TONY PULIS is anticipating just as tough an encounter as ever against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday afternoon . . . despite their surprisingly lack-lustre start to the 2012-13 campaign.
Brendan Rodgers' side have endured their worst-ever start to a Barclays Premier League season, registering just five points from their opening six games.
However, last weekend's emphatic 5-2 victory against Norwich City, their first under the recently appointed Northern Irishman, provided Pulis with enough food for thought that this weekend's trip to Anfield will be as tough, if not tougher than any previous encounter.
"We have done smashing there previously," he said, having registered two draws and two defeats in his four games on Merseyside as City boss.
"But we know Sunday will be an incredibly tough game for us. They have taken a little while to find their feet under Brendan, but they are playing extremely well and with the players they have, they are capable of causing any team problems.
"They have some fantastic players - Suarez, Gerrard, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger - you can just go through it, top, top players, so it's inevitable that when they do click together, like they did at Norwich last week, then they are a very dangerous side."
He added: "Anfield is a great place to go and play and we will show them the great respect. They are a Club with great tradition, and whilst it will be a tough day for us, if we get that little bit of luck you need then we can get a result there."
City's boss undertook his latest scouting mission to Anfield earlier this week to oversee their Europa League defeat against Italian side Udinese.
However, Pulis says that supporters shouldn't look too much into that defeat as Rodgers is likely to field an entirely different starting eleven on Sunday,
"I am expecting a completely different side that played against Udinese on Thursday night," he acknowledged.
"I was there at the game and Liverpool were in absolute control of the game until the Italians scored just after half-time. That goal changed the game totally, and gave them a huge lift.
"The second goal was unlucky from Liverpool's point of view with it being an own goal, whilst the winner was a superb strike from the Udinese player, and I don't think too much could have been done about that."
Leading goalscorer Peter Crouch, Michael Owen and Charlie Adam are all in contention to feature against their former Club, and Pulis said the excitement is already building at Anfield ahead of their anticipated return at the weekend.
"I am sure they will enjoy it, and being there on Thursday night and speaking to people on the door and the staff at Anfield, they are looking forward to seeing the boys back and that is lovely - because they are all good lads.
"Crouchy, Michael and Charlie were all extremely well liked there, and it will be good for them to go back there and try to help us to the result we want."
He added: "We have been playing really well recently and what we will have to do is go there with a bit of confidence about ourselves because our big problem at times is going away from home not believing we can win away from home."