Kenny Dalglish has warned his Liverpool FC players not to be caught cold by a new-look Sunderland this weekend.
LFC begin their Premier League campaign on Saturday by welcoming the Black Cats.
While most eyes will be on Liverpool’s new summer signings, Sunderland have been even busier in the transfer market with manager Steve Bruce transforming his team after they faltered badly during the second half of last season.
And a wary Dalglish said: “People say it’s more important to win the first game than any other. I’m not sure about that. You obviously want to win it, but after five or six weeks the opening day is usually forgotten about.
“What is certain is that Sunderland will be a difficult fixture. There’s been a major turnaround in players there over the summer.
“We’ll need to do a bit of revision and see which players Steve (Bruce) has brought in and let go.
“It might be difficult to remember them all and their team will be very different from the side we faced back in March.”
Andy Carroll signed off a profitable pre-season personally last weekend with a goal in the 2-0 win against Valencia.
Carroll appeared in all six of Liverpool’s warm-up games and Dalglish believes the striker, who arrived in January from Newcastle United nursing a thigh problem, is fitter than at any time during his fledgling Anfield career.
“Andy Carroll’s injury meant he was only able to train at 100% on rare occasions last season,” said the Liverpool manager.
“He even played in some games when we knew he wasn’t going to be at his best.
“Now he’s fully over that knock and has been able to do a lot more on the training field in pre-season. That’s showed in the games he’s played over the last few weeks. He’s fitter and scoring some goals.”