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Liverpool's best XI doesn't include Shaqiri - Barnes

14:16 EAT 28/12/2018
Xherdan Shaqiri Liverpool 2018-19
The Reds legend doesn't believe that the Swiss winger deserves a starting spot at Anfield, despite his impressive recent performances

Former midfielder John Barnes insists that Liverpool's current starting XI is stronger without Xherdan Shaqiri, suggesting he should only be deployed against 'weaker teams'.

The 27-year-old has featured in 18 games across all competitions for the Reds this term, largely used from the bench as an impact player.

The Switzerland international has contributed six goals and two assists to date, most notably hitting a brace against Manchester United to help Liverpool secure a 3-1 home win earlier in December.

Shaqiri has already become a fan favourite at Anfield, having moved from Stoke City during the summer transfer window, but Barnes does not think Jurgen Klopp should make him a fixture in his current line-up.

"He is pushing for a start but if you look at Liverpool’s best team, he probably wouldn’t be in the top 11," speaking exclusively for bookmaker comparison platform BonusCodeBets.co.uk.

"When you’re playing against the so-called lesser teams, he can play with two midfielders and Shaqiri as well as the front three.

"Mané, Salah, Firmino – he’s not going to get any of them out of the team. But, Fabinho, Milner, Henderson – Shaqiri can fit into one of those three midfield positions.”

“He could even be one of those three strikers if you’re playing against so-called weaker opposition.

"But, if you have to pick your best 11, it is always going to be those front three and a hard-working midfield. He has to accept that, he’s part of a squad.”

Liverpool have won eight consecutive Premier League games to move six points clear of Tottenham at the top of the league, with reigning champions Manchester City a point further back in third.

Next up for Klopp's men is a huge clash against Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday, before an even bigger showdown against City two days later in their first game of 2019.

Barnes believes that Liverpool should now be considered favourites for the title, but he stopped short of writing off Pep Guardiola's Citizens completely.

"I had Man City as favourites until the last two games, but I’d make Liverpool favourites now," he added. "It’s not necessarily ‘theirs to lose’, I just think the Premier League is so difficult now.

"Once upon a time, the top five teams weren’t necessarily going to drop points, but these days you can see with Crystal Palace and Leicester beating City, that can actually happen. So it’s much more difficult now to win the Premier League from a winning position.

"Numerically, it’s theirs to lose in terms of numbers they have on the board, but in terms of the difficulty of the competition, it’s definitely not finished. If they were six points ahead coming into April, then obviously it would be, so for now I make them favourites, but it’s not a foregone conclusion."