After an enthralling weekend of Premier League football which saw a record 44 goals scored in game week three; we’ve spoken to BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former England and Liverpool midfielder shared his thoughts on Manchester United’s shortcomings as a team, why none of the big teams are wanting to sign Wilfried Zaha and how Sadio Mané is ready to take his place in the All-time Liverpool XI.
John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester United players get too carried away after one victory, they have no consistency
“With regards to Ole Gunnar Solskjær, the board aren’t expecting him to win the league this season, but problems will continue to arise if they start to fall out of the top four. Manchester United have a good squad, with some decent players, but the problem he [Ole Gunnar Solskjær] has is that his players like to get carried away if they play well and win a game, the next week they take their eye off the prize and performance drops. One-week Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba play well, but the next week they don’t. United just don’t seem to have much consistency.
“They (Manchester United) are in a situation where they must believe in what the manager is doing, stick by him and go for all the trophies they can. They finished last season well, scoring plenty of goals, but the Crystal Palace game was a strange one, they weren’t very good at all. However, most Premier League clubs had played an extra week, so it was understandable that they were going to be a bit rusty.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester United’s team is currently unbalanced; they need to bring in defenders
“Manchester United should look to sign a player like Kalidou Koulibaly, he has all the trademarks of a player they need in the heart of defence. As well as that, they should sign definitely sign a defensive midfielder as they look rather weak back there. Everyone talks about Jadon Sancho playing with Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes if they were to bring him in, but there is no good being joyful about these options, if they can’t defend or have hardworking defensive midfield players to support them when they don’t have the ball.
“Manchester United have always been about having the best attacking players in the world, but you can’t do that until you have the right balance, and currently they don’t have the right balance at all.”
John Barnes Exclusive: None of the top six teams want Wilfried Zaha because he doesn’t suit any of them
(Talking about Zaha being linked with Arsenal)
“The problem with Arsenal is not their lack of creativity as they have the likes of Aubameyang, Lacazette and Saka, their problem is their squad depth. They have plenty of attacking options but need better defensively minded players to really compete with the best in the league.
“People talk about why Wilfried Zaha isn’t being snapped up by any of the top six Premier League sides, but that is because he doesn’t suit any of them. Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool don’t need him, he has already been at Manchester United which didn’t work out and Arsenal have too many like-minded players to him.
“He suits playing for Crystal Palace the most, as he does what he wants, plays in a free role and the fans at the club loves him, he also doesn’t get criticised if he plays badly. If he was to want a new challenge then fair enough, but currently, none of the top six sides would be good for him.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Fabinho should be the first name on the team sheet every week, he’s crucial to how Liverpool play
“Fabinho was brilliant against Chelsea at the weekend, he won’t make a big impact in central defence long term, but it’s good to know he can slot in there effectively when he needs to. When he (Fabinho) plays in midfield as the more defensively minded player, he makes a big impact. There is not many better than him in that position and he proved how good he was in this role so many times last season. For me, when it comes to the conundrum of who plays in midfield, he is one of the first names on the team sheet for me as he is the only real holding midfielder in the squad.”
John Barnes Exclusive: There is no better player in world football who can dominate possession like Thiago
“Thiago was amazing on his debut at the weekend. For him, he came on the pitch at half time in the best possible situation. Playing against a team with 10 men, whereby he will get plenty of the ball really dominate the situation and the game in the middle of the park. He broke the Premier League record for the highest number of passes completed by a player in 45 minutes which says a lot about his quality and what he can bring to this team moving forward.
“It’ll be interesting to see how he does against teams like Manchester City when he doesn’t see as much of the possession, but these are all nice problems for Jurgen Klopp to have. For keeping the ball however, there is not better player in world football at doing so than Thiago.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Sadio Mané will only become one of Liverpool’s all-time greats, is if he stays for a long period of time
(Speaking about Jamie Carragher saying Mané could challenge John Barnes for a place in Liverpool’s All Time XI)
“If Fernando Torres or Luis Suarez were at Liverpool for 10 years, they would both have been in the Liverpool All-Time XI. If Sadie Mané is going to stay for a prolonged period of time performing at a high level, then of course he can get into the All-Time Liverpool XI. He is a phenomenally good player with outstanding ability and could definitely project himself into legendary status at Anfield if he keeps it consistent with the high-class performances.
“Philippe Coutinho was going to be the greatest, but then he left after five years. The only way players will be regarded as the one of the best Liverpool players, is if they stay at the club for a long period of time. I hope Sadio Mané does that, he’s been terrific since his transfer from Southampton in 2016.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Edouard Mendy is not a recognisable goalkeeper, so he won’t put Kepa under pressure
“With the new goalkeeper (Edouard Mendy) expected to join Chelsea this week, this won’t put too much pressure on Kepa for the number one spot. Edouard Mendy isn’t exactly a household name that a lot of people know about so he will immediately be under pressure if they put him straight in. If Chelsea were to sign Jan Oblak or Manuel Neuer, they can put him in straightaway and if he makes a mistake, fans would let it slide as they know he is a top goalkeeper. However, if they put this new goalkeeper in at the start and he makes a mistake, fans will be asking for Kepa to be brought back in.
“Chelsea signing Edouard Mendy will not install confidence in the fans as they know that he won’t be directly replacing Kepa. With the amount of money that Chelsea paid for Kepa Arrizabalaga, fans should know that they spent that amount because of how good he was, so people need to remember that.”
John Barnes Exclusive: If Laporte and Aké can stay fit for most of the season, Manchester City will challenge Liverpool
“Once Manchester City sort out their defensive issues, they will be a real force. That was clearly the reason why they struggled last season, so if they can get their players fit and improve on their game without the ball, they will be fine. If Manchester City have Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Aké fit for most of the season and they continue what they do going forward, scoring goals and creating plenty of chances. I have a feeling that they will give Liverpool a greater challenge this season, but we will have to wait and see.”
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