After Monday night’s awful draw between Manchester United and Arsenal, Roy Keane was asked which of the two teams he had seen would finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League.
His response was blunt: ‘On tonight’s performance – none of them. United have to invest but on tonight’s performance, it would be West Ham and Leicester to break in.’
It seems as though there are two places left, with Liverpool and Manchester City almost guaranteed to finish in the top two, and Spurs, Chelsea, United, Arsenal competing for the others.
Sportsmail has taken a look at those sides — and surprise packages Leicester and West Ham — to see who has the best hope of a place at Europe’s top table next season.
Manchester United and Arsenal played out a draw on Monday evening at Old Trafford
After the game, Roy Keane doubted both side’s credentials for a place in the top four
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It was not a vintage performance from Arsenal at Old Trafford on Monday night but after earning a draw, they somehow find themselves in the top four after seven games of the season.
It would be fair to say that Unai Emery’s side have not exactly impressed with their performances at any stage this campaign. Yet they are slowly but surely picking up points and have faced three tough tests — Liverpool, Spurs and United — already this season.
They now have a friendly run of fixtures, not facing another ‘big six’ team until mid-December, and could outline their credentials for a top-four finish in that time.
Their real challenge this season is to take advantage of their dynamic forward players while making up for a weak defence. David Luiz and Sokratis are not going to set any tongues wagging at the back, although Emery might be eyeing the return of Rob Holding as a difference maker.
Up top, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a game changer and has now scored seven in his first seven matches of the season, becoming the first Arsenal player to do that since Dennis Bergkamp in 1997-98.
With Alexandre Lacazette to come back, Bukayo Saka impressing, Nicolas Pepe still to hit form, Dani Ceballos looking good and others in the mix, Emery might just have the forward players to make up for his defensive issues.
Likelihood rating: 6/10
The goals of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang mean Arsenal have a shot at the top four
For a team that have seemed in crisis since the first whistle of the first game of the season, Spurs are actually looking in fairly good shape after seven games.
Yes, there have been surprise defeats — not least the home loss to Newcastle — but they came through a tough test on Saturday against Southampton despite going down to 10 men and Hugo Lloris deciding to hand the Saints a goal.
The real test for Mauricio Pochettino is managing those players who thought they would leave in the summer and getting them to play. The likes of Danny Rose, Toby Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen all wanted out. Sometimes, though, a leaver doesn’t get the deal they want and has to remain.
Christian Eriksen wanted to leave Spurs this summer but needs to perform now he has stayed
This weekend hinted at the fact that he has got them all back onside. They all started and all impressed in moments.
What was also of note was just how well Tanguy Ndombele played, with probably his best display since his big summer move. He could be a serious asset.
Add the goals of a fit-again Harry Kane into the mix and there’s no reason why Spurs can’t be right in the conversation come May.
Likelihood rating: 6.5/10
Harry Kane’s ability in front of goals means Spurs will always have a shot at the top end
When Frank Lampard left Old Trafford on the opening day, he must have been worried about the size of the task at hand. He’s managed to acquit himself well and that 4-0 defeat now feels like a lifetime ago.
It did take until Saturday for him to secure his first win at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League and there are still serious issues with the squad at his disposal due to the transfer ban.
But there has been enough to suggest they could be a dangerous side as the season wears on.
Frank Lampard has got Chelsea playing attractive football since taking over in the summer
Tammy Abraham already has seven goals in all competitions and looks like the talent everyone has expected him to be since he first emerged from the youth ranks.
Mason Mount, meanwhile, is making an attacking midfield position his own and is clearly a crucial player to their hopes this campaign. A few other young Chelsea stars, like Fikayo Tomori and Reece James, are starting to push for places.
There’s no fear for Lampard’s Chelsea and while their lack of experience could tell over time, it could also be youthful exuberance that earns them a place in the top four.
Likelihood rating: 5.5/10
The likes of Mason Mount (right) and other youth prospects have impressed for Chelsea
The biggest issue for Manchester United is that the trend of last season has not improved in the first part of this. Chiefly that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the permanent manager is not getting the same results as the caretaker.
He was willing to scythe off a number of his more experienced players in the summer without replacing them. The likes of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez left late in the window.
Like Lampard, he’s put his faith in United’s young guns but unlike Chelsea, they have not had years on loan to get used to senior football.
Manchester United have put plenty of faith in their young players over the start of the season
It is a sign of the times that when they were chasing a win against Arsenal, it was now-18-year-old Mason Greenwood he turned to rather than being able to put on a more experienced name.
They have now won just twice in the Premier League all season, drew with Rochdale over 90 minutes and snuck past Astana in the Europa League. Under Solskjaer, they have won 49 points over 28 games, two fewer than from Jose Mourinho’s last 28 matches.
This does not feel like a team pushing for the top four. They look a bit like mid-table cloggers.
Likelihood rating: 2/10
Results have deserted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer since he took the manager’s job permanently
Tipped as dark horses at the start of the campaign, Leicester are living up to that reputation and look like a genuinely dangerous team that deserve their third place in the table.
Jamie Vardy is on fire, as per usual. Caglar Soyuncu has made them forget about Harry Maguire in record time. Ricardo Pereira has a growing reputation for his exploits. James Maddison looks great.
Factor in less heralded names like Ayoze Perez, Harvey Barnes, Wilfried Ndidi, Ben Chilwell and Youri Tielemans and Rodgers has a team that could quite easily take one of the two spots.
Likelihood rating: 7/10
Leicester City look like a genuinely dangerous team that deserve their third place in the table
There was always a hope that Manuel Pellegrini would kick West Ham up another notch when he took charge and after a summer of smart recruitment, he should be able to.
Sebastien Haller has three goals in six matches but it is his hold-up play that is really impressing. Andriy Yarmolenko is showing just what they missed while he was injured last season, while Felipe Anderson, Mark Noble, Declan Rice and Aaron Cresswell also look good.
They might just be missing a touch of quality for the top four but they should be aiming to qualify for the Europa League at a minimum this season.
Likelihood rating: 6/10
West Ham seem to have stepped it up this campaign, with Andriy Yarmolenko impressing
While Keane wrote off Arsenal, they are firmly in the conversation for a place in the top four — although their flaws could tell over the campaign. Leicester should also have every reason to think they might have Champions League football at the King Power Stadium next season.
It feels like a bit more of a toss-up where Spurs and Chelsea are concerned and might boil down to the rub of the green over the 38 games.
United, quite simply, do not look good enough to really be a top four-challenging team and have deep issues with the players available to Solskjaer. West Ham might want to focus on earning a Europa League spot.