Title is a three-way battle, says Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson is preparing for a hectic festive period at Manchester United
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes the Premier League title race is now down to three teams.
"I don't think there will be anyone outside us, Chelsea or Arsenal," said Ferguson, whose side top the table and are unbeaten in the league this season.
United beat Sunderland on Boxing Day to move five points clear of third-placed Arsenal, who face Chelsea on Monday.
Ferguson added that he feels Manchester City - currently second in the table -and Tottenham will fall away.
The Scot suggested the pair will be hampered by their European commitments with Spurs through to the Champions League last 16 and City the Europa League's last 32.
With the season nearing its halfway stage, the race to become Premier League champions is developing into arguably the most open one for years with the lead having already changed hand on numerous occasions.
Man City could have moved top - albeit having played twice more than United - had their city rivals lost on Sunday but Ferguson predicted neither their nor fifth-placed Spurs' challenge would last.
"I know Harry [Redknapp] is talking up his chances at Tottenham but they are involved in the Champions League, which is a new thing for them," said the Scot, who turns 69 on New Year's Eve.
"If they get through the next stage it is not easy to manage European competition at that level and doing your league programme, plus FA Cup ties. Usually experience gets you through.
"Manchester City have got a chance, of course. But they will also have the Europa League which will make it difficult. Maybe they, and Harry too, could buy in January because it is very difficult to manage both."
With teams in England facing four fixtures over a 10-day festive period, the call for a winter break - something enjoyed in Italy, France and Spain - is once again being demanded by a number of Premier League bosses.
Ferguson has been a long-time supporter of such a rest for the players, and Man City manager Robert Mancini and West Brom head coach Roberto di Matteo are the latest to join a growing band of managers who support the idea.
"We're not living in the Middle East or Africa. We live in England, in northern Europe, so let's have a winter break," Di Matteo said.
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce vows to attack at Old Trafford
"In March we have two games. Can we not put another game in there, even though it's an international break? Why not put one or two at the end of May when the pitches are beautiful and people will flock to the stadium.
"I know of the Boxing Day tradition but you will still get packed stadia later in the year because it's a better climate and people will enjoy it more."
One manager who does not feel the fixtures should be interrupted is Wolves manager Mick McCarthy.
"I've never wanted a winter break at all," McCarthy said. "Fans love going to a game on Boxing Day and I've done it all my life as a player and manager.
"I've trained Christmas Day and you just get on with it. I remember when I was at Sunderland a few years ago and over 40,000 turned up on Boxing Day against Leeds.
"It was like a full house, it was amazing - and that was in the Championship."
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.