Liverpool vs Preston: Match preview

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It’s finally here, the first game of Liverpool’s 2013/14 campaign and the start of Brendan Rodgers’ second year in charge. 

Albeit it may only be a friendly but the game provides an interesting opportunity for Liverpool to exemplify what’s to come.

The Reds travel to Deepdale to face League One outfit Preston North End. The two teams will compete for the ‘Shankly Shield’ to commemorate Bill Shankly and his achievements at both football clubs, ahead of his 100th birthday celebrations this September.

“This friendly match will provide both sets of supporters with an opportunity to celebrate the life and career of Shankly," said a statement on Liverpool's official website.

The Scot is all too well known at both clubs. Shankly played for Preston from 1933 to 1949 in his playing career, totalling 297 league appearances and 13 goals.

As a manager, he transformed Liverpool from second division also-rans into a European powerhouse during the 1960s and 1970s. 

Shankly was installed as Reds manager in 1959 and by the end of the 1961-62 season, Liverpool gained promotion to the top division and in 1964, they were crowned English champions.

The man from Glenbuck oversaw more than 750 games as Reds boss, adding league titles in 1966 and 1973 to his collection.

He also won two FA Cups, four charity shields and the UEFA Cup in 1973 - the same season he was awarded manager of the year.

Liverpool manager Rodgers added: "The name Bill Shankly is synonymous with Liverpool Football Club and his spirit is always with us at Anfield.

"Our match at Preston is a truly fitting way to mark the 100th anniversary of the great man."

The game is the team's first meeting since an FA Cup third-round clash at Deepdale in January of 2009 when goals from Albert Riera and Fernando Torres ensured a 2-0 victory for the Reds.

The score is largely insignificant; nevertheless some Liverpudlians are predicting and hoping for a comfortable victory. 

Although the game is only a friendly, it provides an ample opportunity for Liverpool's new-boys to showcase their talent.

Fans will eagerly anticipate the prospect of Belgian Simon Mignolet, Ivorian Kolo Toure and Spanish duo Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas making their debuts.

Rodgers recently confirmed all four would feature: "If they are all well and fit then they will travel for the game on Saturday. Simon Mignolet will play, of course; Aspas, Luis Alberto and Kolo Toure - they will all get a run-out."

Tactically, it is difficult to predict what formation Rodgers will select and what the starting line-up will be. 

However, in addition to Liverpool’s four new acquisitions, Martin Kelly, Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen are in contention to feature after returning from injury.

It is unlikely Liverpool will play a strong side as their newcomers will be the sole focus of many fans' attentions and in true friendly tradition, their youngsters and fringe players will feature.

After Preston, Liverpool will jet off to begin their pre-season tour in Jakarta against an Indonesian XI on July 20.

Afterwards they then travel to Melbourne to play at a sold out Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 24.

Their tour will conclude with a match in Thailand on Sunday July 28 at Bangkok's Rajamangala National Stadium.

Before the start of the Premier League season, Liverpool still have several other pre-season friendlies lined up.

First up, Anfield will host Turkish giants Olympiakos to re-live the memories of a significant Champions League game in 2005 for Steven Gerrard’s testimonial on August 3.

Norway awaits next, as Liverpool return to Valerenga on August 7, the Reds visited Oslo to play Valerenga in August 2008 for a pre-season friendly and won 4-1. 

Their last meeting came in August 2011, when the clubs drew 3-3 in a pre-season friendly.

Liverpool will then finish their 2013 pre-season with a prestigious match against Celtic in Dublin on August 10.


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