Ronaldo: 'United are getting better'

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The Independent Online

Cristiano Ronaldo has warned Arsenal that they are in a fight to the finish and that reigning champions Manchester United are even stronger than when they won the Premier League last season.

The Portuguese winger, who on Monday night picked up a Fifa trophy here for coming third in their world player of the year award, also believes it is a mistake to view the title race as a two-horse contest between United and Arsenal.

Wins for United and Arsenal on Sunday over Liverpool and Chelsea respectively means the top two now have a small, but potentially significant gap over the others in the league table, and Ronaldo said: "Arsenal play fantastic football but I think we have a better team this season than we had last year. We have good players, a good spirit and we have to do the same as last season.

"We have a good chance, we are at the top of the league, Arsenal and ourselves, but I don't think it is just between the two teams. Chelsea and Liverpool are still there and are strong.

"I think we can challenge for the Champions League as well," he added, "we are through to the next round and I am looking forward to it."

Milan's Brazilian midfielder Kaka won the award with Barcelona's Argentina forward Lionel Messi second. The Fifa award is voted on by all national team managers and captains, and the England captain, John Terry, did not vote for Ronaldo or Kaka.

The register of votes shows that Terry instead chose two of his Chelsea team-mates, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech, among his three choices as well as Messi. The former England manager Steve McClaren chose Kaka, Ronaldo and the Milan and Italy midfielder Gennaro Gattuso.

Kaka, Messi and Ronaldo are aged 25, 20 and 22 respectively and Brazil legend Pele believes a new generation of stars is now coming forward to steal the limelight from the likes of Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry.

Pele said: "I'm very happy because Brazilians won both awards Kaka the men's and Marta the women's."

He also believes if Ronaldo shines for Portugal in the Euro 2008 finals he will have an excellent chance of winning the player of the year award next year. Pele added: "Kaka has been playing at the highest level for four years both for Milan and Brazil. Ronaldo has been fantastic too, especially in the Premier League and if he plays very well for his national team next year he can win this award."

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