Rio Ferdinand admits Liverpool "have started the season well" - but believes fourth place is the best they can hope for.
Brendan Rodgers' side, who won the last of their 18 league championships in 1990, have not managed to hit the Champions League places for the last four seasons.
"It is too early to say whether they will challenge the top four," Ferdinand told MUTV ahead of Sunday's Sky Live clash at Anfield.
"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."
Despite Ferdinand not regarding Liverpool as title contenders, he does acknowledge that the atmosphere on Sunday will always be special.
"You still get a different feeling when it is Liverpool," he said. "I think it is the history between the clubs, the success Liverpool had and the success we have had in recent years.
"The rivalry is always going to be huge. I have been lucky enough to be on the winning team a few times. To come away from Anfield with a win is a great feeling.
"On the pitch, you sense the atmosphere leading up to the game and also during it. You know what it means to the people of Manchester to beat Liverpool, especially at Anfield."