Liverpool v West Ham Sunday August 12, 13:30 Live on BT Sport
Excitement surrounds Reds title bid
After last year's second successive top-four finish and thrilling run to the Championship League final, big things are expected of Liverpool this time around.
And with a series of key summer acquisitions, the Reds are seen as the most likely side to dethrone Manchester City.
It's still a huge ask to close a gap of 25 points but Liverpool have strengthened intelligently and only five points separated the two sides in the second half of 2017/208.
New goalkeeper Alisson Becker is a serious and vital upgrade, Fabinho and Naby Keitahave beefed up the midfield and Xherdan Shaqiri is an exciting wildcard, who could look ludicrously cheap.
Good pre-seasons don't create excitement but they can certainly add to the positive vibe already there and wins over admittedly depleted Man City and Man Utd sides, a 5-0 thumping of Napoli and a 3-1 cruise against Torino on Tuesday, have added to the belief that Liverpool mean business.
LFC fans cannot wait to get this campaign underway.
Hammers ready to kick on
The buzz is good at West Ham too, compared to this time last year.
Twelve months ago, there was a feeling that Slaven Bilic had a big task to try and turn around lost momentum and the season turned into a David Moyes repair job set to a backdrop of fan disgruntlement and in-fighting, West Ham finishing 13th.
This time, they have a Premier League winner at the helm in the classy Manuel Pellegriniand a squad improved by the signings of exciting Brazilian Felipe Anderson (club record buy), defender Issa Diop, goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, forward Andriy Yarmolenko and free signings Jack Wilshire and Ryan Fredericks.
Like Liverpool, the Hammers got their business done early and they too have had seen some positive signs in pre-season.
West Ham head to Anfield on the back of four wins and two draws from their last six friendlies and, if the new boys can gel when the real stuff starts, a promising campaignawaits.
Reds have made Anfield a fortress
Liverpool were the only Premier League side to go unbeaten at home last season and they're just 1.27 to bank three points from Sunday's opener.
The Draw - the Merseysiders had seven of those in their 19 matches - is 6.80 while West Ham are 14.50 to spring a surprise. And history says it would be a massive one given that the Hammers have won just one of their last 45 top-flight starts at Anfield.
Also note that, despite being in charge of Man City at the time, Pellegrini lost four of his six matches against Liverpool so they're a side he's struggled against.
One of Klopp's big early statements came in the 4-1 win at Pellegrini's City in November 2015 and Liverpool won the Anfield fixture 3-0 the following March.
Goals could be on the cards
Liverpool's results in their two season openers under Jurgen Klopp? A 4-3 win at Arsenal and 3-3 draw at Watford!
They've also enjoyed feasting on West Ham's defence in recent games, winning this fixture 4-1 back in February and also sticking four past the Londoners in their last two trips south.
The Reds will score freely again this term but those two previous season starters suggests they could be vulnerable to letting one in too.
In pre-season, Liverpool have had to chop and change partners for Virgil Van Dijk in central defence due to injuries and Dejan Lovren coming back late from the World Cup so BTTS at 2.02 and over 3.5 goals at 2.22 both look decent plays.
Mane a fast starter
With Mo Salah virtually priced out of the market at just 4/11 (Sportsbook) to score and Roberto Firmino also too short at 8/11 given how little football he's played since the World Cup, the obvious goalscorer shout for Liverpool is Sadio Mane at 6/5.
Mane scored in the Champions League final, both legs of the semi against Roma and the 3-0 home leg of the quarter-final v Man City so he's a massive part of Liverpool's lethal front trident.
What's more, he's scored on the opening day in each of the last two seasons so loves to hit the ground running.
On the trip to America, he scored penalties against City and United so that's another potential boost too.
Fabinho was a brilliant spot-kick taker for Monaco but fluffed his lines from 12 yards against Torino on Tuesday night, so Mane could be top of the pecking order again on Sunday.
He scored in the 4-1 win over West Ham at Anfield last season and is a good bet to repeat the feat.
I think Liverpool take the points so the best bet is to back Mane to score in 90 minutes and the hosts to win at [2.95] on the Same Game Multi feature.
As for other scoring options, Daniel Sturridge won't start but he's been Liverpool's top scorer in pre-season and the rejuvenated striker could be worth a look for last goal at 7/2.
But there could be a decent play for West Ham.
Marko Arnautovic has been banging them in during pre-season and caused Liverpool problems at Anfield last year, striking the woodwork with the score still 0-0.
The Reds have been keeping a really high line in their warm-up matches and teams have been getting in behind on occasion so the Austrian could benefit.
2pts Sadio Mane to score in 90 minutes and Liverpool to win at 2.95 (Sportsbook Same Game Multi)
1pt Marko Arnautovic to score in 90 minutes at 11/4 (Sportsbook)