Speaking to Best Sports Betting Canada, former Liverpool and Aston Villa player Patrick Berger has reflected on Liverpool’s victory in the Merseyside Derby, as well as discussing Manchester City’s recent discrepancies for breaking financial laws
The Czech international has also predicted Manchester City will beat Arsenal 2-1 ahead of their clash this week.
Question: What did you make of the Merseyside Derby last night?
Patrik Berger, “I was absolutely delighted with Liverpool’s win in the Merseyside Derby. It was very close to the Liverpool we know. They played really well and deserved to win the game, without a doubt.”
Q: Cody Gakpo recorded his first goal last night for Liverpool. Is there more in store for him?
PB, “I’m glad for Cody Gakpo. As a new player coming to Liverpool, there may be pressure as you are the player that the manager and club trust and want to sign. It was important for him to make an impression as soon as possible. I’m glad that he scored. It was an important goal. It was great for him and great for the team.”
Q: Is Mo Salah capable of returning to his best?
PB, “Everyone has criticised Mo Salah this season. However if you actually look at his numbers, he has been very good. When you play at the top level for so many years, people expect you to perform like that every season, but that is very difficult. I still think that he is the star player for the team and he can take them all the way to the top four.”
Q: Despite the loss, is Sean Dyche the man to keep Everton in the Premier League and bring success to the Toffee’s?
PB, “Everton fans thought the world of Sean Dyche after he won his first game against league leaders Arsenal. They’re in the bottom three and they need to start winning games and getting points. As I was watching the Derby, I sensed that it would be very difficult for Everton to score goals. I don’t even think that they had a short on goal last night. They need to get someone into the box to score goals for them. Hopefully they can start to win games and play much better than they did last night.”
Q: Do you think Everton are regretting or will regret letting go of Anthony Gordon?
PB, “Anthony Gordon was a very good player and any good player that you lose, it will be difficult for the team. Though as a new manager comes in – he will have to deal with the players he has. Sean Dyche is a manager that can keep Everton in the Premier League and I believe he will.”
Q: Will the return of Diaz and Jota boost Liverpool’s top four chances?
PB, “Liverpool have been struggling with injuries from the beginning of the season, so the return of Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz will be a relief. So we know they are just coming back now. Van Dijk was back on the bench, Firmino is fit as well as Jota. They also have Stefan Bajcetic – who looked amazing.
Things are going back to normal for Liverpool and the way they played last night is exactly what we want to see from Liverpool. They will definitely finish in the top four if they continue to play this way.”
Q: Liverpool face Real Madrid in the Champion League R16. Do you think they can have a successful run for the trophy?
PB, “The Champions League is a completely different competition because you have so many games in knockout stages in the Champions League. You play home and away, so in two games, you can kind of compete against anybody and I have a feeling that even if Real Madrid officially is the best team in the world at the moment, Liverpool have a chance to get through if they can continue to play the way they did last night [against Everrton. If all their injured players can return to the squad, I don’t see why not.”
Q: It is reported that Liverpool have been linked with Victor Osimhen- Do you think it’s a smart investment despite their midfield crisis?
PB, “Liverpool are linked with so many players so we don’t really know who is going to end up at the club in the summer. However, I don’t think a striker will be their first option. I think Jurgen Klopp is going to go for midfield players.”
Q: You played for Liverpool for seven years. Were there ever similar times of bad form during your years there?
PB, “During my time with Liverpool, i don’t think we had a long bad run like the current team have had. We may have had a two-game skid but we always came back to winning ways afterwards.
But this happens to the best teams in the world all the time. Liverpool were competing for every single trophy last year and could have won all of them. I think their current form is down to injuries which started at the beginning of the season.”
Q: Should Liverpool rather look closer to home for midfield options such as Stefan Bajcetic?
PB, “Stefan Bajcetic is only 18. However, the way he was playing last night was as if he had all the experience in the world.
He was confident and great on the ball. Tactically, he is very good. He’s tall, and his passing is good. If he can work hard I don’t see a reason why he couldn’t be one of the key midfield players at Liverpool. Steven Gerrard also came through at only 18 years of age.
Based on last night’s performance, he has the ability to play for Liverpool for a long time.”
Q: Despite the possibility of not having a Champions League spot next season, should they still target the likes of Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice?
PB, “Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice are going to be expensive in the summer as they are good players. If the owners are willing to spend, I don’t see a reason why they couldn’t couldn’t go for them. They’re two great young players. They have a fantastic future ahead of them. I would love to see both of them in a Liverpool shirt.”
Q: After the derby, Is Darwin Nunez proving he is a worthy signing despite early worry?
PB, “You can’t question Darwin Nunez’s passion and workrate, I think that Liverpool bought him as a striker who is going to score goals, which is not really happening for him at the moment. I would like to see him score more goals, he’s working so hard. Just look at the first goal he created, last night. He sprinted for about 80 metres and still made the assist with his weaker foot. It was first class. So, I think he has the ability, but in my opinion, he needs to start to score a little bit more goals.”
Q: You won four trophies with Liverpool, what advice would you give to the current players who want to emulate your success or even achieve more?
PB, “There are a lot of players in the current Liverpool squad who have won more than me so they don’t really need my advice. But for the younger players, I would say just work hard and enjoy it.
Hopefully, one day they will be selected for the first team and if they get the chance just be yourself. If you play for Liverpool that means you have the quality and have the ability to become a Liverpool Fc football player. So just do what you do, enjoy it and work hard, that’s all I can say.”
Q: Aston Villa have now faced 2 back to back defeats in the League, how do they get back to winning ways?
PB, “Aston Villa are currently a mid table team and don’t need to have any immediate worry about being relegated. I don’t think they have the quality to finish in the top six.
For any other team in the Premier League, what separates them from the top six is money. If the manager can get the money, they will be looking definitely for players to sign and strengthen the squad. They are doing ok, but will need money to compete with the top six.”
Q: Despite the losses, what is the impact that Unai Emery has had since being appointed Villa manager?
PB, “I think Unai Emery is a great manager. I liked him in Spain a lot. He proved his worth by winning a lot of trophies during his career.
Since he has taken over Aston Villa, he has been doing a great job. As a new manager, he won’t be able to get most of his new transfers over the line as the board may not agree with the money. He has to work with the players he has. He may not be able to play the style he would like to play. I think that with the squad he has, he’s doing a great job.”
Q: Philipe Coutinho showed flashes against City of his quality. But realistically is he ever going to find his old form or have his best days gone?
PB, “I wish Coutinho stayed at Liverpool, he was the best player in the Premier League. Since he moved to Barcelona, it didn’t work out for him as you probably expected.
He didn’t play that much or that well for Barcelona. Then Steven Gerrard took over Aston Villa and brought Coutinho back into the fold. I still think he is a fantastic player. But now it seems like he is only good for 20 minutes rather than 90.
He is unbelievable attacking wise. But in football, you also need everyone to defend properly and I don’t think his defence is that good.
He’s mainly attacking-minded, but if he’s playing in the position where he’s playing, you also need to defend. So that’s why I think against Manchester City he came on for the last 20 minutes and he was very dangerous. I don’t think he would be dangerous if he played for 90 minutes.”
Q: Erling Haaland sustained an injury against Aston Villa after one half of play. Should they ever lose Haaland for a prolonged period, how would this affect their title chances?
PB, “Erling Haaland is amazing. Ever since he signed for Manchester City and the season started he has been scoring goals for fun and obviously he is a player that you’re going to miss if he’s injured, you know, no matter where he plays you know he can make an impact.
Previously, Manchester City didn’t have a out-and-out striker. They either scored their goals from the midfield or through wonder goals every so often from a defender.
I think Man City are going to miss Haaland. But I still think they can get around it because they have so many great offensively minded, talented players. So even if Haaland is not playing I still think that they are going to dominate the games or they’re going to create chances. They’re going to win most of the games they’re going to play.”
Q: What do you make of Man City’s recent financial charges that have been brought to light? Should some of their Premier League titles be revoked if they are found guilty?
PB, “I was surprised when I was reading about Manchester City’s financial shortcomings. How can this happen? Surely they must have somebody at the club that will be aware if they are crossing the line of doing something illegal.
I heard that it can take up to three or four years before we will know the final verdict. But if it happens to be that they are guilty, then yes – some of their titles should be revoked because they don’t deserve it if they are going to cheat.”
Q: Arsenal suffered another drop of points over the weekend against Brentford. Do you think they will fumble the title at the end of the season?
PB, “Arsenal have been playing really good football consistently. They have a young team and they still have a game in hand. If someone told them at the beginning of the season that in the middle of February they will be leaders by six points, they wouldn’t entertain it. They have the quality to go all the way but they will be pushed by Manchester City really hard.”
Q: What is your Prediction for Wednesday’s game between Man City vs Arsenal?
PB, “Manchester City vs Arsenal will be a very open game. I think that Manchester City is going to win 2-0, They may close the gap even more. So I think they’re going to win the game.”
Q: What did you make of Joao Felix’s return to the league after being red carded prior?
PB, “I think Joao Felix was trying too hard to fit into Chelsea and it ended up in him being red-carded. But that is in the past. However he proved that he will be a great addition to the team after scoring his first goal for his new club against West Ham. He’s going to be fine. The red card is history and it will not affect him going forward.”
Q: Is Enzo Fernandez settling well at Chelsea?
“I like Enzo Fernandez. He had a great season in Portugal and I think he had a fantastic World Cup. He’s also only 21 and has the ability and quality to play for Chelsea without a doubt.
The price tag put him under pressure a little bit because I think he’s the most expensive player in Premier League history, but he is going to be okay.
Though, I don’t know him personally or I don’t know what kind of person he is. But football wise, I think he has the quality to be one of the best players in the Premier League.”
Q: Can Manchester United consider themselves in the title race?
PB, “Manchester United were certainly under pressure at the start. There was added tension with what was going on between Ten Hag and Ronaldo. But ever since Ronaldo left they somehow started to perform much much better.
They play as a team. Rashford is absolutely on fire for them. They have been a force ever since Ronaldo left. I don’t think they’re going to win the league, but maybe next season they will definitely be up there.”
Q: Can Rashford still cement his legacy in the Premier League due to his recent rise in form?
PB, “I have always liked Marcus Rashford. I only ever watch Manchester United when they play against Liverpool, but I always liked him. I think he’s a very good player. He was also under very harsh criticism. But, he came back strong. I think he’s mentally very strong. We all know that. He has the ability to play well and score goals. That’s what he does at the moment really, really well.”
Q: In yesterday’s news, Czech Republic player Jakub Jankto has come out as Gay. Do you think Football is becoming a safe space for players worldwide?
PB, “I’m happy that Jakub Jankto was able to come out as it was bothering him for a long time. I don’t know him too well despite the fact he is a Czech player.
There were rumours around here in the country that he’s going to come out so a lot of people knew what he wanted to announce. It was not really a surprise for me or for the football community in the Czech Republic. But obviously, for all the For the world of football it was a huge news. It’s good for him because he will probably feel freer. That was probably affecting his life as well as his performance on the pitch. Now I think that he’s happy. He did what he did and now he can move on.”
Q: What has been the reaction at home? Has it pleased you?
PB, “The news of Jakub Jankto pleases me very much, especially since I have gay friends as well. 99% of the reactions were only positive, everyone was cheering for him and they felt it was very brave just to come out with such a news. However he will have a hard time.
With everything, you’re always going to have people that will support you, as well as people that will basically be against you for whatever reason. So I don’t think it’s going to be easy for him. But I think that with the news that he has announced, I’m sure that when he woke up this morning, feeling much better than before.”