Liverpool-Stoke City Preview
It won't take long for Liverpool to return to the scene of their utter humiliation in Steven Gerrard's last game in uniform.
The Reds suffered their heaviest defeat since 1963 in closing out their last Premier League campaign at the Britannia Stadium and will open the new campaign without Gerrard and Raheem Sterling against Mark Hughes' Stoke City on Sunday.
Brendan Rodgers has brought in major reinforcements in a critical season for the gaffer after his side fell 6-1 on May 24 at Stoke City to finish in sixth place one year after contending for the title with some electrifying football from Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.
"I hope I can get the goal tally started quickly," midfielder Emre Can told Liverpool's official website. "We didn't end the last season particularly well, and I think we owe it to the fans to make amends.
The Reds trailed by five at half-time in the last Premier League match for Gerrard, who scored a consolation and has gone overseas to ply his trade with Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer.
The man filling Gerrard's boots is newly-installed leader Jordan Henderson, who led the Reds with 3,255 Premier League minutes last season with six goals.
"There couldn't be a better place for us to start and put what happened there last season to bed once and for all," Henderson told Stoke City's official website.
"The lads who were playing that day will remember it for quite some time. It was a horrible day for everyone involved."
Sterling played his final Liverpool match on May 16 as he completed a year in which he scored seven times despite finishing 14th in the league in total shots with 82. He has departed for greener pastures at Manchester City.
In for Rodgers are Christian Benteke arrived from Aston Villa in a 32.5 million pound ($50.7 million) deal while Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino joined from German side Hoffenheim for a reported fee of 29 million pounds ($45.8 million). English winger James Milner has also come over from City.
Benteke scored 12 goals in Villa's final 13 matches to ensure their Premier League status, and is eager to prove himself at a bigger club.
''I think it was the right club for me because I had a good chat with the manager and I wanted to be part of his project,'' Benteke told Liverpool's website. ''I know Liverpool is a big story. They've won league titles and the Champions League five times and of course the UEFA Cup and a lot of trophies."
Sturridge will look to recapture his form from 2013-14 season when he was second in the Premier League with 21 goals, though he will miss the start of the campaign.
The spotlight will be on all the newcomers after Rodgers' signings a year ago were mostly flops, highlighted by Italian forward Mario Balotelli's tally of one goal in 16 total appearances.
Stoke City will take the pitch without captain Ryan Shawcross, out for two months since he will undergo back surgery. The Potters went 3-1-1 without him last season.
The 2014-15 season will go down in Stoke City history as they finished with 54 points and 15 victories - both club records - for ninth place. Mame Diouf, Jonathan Walters and former Liverpool man Peter Crouch combined for 33 league goals.
Stoke was the least accurate shooting team in the league last season, hitting just 27.5 percent of their efforts on target.
These teams have met five times on opening day. Stoke City won 3-2 in 1899 before Liverpool took the next four such meetings.