Gary Neville has opened up about Manchester United’s chances of claiming a top four place this season, noting that games against sides near them in the table will be crucial.
Jose Mourinho’s men climbed above sixth place for the first time since September following their 3-1 win over Middlesbrough on Sunday.
They will leapfrog Liverpool into fourth spot if they win their two remaining games in hand against West Bromwich Albion and Everton.
But Neville, speaking on Sky Sports, noted that reaching the top four will be largely contingent on how Man United perform in the big games this season.
“I think Chelsea obviously will finish in the top four. I think Tottenham and Manchester City will as well,” he said.
“I think it [fourth position] is between Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. It will be intriguing to see where it goes. United have got a tough run of fixtures, and still have to play Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and City.
“They’ve got tough games and the Europa League as well. Arsenal look dead at the moment, they look finished. But they always come back with a late run.
“City have got tough games but I think they will get there, there’s something about them.”
United have a superb chance to make some genuine headway in the top four race when the international break finishes. Nine points against West Brom, Everton and Sunderland would place them firmly amongst the competing back by the time they face Chelsea at home in mid-April.
The clash against Antonio Conte’s side, therefore, promises to be a watershed moment: a United win, one suspects, would propel them into the ascendancy; anything less, however, could see them drift away if other sides pick up results. The margins between failure and success could not be finer.