With the Premier League returning last night, we spoke with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes, who shared his thoughts on some of football’s main talking points this week. The former Liverpool and England midfielder discussed: Aubameyang and his contract negotiations, Pogba’s questionable attitude, and Chelsea’s latest signing in Timo Werner and what he can offer to the Blues.
John Barnes exclusive: Aubameyang could become another Özil
“The only person who’s worth that kind of money and being the highest paid player is a player who is 100% committed to the club. Not a player who, if things aren’t going well, he wants to leave and then hold the club to ransom.
“First of all, the most important thing, regardless of money or contracts, is does he [Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang] want to be at Arsenal? And then, if the club feel that he’s fully committed, regardless of whether they’re mid table or in the top one or two, then he is worth that. But that is a question mark.
“It was the same thing with [Mesut] Özil. Had Özil been that committed to Arsenal in terms of warranting that that salary? We know he has the ability, but it may not turn out that way. So, it’s a question of Arsenal knowing or feeling that he’s committed to the football club.”
John Barnes exclusive: If Pogba isn’t fully committed, he’s no good to anybody
“On paper, in terms of ability, this is a fantastic combination of [Paul] Pogba and [Bruno] Fernandez but it isn’t as simple as that. It depends on the attitude of the players. Pogba’s ability has never been in question – it’s been his attitude.
“Ability is very important, but attitude is much more important, and that has been the question over Paul Pogba. Yes, he has been injured and I’m not even questioning his ability because I know he’s a fantastic player, a World Cup winner; he can do everything. It’s a question of whether he is committed.
“There’s also the question mark of him staying at Manchester United, going back to Juventus or even going to Real Madrid. A Paul Pogba who is not committed is no good to anybody.”
John Barnes exclusive: Chelsea signing Ziyech and Werner is a step in the right direction, but they’re still way off challenging for the Premier League
Well first of all, they’re already thirty odd points behind the Liverpool. I don’t think they’re going to close that gap just because they’ve signed Ziyech or Werner. What will happen is they will become more competitive and being competitive for Chelsea means challenging for the top four spots. I still believe Man City and Liverpool are well clear ahead of everybody else.
Now of course what you have to do you have to try to improve. And that’s what they will do next year by signing players of real quality. I do expect them to make more of a challenge next year, but do I expect them to win the title? No, of course not. They still have a way to go.
John Barnes exclusive: Werner is not a classic number-nine forward and can play alongside Tammy Abraham
(Timo) Werner is not a classic number-nine. He plays like a Salah, or Mané and comes in from wide positions. He doesn’t have his back to play a whole lot and isn’t one of those to bring people into play. You can see him playing better alongside Tammy Abraham and you may even see Chelsea play more of a 4-3-3 formation with Calum Hudson-Odoi also.
You need a big squad, but I don’t think that Timo Werner is necessarily coming to replace Tammy Abraham.
John Barnes exclusive: Sheffield United can carry on their good form, even without their home support
“Absolutely, [Sheffield United can carry on their form behind closed doors] they’re a good team. I don’t think the Sheffield United crowd is more volatile than Manchester United, Aston Villa, any crowd. It’s not as if you have 100,000 fans screaming at you so you’re intimidated like you’re playing Galatasaray.
“Yes, they would have inspired the home team, but it’s about what happens on the pitch. That’s what Chris Wilder has always said about Sheffield United, which is why they also do so well away from home. It’s great to have your home fans but the fact is, you don’t. So, you get on with it.”
John Barnes exclusive: There is no point playing fake crowd noises during games
“That’s not going to make any difference, crowd noise when there’s no crowd there. It will be as strange as having no noise.
“The players are professional and train every single day with no crowd. They train with the same intensity – maybe a little bit more because it’s a match day – but they’re used to playing with intensity because that’s what they have to do in training.
“It’s not as if they’re just messing around in training and then it stops on match day. They train as they play. So, that’s not going to be much of an issue.
“It will be strange for the fans, and it will be strange for the players, don’t get me wrong, but that shouldn’t detract from what they’re actually doing on the pitch.”
John Barnes exclusive: While some players may be motivated by crowds, others can’t handle the pressure
“People are talking about some players who are motivated by the crowd maybe not being as motivated, but no crowd there can actually help some players. I know players who were fantastic in training but in front of a big crowd, they were so nervous that they couldn’t perform. The fact that there’s no crowd there could actually work in some players’ favour. It’s the same for everybody though, so no one has an advantage or a disadvantage.”
John Barnes exclusive: Form has gone out the window and anybody can beat anybody now
“The unknown [factor] is after this strange period of two months off, coming back, whose form has now gone out the window? Who then can react better to the fact there is no crowd there?
“I don’t think it will be as straightforward as the big boys winning or the little boys losing, as it was with crowds and normality. This is an unprecedented time, so who says that Bournemouth can’t beat Liverpool at home? These are untested times.”
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