Sky Live: Liverpool v Middlesbrough: Reds need win in final game to secure top four
Last Updated: 21/05/17 1:29pm
Liverpool go into their final game of the season knowing a win over Middlesbrough will secure a top-four finish. Watch live on Sky Sports 1.
The Reds have their Champions League qualification in their own hands after beating West Ham last Sunday.
Liverpool need to match or better Arsenal's result to finish in top four and can also overhaul Manchester City into third if they beat Middlesbrough and City fail to win at Watford.
If Jurgen Klopp's men win it would be just the second time they'd have secured a top-four finish in the last eight seasons.
Meanwhile, already-relegated Middlesbrough are solely playing for pride after a miserable end to the season. However, they will take heart from the fact that four of Liverpool's five defeats this season have come against teams that were in the relegation zone.
Klopp is hopeful forward Roberto Firmino will be fit to return.
The Brazil international missed last week's win at West Ham with a muscle injury and has not trained with the squad this week but Klopp is optimistic about him being available.
With doubts over Firmino's fitness, the manager could continue with the successful midfield diamond and Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi up front.
Middlesbrough head coach Steve Agnew will be without Gaston Ramirez and Victor Valdes because of injury, but is hopeful of welcoming back Daniel Ayala into the squad.
Liverpool are unbeaten against Middlesbrough in their last 21 league games at Anfield (W15 D6); only against Stoke (32), Nottingham Forest (23) and Notts County (22) are the Reds on a longer current unbeaten at home in the league.
In fact, Middlesbrough are one of three teams to visit Anfield on 10-plus occasions in the Premier League without leaving with all three points (Sunderland - 16, Middlesbrough - 14 and Bolton - 13).
The Reds have won each of their last four Premier League contests against Middlesbrough at Anfield, scoring two-plus goals on each occasion.
Liverpool have won eight of their 10 Premier League final day games at Anfield (D2), scoring 27 goals.
In contrast, Boro have lost five of their last six top-flight away trips on the final day (D1), although they did record a final day victory on Merseyside in the 1999-00 season, beating Everton 2-0.
Middlesbrough will finish the season with their fewest wins in a Premier League campaign (five so far this season, previous lowest was seven in 2008/09).
All six of Liverpool's Premier League defeats this season have been against sides currently outside the top seven, with their two home defeats coming against 17th-placed Swansea and 13th-placed Crystal Palace.
Adam Lallana hasn't scored or assisted a Premier League goal in 13 appearances in 2017 so far (1051 mins). Before January 1 this season, Lallana had seven goals and seven assists in 17 Premier League appearances (1205 mins).
Middlesbrough have attempted the fewest shots in total (342) and shots on target (97) this season in the Premier League.
The last side to attempt under 100 shots on target in a single Premier League season were Stoke City (94 in 38 games) back in 2011-12.
I do expect Liverpool to win. Their form hasn't been great against the lesser teams, but they have to win. Surely they can't throw it away from here? On the first day of the season, if someone had said to them 'you're playing a team who is relegated, they can't win a game for toffee and you've got to beat them at home to make it into the Champions League', you would take that all day long.
You would take Middlesbrough at home on the final day of the season to win to make it into the Champions League. They are one game away and I'd expect them to do it.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (9/2 with Sky Bet)
Liverpool are the 1/6 odds-on favourites with Sky Bet, who put Middlesbrough up against odds of 22/1 while pricing the draw at 15/2. Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho are joint favourites to score first at 7/2 while Alvaro Negredo is seen as the visitors' main threat at 12/1 to break the deadlock. The Reds are 5/1 to miss out on a top-four finish, Boro are 3/1 to bounce back immediately from their relegation and return to the top flight next season.
Liverpool v Middlesbrough is included in this weekend's Super 6 line-up, with £250,000 up for grabs again following jackpot wins in the last two rounds. Enter your predictions for free here.