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Middlesbrough-Liverpool Preview

Liverpool have been focused on one goal for most of the season - qualifying for the Champions League.

All the Reds have to do is beat relegated Middlesbrough on Sunday at Anfield and that happens.

Liverpool (21-10-6) come into Championship Sunday fourth in the Premier League table and in position to grab that Champions League spot. They are one point ahead of fifth-place Arsenal and two back of third-place Manchester City.

The Reds are in the midst of a 2-1-0 stretch following last week's 4-0 thrashing of West Ham United at the Olympic Stadium. Jurgen Klopp's men were on the front foot from the outset against the Hammers and took the lead on 35 minutes through Daniel Sturridge. The lead doubled when Philippe Coutinho netted in the 57th. Coutinho completed a brace four minutes later and Divock Origi capped the performance with a goal on 76 minutes.

Whatever happens Sunday, Klopp has insisted that his side have made progress this season.

"It's important of course, another game of this so far very successful season and we want to finish it successfully, so it's all clear," Klopp said. "We have to perform, we have to win and if we have enough points after this matchday, then we deserve to go into the Champions League. If not, we don't deserve it. It's pretty easy.

"The big difference is it's the last one and so it's a big opportunity for us. It's what we've tried to do the whole week and the next two days, to prepare as good as possible."

There's also a mental challenge for Liverpool against Middlesbrough (5-13-19), who have already been relegated and can play free and easy.

"Three teams have to go down each year and this year Middlesbrough is one of them," Klopp added. "But they are a big club and have a big opportunity and chances to use this time, because that's always like it is - you can use things like this, but of course I don't know too much about it."

With the Championship their next destination, Middlesbrough enter rutted in a 1-7-12 stretch.

Last time out, Boro suffered a 2-1 defeat to Southampton thanks to goals from Nathan Redmond and Jay Rodriguez. Patrick Bamford scored for Boro, and was praised by manager Steve Agnew.

"I'm really pleased for Patrick because it's been a frustrating 18 months for him," Agnew said. "He's a real talent. It's taken him awhile to get up to speed but he deserves his chance and he's taken it."

Liverpool are 15-6-0 against Middlesbrough in their last 21 league games at Anfield.

Middlesbrough are one of three teams to visit Anfield on at least 10 occasions in the Premier League without leaving with all three points - Sunderland (16), Middlesbrough (14) and Bolton (13) are the others.

Updated May 19, 2017

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