Belfast Telegraph

Brendan Rodgers relishes chance to avenge humiliation at Stoke

By Phil Medlicott

Brendan Rodgers is looking forward to Liverpool's return to the scene of one of their greatest humiliations, describing the trip to Stoke as the "perfect" opening fixture for the Reds' season.

A poor 2014-15 for Rodgers' men ended in truly embarrassing fashion in May as they suffered a 6-1 Barclays Premier League thumping against the Potters at the Britannia Stadium.

Liverpool are back at the ground taking on Mark Hughes' Stoke again tomorrow to open their 2015-16 campaign.

And Reds boss Rodgers (pictured) said: "When the fixture came out, I felt we couldn't have had a better one to be honest.

"I think lots of people looked at it wondering whether we would have been better going back later, but for me it was the perfect fixture and I was happy when it came out.

"The reaction (to the 6-1 loss) over the course of the summer has been terrific and it gives us real motivation now to start the season well." Rodgers - whose side finished outside the Champions League berths in sixth place last season, a year after coming second - has labelled the May defeat as "unacceptable" and vowed things will be different this time around.

He said: "It was a unique game. But it should never be the case, whatever the excuse, because you are fighting for people who live their lives for the club.

"We all knew it was unacceptable, and whatever stick we got, we deserved."

Liverpool have lost the likes of Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling this summer, but seven new signings have been brought in and among them, there is certainly a weight of expectation on the shoulders of striker Christian Benteke, bought from Aston Villa for £32.5million.

Benteke has rejected suggestions from Villa boss Tim Sherwood that he is not suited to his new club's style because he primarily feeds off crosses.

And Rodgers has backed Benteke up, saying: "I think he is the type of player who fits perfectly for us. I have seen him close hand, and for me, he can play in any type of game. He is going to be a huge player for us."

Other summer recruits set to make their Liverpool debuts are Nathaniel Clyne, James Milner, Roberto Firmino and Danny Ings. Striker Daniel Sturridge (hip), defender Jon Flanagan (knee) and Joe Allen (hamstring) are out.

Rodgers also revealed that Milner has been appointed as Reds vice-captain to Jordan Henderson.

Premier League: Britannia Stadium, Sunday, 4pm (Sky Sports 1)

Stoke City


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