Gameweek 27 saw the start of the Gentlemen's Trophy, and a massive upset could be on the cards. In a tumultuous week, ten teams changed positions, while the Butcher took an almighty leap towards history.
After the tedium of the Neverending Gameweek, FPL was back with a bang this weekend. With runaway league leaders Liverpool in action against West Ham in the final match, managers were able to remain excited all the way through, knowing their big-hitters - and, for many, their captains - had a home fixture against one of the Premier League's worst teams. Issa Diop skewed a lot of hopes with an eleventh-minute goal, wiping out Liverpool's clean sheet, but the mercurial Alexander-Arnold - the Ronaldo of right-back, the greatest number 66 in the history of football - secured two assists to ensure it was still a great night for his owners. With both Mane and Salah on the scoresheet, it was a great end to the gameweek for most managers.
In the League of Gentlemen, the drama was at fever pitch. With both Jockin' Jeeves and Lord Geord playing their Wildcards, there were sure to be implications both for the Title Contenders, and in the heated battle between the Chasing Pack and Lower-Mid Table. So it proved, with a massive ten teams changing positions - the most in a gameweek for a very long time. Adding to the drama was the first leg of Round One of the Gentlemen's Trophy, with the ten teams unlucky enough to have missed out on a bye fighting to stay in the competition. We had five dramatic matches, all of which remain in the balance. So anticipated was the competition that, for the first time since Gameweek Two, twenty-five long gameweeks ago, both Metal Marc and Tits-Up Thompson resumed control of their teams.
Before we get into the Weekly Round-Up, let's look at the results from Round One, Leg One of the Gentlemen's Trophy:
Farcselona 27 - 46 PKG FC
Metal Marc's return proved to have little impact, with Private Parvesh taking a 19-point advantage into Gameweek 28. The signing of Moise Kean was a strange one, with counterpart Calvert-Lewin cheaper and the man in form. That one misstep could cost Metal Marc severely.
Micky Quinnaj 33 - 31 Oxsmorons
The Revolution versus The Revolution goes into the second leg with just two points in it. With a blank week ahead, just one player's absence could be enough to send these two evenly-matched teams into a tie-break situation. Will the Coin of Destiny need to be deployed?
Really 60 - 43 Cows Arse Shovel
A big gameweek from Big-Time Birkett gives him the advantage ahead of the second leg, as Flash's transfer hit comes back to haunt him. With two free transfers and only one player blanking in GW 28, Big-Time is the big favourite.
White Warriors 51 - 66 Geord’s Lords
The highest-scoring tie of the round, with Lord Geord's Wildcard proving essential in gaining a 15-point lead. Who Horner's score would have given him the advantage over anyone but Lord Geord and Big-Time Birkett, yet the luck of the draw means he has a tough task on his hands.
Does It Mata? 38 - 51 Rodallega Bombs
Perhaps the first giant-killing of the newly-established trophy is on our hands. Tits-Up Thompson, languishing in 19th, pulls his first managerial stroke in 25 gameweeks, using his Free Hit to gain a 13-point advantage. Hitman Hodgson is thanking the FPL Gods this is a two-legged competition, and will have to use all his nous to keep his chances alive - especially with four players absent next week.
Dramatic times in the League of Gentlemen and, with Gameweek 28 being a blank gameweek, there promises to be many more twists and turns. Having discussed the cup results, let us turn our attention to how Gameweek 27 caused fortunes to change in the league table.
The League of Gentlemen:
Another catastrophe from Mikey P, who's seven hits cut his team's gameweek score in half. The aptly-named Suicide Squad had started progressing in the division after getting their transfers under control, but have slipped back to the bottom since becoming re-addicted to the hit. Metal Marc took advantage, pulling a point further clear on his return to management, yet his renewed interest wasn't enough to prevent a poor 27-point week. The story remains the same throughout the rest of the Also-Rans, with no positional changes. Tits-Up Thompson's Free Hit closed the gap on Wooden Spoon Helling, but an 80-point difference is likely to prove too much to overcome. It was better news for Ginger Ben, who now only needs seventeen points to reach Lower Mid-Table. Having outscored Jie by twenty points this week, a repeat in Gameweek 28 would see him finally escape the bottom reaches of the division.
An FPL Nightmare for Jie, who had as many players score one or less points as he did players who got returns. Just 33 points secured means he drops to 16th, with Micky Quinnaj now on the brink of losing both their place in the cup and their place in Lower Mid-Table. Taking advantage of his poor performance was Who Horner, who secured 51 points through four players returning, including nine points for Pope and double-figures for Doherty and captain Mane. He has the automatic substitutions to thank for still having a chance in the cup, with ten-point Doherty rising from the bench to give the White Warriors hope. They also closed the gap on the fourteenth-place Tiptoppers, another team that had only three players secure returns. Slick Rick's Spurs-heavy attack leaves him open to poor gameweeks, and with only one goal scored by the North Londoners, it was always going to be a tough task to make any advances. A score of just 35 leaves them 36 points off the Chasing Pack.
Retaining thirteenth position, with a gameweek score of 43 points, were Madelaine Milan. Patricio again secured a goalkeeper return, with a further three outfielders boosting Iceman Newton's score enough to bring them closer to twelfth position. Just one point ahead are the Oxsmorons, who brought home a mere 31 points this week. Only Jimenez and captain Salah scored extra points, leaving The Ox sliding down the table and staring at a cup exit. Another team falling were Cows Arse Shovel, who ended with a solid score of 43 points after their hit, but were left to rue leaving nine-point Pope on the bench. Being just eleven points off the Chasing Pack gives Flash hope, but he'll need a massive touch of luck to overcome a seventeen-point deficit in the Gentlemen's Trophy.
The Chasing Pack
Dropping a place to tenth is Private Parvesh, who emerges from the gameweek with some real problems. While his passage into Round Two of the Gentlemen's Trophy should be secure, given his nineteen-point advantage over Farcselona, he goes into Gameweek 28 with a massive six outfielders unavailable. Without transfers, the best he could line up with is a 2-2-3 formation and, making things worse, he used his Wildcard in Gameweek 26. With his only choice being a Free Hit or taking several transfer hits, he is looking very vulnerable for the weeks ahead in both the league and cup. Jumping three places in the table into ninth are Geord's Lords, who deployed their Wildcard to good effect this week. Returns from six players, including double-figure hauls from Aubameyang and captain Salah, gave Lord Geord a score of 66 points, the second-highest in the division. Yet, despite this success, it is tinged with disappointment over getting both 50-50 decisions incorrect - the choices to start Henderson and Saint-Maximin over Pope and Stevens costing him twelve crucial points. It's been the story of the season for Lord Geord, and the focus in the final eleven gameweeks is success in the Gentlemen's Trophy and attaining as respectable a league finish as possible. To do that, he'll need to nail his transfer policy - a skill that has eluded him so far this season.
Eighteen points ahead in eighth are Boom Xhakalaka, who drop a place in the table following a 49-point gameweek. With eight players scoring just 14 points between them, it fell to Martial, Aubameyang and captain Salah to limit the damage. With only £0.3m in the bank and four players not playing in Gameweek 28, questions remain over what All-Star Vogt will produce in the transfer market. Lundstram is the most obvious risk of losing his place, but you can't rule out Vogt producing a trademark maverick midfield move, and gambling on replacing de Bruyne. Moving two points ahead into seventh is Big-Time Birkett, whose rise comes as a result of a 60-point gameweek, the third-highest in the division. Six players secured returns to achieve that total, including double-figure hauls from Alexander-Arnold and captain Salah. Looking secure in the Gentlemen's Trophy, while having two free transfers and eleven available players for the weekend, Really are in a strong position entering the new gameweek, and will look to capitalise by closing the gap further to the Masterchef, 27 points ahead in sixth. A tough few weeks continued for the Masterchef, his troubles compounded by Maupay getting nine points while left on the bench. With five outfielders unavailable next week and Minamino yet to receive any real gametime, Hugh G. Rection XI could struggle to field a team in Gameweek 28. They retain both a Wildcard and a Free Hit, and now face a dilemma as to which, if either, of the chips to use. It wasn't all bad for the Masterchef, though; the total he needs to re-join the Title Contenders was reduced by four points.
The Title Contenders
It was a true FPL Nightmare for Hitman Hodgson, who ended the gameweek a position down in fifth. At the start of play, his intention was to really turn the screw on The Juggernauts, bringing in Mane for Martial and Jimenez for Firmino for a four-point hit. While both new signings secured returns, Mane's was only equal to Martial, rendering the hit a mistake. Further issues came from Lascelles, Traore, Lundstram and Grealish all only scoring one point, while six-point Calvert-Lewin remained benched, alongside the nine-point Pope. With three outfielders unavailable next week and one out-of-favour, the Hitman must enter the transfer market to ensure a full XI. Adding to his woes was the Free Hit of Tits-Up Thompson leaving him on the verge of elimination from the Gentlemen's Trophy, while every team around Does It Mata comfortably outscored them. Taking full advantage of the Hitman's heartaches was Deadly Daz, who reaped the rewards of investing his faith in a double-Everton attack. Returns from both of his Toffees plus double-figures from Fernandes, Alexander-Arnold and captain Salah gave him a score of 59 points, somewhat negating the frustration of Aguero's penalty miss. With three outfielders absent next week, Deadly Daz is relying on appearances from Greenwood and Williams and, as a result, it would not be a surprise to see him enter the transfer market. The Dazzlers' fine run of form continues as they move ever closer to catching Jockin' Jeeves.
Last week's hard-earned exclusive from Jez Messing proved correct, as Jockin' Jeeves invoked the unholy power of the Wildcard. Immediate frustration came from Traore and Hayden being named only as substitutes, it continued with the substitute goalkeeper, McCarthy, outscoring the starting Henderson by five points, and was cemented when Vardy again failed to get a return, making it a meagre one assist and zero goals in nine gameweeks for the Leicester man. Returns from Liverpool trio Mane, Salah and Alexander-Arnold, plus a goal from Jimenez, ensured a good 55-point gameweek amidst the disappointments. While the gap on King Ding was reduced to 40 points, Deadly Daz is gaining, and it remains to be seen whether loading up on Mane, Salah and de Bruyne in midfield will leave the Juggernauts lacking quality cover, with three players no longer confirmed starters.
King Ding had an FPL Nightmare of his own this week, and not entirely through his own making. While the signing of Jimenez in place of Aguero paid off to the tune of five points, his only other returns were from McCarthy, Alexander-Arnold and captain Salah, leaving the Ringers with a gameweek score of 48 points. While this was above the FPL average, it should have been more, with no less than three of the Ringers defenders scoring just a single point, while seven-point Webster sat on the bench. The real Nightmare came not so much from the King's own performance, but those of his rivals. Both the Dazzlers and the Juggernauts made up ground behind him, while the Butcher extended his lead at the top by 24 massive points. With only eleven gameweeks left to make up 72 points, time is running out for the King as he seeks to become the first-ever defender of the League of Gentlemen title. The average score he needs to beat the Butcher by each week has risen from 4 points last week to almost seven after Gameweek 27 - an achievable goal, yes, but the margin for error is getting ever smaller. Normally so cautious and meticulous in his approach to transfers and chips, it could be that the King needs to throw caution to the wind if he is to have any chance of a historic victory.
The Man Who Would Be King
When we're talking about League of Gentlemen history, though, there is only one name on everyone's lips: the Butcher, Big Steve. A massive eight players secured returns this week, including double-figure hauls from Alexander-Arnold and captain Salah, giving the managerial maestro a massive 72-point score, moving him into pole position in the race for February's Manager of the Month, and sending him crashing into the top-5,000 players overall, out of 7.4 million. We are running out of superlatives with which to describe the Butcher, who has performed at an unrivalled standard all season and, since reaching the summit of the division, has only looked in danger of losing top spot for one gameweek, before pulling away again. With blank and double-gameweeks to come, we are entering the most challenging part of the season, yet the Butcher retains three of his chips and a massive lead at the top. It's going to take someone going on the run of their life to stop him now; ominously for the rest of the League of Gentlemen, the Butcher is on the run of his. Simply sensational.
That concludes our review of Gameweek 27 of the League of Gentlemen, which saw the start of the Gentlemen's Trophy, which saw Deadly Daz continue to pressure Jockin' Jeeves, and which saw Big Steve take some massive strides closer to wresting the crown from King Ding. As we enter Blank Gameweek 28, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.
'The FPL Nightmare: How to Lose the World's Greatest Mini-League in 38 Simple Steps'
Available now on Amazon.