Middlesbrough v Liverpool preview: Loris Karius in spotlight for Reds
Last Updated: 14/12/16 6:16pm
Goalkeeper Loris Karius will be under the spotlight as Liverpool look to return to winning ways when they travel to Middlesbrough on Wednesday evening.
The Reds have slipped six points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea after losing at Bournemouth and then drawing at home with West Ham.
Karius faced criticism for his performances in both matches, but Reds manager Jurgen Klopp has come to the defence of his summer signing.
"Things like this happen. With all goals, we can do a surgery to pick apart what we can do and what happened and I accept this," he said.
"I'm not interested in creating headlines. No time to write what you want, a few things are obvious, a few things aren't. Working with the goalkeepers and other players, that's all I care about. It's never about one player."
Karius' mood might be improved by the fact Middlesbrough have attempted a league-low 38 shots in the Premier League this season.
But they do have by far the best defensive record in the bottom half of the table, having conceded only 16 goals in 15 matches.
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Alvaro Negredo (hamstring) is in contention for Middlesbrough but Gaston Ramirez (foot) is out, after both players missed the weekend defeat to Southampton.
Liverpool hope defender Dejan Lovren will be available after he was substituted against West Ham with cramp.
Emre Can (knee) is a doubt while Philippe Coutinho (ankle) and Daniel Sturridge (calf) are out.
Middlesbrough's last Premier League encounter with Liverpool ended in victory, winning 2-0 at the Riverside. Xabi Alonso scored an own goal with Tuncay Sanli scoring the other goal.
Liverpool haven't won a Premier League game in Middlesbrough since March 2002, drawing four and losing three contests there since.
Boro haven't attempted more than four shots on target in any of their 15 Premier League games so far in 2016-17.
Liverpool have scored the most goals (37), has the most shots in total (280) and attempted the most shots on target (101) in the Premier League so far this season.
Adam Lallana has had a hand in nine Premier League goals this season in 13 appearances (four goals, five assists). Last season, he had a hand in 10 goals in 30 league apps (four goals, six assists).
Divock Origi is the first Liverpool player to score in four successive games in all competitions for Liverpool since Daniel Sturridge in February 2014 (eight in a row).
Paul Merson's prediction
The pressure is getting to Jurgen Klopp. Everything was going well at the start of the season, it was all nice and jokey, now he is having a go at Gary Neville because he is giving his opinion. That is what happens, it's the pressure.
This is why it's the best league in the world, because anybody can beat anybody on any given day if you don't turn up. That's what happening.
Defensively Liverpool are not good enough; can they keep a clean sheet? I will go Liverpool to win just because they are good going forward, but their Achilles' heel is at the back. Other teams will always be in the game against them because they will always have belief that Liverpool will give you a chance.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2 (Sky Bet odds 7/1)
Liverpool's are 8/13 with Sky Bet to come away with all three points and 29/10 for another draw, with Middlesbrough 9/2 for the victory. Lallana is 7/1 to open the scoring, as he did against West Ham at the weekend, while Origi and Roberto Firmino are the 9/2 favourites in the first goalscorer market, with Alvaro Negredo (8/1) considered most likely for Karanka's men.
Find out what the Soccer Saturday pundits and Jamie Redknapp are tipping in their Sky Bet tips here.