Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has declared himself fit and ready for the club’s Barclays Premier League opener on Saturday.
The Reds face a Sunderland side considerably strengthened over the summer, but Lucas insists Kenny Dalglish’s improved squad can continue in the vein in which they finished last season.
“I am really excited to be back and really looking forward to the new season. We’re in a good mood at the moment and hopefully we’ll start well on Saturday,” Lucas told the Liverpool Echo.
Sunderland will also be looking to improve on last season, manager Steve Bruce having brought 10 new players into the ranks. With both sides bound to field relatively unfamiliar squads for the start-of-the-season clash, Anton Ferdinand believes his side have the mentality to beat Liverpool.
“It’s going to come down to which team gels best on the day,” Ferdinand told the Sunderland Echo.
“But look at the players we’ve brought in. We’ve got a good enough squad to go there and get something. We’ve got players who can do damage to them, the likes of Asa (Asamoah Gyan) and (Stephane) Sessegnon are quality players.”
Arsenal will be another side looking to get off to a good start on Saturday. They face a Newcastle side who earlier in the year delivered the comeback of the season against the Gunners, drawing 4-4 after being 4-0 down at St James’ Park.
Premier League new boys QPR and Norwich will be in search of early points with games against Bolton and Wigan respectively, while Swansea have to wait until Monday night to get their campaign under way. The Swans face a difficult tie against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. Speaking to the South Wales Evening Post, manager Brendan Rodgers insists his side are realistic about their chances, but are still up for the fight.
“On paper I would think people will say there is no chance of us getting a result. But you don’t win football matches on paper. For sure they have got quality, but we have got quality as well,” he said.
Fulham manager Martin Jol will sample Premier League football once again when his new side meet Aston Villa at Craven Cottage, while Blackburn host Wolves at Ewood Park.
Due to the public disturbances in London over the past week, Tottenham’s home tie with Everton has been postponed.
The London club explained on their official website the reasoning behind the decision was “safety concerns relating to the infrastructure of the High Road and access to the stadium caused by last Saturday’s riots”.
On Sunday title challengers Chelsea face Stoke in the 1.30pm kick off, boosted by Frank Lampard’s recovery from the throat infection which left him out of England’s initial squad in midweek.
Champions Manchester United are also in action on Sunday with a trip to West Brom, buoyed by their 3-2 Community Shield win over rivals City last week.