Liverpool unlikely to open the floodgates
Toothless Boro could be awkward
Sky Sports 1, 3pm Sunday
Liverpool fans need only to cast their minds back two seasons to acknowledge that victory in their last home game should not be seen as a given.
Crystal Palace rained on Steven Gerrard’s farewell parade as the Reds' 2014-15 Anfield campaign came to a close.
Success against Middlesbrough will see them return to the Champions League next season and the expectation is that they will dot up against toothless opponents who are already relegated.
Odds of 25-1 about Boro tell you all you need to know.
Palace were seen as equally obliging guests on Merseyside two years back only to ruin Gerrard’s big day with a smash-and-grab 3-1 triumph.
The current Liverpool side are considerably better - Gerrard was almost a passenger by that stage of his career - and this Boro unit are appreciably more impotent than Palace were.
So while Liverpool really ought to win against wretched travellers, it might not be plain sailing. Liverpool and under 3.5 goals at 11-10 looks a fair bet given the stats.
The under 3.5 element certainly chimes with Middlesbrough on the road. Their 18 away games have produced just 37 goals and they have failed to score in 11 of those 18 matches.
Fourteen of their 18 away matches have yielded three goals or fewer.
This may be Boro’s final Premier League act for a while but punters shouldn't expect to see a dramatic departure from the usual script. They have been organised and competitive all season but have paid the price for being the most toothless side in the division.
As for Liverpool, they have not won any of their last three matches at Anfield – against Bournemouth, Palace and Southampton – so tensions are rising among the home supporters.
They are less of a threat without Sadio Mane and may also be without Roberto Firmino, although neither player was particularly missed during Sunday’s 4-0 romp at a woeful West Ham.
Daniel Sturridge stepped in and stepped up, and while it wasn’t vintage Sturridge by any measure, he still got on the scoresheet. The England man, like everyone else on the pitch, was in the shadow of Philippe Coutinho, who has six goals and two assists in his last eight appearances.
Liverpool carved apart the Hammers, creating 19 chances at the London Stadium, their most in a league game since January 2.
The win in east London featured a third successive clean sheet but they have struggled recently to get the better of teams such as West Brom, Watford and Saints, who went for the limited-ambition approach and frustrated Jurgen Klopp’s men.
This could be every bit as awkward although Liverpool have the tools to get the all-important win.
Liverpool & under 3.5 goals
1pt 11-10 Betway
Roberto Firmino (hamstring) is a doubt. Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane and Danny Ings are out.
Keeper Victor Valdes, defender Daniel Ayala and forward Gaston Ramirez are all doubts.
Middlesbrough have failed to score in seven of eight away matches in 2017.