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Rio predicting fourth for Liverpool
It is four seasons since the Merseyside giants last achieved that feat, and 23 since the last of their 18 league championships.
Given the huge amounts of cash spent by Kenny Dalglish and the rebuilding work required following the exits of Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam over the past 12 months, it is hardly a surprise so little was expected of Brendan Rodgers' troops this season.
Yet Liverpool have started the campaign with back-to-back victories and should they beat Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday, they will find themselves five points ahead of their old rivals.
However, Ferdinand does not feel it will be the prelude to an extended championship drive. That, the United defender is convinced, will be the preserve of his own club, Manchester City and Chelsea.
"It is too early to say whether they will challenge the top four," Ferdinand told MUTV. "I don't think they would have been in anyone's reckoning before the season began.
"But they have started the season very well and are looking to put themselves in a good position after those first three games.
"I still see it being between Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, with Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal going for that fourth spot."
Ferdinand has identified Daniel Sturridge, who scored the winner against both Stoke and Aston Villa, and Philippe Coutinho are the main threats to the visitors on what is sure to be a high-octane occasion.
The 34-year-old is well used to the unique atmosphere, having played in 19 such contests, including scoring late winners twice at Old Trafford.
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