Liverpool Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers will expect an improved performance from Liverpool when they play Stoke City in their opening match of the new English Premier League seasonReuters

The wounds will still be raw, the memories of the thrashing fresh, and Liverpool need to overcome that loss and begin the new English Premier League season in the best possible manner when they play Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday.

Liverpool were mauled 6-1 by Stoke City in the last match of last season, which nearly cost Brendan Rodgers his job and ensured Steven Gerrard would leave the Reds in the worst possible manner.

Suffering such a big defeat once is just about acceptable, but if Liverpool fall again to Mark Hughes' men, then it really will be "what on earth is going on here" time.

"We'll certainly be better than what we were last year, that's for sure," Rodgers said. "That was a one-off game in terms of the whole experience. It was incredible -- in every aspect of football and high-class football, we lacked in everything.

"It was something that was very surprising and something that was very disappointing.

"We'll look to return to the levels that we've had over a couple of seasons here in terms of organisation and fight. Then obviously you add the talent to that and it gives us the chance to win the game."

Liverpool, in a way, are starting a new era, an era without Gerrard. To offset the loss of the inspirational skipper, Rodgers has again got that cheque book out in the summer and brought in quite a few players, with James Milner, Roberto Firmino, Nathaniel Clyne and Christian Benteke, in particular, expected to make an immediate impression.

Firmino and Benteke were bought for big money, which naturally puts the pressure back on them to prove they are worthy of the price tag. A few goals/assists against Stoke will be a good beginning.

Stoke are not the team they were under Tony Pulis anymore, with Hughes bringing in a Barcelona-inspired revolution to the side. The squad is now packed with outstanding attacking players, with the manager also bringing in quite a few youngsters from the famed La Masia.

While it is obvious Stoke will not be able to repeat their 6-1 win over Liverpool on Sunday, a narrow victory, though, will not come as that big a surprise, even if Hughes expects a Liverpool backlash.

"Top clubs aren't expected to get beaten by that margin," Hughes said of the 6-1 defeat that Stoke handed Liverpool.

"More often than not you get a very quick response, but from Liverpool's point of view the fact it was the last game of the season was the worst thing for them, because they weren't able to go out and address it quickly with another game.

"It's a motivating factor if they need one. A big one. I don't think it was a fixture we expected to come up, playing them immediately after really putting them to the sword.

"I'm not sure if it's good or bad. I hope it's to our advantage and psychologically maybe there's a little bit of an impact for them -- the fact they have to come here again first game back."

Team news: Stoke City: Hughes has doubts over Marc Wilson and Marko Arnautovic, with the duo struggling with ankle and hamstring injuries respectively. Skipper Ryan Shawcross will miss the next couple of months with a back injury.

Liverpool: Daniel Sturridge and Jon Flanagan remains on the sidelines, with Rodgers expecting the striker to return sometime next month, while the defender should be available towards the end of the year. Joe Allen will also miss the match against Stoke, after Rodgers confirmed the midfielder has been ruled out for three-four weeks with a hamstring injury.

English Premier League: Stoke City vs Liverpool Schedule: Sunday, 9 August at the Britannia Stadium. Match starts at 4 pm local time (8.30 pm IST, 11 am ET).

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