Jack Lang expects Jurgen Klopp's men to secure a top-four finish against relegated Boro at Anfield...
"After a sparky performance last weekend, Sturridge will be keen to make his mark again – be it to prove a point to Klopp or to advertise his services ahead of the summer"
Liverpool v Middlesbrough
Live on Sky Sports 1
So this is it, then. At the end of an up-and-down season, just 90 minutes separate Liverpool from the Champions League. It promises to be a dramatic afternoon, but the good news for the Reds is that their fate is entirely in their own hands: win and the job is done, no matter what Arsenal get up to.
The display against West Ham last weekend will likely have breathed confidence into Jurgen Klopp's players. Liverpool rode their luck at points in the first half of that one, but cut loose after the break, with Philippe Coutinho asserting himself. If the Brazilian and his team-mates can reach the same level on Sunday, they shouldn't have too many problems.
Roberto Firmino is still nursing a knock and may miss out again, so there is likely to be another start for Daniel Sturridge after his strike at the Olympic Stadium. In fact, barring any late issues, Klopp will probably name the same XI that lined up against the Hammers.
It has been a chastening campaign for Middlesbrough. The Teessiders came up with the wind in their sails but a poor summer in the transfer market and behind-the-scenes discontent laid the foundations for a bitterly disappointing effort on the pitch, first Aitor Karanka and then Steve Agnew unable to fashion a winning team from a hotch-potch of parts.
On the road, their results have been especially woeful: Boro haven't won away from the Riverside since they beat Sunderland in August, failing to score in 11 of the 17 away matches since. It cannot have come as any surprise when the axe finally fell on their Premier League status earlier this month.
Agnew is expected to hand another start to Patrick Bamford, who ended a long scoring drought in the defeat to Southampton last time out. He may give a couple of squad players a run-out, but wholesale changes are unlikely.
Given the stakes and Middlesbrough's rotten away form, it's little surprise that Liverpool are strong favourites for this one. But odds of [1.15] are very skinny when you consider that Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Southampton have all taken points from the Reds at Anfield since the start of April.
With that in mind, the [30.0] available on the away win and odds of [9.4] for the draw might hold some appeal, even if just on principle.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Liverpool matches at Anfield tend to produce in terms of goalmouth action: 67% of their home games in the Premier League have produced three goals or more. Five of the last six have gone this way and with ample motivation to come out swinging, plus in-form attackers, this could be an entertaining affair.
Unfortunately, there's little value to be had here: over 2.5 goals is [1.44]. Instead, it might be prudent to back both teams to score at a nice price. Boro may not be much cop going forward but things can go a bit haywire on the final day of the season, with demob-happy teams playing with abandon. Given Liverpool have kept just five clean sheets at home all season, the Sportsbook quote of 11/5 might be worth taking on.
After a sparky performance last weekend, Sturridge will be keen to make his mark again - be it to prove a point to Klopp or to advertise his services ahead of the summer. Against such a fragile defence, the anytime price of [1.95] appeals, as does the [4.75] on him scoring twice or more.
Martin Atkinson will take charge of Sunday's match. He has handed out three red cards and 89 yellows in 26 Premier League matches so far this season.
Jack Lang's Premier League P/L, 2016/17