Liverpool vs Middlesbrough Preview: Can relegated Boro spoil the Reds' top-four party?

Jürgen Klopp's side will secure a Champions Leauge spot with a win over Steve Agnew's men.

Liverpool vs Middlesbrough Preview: Can relegated Boro spoil the Reds' top-four party?
Adama Traore and Saido Mané battling for possession during Liverpool's 3-0 win at the Riverside | Photo: GettyImages/Chris Brunskill - AMA

Middlesbrough can deny Liverpool a place in the top-four if they prevent the Reds from beating them at Anfield on Sunday afternoon in the final game of the Premier League season.

For fans of Middlesbrough, this season has been a non-event, and will end as such.

Despite the hype leading up to their first top-flight season in almost a decade, Boro have been out of their depths for large parts of the season - their immediate relegation back to the Championship already confirmed.

But their final day opponents Liverpool still have much to play for and will be fighting hard to gain three points and to finish in fourth place, sealing a return to the Champions League.

The permutations

Middlesbrough's relegation back to the Championship was confirmed nearly a fortnight ago, after a 3-0 loss to Chelsea made survival mathematically impossible - though it had been improbable for months.

On Merseyside, there has been much more optimism as Liverpool have been in and around the Champions League places all season.

Jürgen Klopp's side will be confident of a win against a down-and-out Boro, and should they get that win, they will finish either fourth or third - dependent on Manchester City's result against Watford.

If the game ends in a draw or a Middlesbrough win, then Liverpool will have to hope that their neighbours at Stanley Park, Everton, avoid defeat against fifth-placed Arsenal.

Should Boro beat the Reds 2-0, and Arsenal draw 1-1 at the Emirates, then there will be a first ever 'shoot-out' between Liverpool and Arsenal.

Both sides will end on 73 points, a goal difference of +31, with 75 goals for and 44 against. That would mean a 39th game, with the winner going into the qualifying rounds of the Champions League next term.

Team News

Liverpool hope to have striker Roberto Firmino is fit to take on Middlesbrough after returning to training.

Brad Guzan is expected to remain between the sticks for Middlesbrough, despite conceding five goals and a penalty over the past two games.

Víctor Valdés remains sidelined with a rib injury and has likely played his last game for the Teesiders.

The same can be said for Gastón Ramírez, who hasn't been seen since he was sent off in the first half against Bournemouth. The Uruguayan has an apparent pelvic problem.

Head-to-head

Liverpool have won each of their last four Premier League meetings with Middlesbrough at Anfield, scoring more than two goals on each occasion.

Boro last beat Liverpool in 2009 at the Riverside, with goals Tuncay Şanlı and an own goal from Xabi Alonso, but you have to go back to March 1976 to find the last Middlesbrough win at Anfield.

The last meeting between the two sides at Anfield was a League Cup tie in 2014, that eventually ended with Liverpool progressing 14-13 on penalties.


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