Middlesbrough vs Liverpool Preview - Key Battles

Middlesbrough vs Liverpool Preview - Key Battles

After getting only one point in the last two games, despite scoring five goals in those games, Liverpool head to the North-East to face Middlesbrough at the Riverside.

The Reds last visit to Boro’s home was a forgettable one in February 2009, as they lost 2-0 in a loss that cost them ground in the title race that season.

Right now, Boro are struggling to show goals. With 13 goals in their 15 games they are the league’s lowest scorers.

Here are some individual battles that could decide the game.

Calum Chambers v Divock Origi

The Reds’ Belgian hitman has scored a goal in each of his last four games. He has shown that he knows where the back of the net is.

Chambers on the other hand has impressed one and all since his loan move from Arsenal. He has formed a reasonable partnership with Ben Gibson at the heart of the Boro defense.

Origi though has shown in these games that there are weaknesses to his game that big strong centre-backs can exploit. He seems to be weak while backing in to a defender and trying to hold the ball up.

But what will decide the outcome of this battle will be Origi’s willingness to gamble and attack balls into the box and Chambers’s ability to ensure that those balls into the box do not ensure that Victor Valdes is called upon.

Alvaro Negredo v Joel Matip

Matip came back in to the side against West Ham and largely provided a calm, composed performance. But he was at fault for one of the goals, ensuring that Michail Antonio went one-on-one with Loris Karius.

Negredo is Boro’s top scorer this season, with three goals. But he alone will not cause the Reds too many issues. For him, it will be about combining with the other attacking players like Gaston Ramirez and Adama Traore.

Matip will be the one tasked with ensuring that Karius has no jitters and that whoever plays alongside him – Ragnar Klavan or Dejan Lovren – stays calm and doesn’t do anything rash.

George Friend v Sadio Mané

The Senegalese was hands down the Reds best player in the draw against West Ham. He gave Aaron Cresswell a tough time by being elusive and cutting into the middle. Mané linked up really well with Origi and Adam Lallana, ensuring that there was always a threat to Darren Randolph’s goal.

Friend is a hugely experienced defender and one can be assured that he will have a plan to deal with Mané. Boro are not a side that concede too many – they have let in only 16 goals in 15 games which is around half of what the sides around them in the table have conceded.

Mané though cannot do it all in his own. He needs help from especially Roberto Firmino who has had a couple of awful games starting on the left wing. Nathaniel Clyne has got forwars willingly too, but his final ball has been diabolical.

Middlesbrough’s attackers v Loris Karius

The young German is under huge pressure after a tough start to life in a red shirt. He has said things in the press that have added that pressure on him to produce the goods on the pitch.

One wouldn’t be wrong to blame both West Ham goals on Karius, who was maybe slightly less culpable on the second goal than the first.

Given that, Boro should look to play on that weakness. They must try and play as many balls into the box as they can and make Karius deal with it. They must make Karius think and test his decision making, which has been found wanting so far.

Jurgen Klopp may have put his weight behind his countryman, but with Simon Mignolet waiting in the wings, time is slowly but surely running out for Karius.

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