Gameweek 35 brought us the Gentlemen’s Trophy final, a clash between the two men vying for the league title. With the repercussions extending far beyond this one match, who would come out on top?
With four weeks to go in the League of Gentlemen, the race for the title is as precarious as it’s ever been. Going into Gameweek 35, Big Steve had managed to reassert his authority at the top, extending his lead back out to twenty points. King Ding has only four more opportunities to overhaul his rival, securing the greatest comeback victory ever. The first of those opportunities fell this week, with the added spice that, should he manage to close the gap, he would also emerge victorious in the inaugural Gentlemen’s Trophy.
While we knew the stakes were high, what we could not predict was how low-scoring the gameweek would be. Entering Sunday morning, King Ding had the early advantage, securing sixteen points on Saturday compared to the Butcher’s eight. What gave the Butcher hope was he still had seven players to take the field, compared to the King’s five. As Sunday drew to a conclusion, the King had extended the gap by a single point, leaving both men with heavily-featured players in Manchester United versus Southampton on Monday: the King with Rashford, Ings and captain Bruno; the Butcher with captain Bruno, Wan-Bissaka, McCarthy and the in-form Greenwood. With both teams scoring twice, the Butcher’s two defensive players were rendered meaningless; both managers captaining Bruno meant it was a straight shoot-out between Rashford and Greenwood, with Greenwood needing to out-do the School Meals Saviour by two returns. Rashford’s early goal added another nail to the coffin; the early substitution of Greenwood meant that the King not only closed the gap to the top of the table, but emerged from the gameweek as the inaugural Gentlemen’s Trophy Winner.
Gentlemen’s Trophy, Grand Final score:
King Ding 44 – 37 Big Steve
In poor week for fans of high scores, only six teams in the League of Gentlemen managed to achieve a final total that broke the half-century. The biggest surprise was that Mad Mikey was one of the few teams to do that, receiving his just reward for his restraint in the transfer market. The biggest success story of the week was Big Time Birkett, whose foresight in bringing in Sterling and Antonio paid off in remarkable fashion, with those two players providing seven goals and 47 points between them. Hitman Hodgson, another owner of Antonio, moved into the driving seat in the race for the bronze medal, which goes to show the value of having players fighting for their lives over the last few weeks of the season. The prescience of the Hitman gives him a fifteen-point cushion over his rivals, while for Big Time, it gives him the unlikeliest of opportunities to secure a spot in the second seeds for next season’s Gentlemen’s Classic.
While it was a low-scoring week in the League of Gentlemen, the drama was as high as ever. Let’s see how the fortunes changed with four weeks to go.
The League of Gentlemen:
A massive step forward for Mad Mikey, who refrained from making any transfers and saw the gap to second-bottom close to just nineteen points. With three weeks to go and some strong fixtures for his players, Suicide Squad remain in contention to avoid the wooden spoon. It will all come down to whether he can continue to avoid making mass changes; with so few games to make up the difference, just one hit spree could end all hope. There is even an outside chance of him catching Tits Up Thompson, now only 56 points ahead after another disastrous week. Wooden Spoon Helling remains eighteenth, too far ahead to drop down, too far behind to catch up, while Jie closed the gap to Lower Mid-Table by another six points. With thirty points the difference, he has every chance of escaping the depths of the division right at the last.
The fall continues for the absent Iceman, who now finds himself in sixteenth, just thirty points off the dregs, without having a full team available for the final three weeks. Only Tarkowski, Vardy and Patricio secured returns, leaving Madelaine Milan with a poor gameweek total of 36 points. Moving ahead of him was Slick Rick, one of the few players to break a half-century. Reina, Robertson and Jimenez scored returns and bonus points to provide the platform, while the returning Son smashed in thirteen points to leave them just two off Ginger Ben. It could’ve been even better for the Tiptoppers, too, had Neves and Mings started over Lundstram and Foden; Slick Rick will be hoping the twelve points lost don’t prove decisive. Ginger Ben had a very poor week, with only two returns secured and 35 points scored. Making it worse was six-point Fabinho wasting away on the bench and, while it did not cost him ranking this week, the gap behind him is now minimal.
In thirteenth place is The Ox, who had one of the worst Free Hits of the season. Leaving six-point Garcia on his bench, he saw starting defender Soyuncu lose his mind, getting sent off for violent conduct and finishing with minus three points. While Patricio, Fernandes, Jimenez and Rashford secured returns, they couldn’t overcome the handicap of Soyuncu, leaving Oxsmorons 22 points off the White Warriors. Who Horner is the man presently occupying the final guaranteed place in next year’s Gentlemen’s Classic, and he took one step closer to that following a four-return gameweek score of 39 points. His position is by no means secure, with injury problems, competing teammates and some tough fixtures making the coming gameweek a real challenge. It’s one those chasing him hope he fails, with Slick Rick, Ginger Ben and The Ox all within touching distance of that crucial twelfth position. Comfortably ahead of them all is Private Parvesh, who extended his cushion over twelfth by two points to 51 this week. Had it not been for the incredible week of Big Time Birkett, Parvesh would still be in the Chasing Pack; now, he faces a real struggle to get there in the last three gameweeks, especially with Henderson and Soyuncu out for the rest of the season.
The Chasing Pack
The Chasing Pack remains the most volatile section of the League of Gentlemen, with another four positional changes this week. Flash dropped a place to tenth, despite being one of the few managers to break a half-century. Martial and Jesus were the heroes, with their double-figure hauls supported by returns from Saiss and Bruno. The decision to captain Salah backfired, however, with the enigmatic Egyptian securing just four points. With his team lying eighteen points off ninth, the question now is when Flash plays his Free Hit, with this coming gameweek a strong contender. Manager of the Week was Big Time Birkett, whose foresight to secure Sterling and Antonio paid off with a stunning 47 points. Those two players alone secured Really a higher score than two-thirds of the division; further returns from Patricio, Coady, Walker, Bruno, Jimenez and captain Rashford resulted in a simply stunning 97 point total, an outstanding score anytime, but even more so when the rest of the division scored so low. He remains 55 points off the Masterchef in eighth, but having beaten him by 51 points this week and with a Bench Boost in his back pocket, Big Time will fancy himself to build on this performance and sneak into the second seeds for the Gentlemen’s Classic in the last three weeks of the season. It won’t be easy, mind, with the Masterchef also retaining a Bench Boost, and with the players in his squad to make that huge gap seem insurmountable. Henderson, Baldock, Mahrez, Rashford and captain Bruno secured 46 points for Hugh G. Rection, a total that saw them break the 2000-point barrier despite a drop in the table.
Moving back ahead of them were Geord’s Lords, who got back in the green arrows following a dismal Gameweek 34. The returns of Jimenez, Henderson and Boly supported the double-figure hauls of captain Bruno and Martial, bringing in 56 points for the Lords and closing the gap on those above them. Frustratingly yet somewhat inevitably, after taking a four-point hit to replace the underwhelming Rashford and Jota with Ings and Greenwood, Lord Geord saw both his new charges blank, while the players he sold both scored. Such is the way in this game, with the FPL Gods loving their little jokes at the expense of the competitors. The Lord will have to hope that those lost points don’t prove crucial, with only two points behind him to the Masterchef and a nine-point hurdle to clear to catch All-Star Vogt. Though the Lord will be looking past the Clifton Sol Campbell towards his brother, nineteen points higher in the Title Contenders, he will need to catch Boom Xhakalaka first. It will not be an easy task, with All-Star moving into a defensive transfer strategy, bringing in the big names of the Lords to limit their impact. This week’s sideways transfer of Pogba to Martial proved beneficial, with the latter’s big score not damaging Boom Xhakalaka in the way it would’ve done. Despite this, Soyuncu’s madness cost All-Star a half-century and kept him very catchable, and the question now is whether Arsene Whinger consolidates in sixth with more defensive transfers, or whether he develops some cojones and tries to attack the Title Contenders.
The Title Contenders
A rough week for Deadly Daz, who secured only four returns and saw his breathing room on those behind him close significantly. With three teams now within 21 points, the Dazzler needs to find a way to regain his focus ahead of the crucial closing weeks. A glance at his team sheet, however, suggests he will rebound strongly this coming week. Several favourable games for his charges are in the offing, and with two free transfers and a Bench Boost in hand, Deadly Daz will not be looking down the table. Instead, his focus will be entirely on closing the fifteen-point gap to the fourth-place Juggernauts, who have no chips left to play. This has been a desperately disappointing campaign for Jockin’ Jeeves, who started the season with designs on the title and now finds himself struggling to finish in a medal position. Wolves were his saviours this week, with three of his four returns coming from his golden gladiators. Captain Bruno got the other, securing a 43-point gameweek that resulted in another red arrow and a fall in the table. Jeeves also has two free transfers in hand, and how he uses them will be crucial in determining whether or not he is able to end his season with a sense of respectability.
Ahead of him is a man that can be very proud of his efforts this season, Hitman Hodgson. One of only two players in the division to own Antonio, he benefited hugely from his GW34 signing’s massive 26 point total. Further returns from Mendy, Mahrez, Vardy, Rashford and captain Bruno gave Does It Mata a gameweek total of 71 points, the second-highest in the gameweek. With the top two out of reach, the Hitman’s focus is on ensuring he doesn’t slip from the bronze medal position; the fifteen-point gap established over the teams behind him could prove critical. Remaining in the silver medal position, at no risk of being caught due to the 102-point advantage, is the Gentlemen’s Trophy winner King Ding. Despite his success in the cup and closing the gap at the top, the King will be very disappointed with his performance this week. With only four players securing returns, a glorious opportunity to decimate the distance to the summit has gone begging. With Aurier and Saint-Maximin doubts for Gameweek 36, the King will have to be shrewd in the transfer market. He retains his Free Hit, which could be invoked, but the seasoned observer predicts the King will delay using this until at least GW37. A trophy secured, the gap to the top cut and three weeks to go; that the King will be disappointed with that shows just how high his standards are.
The Man Who Would Be King
The Butcher’s worst gameweek since Gameweek Ten couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Gentlemen’s Trophy has slipped through his grasp; ominously, the man chasing him down for the title is the one who took it. Only Saiss, Jimenez and captain Bruno secured returns, bringing in a gameweek score of 37 points, and with three players major doubts for Gameweek 36, the Butcher finds his options limited. Given those circumstances, the urge to use his Free Hit will be strong; should it go wrong, it will truly be Advantage Dinga. Making things even worse was seeing Dumb and Dummett drop outside of the top-10k Overall Ranking for the first time since Gameweek 24. A remarkable season for the Butcher is in real danger of going off the rails at the crucial moment; memories of Keegan’s Newcastle and Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool will be strong in his mind. The Butcher needs a big Gameweek; not just for his overall ranking, not just to keep Dinga at bay, but because, should it all slip now, the memories of defeat could haunt him for months to come. Expect a Free Hit from the Butcher next week; if that chip is played, then Gameweek 36 will likely be the decisive gameweek in the season.
That concludes another exciting, if low-scoring, week in the League of Gentlemen, one that saw Big Time Birkett blow away the rest of the division, which saw King Ding claim the inaugural Gentlemen’s Trophy, and which saw Mad Mikey P take a massive step towards avoiding the Wooden Spoon. Gameweek 36, the third-last week of the season, promises to up the ante even further. As always, may all you transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.
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