A mini-slump in Liverpool’s form has put them on the back foot in the title race as the Reds find themselves six points adrift the top spot. Liverpool face a trip to Riverside Stadium to take on struggling Middlesbrough on Wednesday in a midweek Premier League fixture. Aitor Karanka’s Boro are 16th in the table right now but they possess a solid defence, one that has conceded fewer goals than Liverpool.
Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side might struggle to break down the defence of the Teessiders. Boro’s record against big clubs this season will give them a major morale boost ahead of the game. We have to wait and see if Liverpool can salvage a much-needed win on Wednesday or Boro nicking it against all odds. Here are three key battles those could decide the outcome of the game.
Divock Origi vs Calum Chambers
Exactly when Liverpool needed someone to step up following the injury to key player Philippe Coutinho, a young Divock Origi has hogged the limelight. The young Belgian prodigy has four goals to his name in his last four games in all competitions and will be keen to get on the scoresheet once again.
Calum Chambers is developing pretty well as a central defender at Boro on loan from Arsenal. The youngster is pretty strong despite his deceiving physique and has the pace to deal with Origi’s directness. This could be a deciding battle in the game.
Marten de Roon vs Adam Lallana
Dutch midfield enforcer de Roon’s form has been a key reason behind Middlesbrough’s good defensive showings this season. The 25-year-old will have to be on the top of his game to stop Liverpool from breaking their defence down.
Adam Lallana is pretty much the lynchpin of the Liverpool side with his trickery, creativity and positioning ability and acts as the bridge between the midfield and attack. De Roon’s has to show a solid defensive discipline to stop Lallana who is unstoppable on his day.
Jordan Rhodes vs Joel Matip
Even though Boro’s marquee signing Alvaro Negredo has been a flop at Teesside since his summer move, the Spaniard will be a big miss against Liverpool. In his absence, Jordan Rhodes will spearhead the Teessiders’ attack. Even though the Scotsman is yet to score this season, he could ask questions to the Liverpool defence with his aerial ability.
Joel Matip is excellent in the air and has to ensure that Rhodes cannot exploit Liverpool’s leaky defence.