Sixteen have John Lundstram.
Fifteen have at least one Leicester defender.
Fourteen have Jamie Vardy.
Twelve have at least one Liverpool defender.
Twelve have Kevin de Bruyne.
Twelve have Sadio Mane.
Ten have Dele Alli.
This information gives managers some important things to consider going forward. With the template defence being Lundstram, one Liverpool defender and one Leicester defender, advantages can be earned by finding differentials. Serge Aurier is proving popular, with several managers having signed him since Mourinho’s appointment. In the nine matches Martin Kelly has started this season, Crystal Palace have kept seven clean sheets, which offers FPL managers several alternative options in defence. In midfield and attack, de Bruyne, Mane, Alli and Vardy are majority-owned, which limits their potential to fire teams up the league unless they are captained. Given the form of the latter three, they are almost essential, and it would take a brave man to get rid of de Bruyne, who can smash home three double-figures weeks on the bounce without blinking. Therefore, the key is finding the three other attackers who can give players the edge. Ten teams have either Abraham or Rashford as one of those, with Maddison and Tielemans making a combined eleven appearances, which means those players can still have a real impact. Other options include the likes of Shelvey, with three goals in three games, Son, with 45 points in five weeks, Richarlison, who has four goals in five weeks, and Ings, who has eight goals in ten weeks.
The key to FPL is not only reading the data, but knowing when to take the chance on a player, and when to get rid of a previously-reliable performer. Is a switch from de Bruyne to Son worth the gamble, when the Spurs man has outscored the Belgian by 22 points in the last five weeks? If it went wrong, you’d lose ground, given de Bruyne’s ownership. But if it paid off, you could fly up the table. Abraham, Rashford and Jimenez are proving the most popular partners for Vardy in attack, but would it be better to supplement your squad with the likes of Ings or Mousset? They may be less popular, and play for more unfashionable teams, but they have been equally explosive in recent weeks, at a much cheaper price. Is it worth boosting your cheap option in midfield up to Shelvey, given how talismanic he has become for Steve Bruce in the last three weeks, given that he is on set-pieces, loves a long-range effort and is only £5.1m? Or is it time to bring back one of the old FPL favourites, Mo Salah or Harry Kane? Both have struggled in recent weeks, but smashed home double-figures scores last time out. Given their low ownership in the League of Gentlemen, will managers roll the dice on them, in the hope of getting a jump on their rivals?
A gameweek like Gameweek Sixteen, with little movement down to teams being increasingly-similar, can have a funny effect on FPL managers. Whether teams make changes to differentiate themselves from their rivals, or whether managers hold on to their men and challenge the other teams to change, can often have substantial impact in the weeks that follow. It may have been a quiet week in the League of Gentlemen, but the information we have obtained could light the fire for the weeks ahead – especially with Liverpool and West Ham having no game next weekend.
With that in mind, let us analyse the effects of Gameweek Sixteen in more detail.
It was, however, an FPL Nightmare for Ginger Ben. Entering the gameweek just nine points off Lower Mid-Table, that gap reduced to five points due to The Ox taking a hit. Cuthben87 were expected to take advantage and rise out of the bottom segment, but they were only able to get two goals and one assist. Their captaincy of Mane failed to pay off, with the Liverpool man benched, and their gamble on de Bruyne as vice-captain over Mane cost them twelve points. Ending the gameweek with the lowest total in the League of Gentlemen, the gap to Lower Mid-Table increases to 26 points, and Ginger Ben has some big transfer decisions to make, not least in his midfield. How he approaches the market is crucial as his quest to escape the Also-Rans continues.
His first target will be the Tiptoppers, who continue to reap the rewards of their long-term faith in Spurs attackers. Twelve points from Son, sixteen from Kane and eighteen from captain Alli where the foundations for an eighty-point week which resulted in the only positional rise in the bottom-half of the table this gameweek. The form of Sterling will be a big worry, but also gives Slick Rick options, knowing he could trade him for one of several players in far superior form, which would also free up serious funds to strengthen the rest of his squad. With 22 points to make up on the White Warriors, more strength in depth would aid Tiptoppers greatly, although they have made serious gains on the White Warriors over the last four weeks. It is a situation which will cause Who Horner serious concern, especially with him having zero options on his substitute’s bench this weekend. He does have two free transfers to remedy the situation, and how he approaches the market will be absolutely vital, especially with his front two of Vardy and Kane absolutely carrying his squad. If he gets his transfers right, he could attack the teams above him, with only five points separating him and Hitman Hodgson, and the gap to Lord Geord being just ten points.
It has been a titanic battle between the Hitman and the Lord in recent weeks, with both teams trading heavyweight blows as the weeks go by. Despite their mid-table positions, they are two of the form teams in the division, and they will both have their targets locked on Deadly Daz and the Chasing Pack. The Lords outscored Does It Mata by two points this week, but the eight-point penalty incurred through transfers saw Does It Mata close the gap to just five points. Both Perez and Mane failed to play this week, which meant Kelly and Willems came off the bench for the Hitman, securing a combined ten points. Returns from Robertson, Rashford, Jimenez and 26 points from captain Vardy led to a 65-point total, though Perez’s consistent underperformance – with returns in only four of sixteen gameweeks – continues to hamper his totals. He will need his gamble on Zaha to pay off, and it may well do, with the Palace star having a great run of fixtures. With two free transfers this week, the Hitman has the chance to really freshen up his squad ahead of a massive gameweek. Lord Geord took an eight-point hit, bringing in Pereira, Kelly and Abraham for Mousset, Tomori and Robertson. While this led to a net loss of five points, there is real potential it will pay off in the coming weeks, with Mousset managing an injury, Tomori out of favour and Robertson missing in Gameweek Eighteen. Short-term pain for long-term gain is the hope for Lord Geord, whose faith in Vardy as captain continues to pay off. Supplemented by returns from Maddison, Jimenez, Kelly and Alli, the Lords brought home 67 points, somewhat negating the eight-point hit and leaving them in a strong position to attack Deadly Daz and the Chasing Pack.
Flash had a strong week, bringing in Henderson and Alli for Sterling and Patricio, which led to securing more points and freeing up £4.5m in transfer funds for next week. Captaining Vardy was the key for Flash, with him bringing in 26 points for Cows Arse Shovel, supported by returns from Alli, Aurier and Robertson, for a total of 62 points. This was enough for him to catch Big-Time Birkett, and gives him a great platform to attack the Title Contenders next week, with only six points needed to emerge from the Chasing Pack. How he uses that extra cash will be crucial, and we may see Flash upgrading Mousset to Rashford. The situation is the same for Big-Time Birkett, whose gameweek was saved by his vice-captaincy of Vardy. The weakness of his bench was exposed, however, with both Aarons and Norwood coming into his team but only scoring one point. While Really retain a strong first team, their subs haven’t produced for them this season, which is a strong factor in their falling off the pace in recent weeks. With no funds in the bank, however, it will be difficult to upgrade them quickly without a hit, though the signing of Kelly for Aarons or Tomori should be done immediately. His score of 57 opened the door for All-Star Vogt, and the superstar DJ stepped right through it, leapfrogging Big-Time after securing 66 points this week. The vice-captaincy of Vardy was crucial for Boom Xhakalaka, who also obtained returns from Alli, van Dijk, Kelly and Ings. All-Star Vogt is now at the top of the Chasing Pack, and the big question for him is whether he trusts the men who have got him there to take him higher, or whether he gambles on strengthening his squad to provide a launchpad to the Title Contenders. With Boom Xhakalaka just three points off Iceman Newton, a tactical hit could make all the difference this weekend.
Replacing him in third, and establishing a gap of twenty-four points, was the Masterchef. A fantastic debut season in the League of Gentlemen continues for Hugh G. Rection XI, with comparisons already being drawn between them and Keegan’s Newcastle team of 93-94, who finished third at the first attempt with some maverick football and brave decisions. The Masterchef’s faith in Kane as captain was rewarded in stunning fashion, with the England captain securing 32 of Hugh G. Rection’s massive 78-point total. Aurier, van Dijk, Alli and Maddison were the other returners, as well as a second goal in two weeks for the Masterchef’s secret weapon, Maupay. With Hugh G. Rection able to start the gameweek with Mount and Chilwell on the bench, their squad has great strength in depth, and will fear no player being left out of the starting line-up. Over the busy festive period, that could be their biggest advantage over the teams around them. They also closed the gap on Jeeves by ten points, by virtue of the Juggernauts taking an eight-point hit. It was one that didn’t really pay off for Jeeves, with Abraham, Alli and Dendoncker failing to outscore the released players, Son, Tielemans and Connolly. Combined with the transfer penalty, it looks a poor move from Jeeves, though with Dendoncker replacing Connolly as the Juggernauts’ last-sub, there’s every chance Alli and Abraham can outscore Tielemans and Son in the coming weeks. The problem for Jeeves is that, even if they do, Alli and Abraham cannot help him haul back Big Steve, who also owns both players. From that perspective, the signings of Alli and Abraham can only be viewed as defensive, and makes Jeeves’ challenge that much harder.
Last season, the Juggernauts went on a sensational run between January and April, flying seven places up the League of Gentlemen table and applying real pressure to King Ding. From April onwards, though, Jeeves refused to gamble on having different players to King Ding, which stalled his title challenge and led to the Ringers having a relatively stress-free final month of the campaign as they strolled to the title. With these signings from Jeeves, history looks like it could end up repeating itself – especially if Jeeves continues taking hits to make his squad more closely resemble Dumb and Dummett. One thing is for sure: the man happiest with Jeeves’ transfer policy is Big Steve.
That wraps up Gameweek Sixteen in the League of Gentlemen, one which saw the majority of teams cement their position without making any real inroads, while those that did make gains made some huge advances. The Title Contenders is splitting into two divisions, with the Masterchef joining Jeeves in pulling away from their rivals, while at the top, Big Steve remains comfortable, at least for now. After Gameweek Seventeen, that could all have changed. May all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green and, as always, may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.