The Gameweek That Lasted Forever has, at last, drawn to a conclusion. For some, it was a slow release of success, points flying in day after day. For most, however, it was an unending FPL Nightmare, every day a new torment.
Gameweek 26 is now officially over, a terminally-slow week that spanned sixteen days from the close of Gameweek 25 until the conclusion of the final match. For some, the nightmare was elongated, the inevitable FPL Nightmare gameweek dragged out day after day, sporadic matches offering little return with no way to affect their squad. Even those who enjoyed success found the going tough, the tedious nature of one or two games every other day leaving it hard to get excited. The League of Gentlemen saw little movement in the rankings, though there was a lot of tightening up the gaps between positions.
The big drama of the week was Manchester City vs West Ham being cancelled, only to be rearranged in the same gameweek. This proved critical for many managers, not least for the Masterchef, who had named Manchester City attackers as both his captain and vice-captain. In the end, it did little to help his cause at the top of the table, with both Hitman Hodgson and Deadly Daz overtaking him. Without the eighteen points of his City two, however, it could’ve been so much worse. Others were left to rue the game being replayed, with the Tiptoppers denied a two-place positional rise by the Citizens, and with several managers actually losing overall ranking position with each de Bruyne point, despite owning him themselves. The value of the right captaincy pick was highlighted by the Belgian bomber; indeed, for some managers, they would’ve been better placed had he not played for them, and their substitutes been promoted to starters instead. The question for managers now is whether to keep de Bruyne, for whom ownership itself can cause problems if he doesn’t have the armband, or whether they gamble on bringing in someone different. Logic dictates you stick with the Mancunian Maestro, but a tough run of games combined with a blank in Gameweek 28 suggests selling him, if replaced correctly, could reap huge rewards. With Sadio Mane back in the picture, and a dream run of games for Liverpool, those who go all in could beat the house. When you add in that this is now looking like Guardiola’s final chance to win the Champion’s League in Manchester, you have to wonder if key men like de Bruyne will find themselves rested in the league, too.
Another developing major story in the League of Gentlemen is the race for third place. The Juggernauts, for so long the only contender to the Butcher at the top, are now in real danger of dropping down the table. The monster gameweeks from Deadly Daz and the Hitman have slashed his lead over them to within 25 points, while he also fell further behind King Ding in second. This season, one that started with real promise, is in danger of ending with Jockin’ Jeeves’ worst League of Gentlemen finish ever. Jez Messing of the Weekly Bullshitter, so long banned from Juggernaut HQ, has managed to secure a huge exclusive through nefarious means. Donning a comedy oversized moustache and glasses, he knocked on the front door of Jeeves’ right-hand man, Hot Rod, claiming to be a travelling cafetiere salesman. Hot Rod, never one to refuse the offer of a new cafetiere, invited him into his home, where Jez Messing lay the charm offensive. Luring Hot Rod into regaling tales of Dubai, Kevin Keegan and a mysterious figure known only as ‘Big Snitch,’ he deftly diverted the conversation onto the Juggernauts. After a 20-minute rant about how none of these ‘modern-day softies’ would make it into the ‘Rod’s Radgies’ squad, he let slip that Jockin’ Jeeves has dealt his Wildcard this week, with the intent of going with a double-Liverpool attack of Mane and Salah to launch his last, desperate charge at the title. When asked for the logic behind Wildcarding now, rather than ahead of Double Gameweek 34, Hot Rod revealed the logic that, with such good runs of games for some teams, Wildcarding now means the chance of picking up so many more points than waiting for a monster Double Gameweek with a Bench Boost. A desperate tactic, perhaps, one that carries a lot of risk. If it comes off, however, it may give the Juggernauts the kick-start required to find their fabled late-season momentum. Before Messing could gain any further insight, however, he found himself spluttering at the strength of the coffee, coughing his disguise right off his face. Having managed to make a hasty getaway, it remains to be seen how many exclusives he will be able to get in the coming weeks. What angered Hot Rod the most, however, is that Messing departed without leaving him a cafetiere. Scandalous.
Breaking up the tedium of Gameweek 26 was the draw for Round One of the Gentlemen’s Trophy. Round One features five two-legged ties, as ten teams compete to make it into the sixteen-team Second Round. The teams going head-to-head are:
Farcselona vs PKG FC
Micky Quinnaj vs Oxsmorons
Really vs Cows Arse Shovel
White Warriors vs Geord’s Lords
Does It Mata vs Rodallega Bombs
A quick reminder of how ties in the Gentlemen’s Trophy are settled: Teams compete in head-to-head, two-legged ties, drawn at random. The highest head-to-head score after two weeks progresses to the next round, until we are left with the two teams that will contest the Grand Final. Transfer hits are deducted from the Gameweek score; for example, if you score 60 points, but take a minus-8 in the transfer market, your Gameweek score is 52 points. In the event of a tie, progress will be determined first by goals scored in the two gameweeks, then by fewest goals conceded in the two gameweeks, then, if necessary, by tossing the Coin of Destiny, broadcast live. Should it go to a Coin of Destiny toss, the team highest in the division will be Heads, the team lowest will be Tails, and it will be determined via best two-out-of-three tosses.
The Gentlemen’s Trophy promises to bring new levels of excitement to the closing weeks of the season, especially with managers needing to adapt their transfer policy in light of it. Blank and Double Gameweeks add a whole new level of strategy to the competition, with managers needing to manage their squads effectively or risk going out of the competition. The Gentlemen’s Trophy starts this weekend, in Gameweek 27. Before thinking about Gameweek 27, however, let’s see how Gameweek 26 affected the League of Gentlemen.
The League of Gentlemen:
A true FPL Nightmare of a gameweek for Mikey P who, after some good recent form following restraint in the transfer market, self-imploded in spectacular fashion. Taking 24 points worth of hits, Suicide Squad managed to only score 34 points in the gameweek, leaving Mikey P with a gameweek total of just ten points. Farcselona took full advantage, with their low 43-point week being enough to move back off the bottom. A case of one step forward, two steps back for Mikey P, who should be nowhere near this position but cannot stop transferring players. Rodallega Bombs maintained nineteenth place despite a poor 28 points, and now find themselves cut adrift from seventeenth, yet with a big cushion over nineteenth. Above them, Ginger Ben managed to extend his lead over Wooden Spoon Helling by three points following a 57-point week. The challenge for Cuthben87 is to escape the Also-Rans, a task that became nineteen points more difficult as the teams above pulled away.
A strong week for Who Horner, who saw eight players get returns, including double-figures for Son, de Bruyne and Calvert-Lewin. White Warriors 76-point total puts a twenty-two point gap between them and the Also-Rans, though the scoring of the teams above them mean not much ground was made up. Who replaces Son is the big question, though with two free transfers and £2.4m in the bank, it isn’t difficult to bring in Mane or Salah. Above him, Jie had a strong 75-point week, though it came at the expense of his Bench Boost. It was a gamble using that particular chip during such a fractured gameweek, especially with a weak-looking bench. So it proved, with his four substitutes adding just twelve more points. While it closed the gap to the Tiptoppers slightly, every team above Micky Quinnaj retain their Bench Boost, which means chances are high Jie comes to regret his decision to use it this week. Slick Rick will be glad he did, given that it eases the pressure somewhat. It’s a silver lining to a gameweek that started so well for the Tiptoppers, who had risen to twelfth on Wednesday morning, and were on the brink of the Chasing Pack. Alas, their decision to have zero Manchester City players backfired, with the Wednesday night victory over the Hammers causing the Tiptoppers to end the gameweek a place down on where they started. Still, the gap has been closed to every team above him all the way up to eighth, giving Slick Rick extra impetus going forward.
It was a great week for Iceman Newton, who scored the division’s highest gameweek total with a score of 82. Six players combined to achieve that total, with double-figure returns from Calvert-Lewin and Patricio and a massive 28 points from captain de Bruyne. Trouble may lie ahead, with two injured players on the bench, and the Iceman will have to use his two free transfers and £1m in the bank wisely to build on this stunning performance. From seemingly out of the running, Madeleine Milan now lie just fourteen points off the Chasing Pack, having outscored the five teams ahead of them by a considerable margin. Geord’s Lords lie immediately ahead of them, and it was another frustrating week for Geord Lord. The signing of Digne proved a busted flush, with no returns in four weeks and now four tough games ahead of him. Stephens continued to disappoint, with a net score of zero points over the last two gameweeks and, of course, both of them started this week ahead of Lundstram and Williams, who both got returns. Too many gambles has been the Lords’ trouble this season, combined with 84 points of hits which has hamstrung too many gameweeks. The Iceman now lies just six points behind Lord Geord, though he’s only 35 points off seventh, such is the tightness in the middle of the table. The Lord is also only eight points off the Chasing Pack, although just one point off the top ten is Oxsmorons, who extended their advantage over the Lords to seven points. Six returns gave them a gameweek score of 59 points, though the decision to play Dunk over Ings proved predictably foolish, costing The Ox a place in the Chasing Pack. With every team from eighth to twelfth involved in Round One of the Gentlemen’s Trophy, it adds extra spice to what is already a feisty situation.
The Chasing Pack
Retaining his place in the Chasing Pack by just one point, Cows Arse Shovel have some real problems. Four absentees meant lining up with just ten players, meaning Flash was relying on the likes of Maupay and Dendoncker, who are never likely to get returns. David Silva’s injury brings the list of potential absentees next time out to five, adding to his troubles. Two free transfers and half a million in the bank means he should be able to field a full eleven, but Oxsmorons, Geord’s Lords and Madelaine Milan, all within fourteen points, know they have a real opportunity to overtake Cows Arse Shovel next week. Private Parvesh, just eight points ahead of Flash, is equally as vulnerable. The use of the Wildcard led to just 57 points, with further problems coming from Guendozi and Tanganga not playing, Ciaran Clark suffering a potential season-ending injury, five players being selected who will miss out in Gameweek 28, and Son’s injury meaning Bergwijn’s attacking potential will be greatly diminished. Further damage came from ten-point Patricio being benched for two-point McCarthy, leaving PKG FC arguably worse off than before they played their Wildcard. Ten points ahead are Really, whose 48-point net score was the worse of every team outside of the Also-Rans. Their biggest problem is lack of viable replacements on the bench, meaning having to go with out-of-form players, or ones with tough games. With the fixture list looking a little kinder over the next few weeks, Big-Time Birkett will be hoping to get his season back on track, with the added incentive of a cup tie against Flash offering potential inspiration to his players.
Back in the ascendency are Boom Xhakalaka, who had seven players get returns this week, including double-figure hauls from de Bruyne and captain Aubameyang. Jordan Henderson has proved an inspired signing, with 36 points in three gameweeks since All-Star Vogt took the gamble, although thirteen of those were left on his bench. With viable options as substitutes for the first time this season, Boom Xhakalaka look well-prepared for Blank Gameweek 28, and will anticipate another strong showing beforehand to build on this net 70-point gameweek. As it stands, they lie a not-inconsiderable 42 points off sixth spot, but they will be confident of capitalising on the Masterchef’s recent troubles to close that gap further. It’s been a tough few weeks for the Masterchef, and with six players missing out in two weeks, another two away at Spurs, Minamino struggling for minutes and Maupay bang out of form, it doesn’t look like getting any easier. Making it worse for Hugh G. Rection XI have been the performances of the teams around them, with three 70-point plus gameweeks from his rivals greatly outscoring their own 52 points. It could have been even worse had Manchester City’s match not been rearranged within Gameweek 26, with Aguero and de Bruyne sharing the captaincy positions. Sadly for the Masterchef, it was two-point Aguero, not fourteen-point de Bruyne, who was named captain. Rubbing further salt into the wounds was substitute goalkeeper Patricio outscoring first-choice Henderson by eight points. That 20-point swing proved the difference between a potential fourth position, right behind the Juggernauts, and their eventual sixth spot, overtaken by Deadly Daz and the Hitman. This is the toughest test of the debutante Masterchef’s season; it’ll take all his shrewdness to bring his team through it.
The Title Contenders
Continuing their fine recent form in fifth are the Dazzlers, who secured a net 70-point gameweek. Their transfer hit proved worthwhile, with a one-point gain and, arguably, a much stronger squad as a result. Seven players produced returns for the Dazzlers, including double-figure hauls from Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin and de Bruyne. It was a gamble for Deadly Daz to go with a double-Everton attack, yet it has paid off in spectacular fashion. Everton’s tough run of fixtures – six of their next seven rank as four out of five on the fixture difficulty rankings – could prove a challenge, yet with his hitmen in such fine form, even if Everton do lose matches, he could still see his men offer attacking returns. Indeed, the defences of Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea have been poor, meaning that the fixture difficulty ranking could be slightly misleading. One issue ahead is that, with Greenwood out, the Dazzlers current squad would only be able to field ten men the week after next, though that is easily rectified in the transfer market. It’s turning into a fascinating battle between them and Does It Mata for not only fourth spot, but Manager of the Month for February too. Hitman Hodgson has the advantage this week, two points ahead in the league and seventeen ahead in the Manager of the Month race, after securing a gameweek score of 76 points. Seven players secured returns, including double-figure totals from Calvert-Lewin and de Bruyne, yet the three bonus points from Jonny Evans proved the difference. It could’ve been even better too, had Grealish started over Traore. While the decision to bench Grealish against Tottenham was understandable, his performance and return adds to the argument that the fixture difficulty ranking is misleading – something Deadly Daz will be hoping to take advantage of in the coming weeks.
Both teams are closing in fast on The Juggernauts, who only managed to score 53 points this week. The worst score in the Title Contenders, it saw Jockin’ Jeeves lose further ground on the Butcher, while also reducing his gap over fourth to just 23 points, and the gap over fifth to just two more. Soyuncu being benched for Holgate cost them six points, while Vardy’s continued underperformance – no goals and only one assist since December 21st – has punished Jockin’ Jeeves severely. Only four players secured returns, albeit two of them double-figures, leaving the Juggernauts season at strong risk of fading away to nothing. Jez Messing’s exclusive, however, could be the turning point. Ninety-five points off top spot is a big gap to make up in twelve gameweeks, but the Wildcard gives the Juggernauts the opportunity to reshape their squad for the challenges ahead. They only need to beat Dumb and Dummett by eight points every week to be crowned champions, a target that is achievable, and they will not give up hope of achieving that goal. Indeed, the Dazzlers in fifth only need to beat the Butcher by ten points a week to reign supreme; this title is still up for grabs.
Better positioned, though, are the Ringers, who only need to claw back four points a week to become the first team to ever defend the League of Gentlemen championship. It would have been a larger total, but the automatic substitution that brought nine-point Doucore into the team gave him a one-point victory over the Butcher this week. Having pulled further away from the Juggernauts, King Ding now lies exactly on the halfway score between third and first. With four players missing out in Gameweek 28, and Webster and Cantwell underperforming for a while now, questions remain as to how sustainable the King’s challenge is. He will need to make effective use of his two free transfers and £1.9m in the bank to keep the pressure on; given his experience and title-winning nous, few would bet against him closing the gap further in the coming gameweeks.
The Man Who Would Be King
Another solid week from the Butcher, whose bad run has been rectified over the last three weeks. While he was outscored by several teams in the division, none of them are close enough to worry about too much at this point; even King Ding only closed the gap by a point, which is likely to be inconsequential by the end of the season. Only four players secured returns for Dumb and Dummett, with double-figure hauls from Calvert-Lewin and de Bruyne. The Butcher’s total could’ve been eight points better had Lundstram and Chilwell started over their defensive rivals, but it proved enough to remain a secure 48 points ahead of his nearest rival. With three players missing in Gameweek 28, the Butcher has a full starting eleven that week, meaning he can use his transfers to strengthen as opposed to plug gaps. Still inside the top-10k overall, and third in the race for Manager of the Month, it’s looking increasingly like this season will end in glory for Dumb and Dummett.
That concludes the round-up for the Neverending Gameweek, one which saw the Masterchef be taken out by the Hitman, which saw the Chasing Pack and Lower Mid-Table become tighter than ever, and also saw two new rivals threaten the Juggernauts top three position. Gameweek 27, with the opening round of the Gentlemen’s Trophy, promises to heighten the drama even further. As ever, may all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.
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