English Premier League Season Opener

Image courtesy of sportinglife.co.uk
Daniel Sturridge could start up front for Liverpool. Image courtesy of sportinglife.co.uk
The 2013/14 English Premier League season gets underway at Anfield on Saturday night (AEST), with Liverpool  hosting Stoke City . Expectations are high on Merseyside going into the second season under Brendon Rogers, who could only lead the Reds to seventh in his first campaign in charge but will be looking for a top four finish this time around.

Pepe Reina, Jonjo Shelvey and Stewart Downing have all left the club during the off-season but there are a host of new signings hopeful of making their competitive debut for the club. Central defender Kolo Toure, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, midfielder Luis Alberto and forward Iago Aspas are all in contention to play in the season opener, but controversial striker Luis Suarez is unavailable for the match. The Uruguayan has been the subject of transfer speculation in recent weeks but remains ineligible after being banned for the first six matches of the campaign for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in April. One of Aspas or England striker Daniel Sturridge will lead the line in his absence, while defenders Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel are doubtful with knee injuries.

Mark Hughes will take charge of Stoke in a competitive match for the first time at Anfield, with former boss Tony Pulis leaving the club by mutual consent at the end of the 2012/13 season. Club stalwarts Matthew Upson, Dean Whitehead and Rory Delap have all left the club, but Erik Pieters and former Barcelona youngster Marc Muniesa are poised to debut for the Potters.

Stoke hasn’t won at Anfield since a 4-3 Division Two victory in 1959, but has a great recent record in the Premier League against Liverpool. They have won both home matches against the Reds in the past two seasons while the two most recent Anfield fixtures between the pair finished 0-0 .

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