horner's captaincy of Vardy resulted in the division's highest gameweek score of 67 points. The nil-nil draw in the Manchester derby, and Liverpool and Spurs' failure to score more than one goal against Fulham and Crystal Palace respectively, meant that most captaincies failed to break double-figures, limiting the chance for managers to rise and fall and keeping the sense of stasis alive.
Bar a couple of teams switching position with the one closest to them, the only real changes were a result of Wooden Spoon Helling's bizarre intervention in his team last week. Wooden Spoon is well-renowned for his set-forget style, producing a teamsheet for Gameweek One then barely returning to the game. His arrogance in thinking he can be successful with no changes is exposed year upon year, with his 'Wooden Spoon' title being earned due to his perennial last-place finishes. While he was pipped to that by Metal Marc last season, he has ensured that he has a real chance of reclaiming his title this season, having come back last week only to strip Kane of the captaincy and relegate him to second-substitute, giving the armband to Henderson, who played the second half against Fulham at centre-half. That bizarre decision left him fifteen points worse off, and made him easy pickings for three teams behind him to rise.
Heading into Gameweek Thirteen, the big news is the long-term injury to the highly-owned Jota. With the Liverpool man needing to be replaced, but at an awkward price point with no real like-for-like alternatives at a similar price, we could see several hits being taken this week. That being said, the rise in prominence of West Ham could see many switch to Soucek or Bowen, while Ward-Prowse's deadeye skills from set-pieces will surely lure some new owners, especially with the Ingstant Classic back in the picture with a goal and assist in a game and a half.
So, while Gameweek Twelve may not have been the most dramatic of gameweeks, it could well have lain the foundations for an explosive Gameweek Thirteen. With the midweek gameweeks always a cause of chaos, and with the Gentlemen's Classic reaching boiling point, expect to see much volatility and drama in our next review. For now, let us turn to the Cup Chronicles, where the gameweek's real drama lies.
The Cup Chronicles
With two games to go in Stage Two of the Gentlemen's Classic, everything is still to play for, with every team still harbouring hope of winning their group and advancing to the Grand Final. In Group A, it is Flash Funk that holds the upper hand, with his victory over Jockin' Jeeves sending him two points clear and, crucially, confirming he will hold the head-to-head tiebreaker should they finish level on points. Deadly Daz's loss to Slick Rick means that he is the rank outsider, with him needing two wins from two, to make up a five-goal difference and for other results to go his way, with his only chance being a four-way tie and to have the goals scored advantage. For Slick Rick, the equation is simple - if he beats Flash and Jeeves in his last two games, he will be in the final.
Group B can also end in a four-way tie, after Sirloin Sean's victory over The Ox was matched by Hitman Hodgson handing Ginger Ben his first defeat of Stage Two, by virtue of Justin's assist and two bonus points in the final match of the gameweek. It is unlikely that Group B will end in a four-way tie, given that it will require a draw between the Hitman and The Ox in their final group match. Should that unlikelihood occur, Sirloin Sean will need to have won his final two matches, while The Ox would also need to defeat Ginger Ben this midweek. Both groups can also be wrapped up before Matchday Twelve; Flash can win Group A if he beats Deadly Daz and Jeeves does not lose his fifth game, while Sirloin Sean avoiding defeat would mean Ginger Ben just needs to win to make the Grand Final with a week to spare.
Gentlemen's Classic, Matchday Eleven results:
Slick Rick 64 - 46 Deadly Daz
Flash Funk 59 - 48 Jockin' Jeeves
The Ox 47 - 51 Sirloin Sean
Hitman Hodgson 63 - 59 Ginger Ben
Gentlemen's Classic, Stage Two tables:
Following three weeks of big-name exits, there were no shocks in the Eliminator this time out. The hubris of Wooden Spoon Helling in removing the captaincy from Kane and making him second substitute resulted in the most predictable outcome, with his final gameweek score being just 31 points. Had he kept Kane as captain and Harrison as sub, he would have survived for another week, but the Eliminator takes no prisoners. An impressive effort for him to survive this long, but he is now the latest victim of the most arduous competition in all of FPL.
Currently Eliminated: Metal Marc, Mack Daddy McMahon, Red Hot Rob, Maverick Mikey, Private Parvesh, Deadly Daz, Sirloin Sean, Big-Time Birkett, Wooden Spoon Helling.
The League of Gentlemen:
It was a good week for Maverick Mikey, who kept himself to the one free transfer limit and saw himself make some real ground up on Private Parvesh in 23rd. The Private entered the gameweek with a 41-point cushion, but saw that slashed to just fifteen points. If Maverick Mikey can maintain this transfer discipline, he shall start rising the table in no time. In 22nd on 547 points is Metal Marc, 38 points ahead of the bottom spot. After that, it's a 46-point gap to 21st, currently held by Big-Time Birkett. It's been a tough year for Big-Time, who just can't seem to get anything going, and who saw Wildman Whitfield pull eight points further ahead to 606. Eleven points ahead is Mack Daddy McMahon, who was one of the few people to drop a place this week, overtaken by All-Star Vogt following Vardy's thirteen-pointer in the gameweek's final game. The All-Star moves onto 616 points, and faces a huge challenge to make up the 27-point gap to defending champion King Ding. The King languishes on 643 points in 17th, his gameweek only saved by the last-match heroics of Justin and Lamptey's injury seeing Cancelo rise from his bench. The King's reticence to use his Wildcard is admirable, but his desire to wait for the perfect gameweek is costing him so much ground. In a season that is rewarding transfer aggression and courage, the King's caution, so often his strength, could well prove his ultimate downfall.
He did close the gap to sixteenth-place Lord Geord by two points, by virtue of the Lord taking an eight-point hit. His new signings, Son and Bamford, provided an assist apiece, though his Triple Chelsea defensive gamble failed to pay off this week. The gap to fifteenth was closed by six points, a position now occupied by Deadly Daz, whose slide is at risk of proving terminal. Particularly hard for the Dazzler was taking a four-point hit to bring in one-point James, only to see the man he replaced, Justin, secure an eleven-point total. His drop in position is only on transfers made, with Red Hot Rob's recovery seeing him level on points but a place higher in the league. In thirteenth is Wooden Spoon Helling, a four place drop his punishment for his management idiocy, with Who Horner moving a point ahead into twelfth, on 666 points. Hitman Hodgson rose into eleventh on 673 points, taking fifteen points off Jockin’ Jeeves’ lead in tenth after the Rap Rob Roy left his highest-scoring player on the bench and secured just 48 points. With the gap between the two down to just one point, both men face a nervy Gameweek Thirteen, though the Masterchef – up to ninth – remains within a defender’s goal of both men. It could’ve been even better for the Masterchef, had the cameo of Torres not prevented Klich from rising off the bench, but he will be pleased to enter Gameweek Thirteen just a handful of points off the Chasing Pack.
The Chasing Pack
Another average week for Sirloin Sean saw the gap behind him close by another ten points, though he did manage to make up four points to the team ahead of him. Taking a transfer hit to bring in Alexander-Arnold and de Bruyne, he watched in horror as Fulham took an early lead, while the Manchester City man, who was given the captain’s armband, played out a drab 0-0 draw. While six players managed to secure returns – including all three of his strikers – these returns were mainly in the low single figures, meaning they only produced a final gameweek score of 51 points. With Jota’s injury the only issue, we could see Sirloin move for Zaha as a replacement, given the extra money in the bank. With only five points separating him from The Ox, the pressure will be on his new signing to make up the difference. The Ox ended with his second under-50 points total in three weeks following a failure to field a full team, a situation that is hindering his chances at climbing the table. With Foden, Braithwaite and Kilman all unable to be relied upon and Jota now injured, it is imperative The Ox strengthens his squad. Jota should be downgraded to Soucek or Ward-Prowse to enable quality to be brought in to replace Kilman and Braithwaite in the next two weeks. Should this situation not be rectified, The Ox will suffer badly over the hectic Christmas period. As it is, six returns took his overall total to 693 points, but the gap to sixth place lengthened to 24 points.
The manager in sixth place is the Butcher, Big Steve, who continues to gain momentum after hitting the highest score in the top ten. Last year’s runaway freight train was derailed at the final turn, but this year it is he who will hope to throw a spanner in the works, as he continues to close the gap on the teams above him. While only six players secured returns, one of them was eleven-point Justin, while another, Kane, was handed the armband for eighteen points. The non-appearance of last week’s new signing Mendy will have been frustrating, but with cover on the bench, expect the Butcher to show patience. Indeed, two of his substitutes entered the fray this week, both of whom – Soucek and Calvert-Lewin – secured returns. It is this type of fortune that can make or break a season, and with the experience of last season’s failure fresh in his mind, he will be determined to erase that memory with success this season. His 717 points is fifteen behind fifth-place Flash Funk, who secured a solid 59 points this week. Justin and captain Salah led the way with 29 points between them, with four other members of the squad securing smaller returns. Frustration for Flash will come from leaving eleven-point Martinez on the bench, while Brewster’s continued underperformance and Neco Williams dropping in the pecking order due to Alexander-Arnold’s return hint at underlying issues that could haunt Flash in the next few weeks. Both those players need upgrading, but with no money in the bank, it will involve trading out one of his current players for a cheaper option first. Still, another four points made up on the Title Contenders, with fourth place now down to 21 points away. With a strong Gameweek Thirteen, that gap could disappear sooner than people might think.
The Title Contenders
Iceman Newton needed a strong gameweek after last week’s Free Hit turned into a disaster, but he didn’t get it. Only five players secured returns and, while his 55 points was not quite an FPL Nightmare, it was the lowest score in the top six and it saw him drop another place in the table. His Villa attacking duo of Grealish and Watkins have returned just seventeen points in four gameweeks between them, a total matched by the man he sold to bring in Watkins, Patrick Bamford, single-handedly. On paper, the Iceman’s squad seems strong enough, but something isn’t quite clicking, and decisive action is needed. With both Jota and Digne now injured, the Iceman should take a minus-four and replace both players this week. That would give him £13.8m in the bank, enough to bring in someone like Konsa while giving him the pick of the sub-£9m midfielders. Four points lost now could make all the difference in the coming weeks, not just in taking control of the situation, but of using it to turn the current narrative from one of decline into one of a man with a plan. However, expect him to only replace one of those players, because the Iceman tends to avoid hits whenever possible. Now only 753 points, he remains just 34 points off the top; with a strong Gameweek Thirteen, people will soon start talking of him as a potential champion once again.
Moving seven points clear into third is Slick Rick, who is showing newfound levels of shrewdness in his play this season. Many thought going without Salah, de Bruyne or Bruno was a foolish move, and that it would hinder any chances of success. Instead, he put his faith in the Spurs duo of Kane and Son, one of whom he always captains, and has been rewarded by seeing them become the two highest-scoring players in the game, good for 300+ of his 760 points so far. In Gameweek Ten, when the mad rush was on to secure Manchester City assets, Slick Rick bucked the trend again, bringing in Vardy instead and seeing the Leicester man secure 26 points in three gameweeks. The Slickster is not scared of taking a transfer hit when necessary and, with some tough fixtures for his starting XI this midweek, we could see him take another to replace Jota and Kilman. Predicting who he would bring in is futile, however, given his tendency to veer from the popular options. Now just 27 points from the summit, his creative choices could see him close that gap very quickly.
Dan the Dragon again tasted the top of the table this gameweek, ending Saturday night at the apex before Ginger Ben corrected course during Sunday’s games. It is proving a frustrating few weeks for the Dragon, who is doing almost everything right yet not doing quite enough to end the gameweeks as the Man Who Would Be King. That being said, there have been lapses of judgement. Bringing in Dallas this week was a baffling decision, given he was starting Soucek and he will be starting Wilson this coming gameweek. He has essentially signed a defender he does not wish to keep a clean sheet, which makes no sense whatsoever. Compounding that error was starting Dallas over Justin, a decision which cost him ten points. With his selection of McCarthy over Martinez costing a further five, the Dragon’s selections are directly responsible for him finishing the gameweek in second position, rather than joint-top with equal points and transfers made. He faces an interesting dilemma as to who to replace Jota with, and a hit is not out of the question. Given the strength of his squad, and the form of Soucek, a surprise move for Ademola Lookman, whose fixtures dovetail nicely with the West Ham midfielder, could reap huge rewards while also freeing up funds for transfers in the weeks to come.
The Man Who Would Be King
Still immovable at the top is Ginger Ben, who seems to be the favourite of the FPL Gods this season. Shining on him again by ensuring Soucek’s nine points came off his bench, the deities seem to be designing a season arc of making my slow-burn FPL Nightmare of seeing the Mackem beat so many Newcastle fans to the title a reality. It’s getting to the point where I don’t care if I win the league, I just need the Ginger One not to, because he will never, ever let me live it down. He’s only had fifteen months as an FPL manager and yet, here he is, playing with the calm assurance of a ten-year veteran, finding a way to maintain his lead despite producing nothing special. A flukey Salah penalty, that should never have been awarded and should have been saved, keeps the lad at the top of the table for another week, while his signing of Ings should ensure plenty of returns in the weeks to come. He’s playing a shrewd game this season is Ginger Ben, and you can’t help but be impressed. 787 points on the board, another week on top of the league and, despite a slight fall, still ranked 29,703 overall, it has the makings of a very special season indeed. You can’t help but wonder, though, if that Gameweek Five Free Hit a week after his Wildcard will come back to haunt him when the blank and double gameweeks come around.
That concludes another week of League of Gentlemen action, one which saw the hubris of Helling come back to haunt him, which saw Maverick Mikey rein in his transfers and reap the rewards, which saw Big Steve continue to gather momentum while Ginger Ben moved one week closer to glory. With Gameweek Thirteen beginning at 4.30pm on Tuesday, the pressure keeps on mounting, and we are primed for some midweek madness that could shake up both the Gentlemen’s Classic and the league table. 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 Thirteen:
Flash Funk vs Deadly Daz
Slick Rick vs Jockin’ Jeeves
The Ox vs Ginger Ben
Hitman Hodgson vs Sirloin Sean
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