Nigel De Jong predicts where Man United, Arsenal are going to finish

Nigel De Jong explains why he's not expecting to see Manchester United finish in the Premier League's top four this season

Ralf Rangnick
Ralf Rangnick (Photo: MUTV / Screengrab)

Nigel De Jong is tipping Manchester United to finish outside of the top four this season – and is backing either Arsenal or West Ham United to come fourth.

The Red Devils dropped points on Monday night when they were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by Newcastle United at St James’ Park.

Ralf Rangnick was not happy about his side’s performance and the Red Devils interim boss will be looking for his side to bounce back when they take on Burnley at Old Trafford on Thursday evening.

Manchester United currently find themselves seven points behind fourth-placed Arsenal with two games in hand over the Gunners – but they can ill afford to drop many more points over the coming weeks as they look to get their Champions League qualification bid back on track.

Former Manchester City defender De Jong feels that Manchester United can already be counted out of the race for Champions League football, and he is tipping Arsenal and West Ham United to battle it out for the final top-four spot in the second half of the season.

Speaking in an interview quoted by Metro, De Jong said: “I don’t see Man United finishing in fourth this season, even if they’re currently favourites behind Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea to do so, I really don’t. I think it’ll be a battle between Arsenal and West Ham.

“Arsenal are doing well, but there’s still a long way to go this season; I’m not sure they can sustain this form for the duration of the season. That being said, they don’t have to worry about European football so they have very little in the way of distractions over the next few months.

“They’ve got some great young kids who are constantly building on their experience. Obviously their current problem with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doesn’t help things, so I can see them getting rid of him in January. I think they could do with bringing in two or three more players in January.

“I like Arsenal – they can be a positive force in the second half of the season, but the only way I see them doing that is by bringing in a couple of players next month.

“There’s a long time between now and the end of the season, and there’s a lot of football to be played in that time. If they do that, then they’ve got every chance of finishing in the top four.”

Manchester United will be without three key players for their home clash against Burnley on Thursday night. Victor Lindelof is out after testing positive for Covid-19, while Paul Pogba continues his recovery from a thigh injury.

Meanwhile, playmaker Bruno Fernandes will also be unavailable for selection after he collected his fifth yellow card of the Premier League season on Monday night.

Arsenal are next in Premier League action when they host leaders Manchester City at The Emirates on lunchtime on new year’s day. The Gunners head into the game in good form, having won their last four outings in the top flight.

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