The Reds are likely to need to win at Anfield to book their place in the top four and make their return to the Champions League next season
Liverpool must beat Middlesbrough at Anfield on Sunday to guarantee their place in the top four and qualification to next season’s Champions League.
The Reds are one point ahead of Arsenal going into the final weekend, with the Gunners taking on their Merseyside rivals Everton at the Emirates Stadium.
Jurgen Klopp’s team could finish third if Manchester City slip up against Watford, but they will not particularly care where they finish as long as a return to Europe’s top competition is secured.
|Game||Liverpool vs Middlesbrough|
|Date||Sunday, May 21, 2017|
|Time||15:00 GMT, 10:00 ET|
TV CHANNEL & LIVE STREAM
In the UK, the match will be available to watch live on television on Sky Sports 1 and by stream via Sky Go.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Sky Sports 1||Sky Go|
In the US, the match will be available to watch live on television on NBCSN and by stream via NBC Sports Live.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|NBCSN||NBC Sports Live|
SQUADS & TEAM NEWS
|Goalkeepers||Mignolet, Karius, Manninger|
|Defenders||Clyne, Lovren, Gomez, Moreno, Matip, Klavan, Alexander-Arnold|
|Midfielders||Milner, Coutinho, Lallana, Lucas, Can, Wijnaldum, Stewart, Grujic, Ojo, Ejaria, Woodburn|
|Forwards||Firmino, Sturridge, Origi|
Klopp hopes Roberto Firmino will be fit to return after missing the 4-0 win over West Ham with a muscle injury. That would make Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane and Danny Ings his only absentees.
|Goalkeepers||Konstantopoulos, Valdes, Guzan|
|Defenders||Friend, Ayala, Gibson, Bernardo, Barragan, Fabio, Husband, Chambers, Fry|
|Midfielders||Leadbitter, Clayton, Downing, Forshaw, De Roon, Traore, Ramirez, Guedioura|
|Forwards||Stuani, Fischer, Negredo, Gestede, Bamford|
Middlesbrough have been missing Victor Valdes, Gaston Ramirez and Daniel Ayala and though none are expected to be out long term, they are major doubts to make a comeback in time for this match.
Potential starting XI: Guzan; Fabio, Chambers, Gibson, Friend; De Roon, Clayton, Leadbitter; Bamford, Negredo, Fischer.
BETTING & GAME ODDS
Liverpool are 1/6 favourites to win at home, according to Oddschecker, with Middlesbrough huge 30/1 outsiders and the draw available at 17/2.
Daniel Sturridge is the 7/2 favourite to score first, with Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino rated at 4/1. Alvaro Negredo is the top choice for the visitors at 18/1.
Jurgen Klopp will never be satisfied until he is holding the Premier League trophy, but a fourth-place finish and Champions League football would seem to represent a decent season and step in the right direction for Liverpool.
They have frustrated with their inconsistency at times this year, but the Reds have improved their goal difference by 20 compared to 2015-16 going into the final match of the current campaign. When you consider that there are still obvious deficiencies to address in defence, the extended absence of their captain from the centre of midfield and their lack of a first-choice centre forward, that’s not bad going.
It is recruitment, more than anything else, that Liverpool need to get right this summer to complete a spine that has been improved by the addition of the likes of Gini Wijnaldum and Joel Matip but still remains incomplete. A return to Europe’s top table would help that process hugely, of course, both in terms of making Anfield an attractive destination for the continent’s best players and ensuring the Reds can afford them.
There is one more hurdle to overcome, but it would take a major capitulation for Liverpool to miss out on the Champions League now. Surrounded as they are by aggressive, wealthy rivals in today’s Premier League, it is an objective they could not afford to fail to meet.