Liverpool V Middlesbrough at Anfield : Match Preview

20 May 2017 02:35

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: Middlesbrough clash not the start of a new era

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has played down the long-term significance of their final match of the season against Middlesbrough despite it effectively being a Champions League qualifier.

The Reds are currently fourth and if they match the result of Arsenal, who are one point behind, they will guarantee a place among Europe's elite for only the second time in the last eight seasons.

Because of the strides made under Klopp this season some are building up the game as representing the start of a new era for the five-time European champions, but the German has no such feelings.

"(There) are a lot of things you can think about this game but at the end it is a football game," he said.

"First of all you have to respect the opponent, the rules, the 90 minutes. All the rest, in terms of what it means for us, we can talk about after the game.

"I think never in history someone said before a game: 'This will be the start of a new era'.

"Maybe we can mark it in the middle of next season or later but it is not the game.

"If we have enough points after this match day then we deserve to go to the Champions League, if not then we won't deserve it."

Klopp is hopeful forward Roberto Firmino will be fit to return.

The Brazil international missed last week's win at West Ham with a muscle injury and has not trained with the squad this week but Klopp is optimistic about him being available.

With doubts over Firmino's fitness, the manager could continue with the successful midfield diamond and Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi up front.

Middlesbrough head coach Steve Agnew has no fresh injury problems.

Relegated Boro will make late checks on a trio of players, although the likelihood of goalkeeper Victor Valdes and midfielder Gaston Ramirez returning looks remote.

Valdes (ribs), Ramirez (groin) and central defender Daniel Ayala (ankle) will all have fitness tests ahead of the game at Anfield with the latter the most likely to figure.

Agnew has not been put off by management despite failing to keep Middlesbrough in the Premier League.

Assistant head coach Agnew was asked to replace Aitor Karanka in March with 11 games remaining and he will head into the final of those at Liverpool on Sunday having been unable to prevent Boro from hurtling back towards the Sky Bet Championship.

In some respects it has proved to be a bruising experience, but the 51-year-old claims he remains as keen as ever to manage in his own right one day.

He said: "Being an assistant manager over the last five years is something I have particularly enjoyed, and it's always been top end of the Championship, promotion, staying in the Premier League.

"Being the number one is different and it's something that I've enjoyed. But at the end of it all, I've been very, very disappointed with the outcome.

"But has it put me off wanting eventually to be a manager? No, it hasn't."

Source: PAR