Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson won't rule out Liverpool and Chelsea making a title challenge this season.

Ahead of tomorrow's big match at Arsenal, Ferguson said: "At the moment, I think it's looking between Arsenal and ourselves at the top, but you know football changes. "When you come to January and it really does start, then you expect to see Liverpool and Chelsea."

And it's been revealed Ferguson always expected an improved Arsenal this season.

In a rare moment of intimacy with journalists on United's pre-season tour of Asia, Ferguson raised an eyebrow when he was asked whether Arsenal might struggle after losing Henry to Barcelona.

"They lost him in December," Ferguson said in a curt assessment of the France forward's final months as an Arsenal player. "His time had gone and I think Arsene (Wenger) knew that. I think they will be more consistent. They need more goals, but they've got [Emmanuel] Adebayor and they've got [Robin] Van Persie back, so they're not too bad, are they?"