Sunday May 21 2017
Liverpool v Middlesbrough
This will be the 144th meeting. Only Sunderland have played us more times, 147.
It will be the 30th in the Premier League.
Whatever the result of this game we will finish 19th. Sunderland’s defeat at Arsenal on Tuesday means they cannot overhaul Boro’s 28 points; similarly, even if we win we cannot catch Hull.
This is only the second time since joining the Football League in 1899 that we have played what is for us a second game after already being relegated. The other was in 1924, when the club went down for the first time, with three games to go. The last time we had to play a single one was in 1982, also against Liverpool, but at home.
We have kept 11 clean sheets, and only six clubs can better that. It is the same number as Liverpool and Manchester City.
If we keep one at Anfield we will equal the record for the best defence of any team relegated from the Premier League, Birmingham’s 50 when they went down in 2005-06.
We have also made the most tackles this season; the next-highest number is by Liverpool.
We have lost 11 games by one goal, six of them 1-0.
We have now won one of the last 20 games, and taken 10 points out of a possible 60.
We have had one away point in four months, and two points out of the last 33. During that run we lost three away without scoring for the first time in eight years.
Two thirds of our away goals came in just three matches, at Sunderland, Leicester and Hull. Only four players have scored away, Cristhian Stuani, Alvaro Negredo, Marten de Roon and Grant Leadbitter.
Ben Gibson has played every minute of every league game this season, something only four other players in the Premier League have achieved. He is also in the top 10 in the Premier League for sheer effort, covering an average of 10.37 kilometres per game. That puts him up there with the likes of N’Golo Kante, Gylfi Sigurdsson, George Boyd and Dele Alli. Chelsea’s Gary Cahill is the only other defender to make the top 10.
Patrick Bamford’s goal against Southampton was his first for more than two years. It was the first time in 14 months that he’d started a Premier League game, and the first time he has ever completed the full 90 minutes in one. He needs one more goal to reach 50 in his career.
The only time he has played against Liverpool, in September 2014, he scored an injury-time penalty equaliser to take Boro’s Capital One cup tie to a penalty shoot-out.
Stewart Downing spent two seasons at Liverpool, playing 65 league games and scoring three goals. He also played 26 cup ties with four goals and was man of the match in their Capital One Cup final win over Cardiff at Wembley in 2012.
Daniel Ayala only played five games for Liverpool in his three seasons there, starting just two.
Antonio Barragan spent one season with Liverpool as a teenager, but made just one substitute appearance in a Champions League qualifier.
Calum Chambers scored against Liverpool in his only game for Arsenal this season, a 4-3 defeat on the opening day.
Liverpool have only spent three weeks outside the top four since mid-September and have been in the top three for the last two months, but only led the table once, for a week either side of the November international break. A win in this game will guarantee them a Champions League place for only the second time in eight years. Ironically a win for their neighbours Everton at Arsenal will confirm their place whatever the result at Anfield.
After finishing eighth last season they did not qualify for Europe.
Liverpool have won seven of their last 11 games, and only lost one, at home to Crystal Palace. But they have only won four home games in 2017, and none of the last three. They also went out of the FA Cup at home to Wolves and lost both legs of the EFL Cup semi-final to Southampton.
They are the second-highest scorers in the Premier League behind Chelsea, with 75 goals, and are the only team to have won five times after going behind.
Liverpool have had the second-lowest number of yellow cards after Bournemouth and are one of six clubs yet to receive a red.
The squad is from 15 countries, they have 10 players out on loan.
They spent a reported £70m on just four players at the start of the season, most of it on Sadio Mane from Southampton (£34M) and Georginio Wijnaldum from Newcastle (£25m), but didn’t add to the squad in January. Last time Boro played at Anfield two seasons ago they had just spent £113 million.
Alberto Moreno is, like Dani Ayala, from Seville but unlike Ayala played for Sevilla before moving to Anfield two years ago.
Jordan Rossiter, who scored on his debut in the 2-2 draw with Boro the last time they met in the League Cup two years ago moved to Rangers on a free transfer last summer.
Sadio Mané is top scorer with 15 goals, despite not having played for six weeks; Phillippe Coutinho has 12, and Roberto Firmino 11.
Coutinho’s goal against Stoke last month was his 30th for the club, taking him past Juninho as the highest-scoring Brazilian in the Premier League.
US v THEM
Last time the teams met at Anfield they set a new record with an epic penalty shoot-out, in the Carling Cup in September 2014, which Liverpool won 14-13
Middlesbrough have not won at Liverpool for 41 years.
We have only scored in four of our last 10 league games at Anfield, and each time took the lead then failed to hold onto it. Twice beaten and two draws.
The last time, in August 2008, we lost to an 87th minute Emmanuel Pogatetz own goal and a 93rd-minute Steven Gerrard penalty, the third one conceded in the last six league games there.
The last win, in March 1976, is the only one in the last 57 years, and the only one in the top division since 1948.
Boro have won 13 times in the league at Anfield; the only grounds where they have won more are Villa Park, Molineux and the Baseball Ground. Five of those wins came in successive seasons between 1957 and 1961.
We have also had two red cards in their last four visits.
Martin Atkinson referees Boro for the first time since his controversial afternoon in the goalless draw at the Riverside against Burnley six weeks ago.
He was roundly criticised after failing to send off Burnley’s Michael Keane for bringing down Patrick Bamford, despite being the last man.
This is his fourth Boro game this season - but they do include the only away win, 2-1 at Sunderland in August, and one defeat (1-3 at home to West Ham in January).
Liverpool lost his only game at Anfield this season, a 1-0 defeat in the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final against Southampton, but in his only other one they won 2-1 at Chelsea in September.
In 40 games this season he has handed out just three red cards, and 139 yellow.
This is the 14th Middlesbrough game on live television this season, the seventh away, and the 10th on Sky.
Liverpool will set a new record in this game - the most games on live TV for a season. This will be their 29th - and all of them in domestic competitions; they have not been in Europe.
20 years ago - Boro’s first FA Cup final, a week after being relegated, is all but over after half an hour with Roberto de Matteo’s goal after 42 seconds and the main striker (Fabrizio Ravanelli) and ball-winner (Robbie Mustoe) lost to injuries. Eddie Newton adds a late second for Chelsea after Gianluca Festa’s header is wrongly ruled offside.
35 years ago - already relegated Boro play out a goalless draw at home to Liverpool, who are already champions. No less than seven of the team play their final game: David Hodgson, Billy Ashcroft, Ian Bailey, John Craggs, Tony McAndrew, Dave Thomas and Bobby Thomson - though McAndrew returned three years later.
50 years ago - John O’Rourke gets his third hat-trick of the season as Boro beat Oxford 4-1 in front of 39,683 (and quite a few more unrecorded) to clinch promotion back to Division Two at the first attempt.
55 years ago - Alan Peacock is a surprise inclusion in England’s World Cup squad for Chile, along with another young uncapped player called Bobby Moore. Boro’s Mick McNeill, named in the original 40-man squad, is left out. Peacock becomes the first England player to make his debut in the World Cup finals (something only Allan Clarke has done since) in a 3-1 win over Argentina.
65 years ago - a four-match week-long tour of Ireland, two games in the north (3-0 wins over Glenavon and Glentoran) then two in the Republic, 5-1 against Cork and 6-1 over Drumcondra.
70 years ago - a 3-1 defeat at Huddersfield ends a season shattered by the controversial sixth-round cup defeat by Burnley. A league and cup double was very much on for a side with Wilf Mannion, Micky Fenton and George Hardwick at their peak, with Boro second in the table in March, but after losing nine of the last 13 games and taking just five points they finish 10th.
90 years ago - not content with 63 goals in league and FA Cup, George Camsell gets another seven in Boro’s two-match Danish tour, both as they go down 4-2 to the national team, then five as they beat them 8-2.
110 years ago - Boro return from their first Denmark trip - and their first foreign tour - after a 5-3 win over Danish Universities and a 2-2 draw with the national team.
LAST TIME OUT AT ANFIELD
Tuesday September 23 2014
Capital One Cup
Liverpool 2 Middlesbrough 2 – Liverpool won 14-13 on penalties
It took 31 penalties to settle this extraordinary cup-tie.
The game was deep into injury-time of extra time when Boro drew level from the spot to take it to a penalty shoot-out. 30 were taken, just three missed and only one off target. The shoot-out lasted 18 and half minutes.
Scorers Rossiter 9; Reach 62, Suso 108, Bamford (pen) 123.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Enrique, Toure (Capt. from 74), Manquillo, Markovic (Suso 98), Lucas, Sakho, Rossiter (Williams 79), Sterling, Lallana, Lambert (Capt to 74.) (Balotelli 74). Subs: Jones (gk); Moreno, Borini, Skrtel.
Middlesbrough: Blackman; Fredericks, Omeruo, Ayala, Friend (Capt. from 112), Adomah, Clayton, Leadbitter (Capt to 112) (Bamford 112), Reach, Tomlin (Vossen 112), Kike (Wildschut 76). Subs: Konstantopoulos (gk); Gibson, Husband, Nsue, Bamford, Vossen. Order of subs on 112: 1) Bamford 2) Vossen.
Referee Mike Jones
Liverpool Sakho, 61, foul.
Middlesbrough Omeruo, 56, foul; Reach, 106, foul.
Attendance 41,857 (2,820 Boro)
Penalties – taken at the Kop end.
1 Balotelli - Scores to Blackman’s right 1-0 Liverpool
2 Bamford – Saved to Mignolet’s left 1-0 Liverpool
3 Lucas – Scores comprehensively to Blackman’s left 2-0 Liverpool
4 Clayton – Scores away to Mignolet’s left 2-1 Liverpool
5 Lallana - Scores comprehensively to Blackman’s left 3-1 Liverpool
6 Reach - Scores comprehensively to Mignolet’s left 3-2 Liverpool
7 Suso – Scores right down the middle 4-2 Liverpool
8 Adomah - Scores comprehensively to Mignolet’s left 4-3 Liverpool
9 Sterling – Saved to Blackman’s right 4-3 to Liverpool
10 Vossen – Scores away to Mignolet’s left 4-4
11 Williams - Scores comprehensively to Blackman’s right 5-4 Liverpool
12 Friend – Scores to Mignolet’s right 5-5
13 Toure - Scores comprehensively to Blackman’s right 6-5 Liverpool
14 Ayala – Straight and into the roof of the net 6-6
15 Sakho – Scores to Blackman’s left 7-6 Liverpool
16 Fredericks – Scores to Mignolet’s left 7-7
17 Manquillo – Scores to Blackman’s left – 8-7 Liverpool
18 Omeruo – Scores to Mignolet’s right 8-8
19 Enrique – Scores to Blackman’s left 9-8 Liverpool
20 Wildschut – Scored straight into the roof of the net 9-9
21 Mignolet – Scores straight down the middle 10-9 Liverpool
22 Blackman – Scores to Mignolet’s right 10-10
23 Balotelli – Scores to Blackman’s right 11-10 Liverpool
24 Bamford – Scores to Mignolet’s right 11-11
25 Lucas – Scores to Blackman’s right 12-11 Liverpool
26 Clayton – Scores to Mignolet’s right 12-12
27 Lallana – Scores to Blackman’s left 13-12 Liverpool
28 Reach – Top left-hand corner 13-13
29 Suso – Scores to Blackman’s left 14-13
30 Adomah - Miss
HEAD TO HEAD
Last six meetings at Anfield
2014-15 – League Cup Round 3
23-09-2014: Liverpool 2-2 Boro 2 *Liverpool win 14-13 on penalties
2008-09 – Premier League
23-08-2008: Liverpool 2-1 Boro
2007-08 – Premier League
23-02-2008: Liverpool 3-2 Boro
2006-07 – Premiership
18-04-2007: Liverpool 2-0 Boro
2005-06 – Premiership
10-12-2005: Liverpool 2-0 Boro
2004-05 – Premiership
30-04-2005: Liverpool 1-1 Boro
A relatively warm, dry and cloudy afternoon is forecast with the temperature expected to peak at 16 degrees in an 9mph southerly breeze.
TICKETS AND TRAVEL
This game has sold out