While most of the country focused on politics as the UK went to the polls, something far more important was going on: The battle for points and position in the League of Gentlemen. Some teams saw some massive swings in Gameweek Sixteen, though most were grateful just to hold their position.
There were minimal changes in the League of Gentlemen standings this week, with only one positional switch outside the top ten, and with just three rises closer to the top of the league. It was a great week for the Masterchef, who managed to put daylight between himself in third place and the teams behind, and for Iceman Newton, who flew up the table to join the Title Contenders. Boom Xhakalaka also managed to rise two places in the table, while the Tiptoppers switched places with Micky Quinnaj. This could be a consequence of the League of Gentlemen teams starting to closely resemble each other. Of the top seventeen teams in the league:
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.
The League of Gentlemen:
A better week for Mikey P, who made only five transfers this week and saw Suicide Squad secure eight returns, including two for captain Vardy. While his 78-point score had twelve points deducted, it remains a strong week for the bottom club, who narrow the gap on the teams above them in their pursuit to avoid the Wooden Spoon. There were no positional changes in the Also-Rans, with the three dead teams all consolidating their positions. Mikey P will be looking at them with a glint in his eyes. Only 35 points off Metal Marc, if he can restrain himself in the transfer market, he could be off the bottom by the New Year.
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.
An important week for Oxsmorons who, while not scoring massive points, secured their first half-century for three weeks thanks to returns from Allison and a monster performance from captain Kane. The continued underperformance of Manchester City attackers remains a massive issue for The Ox, who boasts de Bruyne, Sterling and Jesus in his ranks, while Hudson-Odoi, Ayew and Douglas Luiz provide very little support. Oxsmorons appear to need a massive overhaul in attack to have any real opportunity of climbing the table, with at least three attacking transfers looking essential. With a favourable game for Manchester City against the awful Arsenal this week, however, The Ox’s triple-City gamble may well bring in big points. He’ll need them to claw back the thirty-point gap over Micky Quinnaj who, despite dropping a position, increased their advantage over Oxsmorons by ten points. Returns from Ings, Vardy and captain Son were crucial, and his ownership of such high-scoring differential players will be key to Jie challenging the teams above him in the coming weeks.
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.
The Chasing Pack
The Dazzlers’ focus this weekend will be on attacking the teams above them, rather than defending their position. Thirteen points ahead of Lower Mid-Table, that same total is how far they are off seventh position. They will be setting their sights far higher, however, and have an outside chance of making up the twenty-five point gap to King Ding in fourth. A strong gameweek of 64 points, thanks to returns from Rashford, Vardy, Ings, Maddison and captain Alli, saw them make up ground on the three teams directly above them, while also ensuring Deadly Daz retains the advantage in his sibling rivalry with Lord Geord. The four-point hit he took proved very wise, with new signings Ings and Alli responsible for securing 26 points between them. The injury to Ake will be a worry, though with Mane likely to return to the Liverpool starting line-up, it is not an emergency. Private Parvesh, in ninth, had a relatively-disappointing week, with PKG FC only scoring 52 points. The advantage for the Private is knowing he has two free transfers ahead of Gameweek Seventeen. With all of his starting line-up looking strong, as well as his first sub, it gives him the perfect opportunity to remove Yarmolenko from his squad. It will be his attack that makes the difference in his efforts to overhaul Flash in eighth, given that PKG FC and Cows Arse Shovel have almost-identical back fours, and his transfers will be crucial in finding the ten points needed to catch both Flash and Big-Time Birkett, separated only by transfers made.
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.
The Title Contenders
Another strong weekend from Iceman Newton, who reaped the benefits of being the only manager to retain the services of Aubameyang, with the Gabonese goal machine firing in his second double-figures haul in three weeks. Criminally overlooked when it comes to FPL, Aubameyang remains the top-scoring striker in the game since debuting for Arsenal in January 2018, and could give Madelaine Milan the edge in the coming weeks. Further returns from van Dijk, Alli, Maddison and captain Vardy secured 73 points for the Iceman, launching him into the Title Contenders and closing the gap on King Ding to just six points. It is turning into a case of who blinks first between the Iceman and the King, with both managers being the only active players yet to deploy their Wildcard. Given his recent performances, the Iceman may see no need to deploy it until the December 31st deadline, but the time has surely come for the King to refresh his squad. The second forty-five point total in three gameweeks for the Ringers saw them drop in the table, and has seen them lose serious ground on Big Steve at the top, who now holds a 106-point lead over the defending champion. It’s a case of perennial underperformance throughout the squad, with it being weeks since Digne, Sterling and McNeil offered any real returns, while Cantwell has two in eleven gameweeks and Greenwood has only scored above one point once this season. While there is no doubt that King Ding would make serious gains if his players started firing, the evidence they will dwindles by the week, and he continues to be punished by the lack of Vardy in his squad. With four players now within twelve points of the King, there is a serious risk that he could drop several places in the table in Gameweek Seventeen.
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.
The Man Who Would Be King
That being said, it wasn’t a vintage week for the league leader, with Jeeves closing the gap at the top by ten points. Gazzaniga’s six points were his only defensive return from five players, with only Alli and Jimenez supporting big-scoring captain Vardy. 58 points isn’t a disastrous total for the Butcher, and the long-term injury sustained by Saint-Maximin could yet end up being a blessing in disguise, with the exciting Newcastle winger offering minimal returns thus far. If Dumb and Dummett can secure the right replacement, which will be difficult given his low value, they could secure far more points in the coming weeks than Saint-Maximin would’ve provided. Mane will return to the team this week, which will undoubtedly strengthen Dumb and Dummett, but he will be missing in Gameweek Eighteen, so it may well mean rolling a transfer or taking a hit in order for Big Steve to truly reinforce his squad. While the Butcher has fallen in the overall rankings, he remains in the top 10,000 of 7.2m. His aim this week is to climb in the overall rankings, while extending his current 47-point gap at the top; with the right transfer and selection decisions, he has every chance of achieving his goal.
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.
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