LONDON (SE) - Youth will have replaced experience in both dugouts when West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool get their new Premier League seasons underway at The Hawthorns on Saturday afternoon.
The departure of Roy Hodgson to England forced West Brom's hand, although the appointment of Steve Clarke to his first permanent managerial post in the top flight did see some eyebrows raised. Clarke will know Saturday's opponents well, having been Kenny Dalglish's right-hand man at Anfield before the latter's summer sacking.
Liverpool's decision to remove the legendary Dalglish and replace him with a man with just one season of Premier League management experience on his CV in Brendan Rodgers is a brave one. However, the former Swansea City boss insists that this season is all about improving Liverpool's form and developing a style of play that can restore the club to its place at the business end of English football.
"The biggest challenge is to keep improving," said Rodgers ahead of his first competitive match in charge of the club. "That's the biggest challenge of all. Everyone wants to win trophies and titles. That's why you come to a club like this.
"The main objective this year is to show improvement and gain stability within the club. These are the challenges that lie ahead for us. It's been traumatic here over the last few years. Kenny Dalglish is an icon of this club, and some great people have worked here. It's my job to follow in their footsteps and try to get the tradition of this great club back on track.
"Obviously I want to make the team successful on the field as well. The challenges are great and the pressures at this level are great. But as a job, I'm loving every second of it. Every day, it's a privilege to drive in and be the manager of Liverpool, and I hope that continues."
West Brom have strengthened their squad over the summer, most notably with the loan signing of Chelsea's £15m Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku. However, Clarke has warned the youngster not to expect a guaranteed starting spot in his team.
"He's certainly hungry, I know that," said the Scot."He wants to do well and prove himself in the Premier League. Whether he has grievances with Chelsea is not for me to comment on. I don't know what happened last year at Chelsea.
"It was obviously going to be difficult for him to get in the team ahead of Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres and that proved to be the case. But he's got a clean slate this year. He's one of a number of strikers competing for a place in my team and I'm hoping that at the end of this year he's not complaining about anything."
Liverpool have won ten of the 12 meetings between these two clubs in the Premier League era, keeping clean sheets in all of their ten victories. However, the Baggies have the upper hand in recent times, with their two wins over Liverpool coming in the last three meetings. The Reds haven't picked up three points in their opening game of a season since 2008, while the record for Saturday's hosts is even worse - the Baggies haven't won an opening match of a top-flight season since 1978.