The 2012/13 Premier League season brings with it a whole lot of enthusiasm and excitement. Much has been written and speculated on but on 18 August, all that will be history... for all that matters will be performances on the pitch.
Supporters will be waiting to see new signings in action and clubs their fortunes with new managers, as in the case of Liverpool, Tottenham and a few others.
After a disappointing season in which they finished below local rivals Everton, Liverpool bid goodbye to manager Kenny Dalglish and welcomed Swansea City's Brendan Rodgers. Dalglish's exit was cue for a behind the scene shake-up, as his assistant, Steve Clarke, also left and Rodgers brought in his own back-room staff. Clarke, meanwhile, went to the managerial chair at West Brom and ironically enough it is the Reds will face their former assistant first up this season. Clarke's experience, gathered from spells at Chelsea, Newcastle, Liverpool and West Ham, has made the Baggies one of the favourites to avoid relegation this season.
Meanwhile, Rodgers' arrival at Anfield was preceded by a whole lot of talk and hype, particularly since the press praised Swansea's playing style last season, comparing it to the slick passing Barcelona. It would not be an understatement, then, to say that much is expected of the Northern Irishman's debut season at the club.
Rodgers has made some smart signings for the club this summer, landing Italian international Fabio Borini, Welsh midfielder Joe Allen and most recently Moroccan winger Oussama Assaidi as he looks to revamp and strengthen the team left to him by Dalglish. The 39 year old has also had to release some of his players to make room for new faces and the likes of Dutchman Dirk Kuyt, Argentinean Maxi Rodriguez and Italian Alberto Aquliani have all been shown the door, as have Craig Bellamy and Fabio Aurelio. The former Reading boss earlier claimed his target for the season was to break into the top four and such is the confidence at Anfield that it would be a major disappointment and indeed surprise if they failed in that goal.
Team News and Tactics:
West Brom: Clarke will probably continue with former boss Roy Hodgson's 4-4-2, which led the club to an eminently respectable tenth place finish in the league last season. There have been no major transfers out of the Hawthorns, which is always good news, and no major injury concerns either. This means Clarke will have a full squad to choose from. The highlight of the transfer period is likely to be the loan signing of Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea and former Manchester United goal keeper Ben Foster (who arrives on a permanent deal). Incoming transfers also include Swedish international Markus Rosenberg on a free but it is likely to be either Peter Odemwingie or Shane Long who partners Lukaku.
Liverpool: Rodgers is likely to star with both big signings (Borini and Allen) in his 4-3-3 line-up. The Welsh international, assuming he is fit after his exertions for Team GB at the London Olympics 2012, is likely to feature alongside Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva in the centre of the park. Borini, who joins from Italian club Roma, is likely to lead the attack with former Newcastle man Andy Carroll reportedly falling out of favour. The creative Luis Suarez and the returning Joe Cole will probably start alongside Borini. Should Cole be unfit to start, English international Stewart Downing might take his place.
Probable Starting Line-Ups:
West Brom (4-4-2): Foster; Jones, Dawson, Tams, McAuley; Morrison, Brunt, Mulumbu, Ridgewell; Odemwingie, Lukaku
Liverpool (4-3-3): Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Gerrard, Lucas, Allen; Suarez, Borini, Downing
Where to Watch:
You can catch the highlights of the game, along with all of the day's action on BBC One and BBC One HD at 10.20 pm BST and the full delayed telecast of the game from the Hawthorns at 6 pm BST on Liverpool FC TV on Sunday, 19 August.