We are now counting down the hours to our opening Premiership fixture which sees the mighty Reds travel to the Black Country to take on Steve Clarke’s West Bromwich Albion side.
And the former Red’s assistant has had a busy summer thus far bringing in Ben Foster on a permanent deal after impressing last season on loan as well as Swedish international Markus Rosenburg. They’ve also brought in two Belgians on season long loans, winger Yassine El Ghanassy and frontman Romelu Lukaku from K.A.A Gent and Chelsea respectively.
We too have been active in the transfer market with new manager Brendan Rodgers bringing in three new boys, two of whom have spent time playing under the Northern Irishman while he was in charge of Swansea. The first of the two is Fabio Borini who was brought in from Roma to bolster our attacking options, while central midfielder Joe Allen joined from the Swans as we look to add even more depth to that position. And the third signing is Moroccan winger, Oussama Assaidi, who arrives from SC Heerenveen to give us another option for the flanks.
Both sides have let several players go as well though, with the Baggies letting Keith Andrews, Nicky Shorey and Paul Scharner amongst the biggest names being released along with Simon Cox being sold to Nottingham Forest. We, on the other hand, have sold Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriquez, Alberto Aquilani and Craig Bellamy while Fabio Aurelio was given a free transfer which shows that we’re looking to move away from the old guard and go with a fresh approach under our new manager.
Both sides are going into the match in decent form with the Baggies winning three of their last four pre-season matches while we have come off the back of three consecutive wins including both legs in the Europa League qualifier against FC Gomel and the friendly against Sami Hyypia’s Bayer Leverkusen. How much can be taken out of results during pre-season is still up for debate though.
Our record at the Hawthorns in the Premiership is almost impeccable with the only hiccup coming in April last year when we fell to a 2-1 defeat to Roy Hodgson’s men. But that is the only time that the Baggies have scored against us on their own patch since the invention of the Premier League. The other matches have included a 6-0 win 2003, followed by a 5-0 victory on Boxing Day the following year. In 2006 and 2009 we won comfortably 2-0 and repeated that scoreline when we travelled to the Black Country last season with the goals coming from Charlie Adam (penalty) and Andy Carroll to give Kenny Dalglish’s men the three points. If we’re to get the maximum points this year however, we will have to do something we haven’t done in the previous three seasons and that’s win on the opening day.
Both Rodgers and Clarke will want to start their Premiership careers with their new clubs with a victory so I expect it to be tight, my prediction though is another 2-0 win for the Reds.