Sunday 21st May. 3PM. Sky Sports 1
As the Premier League season enters its final day, the vast majority of important matters have already been sorted. However, the final Champions League spot is still up for grabs, which is why all eyes will be cast to Anfield as Liverpool host Middlesbrough.
The Reds are firmly in the driving seat, but they cannot afford to slip in this one. Will Jurgen Klopp’s men secure their top four finish, or will Boro produce a rare moment of magic in what has been a very tough season on Teeside?
Liverpool Bidding For Champions League Return
While the talks of a potential title bid turned out to be a little premature, Liverpool are just one result away from achieving their target of a top four, and Klopp’s men should be extremely confident in what appears to be the perfect final day fixture.
The Reds could actually finish the season in third, securing automatic qualification to next season’s Champions League group phase, should City fail to win. However, the Merseysiders can only concentrate on their own task as they look to record a 12th home win of the campaign.
Anfield will expect a big performance, and Philippe Coutinho is the star performer most likely to provide that magic, especially as Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane remain on the sidelines. Meanwhile, Daniel Sturridge returned to the scoresheet with great timing at West Ham and may provide another constant threat as the Reds look to increase their tally of 42 home goals.
Liverpool have been left frustrated by a number of the “lesser” teams this term. Nevertheless, if they bring their best to this one, three points will be on the cards.
Can Boro Spoil The Party
Sunday’s trip to Anfield could be Boro’s last for a while as their relegation to the Championship has already confirmed. However, that will only give them an even greater incentive to go out with a bang as they bid to provide Arsenal with one final chance of sneaking into the top four.
Despite being relegated, the visitors have seen some improvements under Steve Agnew. Unfortunately, they haven’t translated to points on the road. In fact, they’ve scored just 10 times in 18 away matches this term, which could be a major problem against a team that has kept four clean sheets in five.
Boro do boast some quality, with the likes of Alvaro Negredo and Marten de Roon showing that at several stages throughout the campaign. In truth, though, the overall lack of quality is quite worrying. If the visitors are to get anything from this one, they’ll need to be at the best and hope Liverpool have an off day.
Stranger things have happened, however, and the lack of pressure could play a role too. Whatever happens, it will be a big afternoon at Anfield.
Liverpool v Middlesbrough Betting
Unsurprisingly, it’s Liverpool who enter Sunday’s showdown as the overwhelming favourites and the Reds are priced just 1/7 to get the win with 888sport. Middlesbrough, meanwhile, can be backed at 22/1 and the draw is available at 8/1.
The biggest test facing Liverpool comes mentally, but they know exactly what they need to do. Frankly, they should have the quality to come through this challenge with ease.
Klopp will want to see his men make a fast start and there should be no looking back if they do manage to get their noses in front. With that in mind, along with the fact that a Boro goal looks unlikely, we’re backing the hosts to win both halves.
Even with a couple of noteworthy absentees, Liverpool still boast a number of stars. However, none shine as brightly as Coutinho. The Brazilian has been the catalyst throughout the campaign, and has often stepped up when needed.
Whether it’s through goals or assists, he is the most likely player to change the game with a moment of magic. Against a relegated Boro, there should be ample chance for the number 10 to show his class.