Despite claims of lost interest, this week saw King Ding move into fourth in the table, perfectly poised to attack those above him. In a tumultuous gameweek in the League of Gentlemen, the Geord's Lords finally, at long last, showed up to the party.
It looks as though King Ding was fooling us all along.
A few weeks ago, the defending champion told Jez Messing that he had lost his passion for the game. He claimed he found it boring, that it was no longer a challenge, and that he hoped for somebody else to win it this year to, perhaps, reignite his passion next season. There was even an unspoken hint of retirement, the King abdicating his throne as the only three-time winner of the League of Gentlemen. He even declined to make a transfer the following week, saying he didn’t even bother to look at the game.
It was all a trap. It seems the King was merely rejuvenating his forces, letting others win minor battles while he focused on winning the war. He didn’t have the best gameweek in the division, this much is true. He didn’t even have the best gameweek out of his closest rivals. What he has done, however, is silently sneaked his way up to fourth position. There are none who study history more than kings, and King Ding knows fine well that, at this stage last year, he occupied the same berth. He knows that, of those ahead of him, the Masterchef is unproven and may struggle to handle the pressure, and the Juggernauts can blow it all in a mad few weeks of hits. He knows he has a Wildcard in hand over both of those rivals, as well as a Triple Captain over the Masterchef. He also knows that Big Steve, the Man Who Would Be King, entered November in first place last season.
One year on, Big Steve is top, and King Ding is fourth. It’s all just a little bit of history repeating.
Big Steve will point to his eighty-point cushion over the King. Jeeves will argue that, this time last year, he was stranded in eighth, before going on a massive run after Christmas, and this year he is second. The Masterchef’s supporters argue that there is no burden of history weighing him down, that his fresh perspective on the game and his wily street-smarts give him an edge his more seasoned rivals lack. But the King is back, and Dinga’s bell is ringing for his opponents.
Aside from the Return of the King to title contention, it was an eventful week in the League of Gentlemen, so let’s see what else happened.
The League of Gentlemen:
A bit of a disaster for Mikey P, who made six transfers for a twenty-point hit. Captaining new signing Sterling and making new signing Aguero his vice-captain, it was clear he was banking on Manchester City repeating Leicester’s hammering of Southampton. Alas, it was not to be, with his three Manchester City attackers returning just nine points between them. While new signing Pulisic scored nine points, once the transfer penalty had been applied, his new signings scored just two points between six players. Mane, one of the players he transferred out, scored 12 points himself. All is not lost for Suicide Squad, however, as they made ground on the two teams above them, Walney Utd and Rodallega Bombs, while only losing three points on Metal Marc. While Wooden Spoon Helling will be delighted with the turn of events, he’ll be praying that, even if just for one week, Mikey P loses his log-in details and makes no transfers. Given the quality of Suicide Squad, there is simply no need to hamstring themselves to such extent every week. Had Mikey P kept the same squad from GW1, and captained Sterling every week, he’d actually be 29 points better off than having made so many changes. Mind, he’d still be third bottom, so changes have to be made, but not to such a season-killing degree.
The final team of the Also-Rans remain Geord’s Lords, but there is great optimism this will be the final week of this being the case. With 131 points in two gameweeks since recalibrating their team, only the second-place Juggernauts have scored more. 37 points from four defensive players, coupled with 38 from four attackers, meant the sub-standard gameweek of David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne and Mason Mount merely supplemented an 83-point final score – the second-highest in the division. Indeed, had Mane been given the armband and Willems started over Mount, the Lords would have become the first team in the League of Gentlemen to enter the 2019-2020 One Hundred Club. While no positional advancement has been made, so much ground has been made up on points that the Lords are now just 25 points off the Chasing Pack. Fashionably late to the party, it’s likely too late to contend for the title now, but the Lords will keep fighting until the last.
For four of the six teams in Lower Mid-Table, this weekend was a true FPL Nightmare. Cuthben87, Does It Mata? and Micky Quinnaj all now lie within six points of the Also-Rans, having all been smashed off the park by Geord’s Lords. A promising debut season for Ginger Ben looks to be fading to nothing, with the pain of his fall down the table being exacerbated by two injuries and a suspension in his midfield for the coming weekend. With Maitland-Niles no longer selected, he faces the prospect of entering the gameweek with just ten players and only two points off the Also-Rans. Nobody has suffered a greater FPL Nightmare than Hitman Hodgson in the last fortnight. Entering GW10 in second position, he now finds himself three points off the Also-Rans nine days later. How quickly a season can fall apart. Hitman Hodgson is an experienced campaigner, and will back himself to rise out of his current abyss, especially with some favourable fixtures this weekend. It was a grim weekend for Jie, too. While two of his players, Abraham and Soyuncu, secured double-figure totals, his captain, Sterling, scored just one point. To heighten the sense of woe, Jie had chosen this weekend to play his Triple Captain. Had it been on Abraham, it would have been 36 points from one player. As it was, his Triple Captain scored just three points. While Micky Quinnaj’s 52 points would normally be a decent score, the 31 points the Lords made up on them make it a disaster.
Adding to Jie’s misery is the fact that two of the three teams above him also outscored him heavily. The team directly above him, PKG FC, scored the highest total in the League of Gentlemen this weekend, a whopping 85 points, aided in no small measure by captain Mane’s goal and assist in the dying moments, and Lord Lundstram’s incredible 21-point haul. Private Parvesh had a slow start to the season, but is now building momentum, and will be looking to gain further ground in the coming weeks. All Star Vogt was another beneficiary of Lundstram’s huge returns, having finally given in to peer pressure and secured his signature. After such a stunning week, it’s hard to see him leaving Boom Xhakalaka any time soon. Sixteen points from captain Aubameyang and twelve apiece from Abraham and Mane meant All Star Vogt finished with 79 points for the gameweek and, finally, started moving up the table again. With £0.7m in the bank, surely this is the week he upgrades one of his two non-playing substitute defenders. Even Simpson to Rico would give him so much more security in his squad. Vogt remains a maverick, however, and is more likely to replace the injured David Silva and keep riding his luck. Between those two teams in the table, Slick Rick had his own FPL Nightmare. With captain Kane not playing, vice-captain Sterling only scoring one point, Son’s assist being negated by a harsh red card and David Silva’s injury, the Tiptoppers scored only 32 points, the lowest in the division. Truly a week to forget, and with Son now facing a three-match ban, how he approaches the transfer market could end up defining his whole season.
The Chasing Pack.
In tenth place lie White Warriors. Like Hitman Hodgson, Who Horner has suffered a nightmare fortnight and, while his fall from grace has not been as severe as Does It Mata?, going from third to tenth can’t help but sting. With as many injured players as those who offered returns this week, Who Horner needs to get his trademark one transfer spot-on ahead of gameweek eleven, because he has only 141 points in four gameweeks and he really needs to arrest this slide. In ninth are the Dazzlers, who built on their solid recent form with a killer 74-point week. Monster returns from Lundstram, Abraham and Mane, supported by further returns from Alexander-Arnold, Ryan and Digne meant they climbed into the Chasing Pack, although regret will come from a second successive benching of Ake, who has scored 14 points in his two weeks on the bench. Hudson-Odoi continues to disappoint, and you have to wonder how much patience Deadly Daz will give him, though the midweek injury to Mount may mean the Dazzlers finally benefit from his signing this weekend. In eighth are Madeleine Milan, who saw eight players fail to offer anything, but saw their gameweek saved by Maddison, Abraham and Lundstram, who secured 42 of their team’s 57 points between them. With Iceman Newton having made the least transfers in the division, you have to wonder if he will utilise a double-free transfer to bolster his team, especially with two injured players and one non-playing substitute.
Rounding off the Chasing Pack are Oxsmorons and Cows Arse Shovel. No attacking returns at all for Oxsmorons meant they dropped into seventh, though they were saved from falling further by clean sheets from Chilwell and Ake and Lundstram’s sensational weekend. With some tough fixtures next time out, The Ox will need a bit of guile in the transfer market and a bit of luck on the pitch. Despite a disappointing weekend, he remains only four points behind the Title Contenders with a greater transfer record, so he will be confident he can pull it out of the bag. A great run for Flash in recent weeks saw him end Saturday in fourth position. While Sunday’s games saw him slip back to sixth, it represents a remarkable comeback from the lower depths of the table he occupied just a few weeks ago. Only outside of the Title Contenders by virtue of transfers made, he will be looking to turn the screw on Birkett this weekend. Indeed, had Rico and Chilwell started ahead of Mount and Connolly, he would be in fourth spot right now. Had he done that and captained Mane, he’d be in third, only the third player to break the 600-point barrier, and we wouldn’t be discussing the Return of the King at all. The smallest decisions can have the biggest consequences in the League of Gentlemen.
The Title Contenders.
Just 56 points scored meant a red arrow for Birkett, who only remains in the Title Contenders because of Flash’s selection mistakes. Worryingly for Really, they face some tough fixtures this weekend, and have a squad full of players whose form is faltering badly. With an international break after this weekend, the question is whether Birkett holds off on his Wildcard until then, or whether he deploys it this week in order to address the form, fixtures and injury problems in his squad. Just 36 points in ten games from his big-money strike duo of Aubameyang and Aguero cannot be allowed to continue, and the question of whether to back them for one more week, or bite the bullet and replace them now, will be torturing Birkett this week. The King lies above him, and it appears Dinga is finally engaging with the season. Seven points behind the Masterchef and 29 points off second, King Ding retains the advantage of a Wildcard over the two teams above him, though with two free transfers in the bank, will surely wait until the international break before using it. If that is his plan, don’t be surprised if he makes a pair of maverick transfers this week, knowing that if they don’t pay off, they can be Wildcarded out, but if they do, he gains a massive advantage over his rivals. When it comes to FPL warfare, there’s a reason he’s the King.
Both the Masterchef and Jeeves, however, will be unimpressed with the attention lavished on King Ding this week, arguing that they both outscored him and he was rewarded by the failures of the rest of the top ten, rather than his own skill. Whether they have a point is for the individual to decide, but what is irrefutable is that the Masterchef is proving just why he was tipped as the dark horse of the newcomers to the League of Gentlemen. With six players offering returns this week, including three double-figure hauls, Hugh G. Rection XI continue their ascent up the table. Injuries to Mount and David Silva will be a concern, especially with the benched Van Dijk facing Manchester City this week, but the Masterchef is building a reputation for transfers out of left-field and he will have something up his sleeve.
The Juggernauts remain in second, twenty-two points ahead, and it was another strong gameweek for Jeeves. With 363 points in six gameweeks and two 70-plus pointers on the bounce, the fabled Juggernaut momentum is reaching top speed, months ahead of schedule. Whether they can maintain this velocity or they end up derailed is the question, but with options on the bench to cover their two injury concerns and a strong first XI, they should be fine for the week ahead. Jeeves’ newfound composure in the transfer market makes predicting his moves for this week very difficult. The old Jeeves would have taken a minus-four this week, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the wily veteran hold his transfer this week, giving him the option of a three-transfer minus-four following the international break to prepare himself for the winter period. Despite his success in recent weeks, Jeeves will be furious that he allowed Hot Rod to talk him into playing the Chelsea duo of Mount and Tomori over Rico and Maddison, a decision that cost him 12 points. That mistake leaves Jeeves two good gameweeks, rather than one, from being able to overhaul Big Steve at the top. Had he started those two and captained Mane, the white Stormzy would be just 28 points from closing what was once a seemingly-impregnable lead.
The Man Who Would Be King.
Nervy times for Big Steve at the top, who still retains a solid 51-point gap by the skin of his teeth. Indeed, he extended the gap by four points, but he’ll know he got away with one this week by being the only man in the top ten to captain a double-figures hauler. His decision to start Longstaff looked to have backfired when he was benched by Steve Bruce, but even that paid off when the assist of Jorginho came into Dumb and Dummett. With just 31 points in 15 games from his front three of Firmino, Aguero and Pukki, the Butcher must be considering carving up his front-line, though he may wait until the international break to use his Wildcard. Given Manchester City face Liverpool this weekend, there is a strong argument for using it now, though that match could yet prove to be a high-scoring affair, with neither defence the most reliable as of yet. Despite the near-miss from the Juggernauts making a few errors, it has been a great week for Big Steve, not only for extending his lead at the top, but also for rising to 10,198 out of over seven million players in the world. If he can reconfigure his squad with a successful Wildcard, there’s no telling just how high he can rise, and just what he can achieve. It really is a remarkable performance so far, and he will be very pleased to be exiting a tricky few weeks in such a strong position.
Thus concludes this week’s round-up of the League of Gentlemen, one in which Johnny Lundstram exposed the folly of the madmen who still refuse to own him, one that saw King Ding return to title contention, and one where the Geord’s Lords, finally, started to give their fans a reason to be hopeful. Until next time, may all your transfers be successful, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.
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