Only 8 matches this week, with Liverpool, Everton, Newcastle and Manchester City not involved in Premier League action. By now you should have used your free three transfers to deal with this. I myself screwed up but I’ll talk about that later.

Following on from my last article, most of you will have set up your team to prepare for the first two batches of matches (5). Today, I wanted to look at the other three later matches of the weekend and a look towards preparing for the first batch of midweek matches.

West Brom v Crystal Palace – There’s a case for investing in Palace this week even though they’re away. West Brom have a injury-ravaged backline (No Evans, no McAuley, most likely Dawson). For Crystal Palace, Yannick Bolasie is back while Adebayor is far better than any of his predecessors. And they’re not Everton. Yes, I’m still annoyed from the last gameweek. Crystal Palace should win this, but probably not by much as West Brom batten down the hatches.

Manchester United v Arsenal – I seriously don’t know what to do with this one. Both have issues in attack. Manchester United play on Thursday night, while Arsenal fought hard but still lost against Barcelona. Arsenal probably have a slight advantage here as most of their key players are fit, while Manchester United have a serious problem with injuries.   If you don’t have any players already, I’m not convinced that you need to invest here (I’m a bit partial to Martial though).

Spurs v Swansea – News has it that Kane will be ready for this Sunday after breaking his nose in the FA Cup, and he’ll be rested against Fiorentina midweek, which Lloris has recovered as well so the Spurs defense is useful too. Just be careful of Europa injuries.

Here’s the matches scheduled on Tuesday the week after, for your transfer planning:

Aston Villa v Everton – While this match is favourable for Everton, they are unfortunately the only team who aren’t playing this weekend but will play in the first batch of matches. If you have injuries from the weekend, then by all means consider Lukaku or Barkley, but otherwise most of us will look elsewhere.

Bournemouth v Southampton – Southampton are on a clean sheet streak, but unfortunately their attack has been rather blunt. Bournemouth would be looking to bounce back from both league and FA Cup losses. Tough one to call. I’m on the fence here.

Leicester v West Brom – Another good match for the league leaders, but you should already have your personnel (Vardy, Mahrez) in place for this weekend matches where they play Norwich, so don’t accidentally sell them, alright?

Norwich v Chelsea – While this is a great match for Chelsea, they have a tough match this weekend against Southampton away. If you are willing to risk not scoring much for the Southampton match, then by all means make sure you get in a Chelsea player or two (Costa, Willian, Oscar) this weekend. If you didn’t make the move with your free transfers, this would mean, you would have to sell a West Ham or Sunderland player to maximise your playing slots. Is selling Payet unthinkable? 

Sunderland v Crystal Palace – This could turn into a very open-ended game. With the winter break transfer window done and dusted, Sunderland have a new spring in their step (thanks mostly to the still unlisted Khazri). Palace on the other hand have their key player Yannick Bolasie back, and, together with Adebayor it could make Crystal Palace attack threatening again similar to that at the start of the season. Oh, by the way, I have sent a reminder through the system for the inclusion of Khazri, but it would help if you guys also do the same.

Captaincy Choices

Bayern Munich (Lewandowski) – Wolfsburg (a), Mainz
Real Madrid (Ronaldo) – Atletico Madrid, Levante (a)
Barcelona (Messi, Neymar) – Sevilla (a), Rayo
Leicester (Vardy, Mahrez) – Norwich, West Brom

For the record, Higuain only plays 1 match this week. Leicester have arguably the best matches, and if Vardy is already in your lineup, captaining him might not be a bad option. The Europe teams all have one tough match and one easy match. I’m swaying once again to Messi, but Lewandowski is not a bad option since Wolfsburg will be involved in the Europa League against Liverpool on Thursday night. Ronaldo faces the toughest defense in La Liga (Atletico) but also a relegation zone team in Levante.

Choose wisely, your captaincy may very well be the difference maker.

Here’s my team, currently at 75th:

For my free three transfers, I brought in Defoe, Shaqiri and Daniels for Ighalo, Firmino and Francis. In doing so though, I made three mistakes:

a)Forgetting my manager wasn’t playing (Pellegrini)
b)Not realizing my four defenders all play at the same time (second time this season!)
c)Not transferring Vardy in means he’s no longer a captain option for me.

Hopefully my squad will be able to cover these mistakes. The move for Defoe is a serious gut call, one prompted by Sunderland’s overall improvement. And since I can’t go for the man himself (Khazri), I’ll go for the one most likely to benefit from his play, which should be Defoe.

For the live transfers this weekend, I’m looking at Defoe to Vardy, not sure about the rest. Replace my manager, maybe?

Good luck everyone!