‘A Sit Down with John Barnes’ – 22nd September 2021

Ahead of the next round of Premier League fixtures, we sat down with BonusCodeBets ambassador John Barnes. The former Liverpool and England midfielder spoke about Chelsea not being favourites for the Premier League, David Moyes’ strange decision against Manchester United and why Rangers have dropped their intensity levels this season.


John Barnes Exclusive: Chelsea’s start to the season doesn’t make them Premier League title favourites

“Despite Chelsea beating Manchester City in the Champions League final last season, it doesn’t mean they’re a better team than them, as that game was a one off. Chelsea aren’t better than Liverpool at the moment either. All three teams are much of a muchness and it’s going to make for an exciting season. Even with the signings Manchester United have made this summer, they will be around the top three sides, so it should be a four-horse race for the Premier League title. 

Although Chelsea have swept away each team they’ve played against this season, it doesn’t mean they’re the best team. In England, they’re up there with Liverpool and Manchester City, and from a European perspective, Bayern Munich and PSG are up there, but Chelsea are certainly one of the top teams.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Spurs are favourites for the North London Derby this weekend


“Tottenham have lost their last two games, with Arsenal winning their last two games so we can’t talk about capitulations and resurgences. 

Arsenal have only beaten Norwich and Burnley, which is good for them as it has boosted their confidence but are yet to put in a strong performance. Tottenham started the season well up until their last couple of games, but they are still a good side.

Unfortunately, football fans look at a few games and decide whether teams are fantastic or if they lose, they’re terrible. Tottenham are still favourites because they’ve been doing much better than Arsenal this season, apart from the last game or two. However, it’s much closer now that Arsenal have added confidence from their wins against Norwich and Burnley, but Tottenham will still be favourites for this game. 

Since coming back into the team, Harry Kane hasn’t been firing on all cylinders, but he’s still an exceptional player and maybe this will be the game for him to get his season up and running.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Chelsea vs Manchester could go either way

Chelsea vs Manchester City this weekend is a really tough game to call. Chelsea have looked unstoppable this season, but it’s a one-off game and we know that on any given day, Manchester City can blow any team away. 

Ideally, you don’t want the substitutes to come on and make a difference in the game, you want the players already on the pitch to make the difference. If players need to come on to make a difference, there’s something going wrong in the team. A player coming on isn’t always going to make a difference. If they’re hoping for a sub to come on and make a difference, that generally isn’t going to happen.

Manchester City are trying to integrate Jack Grealish and get him used to playing with the team, but that’s not to say that they can’t or won’t win the game. 

We have to acknowledge that it’s two top quality teams playing against each other, and we should enjoy watching it.”


John Barnes Exclusive: It was a “strange decision” to bring Mark Noble on for the penalty against United

“In hindsight, I’m sure David Moyes would’ve played those final minutes against Manchester United last week, slightly differently. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of hindsight, and it’s fair to say that it was a strange decision to bring him on. 

With Mark Noble not being on the pitch, West Ham would have had a designated penalty taker. If they got a penalty in the first five minutes of the game, they wouldn’t have brought him on then to take it because they have a designated penalty taker so it shouldn’t make any difference whether it was the final few minutes of the game. It was a strange decision for him to come on and take that penalty.

If he gets it right, people will say “he’s fantastic” and if he gets it wrong, people will criticise him. Unfortunately for him, he got it wrong this time. It was a strange decision.”


John Barnes Exclusive: West Ham have the squad to compete in the Europa League

“The further West Ham can get in the Europa League, the better it will be for them this season. Teams want to play as well as they can and do as well as they can in every competition and win football matches. 

All Premier League teams have big squads now, including West Ham. They’ve signed some good players and they’re doing well in the League and winning matches will only give them more confidence. They’ll hope they can go far in it.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Brentford should go into the game against Liverpool with full confidence

“Brentford can cause every Premier League team problems this season. When a team gets promoted and gets off to a good start, it stands them in good stead because they don’t have the negativity of losing matches and struggling down the bottom of the table. 

“Unfortunately for Brentford, Liverpool are a fantastic side who play with intensity and determination in every game they play so they won’t take them lightly. It’ll be a difficult game for both sides.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Kingsley Coman isn’t an upgrade on Liverpool’s front line

“Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are playing at the top of their game and don’t have any interest in leaving Liverpool right now. So, despite talks of Kingsley Coman coming from Bayern Munich to Liverpool, he won’t replace any of them.

Kingsley is a young player, and he would certainly add to the squad but if he came in January, it would take him a long time to break into the starting lineup. Besides, Liverpool shouldn’t think about the January transfer window, they should just take it game by game.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Virgil Van Dijk should not and must not be rotated

“Despite Virgil Van Dijk recently returning from a long-term injury, there is no way that Jurgen Klopp will be rotating him. He’s Liverpool’s captain, he’s fit and he’s young, so he can play every single game. However, Klopp also must show faith in other players, and give them minutes, like he has done with Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones. He’ll use the squad, but he won’t rotate Van Dijk.

If Van Dijk is on the end of another bad tackle, then of course he’ll be injured again. He’s not going to have a recurring injury just because he’s injured. You can’t legislate for injuries.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Rangers aren’t performing at the same level as they were last season

“Had Celtic won the Old Firm Derby; they would currently be top of the Scottish Premiership. They also lost in the Europa League but it’s not as doom as gloom as people are trying to make out. Rangers also drew on the weekend. 

Celtic are doing okay despite some people saying that they are in disarray, which they’re not. They lost a game which they’re allowed to. It’s only been six games in the league and they’re still getting used to the new manager, so they’ll be fine. 

Celtic will push Rangers closer this season because Rangers have dropped their level a bit. After stopping Celtic making 10 in a row, they’re not playing with the same determination and intensity that they were doing. Celtic have a new manager and new players have the added impetus of trying to get back to where they were.”


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