A sensational gameweek in the League of Gentlemen, which was turned on its head following Leicester's record-breaking victory. One team fell nine places, another rose by nine, and Big Steve's lead was decimated, as Rodgers' Rampagers tore up the rule-book.
It’s not often a gameweek is defined by 10pm on a Friday night, yet with Leicester securing a record-breaking 9-0 win away at Southampton, whether you had a good or bad gameweek was already settled. Big Steve’s lead at the top was almost halved, Slick Rick jumped nine places in the table, while Hitman Hodgson dropped nine. While no-one in the division has Perez, those with either Vardy or Chilwell were laughing, as they brought in 39 points between them. Big Steve can only be grateful that Jeeves did not captain Vardy and did not own Chilwell; had he done so, the seemingly-impregnable lead would be down from 85 points to 14 in just a single gameweek.
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.
The League of Gentlemen:
A reserved week in the transfer market for Suicide Squad, who made only the eight changes for a small transfer cost of 28 points. Bringing in Vardy, Barnes and Pereira of Leicester paid off in spectacular fashion, though Mikey P will be disappointed not to have opted for Chilwell and Perez instead. The only man more disappointed that Mikey P didn’t go for the latter two is Wooden Spoon Helling, who is doing everything to hit that bottom spot. With Chilwell and Perez in the Suicide Squad, Wooden Spoon Helling would be only two points off his ultimate goal. As it is, a gap of 26 points needs to be overcome, plus however many transfer hits Mikey P takes this week. Helling will not give up his quest for the Wooden Spoon, but in Mikey P, he faces his toughest challenger yet. Rodallega Bombs and Farcselona both pulled away from the bottom two, thanks to weeks of 60 and 53 points respectively. It’s some achievement for Rodallega Bombs, who did not submit a team until GW2, and as such gifted everyone a gameweek’s head start. Not only did they pull away from the Wooden Spoon race, they also closed the gap on Geord’s Lords who, despite attacking returns from all five midfielders, failed to own any of the gameweek’s real big-hitters. The Lords really need Aubameyang to rediscover his scoring touch; having taken a massive gamble to bring him in for Sterling, they have not been rewarded with a single return since. If they weren’t so eager to stop taking hits, you’d put money on another three-transfer week to bring Sterling back, especially given City face Southampton. Only time will tell if Lawes resists the urge and, if so, Aubameyang will reward him for his faith.
The bottom three teams of Lower Mid-Table all suffered from lack of Leicester ownership this week, with Private Parvesh’s Maddison being the only representation between PKG FC, Boom Xhakalaka and the Dazzlers. As a result, all three teams dropped places, although none of them saw their lead over the Also-Rans cut, which will be some consolation. After Maddison’s goal, Private Parvesh saw only three assists from the rest of his team. Combined with a zero-points return from Lowton, it was a disappointing end to a gameweek that started so promisingly. All-Star Vogt finally relinquished to the pressure to bring in super-sub Lundstram, yet brought him in as a starting player, leaving his bench still so weak. His other signing of McGinn looks very short-sighted, with the Villa man facing Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea in the next five gameweeks, in addition to Wolves and the resolute defence of Newcastle. Considering he took a hit to make these transfers, you can’t help but think he could have been shrewder in his dealings, especially when he retains £1.4m in the bank. If only he’d kept Cantwell and, instead, brought in Chilwell for Simpson. Deadly Daz had an FPL Nightmare in the transfer market too, bringing in Hudson-Odoi for Mount, then seeing the winger return zero points following a yellow card on a late substitute appearance, while Mount secured an assist. Equally as damaging was Digne’s own goal for a minus-one, while Ake’s eight points wasted away on the bench. Those lost 14 points would have taken him to eleventh, just a point off the Chasing Pack. Deadly Daz will be hoping his three-man strike force, so effective in the opening weeks, can rediscover their shooting boots following a spell of just three goals and one assist between their combined last fifteen matches. With all three having favourable fixtures this weekend, it could be gameweek eleven that reignites the Dazzlers’ season.
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.
A big weekend for Cows Arse Shovel, who saw weeks of steady improvement finally pay off by reaching the Chasing Pack for the first time this season. It was some achievement, too, to reach 58 points with no Leicester players in their squad. Assists for Abraham, Mount, two for Connolly and a clean sheet from Rico, rounded off with 22 points for captain Sterling, saw Flash rise into the top ten at last. Given the players he doesn’t have, he will be very pleased with that outcome. His next goal will be clawing back Madeleine Milan, who lie seven points ahead. Returns from Sterling, Mount, Maddison, Abraham and captain Kane saw the Iceman retain position, whilst also closing the gap on King Ding ahead of him. It’s hard to judge King Ding’s mentality at the moment. Does his lack of a transfer reflect a lack of caring about the game, or is he preparing for a double-switch that launches the King’s fightback? One would suspect that he cares a lot more than he lets on, and his public utterances are designed to ease the pressure on his squad after a disappointing opening quarter. The coming weekend will be the best indicator of his mindset, though a 54-point gameweek is very solid.
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.
By virtue of Hitman Hodgson’s spectacular fall from grace, every team in the Title Contenders rose in position, with the exception of Who Horner’s White Warriors. Had it not been for them securing just one point more than the Masterchef, they would have dropped out of the Title Contenders on transfers made. With injury problems and some tough fixtures this weekend, the slide could continue for Who Horner, though he will be hoping for a slice of fortune and some upset results. Given his line-up, he’ll need all the luck he can get. Ahead of them are Birkett’s Really, who continued their rise up the table despite terrible captaincy and vice-captaincy choices. Returns from Ederson, David Silva, Yarmolenko and Abraham were massively enhanced by Chilwell’s nineteen-point haul, and also saw Birkett rise into the top one-million players for the first time since gameweek six. Only three points ahead are Oxsmorons, who scored 65 points. Rather than being happy at his rise in position, however, The Ox will be devastated by his choices. While captain Sterling returned 22 points, the fifteen points lost by starting Hudson-Odoi and Tierney over Ayew and Ake will be haunting him. Given his faith in Ayew this season, in particular, he will be gutted that he didn’t back his man this weekend.
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.
The Man Who Would Be King.
Of course, to do that, Jeeves still needs to overtake Big Steve. That challenge became a lot easier this week, following Dumb and Dummett recording the joint-second lowest score in the division. Just three points from Firmino, Aguero and Hudson-Odoi caused big problems; Dubravka flapping at a cross exacerbated them, and owning zero Leicester players compounded those problems big-style. His new signing, Chambers, also secured zero points, leaving Big Steve very nervous ahead of the coming gameweek. While his team do have some good fixtures, there is enough difference between Dumb and Dummett and the Juggernauts that, should things not go his way, Big Steve could see his lead cut yet further. Another thing playing on his mind will be how he started well last season, before fading away at around the same stage. Some big decisions for Big Steve this week, who may be tempted to use his wildcard to revitalise his squad. Not only has his lead been cut almost in half, but his overall ranking took a hiding this week, dropping from top-1.5k to 17,480. Still the greatest in the history of the division, but the big man will be wanting a big gameweek next time out, not only to regain his dominance in the League of Gentlemen, but to get back towards the coveted top-ten thousand. At last, after ten gameweeks, the pressure is well and truly on at the top of the table.
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.
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