The two biggest successes were Hitman Hodgson and, ominously for the rest of the division, Big Steve. The Hitman had been on a nightmare run of form, which saw him drop eleven places in the table in a single week and struggle to regain any momentum. This week changed all that, with a stunning ninety-point weekend firing him back into the Chasing Pack and leaving Does It Mata on the brink of the Title Contenders, after every single one of his attacking players produced the goods. Even his attacking substitute secured an assist, which may well be the first time in the history of the League of Gentlemen that all of a team’s attacking options secured returns, double gameweeks notwithstanding. After such a wretched October and November, the Hitman now looks poised to climb the table further over the Christmas period.
Big Steve, meanwhile, secured eighty-eight points for Dumb and Dummett, deploying his Wildcard with perfect timing and precision to cut Jeeves’ fightback off at the knees. Having seen a lead of over a hundred points clawed back to just thirty-five, the Butcher will be very satisfied to extend his advantage to one that will likely prove impossible to overhaul in a single gameweek. The pressure is on Jeeves to respond next time out, but with no Wildcard of his own in the bank, the challenge proves even greater. In doing so, he leapt over Private Parvesh in the race for Manager of the Month, leaving himself second to Andrew Lawes by just one point. The manager of Geord’s Lords was in a great position to secure a great achievement after such a dismal start to the campaign, but with only a gnat’s pube between himself and Big Steve, and with the Butcher’s Wildcard advantage, it looks like it will be snatched away from him by virtue of Gameweek Fourteen starting on the final day of the month. With Private Parvesh and Jeeves within touching distance of the monthly award, it will be a fascinating sub-plot to what was already promising to be a thrilling gameweek ahead.
What could make the difference this week is how managers approach the transfer market. With Mourinho’s appointment firing Spurs into the goals, the likes of Son, Alli and Kane become enticing, if expensive prospects. It’s easy to forget what a points machine Alli was two seasons ago, following a year of stagnation. While Son and Kane will be the obvious targets, Alli could be the prime differential option to give a team the edge. Of further interest are the Manchester United pair of Rashford and Martial. Martial is the most appealing of FPL prospects, a midfielder playing at centre-forward. With five returns from seven starts this season, and available at £7.8m, there will be many managers who will be looking lustfully in his direction. Meanwhile, in a struggling Manchester United team, Rashford has 36 points in five gameweeks, with eleven points secured last time out, and only the away fixture at Bournemouth yielding no returns. With Abraham ruled out for this weekend following a midweek injury, Rashford seems the obvious transfer for those managers looking to replace the Chelsea hitman, assuming they have a spare million to spend.
With that in mind, let’s look at how each team fared in Gameweek Thirteen.
Above them, Farcselona and Rodallega Bombs both closed the gap on Cuthben87, who are grateful right now that Tits-Up Thompson failed to register his team in time for the Gameweek One deadline. Without that, Ginger Ben would have fallen even lower this week. While his rivals will not change their teams, on account of having seemingly abandoned them, Ginger Ben really needs to use his Wildcard and give his team a massive overhaul. When you’re this low in the table and your team has had one decent gameweek in six, it just makes no sense to keep persevering with the same squad. Aguero’s injury should be the catalyst to bring in Vardy, who could single-handedly start giving Cuthben87 some much-needed green arrows. Given it is his debut season, you almost wonder if Ginger Ben is holding out on using it until Gameweek 18, in order to give his side the best chance of attacking the FPL Cup. If that was the plan, it needs to be abandoned, before Lower Mid-Table becomes too far out of reach.
To do so, they will have to make up a seventeen-point gap on fourteenth-place Oxsmorons. The Ox announced the end of his music career last week and, while he claims it was just the right time for the band to end for various reasons, Jez Messing’s contacts within the game reveal the chairman of Oxsmorons demanded The Ox stop splitting his time between the band and FPL, saying the club needs his full attention after a poor run of form. The Ox retains a strong squad, and just needs the likes of Sterling to pick up form again, but doubts persist over his faith in Tierney and Hudson-Odoi, who let the side down week after week. With two free transfers in the bank, this could be the weekend those two are shifted out. Just ahead of them are the freefalling Madelaine Milan, who had the joint-worst gameweek of anyone that didn’t make ten transfers. The former high-flyers are in danger of fading from contention altogether, and really need a good Gameweek Fourteen to get back in the green arrows. Their big problem this week is that, with Abraham injured, they have no options on the bench to fill his boots, and will require effective transfer dealings to get back in the game.
The top two in Lower Mid-Table, the rejuvenated Geord’s Lords and Boom Xhakalaka, are separated only by transfers made. Lying ten points ahead of Iceman Newton, their focus this weekend will be on breaking into the Chasing Pack, with both teams only thirteen points off seventh position. Both teams will suffer from the absence of Abraham, especially when two of the Lords’ substitutes play Manchester City, and All-Star Vogt has no substitute’s bench to speak of. Where Vogt has the advantage is in the two free transfers he has this weekend, whereas Lawes, unaware of the Champion’s League fixtures in midweek, brought in Henderson for Gazzaniga on Sunday evening and now will have to take a hit to replace the Chelsea hitman. While he may choose to ride the injury and place his faith in Lundstram, with three gameweeks in seven days upon us, gambling on having no substitute attacker would be a bold move. What may force him to avoid taking a hit is the Manager of the Month race; one four-point hit drops him into second, behind Big Steve, and it’s asking a lot to overcome such a deficit against a man who has just Wildcarded. With Lawes re-entering the Friday Night Darts fray tonight, there’s every chance his drink-addled mind may take the gamble.
For the White Warriors, however, big questions need to be asked. A season that promised so much is in danger of fading away to nothing. The continued faith in Callum Wilson is bizarre, with the Bournemouth man now six gameweeks without a return and Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea to play in the next fortnight. Their substitute’s bench is weak, with Stephens the only player that isn’t suffering from a long-term injury, and they have a midfield that, Mane aside, is woefully out of form. Who Horner used his Free Hit last weekend, and he must be wishing he’d opted for the Wildcard instead. With only seven gameweeks left in which to use the Wildcard, it would make sense for him to deploy it now, and get back in the green arrows. If he doesn’t, not only does he risk falling further down the table, but it’ll be very difficult for him to make up ground on the seventh-place Dazzlers. While their signing of Martial for Hudson-Odoi did not pay immediate dividends, over the coming gameweeks it should prove very fruitful. Double-figure returns from Vardy, Rashford and captain Mane, supported by a seven-pointer from de Bruyne, led to Deadly Daz’s team rising in the ranks. The injury to Abraham will be a concern, though he could switch to the in-form Jimenez ahead of a decent run of games for the Wolves hitman. The big concern will be Digne, who is not only having a terrible run of form, but also faces Leicester, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal in his next five games. Given the form of Leicester, a switch to Chilwell, Pereira or Soyuncu seems essential if he wants to close the 25-point gap to the Title Contenders.
To get to the Title Contenders though, first the Dazzlers must make up eighteen points on sixth-place Cows Arse Shovel. Flash has a habit of securing a great gameweek following an international break, and this week was no exception. Only five players got returns for Flash, but by placing the armband on the irresistible Vardy, those players ensured a 73-point gameweek. Flash has really started to show his class in recent weeks, and his constant rise up the table is testament to his workrate, and his determination to improve his skills in the game. While he will be concerned by Abraham’s injury, he has one of the strongest benches in the division. With £2m in the bank, he may well be tempted to go into the market, and while Rashford and Jimenez are the obvious choices, Flash could spring a surprise and bring in someone like Firmino in an attempt to improve yet further.
Four points ahead of him, separated only by one transfer made, are Dinga’s Ringers and Birkett’s Really. These two teams have been neck-and-neck in recent weeks, yet you can’t help but feel that one or two decent transfers could see one of them pull away from the other quite quickly. Indeed, it could have already happened, if King Ding hadn’t suffered the FPL Nightmare of seeing 27 points left on his bench. Starts for Pope, Cantwell and Greenwood ahead of Heaton, McNeil and Abraham would have seen the Ringers 12 points ahead, rather than being one transfer behind. King Ding has the advantage of a Wildcard, and with Abraham’s injury as well as Digne’s terrible form and upcoming fixtures, this could be the weekend we see it used. However, the King has a strong squad, so he may yet hold off a week or two and just use the free transfer market and his squad players. Given the form of Vardy and the potential of the Spurs attackers, combined with the aforementioned problems, a case could be made for using it in his current position of strength, in the hope of starting a charge on the top two.
The Juggernauts will be hoping the King opts against his Wildcard, as they find themselves in a tricky predicament this weekend. While they have a strong squad, the injury to Abraham and the difficult fixtures for Connolly and Rico, combined with Tomori being benched in midweek, means that while they appear to have cover, going without a transfer carries an element of risk. The temptation to swoop for Jimenez in a straight swap for Abraham is there, though Sterling’s indifferent form and Jeeves’ historical choices suggest the potential for a hit is there, perhaps to cement the signings of Kane and Alli. The problem with Jeeves taking a hit is that, following this weekend, he now lies closer to the Chasing Pack than the Man Who Would Be King, and any hit risks seeing Big Steve pull even further away. Should Mourinho fail to have an instant impact, it could yet be a title challenge-destroying switch, yet if it paid off, it could be just what he needs to slash the gap to the top. Given he lost 24 points on Big Steve last week, yet remains 37 points ahead of the two teams directly behind him, this could be the perfect time to take such a gamble. Should it pay off, there’s even a chance, by making up twenty points a week for three gameweeks, that he could top the table in ten days. It’s an intriguing dilemma, and it will be fascinating to see how the Juggernauts line up tomorrow morning.
That concludes the round-up of another exciting week in the League of Gentlemen, one which saw the Hitman assassinate his opponents, which saw the Masterchef, Who Horner, Iceman Newton and Ginger Ben suffer FPL Nightmares, and which saw Big Steve reassert his dominance over the division. We’re the orangutans and the baboons, whereas the Butcher, he’s the big Silverback gorilla, ruling the forest and daring anyone to challenge his authority. We’ll see if anyone can in Gameweek Fourteen. As ever, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.