‘A Sit Down with John Barnes’ – 19th May 2022

Ahead of the final instalment of the Premier League this weekend, we caught up with Liverpool legend and BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The midfield ace discussed Roberto Firmino being a better fit for Liverpool’s than Diaz, why United won’t spend £100million on Frenkie De Jong and Granit Xhaka’s unwise comments after the Newcastle game.

John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester City could falter and hand Liverpool the title

“Manchester City could slip up this weekend against Aston Villa and hand Liverpool an opportunity to win the Premier League, but Liverpool could do the same against Wolves. 

“On the weekend, West Ham were at home, and they’re a very good side who are currently in the top six, which always makes it a more challenging game. 

“It’s possible that Manchester City could falter against Villa, but it’s in their hands and they are the favourites.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Klopp needs to stop moaning and just get on with it 

“The problem Liverpool face with their scheduling is that the further you go in cup competitions, the more games begin to pile up.

“The recent scheduling of fixtures hasn’t been anti-Liverpool, their success has just meant that they need to play all of their games close to one another. 

“Managers feel that scheduling is unfair all the time. It’s just inevitable that towards the end of the season, you have to play a lot of games.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Roberto Firmino helps Liverpool’s front line more than Luis Díaz 

john barnes

“Roberto Firmino is always important to the Liverpool team and is one of my favourite players. 

“He works hard for the team and was my man of the match against Southampton. He plays with the right commitment and attitude the whole time. 

“There’s always a place for Roberto Firmino in my Liverpool squad. I’d even go as far to say that when he’s in the team, he gets the best of Sadio Mané and Salah. 

“As much as Luis Díaz is doing well, Mo Salah hasn’t been at his best in the last six games and that has a lot to do with Firmino not playing alongside him. I’d love Firmino to stay.” 

John Barnes Exclusive: Klopp will select his team against Wolves with the Champions League in mind

“The importance of utilitsing players like Kostas Tsimikas is to ensure players like Andy Robertson are fully fit for the Champions League final. 

“Everything depends on the player’s fitness, it’s a huge game against Wolves [in the Premier League]. As much as the Champions League final is coming up, they won’t want to miss an opportunity to win the title against Wolves if Manchester City slip up. 

“Liverpool have no control over Manchester City’s result, so Jürgen Klopp is looking at the Champions League. He hadn’t thrown in the towel in the Premier League against Southampton. He has faith in those players. It’ll be a stronger team against Wolves, but they’ll certainly have one eye on Madrid.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester United should buy Frenkie De Jong but not for £100million

“Despite Barcelona reportedly upping the price of Frenkie De Jong, Manchester United will still be able to afford the player, but not at all costs.

“Although, if Barcelona want £100million, then maybe not [to United signing him].

“The price won’t be unreasonable; Barcelona could put it up a little bit more but Manchester United will be able to afford it. Especially as they’ll lose Paul Pogba and his salary, amongst other players. The club must back the new manager – end of story.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Thomas Tuchel doesn’t lack belief in his strikers

“Marcus Alonso, César Azipilicueta and Reece James taking the first three penalties against Liverpool in the FA Cup final with Romelu Lukaku coming off in the 85th minute doesn’t show a lack of confidence from Thomas Tuchel in his forward line. 

“Lukaku might not be one of their selected penalty takers. Tuchel may have started Romelu because he’s his number one centre forward for scoring goals, but Lukaku may not have taken a penalty. 

“Bringing someone on isn’t showing a lack of confidence in the forward line and it doesn’t mean that Tuchel doesn’t expect him to score in the regular 90 minutes. Maybe Lukaku just didn’t fancy a penalty.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Arsenal will be better next season, if they sort their centre forward situation

“For Arsenal to get Champions League next season, there aren’t any tactical adjustments to be made by Mikel Arteta.

“Arsenal need a centre forward, that’s obvious. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has left the club and they might feel Eddie Nketiah isn’t the player to lead their line every single game. 

“They will get better next season as the squad has a year’s more experience; young players like Bukayo Saka and Martin Ødegaard will all be a year older and have the experience from this season. 

“It’s not like they haven’t qualified for the Champions League and are moving backwards, they’re moving forward. Once they resolve the centre forward situation, they’ll be more consistent too.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Granit Xhaka’s comments after the Newcastle fixture weren’t very clever 

“If the words of players, like Granit Xhaka after Arsenal’s game against Newcastle, are going to cause disharmony, then they shouldn’t come out after the game and speak like that.  If every player said how it was at their clubs, then you’d have disagreements every single time they play. 

“In this day and age, it’s very easy to lose the harmony at a club. What Granit Xhaka said wasn’t very clever – at all. Things should be kept behind closed doors. It was just a bad performance against Newcastle, and he didn’t perform better than anyone else. 

“None of his teammates criticise him when he does stupid things on the pitch or gets sent off, so it wasn’t a good thing for him to do.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Rangers will be even more competitive next season

“Rangers have competed with Celtic this season for the Scottish Premier League title. Celtic didn’t run away with the league by a million miles, and Rangers reached the Europa League final. 

“Rangers had an excellent season, but Celtic were always going to come back stronger. After nine titles in a row, Celtic probably took their eye off the ball the year Rangers won the league under Steven Gerrard.

“With Giovanni Van Bronckhorst coming in, there was always going to be a settling in period, but they competed well against Celtic. They’ll come back next year and be competitive again. 

“Van Bronckhorst will be able to get some new players in, work with them pre-season and implement a style he likes and is comfortable with. He’s had a fantastic season.”

 


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