Team News: Liverpool v Sunderland

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Liverpool v Sunderland
Premier League, Matchday 1, Season 2011-12

Football is back. And what a difference a year makes.

A year ago, Liverpool fans went into a new season with a huge cloud hanging over the club; numerous groups had been linked with takeovers at Anfield, Roy Hodgson had been appointed manager – and met with little enthusiasm among the Kop faithful – while new players had been in the shape of bosman signings Joe Cole and Milan Jovanovic, and Brad Jones and Christian Poulsen. Only Raul Meireles offered a glimmer of positivity from a summer of gloom.

Fast forward to now and the story is a whole lot different. Liverpool fans enter the new season with great optimism, pride in their club and a strong belief that their Football Club is back on track.

Kenny Dalglish is in charge, the ownership group have backed the King financially and made great strides off the pitch. Five new signings have arrived again, but this time it’s exciting signings – Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Alexander Doni and Jose Enrique. All established internationals with proven pedigree, yet still young and hungry to win trophies.

Enrique’s arrival this week means he is unlikely to line-up against his former club’s rivals, meaning Fabio Aurelio is likely to start at left back.

On the other side of defence, Glen Johnson is a doubt with an injury he sustained in the final pre-season friendly with Valencia last weekend. Martin Kelly will slot in at right back.

In the centre, Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger will line-up alongside each other, with Martin Skrtel ruled out.

The holding midfield berths are likely to be occupied by Lucas Leiva and Charlie Adam, with Jay Spearing missing out.

Ahead of them, in captain Steven Gerrard’s absence could see ex-Sunderland player Jordan Henderson make his competitive debut against his former club.

On the left, Downing will make his Reds’ debut, and with Andy Carroll leading the attack, that leaves only one position left to fill. That could be the exciting Luis Suarez, although the Uruguayan only returned to Merseyside at the start of the week following his Copa America exploits. A late decision will be made.

Alberto Aquilani, Soto Kyrgiakos and Joe Cole are all excluded from the squad, according to reports this evening.

Possible LFC 11: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio; Lucas, Adam; Kuyt, Suarez, Downing; Carroll.

Kick off at Anfield, 3pm.

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