When Liverpool failed to clinch a top-four spot earlier this season, despite ample opportunity, it had long been assumed that the battle for Champions League football would come down to the final set of matches. With Arsenal’s win against Sunderland on Tuesday, that assumption has been confirmed.
When the whistle blows on this season, Liverpool will end up somewhere between third and fifth place, depending on various outcomes.
Sunday afternoon, Liverpool will take on already-relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield. At the same time, Manchester City will play their final match away to Watford, while Arsenal will take on Everton at the Emirates. If Liverpool win, they’re guaranteed at least fourth place, possibly even third. If they draw or lose, things get dicier and all eyes will turn towards North London.
No one is expecting Everton to do Liverpool any favors on Sunday. Liverpool have to win.
Boro will have nothing left to play for, since they’re already destined for the Championship next season. However, it would be seriously shortsighted to underestimate the threat they pose, and the desire of their players to end their otherwise-dismal season on a high note.
Last December, when Liverpool last faced Middlesbrough, Adam Lallana played a huge role in the Reds’ 3-0 victory. He scored two and created the third. Thankfully, Lallana should be available on Sunday, along with Divock Origi, the other goalscorer against Boro, who also bagged a jammy goal against West Ham.
Liverpool have had a difficult time in recent years performing in these high pressure situations. With any luck, last Sunday’s thumping victory against West Ham will be the catalyst they need to bring it all home this weekend.
In conclusion: just win, Liverpool. Just win.