Gameweek 23 in the League of Gentlemen saw King Ding move within touching distance of the top, the Juggernauts fall further adrift, and Deadly Daz move back into the Title Contenders. With the first double-gameweek of the season upon us, how will teams rectify their predicaments?
After Big Steve’s procession in the early months, it looked as though it would be a mundane title chase. However, after struggling for form and motivation in throughout autumn, King Ding has come roaring back with a vengeance. Gameweek 23 was the sixth week on the spin that he outscored Big Steve, leaving him just nineteen points from the top of the table. With an FPL Nightmare weekend for Jockin’ Jeeves, which saw the gap to the top increase by seventeen points and the gap to second increase by 32, it looks like becoming a straight shootout between the King and the Butcher for the title.
Of course, it’s too early to write any team in the Title Contenders off. Deadly Daz may be 109 points off the summit, but he will have seen how King Ding has destroyed that sort of gap in just six weeks, and he will look to do the same himself. With the second-highest score in the division this weekend, he will know he has momentum entering the first double-gameweek of the season. Above him, the Masterchef leapfrogged Jockin’ Jeeves into third, now just 79 points behind the Butcher. The problem the Masterchef has is the lack of a Triple Captain chip. With the seemingly-unstoppable Liverpool having two favourable fixtures this gameweek, his Gameweek 3 triple-captaining of Kane for six points could really come back to haunt him, and he’ll be firmly rooting for Wolves and West Ham to limit any damage. It’s a similar story for Deadly Daz, whose Triple Captaincy of Sterling in Gameweek 6 saw the Manchester City man benched, leaving Mane picking up just six points. How he’ll wish he could Triple Captain Mane this gameweek, and how grateful Jockin’ Jeeves will be that he has that edge over his immediate rivals.
With most teams looking to the transfer market to maximise their Liverpool assets, it’s easy to overlook the fact West Ham also have a double-gameweek. Snodgrass has two assists in two starts under Moyes, and has two opportunities to add to that total. Meanwhile, only six players have shot in the box more than Haller in the same period. Both players could provide key differentials, as could the bargain-basement Noble, on penalty duties for the Hammers. Of course, West Ham are crap, and play Leicester and Liverpool, which decreases those players’ appeal, but for those managers who already own three Liverpool assets, the opportunity is there for a punt who should, at the very least, pick up four appearance points.
With all that in mind, let’s look at how Gameweek 23 affected the teams in the League of Gentlemen.
The League of Gentlemen:
No changes again in the bottom segment of the division, though there’s every chance of development next week now that Wooden Spoon Helling has closed the gap to Ginger Ben to just a single point. At the bottom, Mikey P played his second Wildcard of the season, which resulted in 51 points, largely helped by his double-Liverpool defence. With the three teams above him having absent managers, if he can exercise a degree of restraint this weekend, he could make giant strides to closing the 29-point gap to Farcselona, who have only two Liverpool assets, neither with the armband. Rodallega Bombs have the same two assets as Suicide Squad but, having placed the armband on Kane before abandoning ship, they are left with Kepa as captain for the foreseeable future. The drama is in the battle for seventeenth, with Walney Utd now just a point behind Cuthben87. Their blind captaincy of Ings may work against them this week, but Ginger Ben currently owns just one Liverpool player, one less than Wooden Spoon Helling. The question for him is whether to take a hit to make that three, or whether he uses his Free Hit or Wildcard. Get the decision wrong, and his team could fall further than they ever thought possible.
The slow slide continued for Who Horner, whose only return came from goalkeeper Pope. Now in sixteenth position, this has been a desperately disappointing campaign. With Mane his only Liverpool asset and his Free Hit already used, he’ll have to use his Wildcard to enter the double-gameweek with the maximum complement of Liverpool players, such is his penchant for never taking a hit. Five points ahead of him is Jie, who saw his triple-Liverpool defence pay off spectacularly, with the three players bringing in 31 points between them. Sadly for Jie, he obtained no further assists, ending the weekend with a disappointing 41 points following the deduction of his transfer hit. With three Liverpool assets in the bag, he now has the chance to gamble on a two-game West Ham player to give him a boost back up the table, though he will be hoping beyond hope that Felipe Anderson recovers in time. Noble for Hojbjerg looks a possible transfer, even as a short-term punt. A better week for Oxsmorons, who leapt two places in the table following a 62-point gameweek, secured by virtue of four players – Allison, Traore, Grealish and Aguero - hitting double-figures. Sadly for The Ox, he’d captained two-point Kevin de Bruyne, preventing him from rising even further. The Ox only has the Liverpool goalkeeper at his disposal, and with only one free transfer, he too faces the wildcard-or-hit dilemma. Expect Sterling to make way for either Salah or Mane this week, although The Ox will need a hit in order to afford that move.
Just four points ahead in thirteenth are the Tiptoppers, who faced the FPL Nightmare of seeing ten-point Fleck left on the bench while six of his seven attackers let him down. Jimenez and Alexander-Arnold both secured double-figure hauls, which proved enough to fend off The Ox this week. The issue Slick Rick has is working Liverpool assets into his squad, with no premium players and only £1.2m in the bank. It could be that he gambles on switching Vardy to Firmino, Liverpool’s joint-highest FPL points scorer in away fixtures. A true FPL Nightmare of a gameweek for Lord Geord was rescued in the final minute of the gameweek, when Salah managed to break his duck against Manchester United. That goal, combined with Alexander-Arnold’s ten points, was as good as it got for the Lords, with only new signing Maupay getting an assist as consolation. Sadly, the man he replaced, Jimenez, outscored him by nine points, and with neither of the other two signings returning, Lord Geord’s double-hit gamble predictably backfired, as did leaving seven-point Hayden on the bench. With three Liverpool assets, the Lords could swoop for West Ham players, but their manager’s dismissal of their abilities renders this unlikely. Iceman Newton took advantage of the Lords’ transfer follies to move into eleventh, despite their only returns being from Van Dijk and Calvert-Lewin. With a million in the bank, Madelaine Milan have options in the transfer market, though Vardy to Firmino seems the most likely switch. Tense times in Lower Mid-Table, especially for Slick Rick and Jie, who have already used their Triple Captain chips. The other four managers will be hoping to use theirs to take advantage this gameweek, and finally find a way into the Chasing Pack.
The Chasing Pack
The volatility continues in the Chasing Pack, with every team occupying a different position to that which they started Gameweek 23 in. It was an FPL Nightmare for Flash, who saw only Maupay and Robertson secure returns, Vardy score zero points and twelve-point Pope left on the bench. With just 29 points scored, the decision to leave £3.1m in the bank looks suspect, though it does give Cows Arse Shovel the opportunity to bring in any Liverpool player they wish. Big-Time Birkett was grateful for the struggles of Flash, is defence proving the heroes as returns from Pope, Alexander-Arnold and Aarons got him back in the green arrows for the first time in a while. Another who will be hoping for the return of Felipe Anderson, especially as he has used up both his Free Hit and his Wildcard, rendering it impossible to secure an elite Liverpool asset without taking a hit. It’s all blown up spectacularly for Boom Xhakalaka, failed to build on their Mahrez masterclass the week before. While Foster, Traore and Aurier secured returns, their captaincy of Vardy backfired with his missed penalty, Rashford failed to make the field, and now they enter the double-gameweek with just £0.6m in the bank and no Triple Captain chip. It’s going to take all of All-Star Vogt’s skill to navigate Gameweek 24 without falling further.
A contrast in fortunes for Does It Mata and PKG FC, who are separated in seventh and sixth only by transfers made. For the Hitman, it was a very good gameweek, with double-figure hauls from Grealish, Traore and captain Salah supplemented by Robertson’s clean sheet. It could’ve been even better, were it not for Pope’s benching, but the Hitman won’t dwell too much on that, and will look instead to keep on building in Gameweek 24. For Private Parvesh, it was an FPL Nightmare, with the sixteen points of Aurier and Traore left on the bench, combined with only Robertson and Alexander-Arnold getting returns, meaning PKG FC finished the gameweek outside of the Title Contenders. A crumb of comfort for Parvesh is that he already has three Liverpool assets and, unlike two of the five teams above him, he still retains his Triple Captain chip. He will enter the double-gameweek knowing that, should the cards fall nicely, he has a good chance of returning to the Title Contenders or, at the very least, closing the 22-point gap to fifth place.
The Title Contenders
A monster gameweek for the Dazzlers saw them fly back into the Title Contenders, following no less than five double-figure hauls. Pope, Alexander-Arnold, van Dijk, Grealish and captain Salah were the heroes, and it could’ve been even better had Abraham not wasted a succession of chances against Newcastle. With three Liverpool assets, including two defenders who can’t stop keeping clean sheets, Deadly Daz will expect his good form to continue, though he’ll be ruing the early use of his Triple Captain chip. Having made up 28 points on the Juggernauts, he’ll have in the back of his mind that, should this gameweek repeat itself, he could find himself leapfrogging Jeeves by the gameweek’s end. Jeeves saw his bad run of form continue, resulting in him dropping out of the top three for the first time in several weeks. What was meant to be a push to catch Big Steve has turned into a fight to maintain position in the Title Contenders, with Deadly Daz hot on his heels and both Parvesh and the Hitman not far behind. While the four-point hit taken to swap Greenwood and Rashford with Ings and Calvert-Lewin worked out, courtesy of Calvert-Lewin’s goal, and they secured further returns from Salah, Holgate and Alexander-Arnold, captaining no-point Vardy and the lack of returns elsewhere left the Juggernauts with the worst score in the top five by a fair margin, and also resulted in his exit from the FPL Cup. Jeeves retains an unshakeable faith that he will end the season as champion, however, and will look to use his Triple Captain chip as a springboard to that success.
Three points ahead in third, the Masterchef will be delighted to have overhauled the man he’s been chasing for so long, but knows too well that his early use of the Triple Captain chip could result in his foray to third being short-lived. Captaincy of Aguero proved the key to this gameweek’s success, with the Argie Assassin securing 26 points for Hugh G. Rection XI. Further returns came from Alexander-Arnold, Aurier, Grealish and Maupay, though there will be considerable frustration at ten-point Traore being left on the bench. The worry for Masterchef is that, in addition to having no Triple Captain option, he only holds one Liverpool asset. It could be that his hand is forced into playing his Wildcard; without it, Jeeves has to be the favourite to end Gameweek 24 in third position. Ahead of the Masterchef remains King Ding, who extended the gap to third to a whopping sixty points, which will prove an almighty challenge to overhaul. Of course, inspiration for the Masterchef comes from King Ding himself, whose unprecedented six-week run of form has seen a hundred points slashed off Big Steve’s lead at the top. With Masterchef only needing sixty to catch Dinga and 79 to top the table, he will remain hopeful, though the form of the Ringers is intimidating to any team. What’s even more incredible is that the King achieved the highest score in the division for the second-successive week with returns from just four players, giving him an overall ranking of 33,544 – his highest ever. With fourteen points from Gazzaniga, eight from Holgate, ten from Alexander-Arnold and twenty-six from captain Aguero, the King’s 74-point total shows that you don’t need every player to return to have a great gameweek, just a key few. This gameweek leaves the King with a massive 37-point cushion in the race for Manager of the Month, with his nearest rival being, unbelievably, Wooden Spoon Helling. With this coming gameweek being the final one of the month, it will take a miracle to stop the King winning his second successive monthly award. With form like this, it’s going to take something special to stop him defending his League of Gentlemen title.
The Man Who Would Be King
Mind, if anyone is having a special season, it’s Big Steve. Despite Dinga going on a two-month tear throughout the division, the Butcher remains nineteen points clear at the top, with an overall ranking of 14,477, which would be the best finish by any League of Gentlemen competitor by some margin. The biggest disappointment for Big Steve this week was that he couldn’t play two goalkeepers, with double-figure hauls from both of them. With two free transfers ahead of the double-gameweek, Big Steve will surely look to bring in a third Liverpool player. Vardy may find his position under threat from Firmino, but an outside bet could be Allison replacing Gazzaniga, following news of Lloris’ return to training. With Wolves having four of the top six in their next five fixtures, Moutinho could also find his place under threat, although the benched Alli is more likely to be sold. While the threat of King Ding looms large, Big Steve will welcome the competition, and will hope it drives him on to even greater heights – starting with a great performance next time out.
That concludes our round-up of Gameweek 23, which saw the gap at the top closed to nineteen points, which saw Deadly Daz gatecrash the Title Contenders, Jeeves drop to fourth and Mikey P move closer to escaping the wooden spoon position. With Liverpool up twice in the next gameweek, captaincy options are predictable and Triple Captain chips will be deployed, meaning there could be a lot of volatility in Gameweek 24 or, conversely, not much at all. May all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green and, as ever, may the FPL Gods be forever in your favour.
Coming Soon: The Gentlemen’s Trophy
Hot on the heels of the LoG Cup, awarded to the manager who outlasts the others in the FPL Cup, comes The Gentlemen’s Trophy. Contested over nine gameweeks, the rules are as follows:
Round One: Ten teams compete in head-to-head, two-legged ties, drawn at random. The highest head-to-head score after two weeks progresses. The other eleven teams receive a bye, ensuring that, in Round Two, we are down to sixteen teams.
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.
Rounds Two through to the Semi Finals: Sixteen 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. In the event of a tie, the above mentioned Coin of Destiny toss rules will apply.
The Grand Final: After the previous four rounds whittle us down to two teams, those teams will compete in a one-week, all-or-nothing Grand Final – highest gameweek total wins. In the event of a tied score, on the first occasion, the two teams will compete again the following week. If they tie again, they will go head-to-head for a third and final time. If that too is a draw, and goals scored and conceded are the same, then we will revert to the Coin of Destiny toss to determine the winner of the Gentlemen’s Trophy.
The Gentlemen’s Trophy commences in Gameweek 27.
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All Lawes wants is to win The League of Gentlemen, yet the FPL Gods are bastards that conspire against him.
This column provides weekly updates of Lawes' dismal attempts to best his rivals.