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Baptism of fire for Rodgers

BRENDAN RODGERS looks set for a baptism of fire as he begins life at Anfield with the Reds facing Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United in their first three home fixtures of next season.

Liverpool take on the top three sides of last season in the first five weekends in front of the Kop after the Northern Ireland man will be looking to improve upon the abysmal Anfield record he inherits from Kenny Dalglish.

Liverpool's problem last season was that they couldn't find the net at home registering their lowest goal return at home in 109 years.

Liverpool could only manage 27 points at home last season from a possible 57.

The Reds begin next year's campaign with a trip to the Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion on August 18.

The pick of the opening weekend fixtures sees Manchester United travel to Goodison Park for a tricky fixture against Everton.

Newly-promoted Southampton entertain champions Manchester City, European champions Chelsea travel to Wigan Athletic while Arsenal face a tough encounter against Martin O'Neill Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Managerless Spurs travel to Newcastle on the opening date, promoted Reading face Stoke at the Madejeski while Paul Lambert begins his Aston Villa odyssey with a trip to West Ham.

Michael Laudrup's first Premier League game as Swansea boss will see the Swans travel to Loftus Road to face QPR.

Chris Hughton's Norwich face Fulham in the final opening day fixture.

Roberto Di Matteo's Champions League holders have been handed the easiest beginning to the season with their first game against a top side not coming until a meeting with Arsenal on September 29.

All of the top seven sides, by in large, have managed to avoid each other for the tricky Christmas period and the final day of what promises to be an exhilarating season.