Chris Smalling explains why Manchester United will finish in the top four

by Leo Nieboer

Chris Smalling has explained why Manchester United will finish in the top four this season, pointing towards the 3-0 win over Leicester City as an example of his side’s capacity to close the gap on rivals.

Goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juan Mata in the space of nine minutes sealed a comfortable win for Jose Mourinho‘s men.

The result takes Man United to within one point of Liverpool and two behind fourth-placed Arsenal, and would briefly move to fifth spot with a win over Watford on Saturday.

And Smalling, speaking after the win over Claudio Ranieri’s side, made it clear that United can close the gap on the top four.

“We’ve had a few opportunities to be able to close that gap [on the top four] and this time we took our opportunity and played really well, so we need to build on this,” he said.

“Obviously, we’ve got a home game next so if we can get the three points we can really do some chasing.

“I think after this game and the performance we can say that it’s high but until we get on a good consistent winning run I think it can get even better.”

United may have been consigned to sixth spot for what seems like an entire decade, but Mourinho – and indeed his entire squad – will be happy with where they are: ominously lurking behind a number of teams capable of falling apart at any given moment, knowingly heading in the right direction under Mourinho.

The next two months are vital for United. The likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur will all play each-other over this period, meaning that dropped points are not just likely but an inevitability. United, on the other hand, don’t have to face a top six rival until mid-April, and they’ll be desperate to avoid any more failures to capitalise on other sides slipping up as the season’s climax approaches.

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