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Harvey Barnes interview: Liverpool game one of biggest in Leicester City history

Harvey Barnes interview: Liverpool  game one of biggest in Leicester City history

Harvey Barnes has scored 12 goals in the Premier League this season. It is the best scoring season of his career so far. In better circumstances, this would be a good story. But the circumstances at Leicester City right now are anything but good.

The 5-3 defeat to Fulham on Monday afternoon summed it up. Barnes scored two. Leicester were miserable. “I would swap the goals any day for the three points,” he tells Sky Sports. “I cannot enjoy those goals.” Particularly given what came later in the day.

Everton were three up before the Leicester players had left Craven Cottage. By the time they were back home, Nottingham Forest had won too and they were inside the relegation zone. It is Liverpool next. “One of the biggest games in the club’s history,” says Barnes.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League game between Fulham and Leicester.

Leicester fans have watched this steep decline play out in slow motion, swapping Champions League aspirations for Championship fears. But even as the malaise dragged on and managerial changes were made, there was the suspicion that quality would out.

Monday changed that.

“It was in our hands and we let ourselves down. When you do that you are then just hoping the results go in your favour to soften the blow. They obviously didn’t.” There are more openly emotional players in this Leicester squad, but Barnes feels it too.

“If you are doing well and have a bad result, you reflect on it and then it is forgotten. This season, you lose a game and then see the other results go against you. It is tough to forget about that. We are in the bottom three. It is in your mind. It does not go away.”

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Let us begin with a positive. He has twice as many Premier League goals this year. “I wanted to add that to my game.” With strikers rotating, the onus has been on him. “It has been down to others to step up so I have adapted my game a little bit,” he explains.

“I am trying to be the focal point by getting central and running in behind more. When Kelechi [Iheanacho] plays, for example, he likes to come short, so it is down to me to stretch the game in behind. A few of my goals have come from being in a striker’s position.”

Image: Harvey Barnes' goal locations for Leicester City in the Premier League this season

Only 10 players have scored more Premier League goals this season and all of them are playing in top-half teams. But he is in no mood to celebrate, no mood to absolve himself of responsibility for Leicester’s predicament. He cannot be satisfied and he knows it.

“There are games where I could have done that more, where I have not had enough influence. That has probably been tied in with how the team has played. Especially as a wide player, if the team is flowing, it is easy. You are involved in the game all the time.

“When you are not playing good football, you can get lost in the game a bit. I need to find ways to be more involved. You cannot just wait for the ball to come, wait for the perfect pass. You have to take it upon yourself to find the ball and make things happen.”

Leicester have big players, big characters. But one of the criticisms levelled at this group is that many of them will move on to better things regardless of what happens next. James Maddison and Youri Tielemans are among those who can expect their moves.

Barnes too may have a bright future elsewhere. But for the man who has been at this club since he was nine, he is firm in his response.

“I would be devastated if we went down. All the lads who are out of contract at the end of the season, or whatever their situation, none of them want to leave this club in a worse position. That is not how anyone wants to leave. Nobody wants to leave on a bad note.”

Maybe one of the problems at Leicester is that these players were not bought for this particular job. Barnes, 25, has not been involved in a relegation fight before – his loan move to Barnsley ended before their battle with the drop. This is all new to him.

“It will be for a lot of the players as well. There are players who have had a lot of success here and the lads who have joined have had success at their previous clubs – that is why they are here. So it is new for a lot of us. It is down to us to get ourselves out of it.”

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Jamie Carragher and Martin O’Neill debate which of the clubs battling for Premier League survival have the toughest run-ins

How do they do that? It must start with the defence. Going into this next round of games, Leicester have scored 49 goals, exactly the same number as Manchester United in fourth. The problem is that they have conceded 64. Improvement is needed and fast.

“We cannot concede five goals in games. We are never going to pick up points if we do that. Some of them were preventable but that is the story of our season. Clean sheets have been a problem. When we have kept clean sheets, we have picked up a lot of points.

“Every player is going out to give it their all but little things are not there at the moment. If a couple of players, or the team as a whole are not doing that, you see the effect. This is a league where the little one-per-cent things matter. You get punished.

“It is difficult to explain because there is talent here, lads with quality. In some games we have looked solid and not conceded a lot of chances so it is difficult to think how you can go from that to looking all over the place, so open and easy to play against.

“It is as difficult to understand as it is for the fans watching.

“But when you watch it back, the goals are preventable – and that is good. When you see stuff that is easy to tweak, blatant mistakes, it gives you confidence in a way because you think that if you can cut them out there is no reason why you cannot win games.”

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Unfortunately, games against Leeds, Everton and Fulham have yielded only two points. If they cannot better that return in the remaining fixtures against Liverpool, Newcastle and West Ham – on the face of it, more difficult matches – they are surely doomed.

“If we do certain things in these games, we will stay up, it is as simple as that,” adds Barnes. “It is the only focus between now and the end of the season – finding any way possible to get the points we need to stay up. We just have to find a way now.”

Leicester City

Monday 15th May 6:30pm Kick off 8:00pm

His own one-against-one contest with Trent Alexander-Arnold could be decisive. Liverpool have vulnerabilities of their own. “They have had some great performances but there have been times when they have not been great. We have to exploit that.”

Barnes wants to be the man to make the difference.

“You want to be involved in these big occasions. You have to take responsibility. That means scoring goals. That means doing the dirty work. However I can help I will be doing everything I can. If we perform, there is no reason why we cannot get a result.

“I have full confidence in the lads and I know that the fans will help to create an amazing atmosphere on Monday. We are not naïve. We know what a big occasion it is going to be. You do not want to put extra pressure on yourselves but we know what is on the line.

“There are three opportunities left.”

Watch Leicester City vs Liverpool live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm on Monday Night Football; kick-off 8pm

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The post Harvey Barnes interview: Liverpool game one of biggest in Leicester City history first appeared on 1 News Day, breaking news, sport, business, politics, Science & Health.

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