Three players managed to mark the end of 2016 with a ban, not a whimper, as they picked up their fifth yellow cards of the season to tumble from the Suspension Tightrope.
With just hours to go until the Premier League’s January 1 armistice would have raised the one-match ban threshold from five to ten yellows, Jordi Amat ,Dean Marney (4.5) and Billy Jones (4.4) “fell foul of the fuzz” and will now miss Gameweek 20.
Amat, with a 12.5% ownership base, is the most popular Swansea City player in the Fantasy Premier League, but many of those managers will find it difficult to miss a man who has produced scores of 0, -1, 6, 1, 1 and 0 from his last six starts.
Marney’s 0.8% ownership is the highest among Burnley’s midfielders, which is the FPL equivalent of being hailed the nation’s funniest Chuckle Brother, while Jones…let’s just move on.
The bigger suspension story of New Year’s Eve revolved around Southampton skipper Virgil van Dijk (5.8).
He was dismissed for two yellows late into the defeat by West Brom and will now miss tomorrow’s trip to Everton.
As a result, the 14.3% owned defender is currently the most transferred-out player of the Gameweek, despite the Saints’ promising run of fixtures – Burnley, Swansea and Sunderland away, Leicester City and West Ham at St Mary’s – that kick in on his return.
That quartet join Jamie Vardy (9.6) on the naughty step: the Leicester City striker will complete the final match of his three-stretch at Middlesbrough tomorrow after his lunge on Stoke City’s Mame Diouf caught the inconsistent eye of referee Craig Pawson back in Gameweek 17.
But 2016 is sooo last year when we have 2017’s first tightrope inhabitant to welcome.
Watford’s Jose Holebas (4.8) is this year’s original sinner after picking up his ninth booking of the season during the Hornets’ shellacking by Spurs on Sunday afternoon. To put that in its proper context, the defender has as many cautions as the club’s two top scorers, Etienne Capoue and Troy Deeney, have managed goals.
Holebas will now have to remain guilt-free until April 9 or Gameweek 33.
Just behind him, on eight yellows, comes Leicester’s Danny Simpson (4.9), who was one of eight players cautioned in the clash with West Ham United on Saturday.
Back from spending Gameweek 19 in the stands is Pedro (6.9), who has lost nearly 86,000 managers and 0.4 from his value since Gameweek 16, despite racking up 13 points in the Boxing Day win that also saw him banned for his fifth booking of the season.
Willian’s (7.1) 15-point barnstormer against Stoke City on New Year’s Eve won’t have reassured the 115,000+ managers still holding the Spaniard that their man will walk back into the team to face Spurs on January 4.
Spurs will have two defenders returning that day – Kyle Walker (6.1), who has lost close to 5% of his owners for missing Gameweek 19, and Jan Vertonghen (5.7).
Also available again will be Jeff Hendrick (5.4), Nathan Redmond (5.8), Miguel Britos (4.3), Antonio Barragan (4.6), Damien Delaney (4.8) and Marko Arnautovic (7.1), who has now completed his three-match ban.
The Men In Black
Graham Scott was the stand-out whistle-blower of an otherwise quiet weekend.
He awarded the only penalty of the Gameweek, his second of the season in just his fourth outing – a strike rate that puts him in the top half of the table among those making match-changing decisions.
And Mr Scott made sure all his major calls counted in the Burnley vs Sunderland match as both of his bookings led to suspensions.