Manchester United will be top of the Premier League going into Sunday’s clash against Liverpool.
The Red Devils have amassed 36 points from their opening 17 matches of the 2020/21 season, winning seven of their eight away games in the process.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have looked like the real deal in recent weeks and fans are optimistic that the club will be lifting league title number 21 in May.
But despite being top of the table in January, that will be a mighty tough ask for United due to the quality possessed by both Liverpool and Manchester City.
Ex-Liverpool defender John Arne Riise believes both teams will finish ahead of United this season and has backed his former side to retain the trophy they won for the first time in 2019/20.
“They had a good start to the season but they’re losing too many games and are lacking in consistency.
“For a neutral football fan, it must be great to watch a league like this when it’s so tight. You never know who is going to finish in the top four, or even the top six!
“Liverpool and Man City are going to be up there, and then Man United will probably be in third place.”
So why does Riise think United will have to settle for the bronze medal?
Because he believes the Red Devils are far too reliant on Bruno Fernandes, the man who has galvanised the team since his arrival from Sporting Lisbon last January.
The Norwegian added: “Man United are very reliant on Fernandes, though. If he’s out for any reason this season, they’ll struggle.
“That’s why I don’t think United will be up there in May, because they’re too dependent on that one player.
“Man City and Liverpool have so many players who can carry the team; Man United only have one.”
It’s hard to disagree with Riise to be honest, as United’s reliance on Fernandes has been evident throughout this season.
The Portuguese midfielder is the team’s talisman, contributing goals, assists and match-winning performances on a regular basis in the Premier League.
If the Red Devils were to lose the 26-year-old for a significant period of time due to injury, you would fear for their title aspirations.