‘A Sit Down With John Barnes’ – 18th March 2022

After a week in which Premier League leaders Manchester City dropped points, and Liverpool moved ever closer, we caught up with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former Liverpool midfielder shared his views on the title race, how Liverpool could fare without Mo Salah and Arsenal’s likelihood of finishing fourth.

John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester City are still title favourites

“Manchester City are favourites for the Premier League title, but there are still other games left to play this season. 

“Liverpool and Manchester City are playing well, but I’d make City the slight favourites. It’s much tighter than it would have been if City beat Crystal Palace. The Premier League is difficult, anyone can drop points. 

“Liverpool didn’t play well against Brighton, but they won that game which is always a good sign when you win without having to play well. So, whilst I make City the slight favourite, I don’t think matters too much.”

John-Barnes

John Barnes Exclusive: Kalvin Phillips would be a perfect fit for Liverpool

“Kalvin Phillips would suit Liverpool’s midfield. If you are a hardworking, strong midfield player who plays with high intensity – then you’ll suit Liverpool. 

“If you’re more technical then you’d suit Manchester City [better]. 

“He won’t necessarily sign for Liverpool because he’s at Leeds and is happy, but in terms of if he’d suit Liverpool – then absolutely!”

John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool will cope without Mohamed Salah

“If Liverpool were to lose Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané, then they’d have work to do to stay atop the Premier League.

“When it comes to Salah, if he leaves then I don’t see Roberto Firmino leaving. 

“Obviously, Liverpool would want to keep Salah, but if you look at what Luis Díaz has done since his arrival, with Diogo Jota and Mané being here, then that puts Liverpool in a stronger bargaining position [with Salah].

“They want him to stay, but they have cover and play consistently well without him but, the emergence of Jota and Díaz means that it isn’t imperative for Liverpool to keep Salah.”

John Barnes Exclusive: The current Liverpool 11 is Jürgen Klopp’s best side yet 

“Jürgen Klopp has always had a strong first 11 at Liverpool, which hasn’t really changed, but he’s right to call this his best squad since arriving at Liverpool – with the likes of Luis Díaz and Diogo Jota coming in and complimenting the front three. 

“They have players that can come on off the bench and do well. They can now absorb injuries and a loss in player form.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester United fans must blame the players, not the manager

“Manchester United’s biggest issue is the attitude of their players, as with many clubs such as Tottenham. 

“It’s not up to Ralf Rangnick to improve the displays, it’s for the players to perform week in, week out. How do they perform so brilliantly one week, but not the next? 

“If you look at Liverpool and Manchester City, their manager has complete power. 

“The players must be put under pressure by the fans to demand performances weekly, rather than questioning the manager as they did with Louis van Gaal, José Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjær. 

“The players need more pressure to perform.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Kai Havertz superb form is down to the manager 

“The reason Kai Havertz is in such good form and keeping Romelu Lukaku out the side is that the manager has backed him, and the fans trust the manager, so the fans are then supporting him. 

“That’s what must happen at the club, as it does at Manchester City and Liverpool. Whoever plays is trusted, backed 100% and they perform. 

“Whereas, if the fans booed a manager for picking a player, they might not perform. You must give a manager the right to pick anybody. 

“Romelu Lukaku is a good player but they [Chelsea] are all good players. 

“You have to be given support to play well, and that’s what’s happened with Kai Havertz.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Chelsea could utilise Conor Gallagher if the transfer embargo remains this summer

“Chelsea’s sanctions preventing them from signing players shouldn’t be for next season.

“If it does last into the next season, then maybe they could be looking to play the likes of Conor Gallagher, once he returns from Crystal Palace.

Chelsea could go and spend £100million on somebody, if the sanctions are lifted. Their situation won’t be a problem this season as they have their current squad, and nobody can sign anyone right now. 

“It shouldn’t affect them this year.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Chelsea’s fans are innocent over Ukraine, but the club’s predicament is deserved

“The Chelsea fans have no control over the events in Ukraine. They are completely innocent in what’s happening. 

“Unfortunately, this situation is how the world is, and from a sanctions point of view, this is what has to happen, and they need to accept that. 

“Unfortunately for Chelsea, it’ll affect what they are able to do in the immediate future. 

“What’s happening at the club is totally correct and if it was any other club [irrespective of their fans], then it would be too. Thomas Tuchel understands that, and as long as they try to win football matches, that’s the most important thing.

“Football can do nothing about politics – and what’s happening in Ukraine has nothing to do with it, but in this globalised world we live in, it affects certain clubs, they just need to get on with it.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Arsenal aren’t nailed on for fourth place

“Arsenal aren’t nailed on for fourth place in the Premier League but they are the favourites. They are performing consistently well, whereas Tottenham and Manchester United aren’t.

“Football changes over the season and Arsenal still have a very young and inexperienced side. They are definitely favourites, but I wouldn’t say they are nailed on.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Arsenal’s improvement are down to them improving as a team

“Arsenal’s defence hasn’t been fixed by Gabriel and Ben White. It’s performing well because Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka are working hard to protect the back four. 

“Similarly to Manchester United, it’s not about Victor Lindelöf and Harry Maguire not being good enough at the back, it’s the rest of the team who aren’t working hard enough to protect them. 

“Whereas, if you look at Manchester City, the front three and midfield five play to protect the back four. That’s what has to happen. 

“Arsenal aren’t necessarily better defensively alone, they are better as a team.”

 


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