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. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? 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.” Subscribe to Goal’s Liverpool Correspondent Neil Jones’ weekly email bringing you the best Liverpool FC writing from around the web
“He takes note that President Salva Kiir initialled a copy of the agreement with some reservations [and] expresses his strong hope that President Kiir will sign the agreement by the end of the 15-day deadline,” said a statement released in New York by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.According to media reports, Mr. Kiir, who initialled but has not yet signed the agreement, has asked for an additional two weeks to consult with his constituencies.Thanking the IGAD mediation for its “tireless” efforts to assist the parties reach agreement, the Secretary-General is encouraged by the regional and international consensus in support of the agreement, which the United Nations also signed as a witness, the statement added.He reaffirmed the continued readiness of the UN to work with IGAD, the African Union and other international partners to finalize the agreement and move swiftly towards its implementation. “Deeply pained” by the “horrendous” suffering of South Sudanese civilians, the Secretary-General called on all belligerents to immediately cease all hostilities, uphold international human rights and humanitarian law, and extend their full cooperation to UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and to the Humanitarian Country Team’s “life-saving activities” there.The security situation in South Sudan has deteriorated steadily over the past year since political in-fighting between President Kiir and Mr. Machar, and their respective factions erupted in December 2013. The hostilities subsequently turned into a full-fledged conflict, resulting in reported atrocities and possible war crimes.According to the latest estimates released by the UN refugee agency, more than 730,000 people have fled into neighbouring countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan, which has seen the highest arrival rate this year. Meanwhile, another 1.5 million remain internally displaced, often relocated to increasingly overcrowded ‘protection-of-civilians’ sites run by UNMISS.