John Barnes on Liverpool FC in the title race and Naby Keita’s form
The Liverpool FC legend sat down with The Sport Review this week to take a look at where Liverpool FC stand in the title race
Can Liverpool FC wrestle back control of the Premier League title race and can Naby Keita play a big role for the Reds between now and the end of the season?
We sat down with Liverpool FC and England legend John Barnes to discuss where Liverpool FC stand with nine games left to play as they look to beat Manchester City in the title race.
Liverpool FC currently sit second in the table and one point behind leaders and defending champions Manchester City.
Barnes knows a thing or two about winning the top-flight title after having tasted success with Liverpool FC in 1987–88 and 1989–90.
The 55-year-old former Watford star, who was speaking exclusively to The Sport Review for bookmaker comparison platform BonusCodeBets.co.uk, also gave his thoughts on new arrivals Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri ahead of what promises to be a thrilling conclusion to the season in the English top flight.
How do you rate Liverpool FC’s title hopes as things stand?
They are in a great position. They are one point off the top and have lost one game. Who would’ve thought at the start of the season we’d be in this position?
Of course, we were in a better position two weeks ago but we’re still in with a shout. We still have a chance of winning it. I’m happy. I would have been happier if we had scored more goals but we have to be realistic and objective about how we’re doing and we’re doing fantastically well. There is nothing to be negative about.
Manchester City are the favourites. They are ahead of us and have got a bigger squad. As a Liverpool fan yes, I’d like to think that we can do it. But Manchester City are the favourites and there is no getting away from that.
If you are talking about your heart, then we are definitely going to win it because I support Liverpool. But looking at it objectively, City are the favourites.
We have to stick together and have belief. We shouldn’t get disappointed when we draw 0-0 or don’t play particularly well. Look at Manchester United and the way they came back against PSG – it’s because of the harmony and the belief they have. It’s nothing necessarily to do with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being a better manager than Jose Mourinho. The harmony is there – and that harmony has been there with Liverpool to get us to where we are.
We have to keep that harmony and belief. I’m encouraging all Liverpool fans to stay with the team, stick together and we’ll see where we are.
What have you made of Naby Keita’s start to life at Liverpool FC?
One of the most important things for a player is to know what Jurgen Klopp wants from you.
It took Fabinho a while to understand what he wants, because he came from a different type of football in Monaco. Naby Keita likewise – he has come from a different type of football so it’s probably taken him longer to adjust.
But I think when they do adjust, Keita and Fabinho will be two of the mainstays in the team. At the moment, it hasn’t happened for him consistently, but he’s still a good player. He’s still an important part of the squad.
Of course he can do better, but that will take time. When Fabinho first came everybody was writing him off, you can now see how he’s probably our most important midfield player because he now understands what Jurgen Klopp wants.
Give him time. Keita has great qualities, but it doesn’t matter about your qualities, it’s what your manager wants from you. For example, I don’t think David Silva would get in Jurgen Klopp’s team. That’s not what Jurgen Klopp wants.
It doesn’t matter how well I think he’s doing in terms of what he does on the ball, he has to adapt to what Jurgen Klopp wants from one of his three midfield players and I’m sure he will do that.
Have you been impressed by Xherdan Shaqiri’s form?
I have been impressed by what I have seen from Shaqiri.
But for Liverpool to be at their best, those front three have to play. It has to be a front three of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. That’s their best front three.
Now, as to whether you can put Shaqiri into one of the two midfield positions alongside maybe Adam Lallana remains to be seen. But the front three have to remain the same for us to continue with what we have to do.