The lesson here, for anyone thinking of giving up on their season, is that all it takes is one good gameweek to change your season around. The right differential players, the right captaincy gambles, and your season can turn from a nightmare to a dream overnight. Last week, everyone was fighting for second place. Now, every challenger will feel they can knock Big Steve off his perch. The temperature is rising in the League of Gentlemen; will the Butcher rise to the challenge, or will he boil like a frog unaware of the water heating up? Only time will tell. Another couple of weeks like this, he may find himself back in the Title Challengers, a few more, the Chasing Pack. Such is the beauty and the torture of FPL.
Of course, we won’t get 9-0 results every week. What’s more, while everyone rushes to load their team with players who oppose Southampton, it must be remembered that the last team Leicester destroyed beat a Manchester club the following week, and have only conceded two goals in three games. With Manchester City to host the Saints this weekend, the tendency will be to load up. In this particular case, it could well be the smart move. Guardiola’s goliaths sweep all before them when de Bruyne starts a Premier League match; if Leicester can score nine, we could well see the first-ever double-figures score in Premier League history this weekend. However, with Liverpool playing the defensively-suspect Aston Villa, there is a real captaincy dilemma. Last week, nobody captained a Leicester player. This week, almost everyone will captain a Manchester City or Liverpool attacker. If you can find the right differential, if you are brave enough to take the gamble, you could find yourself flying up the table.
With that in mind, let’s look at how the League of Gentlemen changed this week in more detail.
Equal on points with the Dazzlers but ahead on transfers made, Micky Quinnaj retained thirteenth position, following a very strong 65-point week. Getting his captaincy of Sterling correct for 22 points, along with returns from Ramsdale, Soyuncu, Mount, Barnes, de Bruyne and Abraham meant not only did Jie retain position, but he also closed the gap on every team up to eighth, with the exception of the team directly above him, Cuthben87. Ginger Ben’s 68 points were helped in large by his double-Leicester defence bringing in 25 between them, and was supplemented nicely by Ederson and David Silva scoring nine points each, along with 14 from captain Salah. While he will be disappointed to be twelfth in the table, he’s only 29 points off third, which is good going for his debut ten weeks in such a competitive league. With a Wild Card, Free Hit and Bench Boost still to play, Ginger Ben is setting himself up nicely for a solid opening campaign.
Perhaps the biggest FPL Nightmare of the season goes to Hitman Hodgson, who started the gameweek in second with aspirations of closing the gap to first, yet saw his team obtain only one goal and two assists for a final score of 36 points. Had this been one of the previous two gameweeks, he would not have been punished so much. This was the weekend of Leicester Lunacy, however, and his lack of any of Rodgers’ Rampagers, combined with captaining substitute Aguero, saw his ranking fall nine places in devastating fashion. Indeed, only Wooden Spoon Helling scored less points than him all gameweek. All is not lost for Does It Mata?, however, with some very favourable fixtures this weekend. As quickly as they have fallen, they can rise again, though so much will depend on whether Aguero is selected. With a bit of luck, the Hitman could rise out of Lower Mid-Table in a few days, and this position will be remembered as nothing more than a blip.
The Chasing Pack.
Performance of the weekend goes to the Tiptoppers, who rose nine places following a spectacular 97-point gameweek. Had he captained Vardy over Kane, he’d be in third right now, which will be his biggest disappointment, yet also the biggest inspiration to everyone else in the division. Going from 16th to 7th is remarkable enough, but with everyone now aware it’s possible to go from 16th to third in just one gameweek, with the right choices, it promises to set the League of Gentlemen alight, with everyone working twice as hard to achieve a similar outcome – with the obvious exception of Wooden Spoon Helling, who is praying Mikey P’s transfer recklessness somehow results in a massive gameweek so Walney Utd can claim their coveted last place. Slick Rick is now just two points off Hugh G. Rection XI, who posted a steady 52 points. The disappointment for Masterchef is from making Mount last-sub, instead of starting him over Lundstram or Maguire. It was just a small three-point swing, but that three points would have kept him in the Title Contenders, rather than dropping to the Chasing Pack. Still, four midfield returns, complemented by one each from defence and attack, gave the Masterchef a solid gameweek, and a platform to build from. While he will be disappointed not to rise in the table, he’ll look at Hitman Hodgson’s gameweek and be thankful that it wasn’t his team suffering a similar fate.
The Title Contenders.
Sixteen points ahead in second, rather than one, lie the Juggernauts. With returns from all seven attacking players, including double-figures from Sterling, Vardy and captain de Bruyne, Jeeves opened a gap over the rest of the Title Contenders, while also slashing Big Steve’s lead at the top almost in half. A man filled with extraordinary self-belief, he has married that with finally gaining some self-control in the transfer market, and is reaping the rewards. Indeed, had he not been so rash with his Wildcard, and had he stuck to his no-Manchester United policy, he may well have not taken a hit all season. His backing of Vardy following the revelations of Vardy’s wife selling secrets in the press has been rewarded with thirty points in three gameweeks, and has provided the foundation for his title challenge. Given this is one of Jeeves’ best starts in the history of the League of Gentlemen, coupled with his reputation for being the strongest player in the league after New Year’s Day, it would be a brave man to bet against the Juggernauts ending this season as champions.
That concludes another thrilling gameweek in the League of Gentlemen, which saw a record-breaking victory lead to mass turbulence in the division. For some, it could well be the gameweek that leads to a season of glory; for others, it could be a crushing blow that takes weeks to recover from. Big Steve remains at the top of the table, but that fabled Juggernaut momentum is well and truly building, weeks ahead of schedule. May all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and, as always, may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.