Pep Guardiola
Guardiola expects Manchester United to challenge for top four Getty Images

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has backed Manchester United to compete for the top four, despite the Red Devils being currently nine points behind fourth-placed City. Jose Mourinho's men drew 1-1 with Everton, despite taking the lead in the first half through Zlatan Ibrahimovic, their sixth draw in the league thus far.

A similar fate had befallen the Red Devils against Arsenal, where they had taken the lead through Juan Mata, but saw Olivier Giroud's header in the 90th minute end their hopes of taking full points against a top four rival. At Goodison, they were pegged back by a penalty conceded by Marouane Fellaini in the final few minutes, which was slotted home by Leighton Baines.

Meanwhile, City suffered their second defeat of the season against Chelsea, having taken the lead through an own goal by Gary Cahill in the first half. Guardiola's men missed a series of gilt-edged chances and were made to pay in the second half when Diego Costa, Willian and Eden Hazard found the net to extend their lead at the top.

City are down to the fourth spot but Guardiola insists that there is still a long way to go and even United can challenge for a spot in next season's Champions league if they keep playing like the way they have in recent weeks. Meanwhile, the Citizens host Celtic in the final group game of the Champions League, looking forward to the round of 16 draw next week.

"How they played lately, yes," Guardiola replied when asked if United can finish in the top four, given their current form, as quoted by the Goal. "I saw the games against Stoke, Burnley and another one at Old Trafford. They deserve by far to win those games. But football is like this. Of course United have the quality, for the history, the managers and the players to be there. It is a long distance [for the title] and it won't be easy but to be in the top four, of course."