Michael Owen hopes to continue his hot streak when Liverpool kick off their Premiership campaign on Saturday. The boy wonder was on target in the Reds' win against Manchester United in the Charity Shield last weekend and will look forward to opening his league account against West Ham.
In contrast Paolo Di Canio will aim to inspire the Hammers during Glenn Roeder's first game in the managerial hot seat. The attacking maverick has been linked with moves away from Upton Park, with Fulham a team rumoured to being keen on securing the services of the former Sheffield Wednesday striker.
Nevertheless, whilst still in east London Di Canio will give his all for the club and hope to help secure the team's first win at Anfield in almost 38 years. Di Canio was West Ham's top performer last season according to player performance analysts Opta Index.
He netted nine times - seven fewer than he managed in 1999-2000 - set up seven goals and attempted 265 crosses as the Hammers chief creative force, but his prowess in front of goal was not as impressive as the England man.
Twenty-three per cent of Owen's shots found the back of the net - the best ratio at the club - compared to Di Canio who had an above average goals-to-shots ratio for a Premiership striker of 18%.
On the other hand Owen was Opta's top-rated striker in 2000-01 and his 60% shooting accuracy was seven percentage points better than Di Canio managed. On his last competitive game at Anfield, he netted a brace against Chelsea, and online bookies Hammers Bet offer 14/1 on him going one better and scoring a hat-trick on the opening day.
One man unable to deny Owen on Saturday is former Reds shot-stopper David James who is unable to make his Hammers debut after injuring himself in the friendly international at White Hart Lane in midweek. Owen had taken home the match ball after grabbing a quick-fire trio against James' previous club Aston Villa last September.
Di Canio, who has had his fair share of bust-ups with James in the past, is rumoured likely to be partnered by Paul Kitson on Saturday and the duo will try to unlock a Liverpool defence that, behind Leicester City, made the second-most defensive clearances in the Premiership last season with 1,556.
While Owen is up against a team who had the worst tackle success rate last season and this is an area that Roeder knows he has to improve this coming season.
Both strikers are expected to play a prominent role in Saturday's proceedings in a game that could well, whet the appetite for the 2001-02 campaign.