Hamburg boss Martin Jol believes Aston Villa can clinch a Champions League spot this season after claiming Arsenal are "no longer automatically a top-four side" in the Barclays Premier League.
Jol suffered the agony of just missing out on Europe's top domestic competition when manager of Tottenham, who were pipped on the final day of the campaign by the Gunners three years ago.
But he sees Villa taking over from Arsene Wenger's side and said: "I would say Villa are in the top five clubs now - and they could be a top-four club. Arsenal are not so good now. They are no longer automatically a top-four side. Villa can definitely take their place and can reach the Champions League."
He added: "They are one of the bigger clubs. In fact, when they won the European Cup (in 1982) I was there at the game in Rotterdam. I had to keep quiet as I was amongst the Villa fans.
"Villa are now a great side and we were interested at Tottenham in signing Ashley Young. He was a bit too expensive in the end at £9million.
"But he has gone up a level since then, Gabriel Agbonlahor is one of the quickest players in the Premier League while James Milner is also an excellent player.
"They have got the talent, as we had a couple of years ago at Spurs, and the future is for them."
Jol hinted that whether he stays at Hamburg, who Villa face in the UEFA Cup on Wednesday, for the long term may depend on if he is able to sign a couple of quality players.
He said: "I want to go all the way here. One or two good players will make my team good and I will stay here for a couple of years.
"But if not, I will think about moving. They have not got a lot of resources here so I have to develop young players and I did that at Spurs."
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