Liverpool FC said on Thursday that the club would get the Premier League season under way on Friday when they take on newly-promoted Norwich City at Anfield.
Juergen Klopp’s side went unbeaten at home through the entire league season, with their one loss coming to Manchester City, who pipped them by one point to claim the title.
City, the bookmakers’ favourites again, will travel to West Ham in their opener on Saturday while Chelsea, with Frank Lampard in charge, will be travelling to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United.
However, the focus would be at Anfield, where European champions Liverpool were expected to go one better than last season and win the title for the first time since 1990.
While other teams had so far invested heavily in the transfer market, Klopp’s focus had been on his existing squad, a squad he believe was good enough to compete again this season.
“We invested in the team last season. We have the team, now let’s work with the team and see what we can do at the end of the season. New players are never the only solution.
“You should never do transfers because other clubs are doing transfers. That makes no sense, it’s not about that.
“If you sit back for a second and have a look at the squad, do we need more players,“Klopp said.
According to Klopp, Sadio Mane is a doubt after returning late from international duty with Senegal, we check on James Milner, who missed the Community Shield defeat by Manchester City with a muscle injury.
However, by and large, Klopp had a full squad from which to choose from, including defender Joe Gomez, who believes “Fortress Anfield“ will again play a crucial part for Liverpool this season.
“The atmosphere they set makes it very difficult for people to come to Anfield.
“Hopefully it’s something we can continue. If we do that this year, I’m sure we’ll be in a good place,“ Gomez told newsmen.
Meanwhile, Champions City had new signings Joao Cancelo and Rodri in their starting line-up for their trip to West Ham.
Aymeric Laporte was also available again after he missed the Community Shield, but Leroy Sane is out through injury.
The biggest match of the weekend could be at Old Trafford on Sunday when Manchester United and Chelsea go head to head.
While United had so far spent big this summer, splashing out 80 million pounds (100 million dollars) alone for defender Harry Maguire, Chelsea have lost their star man in Eden Hazard.
However, with their record goalscorer Lampard returning to the club to take over as manager, optimism is high that they can contest the title race once more.
United midfielder Juan Mata played with Lampard at Chelsea and feels the former England player will be a success.
“I am sure he is ready for it,” Mata said. “He is a good friend and I wish him the best, but not in the opening game.
“It will be a difficult challenge in the first game of the season, playing against Chelsea, who have a new project, a new manager, some changes in the squad.
“If we can win that game then it’d be the perfect start and the fans can feel the excitement of a new season,“ Gomez said.
The other two newly-promoted sides, Sheffield United and Aston Villa, were both away, with United at Bournemouth and Villa travelling to Tottenham Hotspur.
Arsenal are also on the road, at Newcastle, while Crystal Palace face Everton, Leicester play Wolves, Burnley entertain Southampton and Watford host Brighton.(dpa/NAN)
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