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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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Fergie hails United's fab four

Sir Alex Ferguson believes there are four main candidates to be named Manchester United's player of the year.

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The United manager thinks David de Gea, Rafael da Silva, Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie have been the pick of his title-winning team.

He feels they deserve to follow in the footsteps of Antonio Valencia, who took the Sir Matt Busby trophy last season.

"I think we've got two developing players, first of all, in Rafael and David de Gea," Ferguson toldthe club's official website. "They have had outstanding seasons.

"Then there is Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie. That is the four and I wouldn't like to choose between them. I think they have definitely elevated themselves this season."

Van Persie is United's and the Premier League's top scorer with 25 goals and, although he missed out on the PFA Player of the Year award, is the favourite to be named Footballer of the Year.

Carrick was shortlisted for the PFA award for the first time in his career and was selected in the PFA team of the season, along with De Gea, who has seen off the challenge of Anders Lindegaard to establish himself as the first-choice goalkeeper.

Brazil international Rafael has become the regular choice at right-back in a breakthrough campaign for him.

However, Ferguson omitted Rio Ferdinand, who has had one of his best seasons at Old Trafford, from his list of the main contenders.

Since the Sir Matt Busby trophy was introduced in 1988, Cristiano Ronaldo, a three-time winner, is the only player honoured more than twice.

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