Jamie Redknapp believes that the fight for the fourth spot in the Premier League this season will be between Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
Former Liverpool and Spurs midfielder Redknapp made the comments before Thursday’s round of matches in the English top flight.
Looking ahead to United’s fixture against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on New Year’s Day, the 41-year-old wrote on Skysports.com: “I’m predicting United will win this one 2-1 but, make no mistake, it’s a real test for them.
"Three points will maintain their third-place in the Premier League and if they don’t qualify for the Champions League from this position that will be a huge disappointment for them.
“The battle for that fourth and final spot behind them is wide open, though. Liverpool have thrown themselves into the equation by finding some form, a system that works and have Daniel Sturridge to return in the New Year, and I can see it coming down to a shootout between them, Arsenal and maybe Tottenham for that final qualifying spot.”
As it turned out, United failed to win against Stoke and played out a 1-1 draw on Thursday. Meanwhile, Liverpool drew 2-2 with Leicester City at Anfield, Arsenal went down 2-0 at Southampton and Tottenham got the better of Chelsea 5-3 at White Hart Lane.
Louis van Gaal’s United remain third in the Premier League table with 37 points from 20 matches, while Spurs are three points behind them in fifth.
Arsenal are a place and a point behind Tottenham, while Liverpool are currently eighth in the standings with 29 points.
Southampton in fourth and West Ham United in seventh are also in the running for the fourth and final Champions League spot, but one suspects that it will eventually come down to between Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool.
Many will back Arsenal to maintain their truly brilliant record and finish in the top four of the Premier League yet again, but Arsene Wenger’s side are far from guaranteed that spot.
The race for the prized fourth spot could go down to the wire.