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Category: Liverpool

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How the era of wealthy English superclubs has devalued the Double | Paul Wilson

It used to be seen as domestic football’s Everest but the modern domination of a handful of clubs has made winning the Premier League and FA Cup a much less remarkable feat

Antonio Conte is on the verge of winning the Double in his first season in England. That sounds a remarkable feat and actually it will be as Chelsea will have disposed of Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal in the FA Cup should they be found running round Wembley with the trophy on Saturday evening, though there can be little doubt the Double is a somewhat devalued currency these days.

Related: It was Arsenal’s day in 2002 – but it has mostly been Chelsea’s ever since | Amy Lawrence

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The Dozen’s dozen: our pick of this season’s best Premier League photos

As the curtain comes down on the 2016-17 Premier League season, we’ve had a look through our weekly roundup of the best photography from England’s top flight and picked out our favourite 12 pictures

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A Premier League season of soap opera where football felt like background music | Barney Ronay

The 2016-17 season still had its drama – moments of brilliance and booming narrative arcs to be resolved – but it was less title race than well-ordered title jog

Farewell, then, to the year that almost was. This was a Premier League season that sparked with a controlled excitement, never quite caught fire but still dished up another digestible slice of high-end product.

Things kept on almost happening. Leicester City almost completed the most dramatic title-plus-relegation act of all time. But then it was all sort of OK. Marco Silva almost pulled off a minor managerial miracle – but somehow not quite. To great fanfare Tottenham Hotspur pulled to within one victory of being quite close to creeping up on Chelsea’s shoulder at the top – almost but not quite, leaving for the third season in a row not so much a title race as a well-ordered title jog.

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A Premier League season of soap opera where football felt like background music | Barney Ronay

The 2016-17 season still had its drama – moments of brilliance and booming narrative arcs to be resolved – but it was less title race than well-ordered title jog

Farewell, then, to the year that almost was. This was a Premier League season that sparked with a controlled excitement, never quite caught fire but still dished up another digestible slice of high-end product.

Things kept on almost happening. Leicester City almost completed the most dramatic title-plus-relegation act of all time. But then it was all sort of OK. Marco Silva almost pulled off a minor managerial miracle – but somehow not quite. To great fanfare Tottenham Hotspur pulled to within one victory of being quite close to creeping up on Chelsea’s shoulder at the top – almost but not quite, leaving for the third season in a row not so much a title race as a well-ordered title jog.

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Premier League: 10 talking points from the final weekend’s action

Jürgen Klopp must reinstate fear factor at Anfield; Southampton’s expectation levels threaten Claude Puel; Antonio Conte sees Arsenal as FA Cup favourites

Ronald Koeman was not in the mood to bite when the issue of Ross Barkley’s present and future was presented to him at the end of a flip-flop, relaxed, season-wind-down at Arsenal. Koeman gives the impression he would not be too fussed if an enigmatic homegrown talent headed for the exit during the close season. Still sitting on the contract offer from the club, Barkley was dropped to the bench this weekend and when he came on there was not much in the way of impact. “My focus is to improve the team,” Koeman said. “We will see if there is interest in players. They will knock on the door and talk to the board of the club and, if that happens, then we will speak to each other about that situation.” A statement on Barkley is due on Monday and it wouldn’t be a great surprise for the end of this Goodison story to be nigh. Amy Lawrence

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The Dozen: the weekend’s best Premier League photos

Your weekend roundup of the best photography from England’s top flight

Follow us on Instagram for more great sports photography

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Jürgen Klopp demands consistent Champions League spot for Liverpool

• Manager says, ‘We will be really strong and will really fight for it’
• Liverpool beat Middlesbrough 3-0 to secure fourth place

Jürgen Klopp said Liverpool must qualify for the Champions League more frequently after sealing a top-four finish and completing an “outstanding” season with victory against Middlesbrough.

Georginio Wijnaldum, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana scored against Steve Agnew’s relegated team as Liverpool secured the win required to finish above Arsenal in the race for Champions League qualification. A Champions League play-off in late August, when Liverpool will be seeded in the draw, will determine whether Klopp’s team reach the lucrative group stage.

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Liverpool deserve their place in next season’s Champions League, says Jürgen Klopp – video

Liverpool’s manager, Jürgen Klopp, praises his side following the 3-0 win over MIddlesbrough. The victory at Anfield means Liverpool finish fourth and ensures they will compete in the Champions League next season for the first time since 2014-15. Klopp says the team deserve their place

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Liverpool heed Jürgen Klopp’s urgings and sprint into Champions League | Paul Wilson

Anfield manager asks players for final surge to finishing line and they race home once Georginio Wijnaldum breaches Middlesbrough’s defence in 3-0 win

‘When you see a finish line you should sprint,” was Jürgen Klopp’s final exhortation to his players before this potentially season-defining final game.

Liverpool were willing to take him at his word – Roberto Firmino landed the first shot on target in a little under 30 seconds – though more than half an hour later they were still shooting and acceleration was beginning to be replaced by apprehension. News from the other games had already filtered through. Arsenal and Manchester City had taken early leads, but though the first half had been a procession towards Brad Guzan’s goal, with Nathaniel Clyne, Emre Can, Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana almost literally queuing up to take pot shots, the Middlesbrough back line was holding out quite comfortably.

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Liverpool v Middlesbrough: Premier League – live!

2.38pm BST

An email! “Thanks for not linking to the Guardian article about this possibly being Sturridge’s last game,” says Ian Copestake, slightly overestimating my capacity for editorial judgement. “It is not his last game. He is a man to be cherished, celebrated and wished good luck for his struggles against injuries that have stopped him from being a legend at Anfield.”

2.25pm BST

There will be plenty going on elsewhere on the final day of the season, and you can read all about it at your leisure via your digital weapon of choice.

Related: Premier League clockwatch: Watford v Manchester City and more!

Related: Arsenal v Everton: Premier League – live!

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Liverpool v Middlesbrough: Premier League – live!

2.38pm BST

An email! “Thanks for not linking to the Guardian article about this possibly being Sturridge’s last game,” says Ian Copestake, slightly overestimating my capacity for editorial judgement. “It is not his last game. He is a man to be cherished, celebrated and wished good luck for his struggles against injuries that have stopped him from being a legend at Anfield.”

2.25pm BST

There will be plenty going on elsewhere on the final day of the season, and you can read all about it at your leisure via your digital weapon of choice.

Related: Premier League clockwatch: Watford v Manchester City and more!

Related: Arsenal v Everton: Premier League – live!

Continue reading…

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Premier League 2016-17 fans’ verdicts part one: Arsenal to Manchester City

Featuring: Leicester’s winter of discontent; Mamadou Sakho tackling a referee; and the explosive moment Chelsea took the title
Part 2: Manchester United to West Ham

Pre-season prediction 1st; Position now 5th

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Premier League 2016-17 fans’ verdicts part one: Arsenal to Manchester City

Featuring: Leicester’s winter of discontent; Mamadou Sakho tackling a referee; and the explosive moment Chelsea took the title
Part 2: Manchester United to West Ham

Pre-season prediction 1st; Position now 5th

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Liverpool aim to master final day nerves to confirm progress under Jürgen Klopp

Emotions will be high as the Champions League contenders bid to defeat relegated Middlesbrough but their manager says they must keep things simple

Graeme Souness played in the last Middlesbrough team to win a league game at Anfield, 41 years and two months ago. Steve Agnew’s relegated side have won once on their demoralising travels in the Premier League this season, at Sunderland, the only team inferior to themselves. Yet when Jürgen Klopp describes how Liverpool fans will approach Middlesbrough’s visit on Sunday it is with knuckles pressed between his teeth and a look of sheer panic across his face. “They will be like: ‘Oh my God, please, please.’”

Klopp claims not to have a normal life outside Melwood but he is attuned to the feelings and fears around him as Liverpool enter the season’s finale with Champions League qualification on the line. In theory, Liverpool could hardly have picked better opponents for the victory required to reach the European elite for the second time in eight years, or prepared better than with a commanding 4-0 win at West Ham United last time out. In practice, Liverpool have faltered against expectations so often this season that an away game against a top-six side might present a more straightforward assignment.

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Jürgen Klopp says Liverpool deserve top-four finish after ‘special’ season

• Manager highlights squad’s points haul and response to difficult situations
• Liverpool to spend heavily in summer with Virgil van Dijk among targets

Jürgen Klopp believes Liverpool deserve Champions League qualification “100%” and the club’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, will support his long-term plans regardless of Sunday’s result against Middlesbrough.

Liverpool host Steve Agnew’s relegated side knowing victory will guarantee a place in next season’s Champions League, albeit at the play-off stage should Manchester City win at Watford. A draw at Anfield coupled with an Arsenal win at home to Everton would consign Liverpool to the Europa League, while there is also the prospect of a fourth-place play-off between Liverpool and Arsenal depending on particular results.

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Champions League still a financial and sporting lure for Premier League clubs | David Conn

The idea that participation in Europe’s top club competition is less important to England’s top flight because of TV money dissolves on analysis

There is an emerging school of thought that qualification for the European Champions League is no longer quite the financial and commercial boost that it used to be, given the galactic increase in Premier League TV money showering fortunes on all 20 clubs from 2016-19.

It is true the increase in the English top flight’s broadcasting deals, from £5.1bn in 2013-16 to £8.4bn in the present three-year cycle, is a dramatic windfall – inflated at home by BT’s serious designs on BSkyB’s 25-year subscriber stranglehold and internationally by increased coverage of the Premier League on channels all over the world. However, the idea Champions League participation is now less important dissolves on analysis because it misses several crucial elements – as well as the actual figures, which show it remains a lucrative earner for the top clubs.

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Champions League still a financial and sporting lure for Premier League clubs | David Conn

The idea that participation in Europe’s top club competition is less important to England’s top flight because of TV money dissolves on analysis

There is an emerging school of thought that qualification for the European Champions League is no longer quite the financial and commercial boost that it used to be, given the galactic increase in Premier League TV money showering fortunes on all 20 clubs from 2016-19.

It is true the increase in the English top flight’s broadcasting deals, from £5.1bn in 2013-16 to £8.4bn in the present three-year cycle, is a dramatic windfall – inflated at home by BT’s serious designs on BSkyB’s 25-year subscriber stranglehold and internationally by increased coverage of the Premier League on channels all over the world. However, the idea Champions League participation is now less important dissolves on analysis because it misses several crucial elements – as well as the actual figures, which show it remains a lucrative earner for the top clubs.

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Is Daniel Sturridge about to play his final game for Liverpool?

His future at Anfield will not be assured even if he has a decisive role in the club beating Middlesbrough and sealing a Champions League place

Daniel Sturridge produced a performance at West Ham United last weekend that edged Liverpool closer to their aim of Champions League qualification and provoked the reactions that seem destined to characterise his Anfield career: admiration and regret. Against Middlesbrough on Sunday he has another, possibly final, opportunity to tilt judgment towards the former.

The England international had regained Jürgen Klopp’s trust before producing a timely, telling reminder of his quality at the London Stadium, his manager claimed. His opening goal in the 4-0 victory, allied to his movement and menace, helped turn a pressure situation into a stroll for Liverpool. Three points against relegated Middlesbrough and a top-four finish is secure.

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Liverpool v Middlesbrough: match preview

The task is simple for Jürgen Klopp’s side: beat an already relegated opponent on home soil, one that has not won a league game at Anfield since 1976 and has won only once on the road this season, and qualification for the Champions League will be confirmed. So why is there anxiety around Liverpool before Middlesbrough’s visit? That is simple too. Liverpool have not won at home since losing Sadio Mané to injury in the Merseyside derby in April and have often struggled against the lesser lights this season, although they won comfortably at the Riverside in December. Andy Hunter

Kick-off Sunday 3pm

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Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City: what missing Champions League would mean

We examine why the three clubs’ Premier League fate has gone to the wire and what the impact on each would be if they finish outside the top four

P 37 Pts 72 GD +31

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