After just five gameweeks, Lawes is starting to lose the plot with FPL. Already in fifteenth position, the Nightmare is well and truly under way. Meanwhile, the dream is starting to become a reality for Big Steve, as he reaches the top 20k overall ranking
Jesus fucking Christ. We’ve only had five gameweeks and already the title seems out of reach. I knew I should have bloody retired at the end of last season. I knew I shouldn’t have been lured back into the fold by the silver tongue of King Ding. He got me to believe, like a Liverpool fan, that next year the title would be coming home. I’ve been a damned fool.
Here we are, with thirty-bastard-three gameweeks to go, and I’m fifteenth. FIFTEENTH! This just feels like some sort of sick joke. I spent three months last season planning my assault. I opened a Twitter account specifically for FPL, with the idea that I could collate all the knowledge of the masters of the game and turn it into the greatest comeback since Lazarus. I even named my bloody team after the biblical fucker! I should have called my team the Cement-Footed Swimmers, because we’re sinking without trace. Fifteenth!
Something has to change. We could analyse the faults so far – an early wildcard, going defence-heavy, transferring out Firmino and Son right before they hit form – Son, for the second bastard year in a row – but it’s all meaningless twaddle. It’s impossible to analyse a game where Norwich bastard City can play the champions off the park when you have de Bruyne and Sterling as key men. At least I reaped the rewards of Pukki – if you haven’t got him in yet, despite six goals and two assists, including five attacking returns against Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs, then you’re a fool – although it was scant consolation given the rest of the failures selected by the Rising this week. You know it’s bad when you’re watching your team, you’re 3-1 down and you find yourself gutted that it’s not 4-1 because your keeper has pulled off a wonder-save from the full-back you’ve pinned your FPL hopes on. Bloody Dubravka. First he commits one of the blunders of the season to cost Newcastle the match, then follows it up with one of the saves of the season to cost the Rising crucial points. I was so conflicted, I had to stop watching and start doing the washing-up.
Anyway, after yet another disaster of a weekend – and, let’s be clear, it’s not that I’m having bad gameweeks per se, I’m just having a series of average weeks while fourteen other teams fluke great ones – a decision has been made. This whole team-by-team analysis has to stop. For one, the bloke in fifteenth advising how to improve your teams is just laughable. For two, all this focus on everyone else’s teams is a distraction, and I can’t be spending six hours writing about Wooden Spoon Helling’s desperate attempts to finish bottom being thwarted by Tits Up Thompson. You can’t be Gary Neville the pundit in FPL, because then you end up performing like Gary Neville the Valencia manager, and I’ll be damned if my season is ending up like that rat-tached bastard’s one season in management. No, now the analysis changes. I’m grouping it all up, and I’m hunting you all down.
So, with no further ado, let’s see what happened this week.
The League of Gentlemen:
Down at the foot of the table, Tits Up Thompson clings to bottom spot despite the best efforts of Wooden Spoon Helling, while Metal Marc Farquhar is trying his hardest to join them. The problem Tits Up and Metal Marc have is that their dead teams are captained by Harry Kane. To be the worst in the league, you have to try a bit harder. You have to captain a joker like Danny Ings for the season despite having Mo Salah in your team, and that is why, in 33 gameweeks, Helling will capture his coveted Wooden Spoon once again. Like Thanos, Helling in last place is inevitable. Above them, Pointless Parvesh, the man no-one knows, and Jie Johnstone secured decent gameweeks, and will be looking to climb the table in the coming weeks.
Appallingly, this is where the Rising reside. What a calamity. Only clinging on to fifteenth by virtue of making fewer transfers than Flash, who is level on points with us. Honestly, given his performance last year, if someone had offered me the chance to be level with Cows Arse Shovel at this stage, I’d probably have taken it. I should be so much higher, but what can you do when Zinchenko, Van Dijk, Digne, Alexander-Arnold, de Bruyne, Sterling, Ceballos and Barnes score just eleven bastard points between them? Fair enough, Ceballos was a bit of a punt, based on one double-assist gameweek. I should have known he was a dud when one of the assists was a tackle, really, but his low price tag lured me in. The rest of them have no excuses. They are proven FPL players, with the exception of Zinchenko, who is playing in one of the best defences in the league. At least Pukki punished the shirking bastard. Mind, next week will be different. If Flash wants to leapfrog me, he’s going to have to be creative in the transfer market, because his team have some tough fixtures.
Above us, Iceman Newton, Birkett and Masterchef Bridges all sit within ten points. These are the Rising’s immediate targets, with Slick Rick’s Tiptoppers a further four points ahead. We want them all in our rear-view mirror by the end of gameweek six. The Iceman’s insistence on captaining Kane because he thinks he looks like him will come back to haunt him, because Kane is a severely hampered player when Son starts. With only 15 points in 4 gameweeks, giving him the armband is foolish. Don’t even get me started on his decision to bring in Felipe Anderson. His starting XI have five red fixtures and three white, which gives us the chance. Birkett and Masterchef are joint-twelfth, though there are enough differences between the teams to suggest they will separate next week. Masterchef’s gamble on Maupay paid off, though he’s another with the armband on Kane. Birkett’s midfield may be bang-average, but his frontline of Abraham, Aubameyang and Firmino is covering for the rest of them. A tough week lies ahead for Birkett’s defence, with no green fixtures at all, unlike Masterchef, who has two greens. That could give him the edge, although he will need to find a way to overhaul Slick Rick, for whom a Liverpool clean sheet against Chelsea could change everything.
The Chasing Pack.
The gap between sixth and tenth is a mere six points, which makes this an exciting segment of the league. The Ox’s decision to start two Crystal Palace players backfired horrendously, yielding a net score of minus one. His only real returns came from de Gea and Firmino, who only managed 17 points between them, although Kane grabbed an assist for five points. A gameweek total of 31 points represents Oxsmorons worst week of the season, and with three red arrows out of four, The Ox will need to address his team in the transfer market. Ginger Ben’s patience with King was finally rewarded with a double-figure score, backed up by returns from captain Salah, Maitland-Niles and Aguero. His signing of Tielemans, however, seems a reactionary one, especially with Spurs and Liverpool in his next three matches.
In eight place are the Juggernauts, occupying the position they held until Christmas last year. Three successive red arrows since their GW3 wildcard is bound to be driving Jeeves to despair, as evidenced by his decision to let Hot Rod take the wheel last week. What is interesting is that the League of Gentlemen’s resident Hitmaster has finally taken his first hit of the season, removing all three of his Manchester United players and bringing in Vardy, Alexander-Arnold and Cantwell. This move backfired, however, when Wan-Bissaka and Rashford scored 15 points compared to Vardy and Alexander-Arnold’s four. This could have been eased by Cantwell’s six points, but Jeeves started one-point Ceballos over the Norwich maestro. While Mane brought him 15 points, it was another chance wasted as the Juggernauts named two-point de Bruyne as captain. Had Jeeves captained Mane, he’d be in fourth place right now; had he done so with no transfers, he’d be second. The question now is whether the second-favourite for the title can maintain his cool in the coming weeks.
Ahead of the Juggernauts are Boom Xhakalaka and the Dazzlers, separated by a single point in favour of Deadly Daz. It was a terrible week for All Star Vogt, who scored 14 points below the overall gameweek average after seven of his players returned two points or less. When your highest-scoring player is your goalkeeper, you know something has gone very wrong. What’s surprising about the Arsenal fanatic is that he has Kane up front instead of Aubameyang; the decision to bring in the striker of his hated rivals has cost him 14 points in three weeks, and you have to favour him to bring back the Gabonese goal machine. Aubameyang, lest we forget, has been the top-scoring striker in FPL since his signing for Arsenal in January 2018. Another major concern for All Star Vogt is that he has four subs who aren’t playing; with such focus on his first XI, he simply needs everyone to stay fit, be selected and perform. How he must regret not bringing in Johnny Lundstram as cover on his wildcard. Nevertheless, on paper his starting team is strong enough, but Boom Xhakalaka look vulnerable, and those behind will see next week as an opportunity to overtake them. Deadly Daz will also expect to pull away from All Star Vogt, with arguably a stronger first team and, crucially, a substitute who is starting games every week. With £1.1m in the bank, it will be interesting to see how the Dazzlers approach the transfer market this week, and whether they strengthen their options from the bench or choose to invest in the first team. With a green arrow ending a two-week run of red arrows, Deadly Daz will be looking up in the table, perhaps even aiming to end the next gameweek in second position.
What every team in this portion of the league needs to be aware of is that Lawezarus Rising, just 22 points off sixth, are coming for them. Our aim, stated last week, was to be in sixth position by the international break that follows gameweek eight. This week was a setback, we can’t deny that. Yet, when you hit rock bottom, the only way is up. Those in the Also-Rans are of no concern to us. Everyone from Madeleine Milan to the Dazzlers, you’re on our hitlist. We’re coming for you, we will catch you, and we will overtake you. Twenty-two points can be made up in a week. Consider yourself warned.
The Title Contenders.
It gets even more exciting the higher we go up the table, with a mere thirteen points separating Hitman Hodgson in fifth from Mikey P in second. It was a great week for the Hitman, with a third-successive green arrow showing why the newcomer was so hotly-tipped at the outset of the season. With his three sharpshooting strikers bringing in double-figure totals and Salah and Robertson also offering returns, he continued his impressive start to the campaign and is only fifth by virtue of making more transfers than Who Horner. A reasonably-kind GW6 fixture list, a solid bench as cover and £0.6m in the bank offer further reasons why Does It Mata? will expect to continue their hot streak next time out, although a double-Burnley defence could be punished by his striker Pukki. Who Horner’s signings of Matip and de Bruyne for Coady and Milivojevic may not have paid off this week, but the White Warriors know they will reap dividends over the next few gameweeks. A concern for Who Horner will be a double-Liverpool defence that face Spurs, Chelsea, Leicester and both Manchester clubs in the next seven gameweeks, but the coolest customer in the game won’t make any knee-jerk decisions.
In third place lurks King Ding, the three-time champion who is looking for his first successful title defence. That he secured a green arrow despite a below-average 51 points shows just how poor the Juggernauts and Boom Xhakalaka were this week, and he was the only man in the top five to score less than 61 points. These trivialities won’t concern the King, though what may is that he saw only three players offer returns this week. Another with a double-Liverpool defence ahead of a very tough run of fixtures, and the only man in the League of Gentlemen operating with a five-man defence, you have to wonder if his tactics will change in the coming weeks. There is further hope for his title rivals from two decisions that suggest the pressure may be getting to the King. First, he brought in Felipe Anderson as his transfer, ahead of the free-scoring and cheaper Mount, which is a massive gamble. The second was starting Pukki on the bench in favour of Greenwood, who has played just 47 minutes this season and is yet to score more than a single point in a game. Fortune favoured the Ringers this week, with Greenwood’s failure to enter the game for Manchester United meaning that twelve-point Pukki came in as an automatic sub. Without the FPL Gods smiling on him, the King would be level with the Dazzlers right now, but every champion needs a stroke of luck.
Second place right now belongs to the Suicide Squad, though it is a precarious position, as they have used three chips inside five gameweeks. Double-figure returns from all three strikers resulted in a 61-point final score and a six-point gap over King Ding, though his use of his Free Hit resulted in only five points more than he would have scored had he started the same team as in GW4, which suggests the chip was wasted. Both the King and Who Horner behind him have used no chips at all, and neither has the man at the top of the table. It will be a struggle for Mikey P to maintain his lofty position given that disadvantage, and the repercussions may not be felt until the last few gameweeks of the season, when the blank and double-gameweeks come into play. He does retain the Triple Captain chip, however, and how the Suicide Squad deploy that will be crucial to their final position. He does have some favourable fixtures in GW6, and successful manoeuvring in the transfer market could see him strengthen his hold on second-place, at least in the short term.
Lawezarus Rising aren’t focusing too much on this section of the table just yet, though we are well aware we are only 39 points off second place. With 33 gameweeks to go, we only need to make up just over a point a week to haul them all back, though we intend to have made up this gap by the New Year. Should the FPL Gods stop being such torturous bastards, we may even get it sooner than that.
The Man Who Would Be King.
For all the talk of the chasing pack, the drama in mid-table and how anyone from 16th up could get to second with just a few good weeks, the man leading the League of Gentlemen is, right now, in a league of his own. Nobody can touch Big Steve right now, who lies thirty-seven points clear of second, with every chip in the bank and a sensational overall ranking of 19,864. What’s even more impressive is that he’s done it with two Newcastle defensive players, only one premium defender and a midfield that features Jorginho and Romeu as starters. On paper, his team should be struggling, but FPL isn’t played on paper, and Big Steve has got the big decisions correct. His only transfers all season have been the signings of Lundstram, Pukki and Cantwell, which shows that faith in the big names while tactically strengthening the budget players is the route to success in this game. While most went for double-Liverpool defence, the big man went for double-Liverpool attack, and that prescience has been the biggest difference-maker of them all. With two free transfers and £1.1m in the bank for GW6, the challenge for the chasing pack is only going to get harder. He started the season with odds of 14/1 to win the League of Gentlemen, and his backers are starting to get just a little bit excited. If Dumb and Dummett can maintain this form, then they may even give the League of Gentlemen its first-ever top 10k overall finish.
Exciting times in the League of Gentlemen, and gameweek six is sure to cause much joy and anguish for the competitors. Anguish for the Rising, no doubt, and joy for those who revel in their misfortune. May your arrows be green and, as ever, may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour, because the bastards are never in mine.
'The FPL Nightmare: How to Lose the World's Greatest Mini-League in 38 Simple Steps'
Available now on Kindle and the Kindle app on smartphones, only £1.99: