London: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Sunday`s Premier League opener against Stoke is the perfect way to kick off the new campaign after last season ended in humiliation at the Britannia Stadium.
Rodgers` side return to the Potteries three months after a 6-1 thrashing brought the curtain down on a frustrating campaign and ended Steven Gerrard`s Liverpool career on a low note.
And the prospect of making amends for that painful afternoon, which saw the Reds trail 5-0 at half-time, has got Rodgers and his players fired up as they prepare to face Mark Hughes` men again this weekend.
"When the fixture came out, I felt we couldn`t have had a better one to be honest," Rodgers said on Friday.
"I think lots of people have looked at it wondering whether we would have been better going back later, but for me it was the perfect fixture and I was happy when it came out.
"The reaction (to the 6-1 loss) over the course of the summer has been terrific and it gives us real motivation now to start the season well."
Rodgers, whose side finished outside the Champions League berths in sixth place last season, knows he needs a strong start to keep the critics off his back after three years without a trophy and he vowed things will be different this time -- both at Stoke and in the games that follow.
"You always aim to go out as you mean to start the next season, and we certainly do not mean to start the way we played there," he said.
"It was a unique game. But it should never be the case, whatever the excuse, because you are fighting for people who live their lives for the football club.
"We all knew it was unacceptable, and whatever stick we got for it, we thoroughly deserved that.
"We`ll certainly be better than we were last year, that`s for sure."
And asked about his main objective for the season, Rodgers added: "The goal is, firstly, to arrive in the top four and then see where we go from there."