Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has told Sky Sports he believes Liverpool are “in pole position” to edge his former club out of the Premier League’s top four and claim a place in next season’s Champions League.
United last failed to qualify for Europe’s elite competition in 1995 but Neville, who retired in 2011, feels the stuttering form they have shown under manager David Moyes is placing that record under threat.
“I think it will be between Liverpool and United for fourth place and I have to say that, at the moment, Liverpool are in pole position and look the strongest,” he said. “There are little fights going on everywhere.
“The relegation is incredible and we’ve never seen anything like it before, the top of the league is obviously tight and the Champions League spaces with Everton, Tottenham, United and Liverpool is fascinating as well.
“Liverpool were top of the league on Boxing Day and I think that there has been progression there this season, mainly through Luis Suarez’s form who has been incredible, but he is supported and aided by the rest of his teammates.”
Liverpool currently hold a seven-point advantage over Moyes’ side, and Neville added: “I would have said a few weeks ago that United would have got fourth place -- I’m not going to change it just yet, but there has to be big improvements.
“Everton had a good response to that demoralising derby defeat [by beating Aston Villa 2-1] and Tottenham we’re not quite sure about, are we? The big battles for all teams are still to come and it could be any of those four, but I think it will be between United and Liverpool.”
Neville suggests Tottenham have a chance to put themselves back in the mix for a top-four place if they beat Everton on Sunday, while Arsenal’s next two league games come against Liverpool and United.
“Obviously what you want to do is take points off your direct rivals and Spurs will be aware that United play Arsenal and Liverpool play Arsenal over the next few days,” Neville said.
“I think [Tottenham boss] Tim Sherwood will want to win, of course he will, but if they do drop points in the match it won’t be fatal for them in terms of Champions League because of the fact that other teams will take points off each other. We’ve seen that in the last week or so.”