Exclusive interview: John Barnes on Liverpool FC, Chelsea FC and more
John Barnes discusses Liverpool FC's flying start to the new Premier League season and offers his thoughts on Chelsea FC under Frank Lampard
We spoke to former Liverpool FC winger John Barnes this week to get his thoughts on how the Premier League season is panning out for the likes of Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC.
The Merseyside outfit have made a flying start to the new campaign and currently sit five points clear at the top of the table after having won all six of their games.
The Reds are now preparing for a trip to Sheffield United on Saturday lunchtime as they bid to make it seven wins on the trot in the top flight.
Speaking on behalf of bookmaker comparison site BonusCodeBets.co.uk, Barnes discussed Liverpool FC’s flying start and why he makes them title favourites.
The former England international also gave his thoughts on Chelsea FC’s stuttering start to the new campaign under Frank Lampard.
Here’s the interview in full:
What have you made of Liverpool FC’s start to the season and do you place them as title favourites?
I’m sure the bookies wouldn’t [make Liverpool favourites] but I felt last year that, even when we were four points clear, Man City would win it, because I felt that Man City would not drop points.
This year, I think Liverpool will win it. Both teams will drop points but I think Man City are looking at the Champions League and probably would rather win that.
Yes, they’re going to be consistent in the league, but that first trophy [the Champions League last season] has given Liverpool the belief that we can go on and win football matches.
Jurgen Klopp’s insistence on his team putting in a performance in every single game, whether it’s against Manchester City or one of the so-called ‘lesser’ teams… that demand to win and the security we have at the back in terms of not necessarily playing well but still getting the result means that I think we’ll be more consistent in the league than Man City this year – even though it’s still going to be close.
How important is it to win when not playing at your best?
It’s a sign of champions. Last year was the same thing and we did that, because we only lost one game. But unfortunately, so did Manchester City.
Looking at Manchester City this year, not that they are going to drop too many points, but I just feel that they will drop more points than us.
What have you made of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s recent form?
He’s very good, but he’s playing in an environment that suits him. Look at Jordan Henderson – he’s fantastic but he’s not going to play for Manchester City.
Trent Alexander-Arnold may not play for Manchester City because they require a different type of football.
The type of football that they provide suits Liverpool down to the ground and also suits Jurgen Klopp.
Individually, yes, they are good players. But they have the right environment that suits the way they play. And that’s the biggest compliment I can give them.
How impressed have you been by Joel Matip’s performances so far this season?
He has benefited from what Virgil van Dijk has brought to the defence in terms of composure, calmness and belief.
It’s whoever plays alongside him [Van Dijk], because when Dejan Lovren plays alongside him he’s fine, when Joe Gomez plays alongside him he’s fine. Alisson has also helped to secure the situation.
I think that Van Dijk, in particular, has brought a calmness and an assuredness to all of the defenders.
Will Alisson’s return from injury be a big boost?
It will be a big boost – but then again we still haven’t lost any games and Adrian is doing OK. But I should imagine that once Alisson is fit, he’ll come back into the team.
Are you concerned by some of Liverpool FC’s defending this season at all?
The defence is not necessarily more rocky because we haven’t lost any games.
Jurgen Klopp will still want us to be more secure. But he’ll be happy that while we haven’t been as secure as last year, we still are winning games.
He probably knows that we will then have to improve defensively if we’re going to continue to do that. But I’m sure we will.
Were you impressed by Harvey Elliott’s performance on Wednesday night on his debut?
Of course. But any 16-year-old player who’s good enough to come to Liverpool and get anywhere near the first team has to be a good player.
But I don’t expect him to be regularly in the first-team squad, never mind being in the team. We have to let him develop, and he’s one for the future.
I’m not going to put undue pressure on him by saying he’s a great prospect or has great potential.
I don’t expect anything at all from him this year. Anything he does provide will just be a bonus.
What have you made of Chelsea FC’s start to the season under Frank Lampard?
What was saw under Maurizio Sarri and Antonio Conte was a particular brand of football which, while successful, was a very ‘Italian’ type of football. It wasn’t necessarily attractive and what Chelsea fans wanted.
I think that although they aren’t getting the results and are not where they’d like to be in the league, they are playing a much more entertaining brand of football. They’re playing attractive football.
That will serve Frank well in terms of him being given time because of the style of football being played.
But he will know that it’s only going to last a period of time. They can’t continue to not pick points up while still playing good football.
Frank Lampard has not been afraid to play some young talent at Chelsea FC this season such as Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham. Is that one positive they can take from their start to the season?
It is a positive that they can take so far – but not if they are going to finish 15th in the league or outside the top 10 or top six though.
Yes, fans want to see young and local players, but the fans will also be demanding results.
It will give Lampard time and it is a saving grace that he is blooding young players. They are playing good football.
But for all football fans, if you don’t get results after a while, that will weigh.