The talk is over and the season has kicked off. Without further ado then, I proudly introduce your 2010/11 Pure Juice lineup.
My love for the rotation strategy is well documented and I recently hinted that I like the combo of Jaaskelainen and Foster due the security of their jobs, their big league experience and the meshing of the pair's fixtures in the early part of the season. I see Foster starting the majority of games but Bolton are okay at home and with Foster's uncertain fitness, Jussi gets the gloves for week 1 as Bolton entertain Fulham at the Reebok. I'm happy with this pair though I imagine at least one of them will be moved as some point as a bargain keeper emerges once again.
My two key indicators here were opening fixtures and certainty of playing. I was tempted by Ferreira, Alex and Evans but I ultimately went for 5 players who will definitely play each week to open the season (barring injury) and whose teams face weaker opposition over the opening weeks. Vidic and Terry are both slightly more expensive than I like to spend on defenders but I liked United's and Chelsea's opening fixtures and felt this pair gave me good access to clean sheet, bonus and even goal opportunities. Villa and Spurs have good opening fixtures and Warnock and Dawson provide access to those teams without breaking bank so I'm pretty happy with this pair in the medium term.
The biggest controversy here is probably who I haven't picked - namely a top shelf midfielder like Lampard, Gerrard or Fabregas. Fabregas was in my team for a long time but with him likely to miss week 1 I decided I couldn't handle 10m on my bench from the kick off so I re-jigged a bit, but with Cesc in mind when Arsenal's fixtures look good. A similar story goes for Lampard though at 13m I think the only way I bring him in is as a defensive move if everyone else has him and I need to block his points (much like Ronaldo in his final season at United).
I'm a big fan of both Malouda and Valencia for this season and I think they both have top 5 potential among all midfielders. N'Zogbia and Lee are two players who had decent seasons last year but I think both have a higher ceiling than they have shown yet and remain good value at 6m and 5.5m respectively. I am a bit concerned with N'Zogbia throwing his toys out of the pram but I hope he can play well enough to either settle back in at Wigan or earn a move to another EPL team in the near future.
Finally, Charlie Adam's selection goes against my philosophy of picking proven players but his excellent goal scoring record along with his set piece duties made me think that the 5m price tag was okay. I think a couple of goals in the opening few games will see his price rocket due to the dearth of talent at that price range.
I have stuck with the high priced forwards on the basis that bargains are harder to come by here, and my top pair were going to be Van Persie and Drogba until RvP was all but ruled out of the start of the season. I have temporarily brought in Berbatov, who impressed last week in the Community Shield, due to United's favourable fixture, but he is unlikely to stick around for too long given the presence of Hernandez to snatch valuable minutes. I love Drogba again this year and he says he is fitter than ever which is daunting news for the rest of the league. I would say that Torres is still the best all round striker but issues over his fitness and supporting cast make Drogba the pick for me right now.
There are several decent budget strikers who I think can contribute as a third striker this year and I've gone with Kalinic after competition from Rodallega, Zigic and Campbell. This position will likely be in flux throughout the season as I try to capitalise on hot streals on good fixtures for my third striker.
I hope everyone is happy with their teams and not too many of you had Adebayor, Lescott, Kranjcar etc who already find themselves out of the first teams, just a few minutes into the new season. Let the games begin (not to mention the ridiculous stress this causes every Friday night/Saturday morning).