Middlesbrough vs Liverpool Preview: Return to form required
Middlesbrough away, a cold and dark trip to the North in midweek isn’t perhaps the ideal outing in which to arrest recent form, but that’s the one that Liverpool have as the Reds look to pick up what would be just their second league win in five games.
Match: Middlesbrough vs Liverpool
Venue: Riverside Stadium
Date: Wednesday 14th December
Time: 19:45 BST
Liverpool’s form is worrying. Having gone into the most recent international break top of the league, the Reds have won just one of their last four league games, taking just five points in that time.
Things looked so good, especially with the fixture list looking kind after the 6-1 decimation of Watford. However, despite a solid enough 0-0 away draw at Southampton being followed up by the 2-0 home victory against Sunderland, cracks were beginning to show.
Despite Philippe Coutinho’s injury, Liverpool are still scoring goals, having bagged five in their last two games, however they’ve only taken one point in that time. The collapse against Bournemouth last week wasn’t followed up with a win at home to West Ham, Slaven Bilic’s men forcing a 2-2 draw. Currently in third, the Reds have extended the gap to fifth to four points, but they’re now six off leaders Chelsea.
Middlesbrough’s form is strong enough for a team looking to avoid relegation, with Boro having managed two wins, two draws and two defeats during their last six games. They ran Chelsea close at home a few weeks ago, only losing 0-1 and took a point from the Etihad a week prior, showing that they can compete against the big boys.
However, Aitor Karanka’s men do come into the game off the back of a defeat, having lost 1-0 at Southampton on Sunday. They’re currently 16th, three points above the drop zone.
Emre Can was the big absentee from the West Ham game with a knee problem, and he’ll be bidding to return against Boro. Dejan Lovren was forced off with cramp but should start, whilst Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho will remain out.
It’ll be interesting to see whether or not Klopp keeps face with Loris Karius, whilst Alberto Moreno may be hopeful of a start after being ineffective against the Hammers. If Klopp does try to rotate a little, Ben Woodburn could get his first Premier League start, although that seems unlikely.
Middlesbrough will hope that Alvaro Negredo is fit enough to return to the side after an ineffective performance by Jordan Rhodes on Sunday. The same goes for Gaston Ramirez, whilst George Friend is likely to remain out with a knee problem, and that’s about as far as it goes as far as Boro’s injury worries go.
Predicted Liverpool XI: Karius; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Henderson, Can, Lallana; Mane, Firmino, Origi.
Predicted Middlesbrough XI: Valdes; Fabio, Gibson, Chambers, Barragan; de Roon, Clayton, Forshaw; Fischer, Stuani, Negredo.
WHEN THEY LAST MET
These two last met in a League Cup tie back in the 2014/15 season, which Liverpool won 14-13 in a lengthy penalty shootout after a 120 minute spectacle at Anfield. Jordan Rossiter became one of the club’s youngest ever scorers before Adam Reach equalised. Suso restored Liverpool’s lead in extra time before Patrick Bamford’s last minute penalty took the game to penalties, where Liverpool won out. The two teams last played in the League back in 2008/2009, Boro inflicting one of Liverpool’s only two league defeats of the season at the Riverside in February, winning 2-0.
- Divock Origi has scored in each of his last four Liverpool games
- Despite having 16 more points, Liverpool have conceded four more goals than Middlesbrough.
- Middlesbrough games this season average 1.9 goals per game.
- Liverpool games this season average 3.8 goals per game.
PREDICTION: MIDDLESBROUGH 1-1 LIVERPOOL
I predicted a draw at home to West Ham and unfortunately I think we’ll drop points again. Boro have an excellent defensive record and we aren’t really clicking at the moment, so I can only envisage the one goal. Karanka’s men don’t score too many, but should be able to manage something in front of their own fans to secure a point, especially if Negredo is back.