Former Arsenal and Manchester City right-back Bacary Sagna believes Liverpool are “too far away from the top four” to qualify for the Champions League.
The Reds are beginning to find their feet in the Premier League after a very poor start to the season.
After going four games unbeaten, the World Cup break actually came at a pretty bad time for Jurgen Klopp and his players.
Liverpool are currently sixth in the top flight, seven points behind Manchester United in fourth.
This is “too far away from the top four” for Sagna, who believes the Reds need to “rebuild” and “restart” their squad with the likes of Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson and Virgil van Dijk past their prime.
Sagna told Lord Ping: “I think Liverpool are a team that have shone for years. They lost Mane, a major player for them, and the way they started the season was terrible.
“This decline always happens to teams that have been at the top for such a long time, at some points you need to rebuild the team. When some players leave, you need a restart.
“It seems like they are trying to find their way again. They are doing a bit better but they are too far away from the top four.”
Sagna believes his two former sides, Arsenal and City, will finish inside the top four along with United and Tottenham.
After explaining why he omitted Liverpool, the former France international said Chelsea are likely to miss out with the club going through a transition.
“I think it is a similar situation at Chelsea,” he continued. “There were a lot of changes at the club this season, and the new owners changed the manager.
“They have lost a lot of points already and they keep dropping points – I can’t see them challenging for the Champions League places this season.”
Sagna also believes Newcastle United do not have the experience to maintain their place in the top four.
“Newcastle is a young squad,” he explained. “They are doing well but are they going to be able to cope with the pressure of maintaining their current form? I’m not sure they will be able to this season.”
City and Arsenal are going toe-to-toe for the Premier League title this term with the Gunners currently five points clear of the reigning champions.
It will be a testing few weeks for Mikel Arteta’s men, who face north London rivals Tottenham away from home on Sunday.
Arsenal then host Manchester United – the only side to beat them in the top flight this season – before a trip to the Etihad in the FA Cup.
The two Premier League matches and also the game at the Emirates against the Citizens two weeks after the cup tie will be huge in determining whether or not Arsenal have what it takes to become champions of England for the first time since 2004, says Sagna.
He explained: “Arsenal need to beat their direct opposition – they need to beat the biggest teams in the league including Manchester City. I’m not worried about the other games that Arsenal have, they will win those. The real challenge for Arsenal is to win against their title rivals.
“If they manage to win the home game against Man City, then that will put them in a great position to win the title, but they need to win their games before that to keep leading the pack starting with Tottenham on Sunday.
“I think it’s a tricky one to say with certainty who will win the league. I am very curious to see how Arsenal perform against Tottenham in the derby.
“This is a really important period for Arsenal. If they manage to come through it, winning all of their next games against Tottenham, Manchester United and then City in February, they will surely be crowned champions at the end of the season.
“I am also interested in seeing how the team and the fans will react if they were to lose against Tottenham because Arsenal’s season bar a defeat at Old Trafford, which they were the better team, has been almost perfect so far.”
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