Liverpool fancied to fight for fourth despite another frustrating start

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Any Liverpool fans hoping that Brendan Rodgers would rapidly return them to top-four contention after three dire campaigns received a swift and brutal reality check as they lost their Premier League opener 3-0 to Steve Clarke’s West Brom.

The scoreline was skewed slightly by Daniel Agger’s dismissal and the concession of two penalties, however Rodger’s assertion that those decisions were unfair contradicted his more telling admission that “there will be more days like this”.

While it would be foolish to read too much into one game, it felt like the Reds needed a result against their former assistant boss given that Manchester City, Arsenal, Sunderland and Manchester United are their next four opponents.

Despite the demoralising setback, they are 19/10 to finish in the top four and a surprisingly certain 1/3 to return to the top six. A wasteful display is doubtless a factor in Luis Suarez being a distant 18/1 to be Premier League top scorer though.

Liverpool weren’t the only club to have pre-season optimism obliterated on the opening day as ambitious QPR were stunned 5-0 at home by a Swansea side who were supposed to struggle without Rodgers yet delighted new coach Michael Laudrup.

Prolific Spanish midfielder Michu seemed to vindicate those labelling him the signing of the summer – and by extension able to fill the void left by Gylfi Sigurdsson’s exit – with the first two goals. He is a 33/1 outsider to be the division’s top scorer.

Fulham’s 5-0 victory over Norwich wasn’t quite as unexpected but was still quite the shock as the build-up to the match had been dominated by talk of Clint Dempsey’s determination to depart.

New striker Mladen Petric indicated that he might be capable of matching Dempsey’s tally of 17 league goals in 2011/12 by speedily grabbing his first two, as thrilled home fans asked their absent star man “are you watching?”

The glamour game of the first Saturday saw Newcastle hint that they will disprove the theory that last season was a freak by beating one of just five teams to finish above them, Tottenham, 2-1. They are 1/3 to make the top six again.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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