Having recorded their first away win of the season at FC Girondins de Bordeaux on Wednesday, Liverpool FC are targeting another as they prepare to face Manchester United FC at Old Trafford in one of the most eagerly awaited fixtures on the English calendar.
Liverpool have made a sluggish start to the domestic campaign. On the verge of reaching the UEFA Champions League knockout stage after the 1-0 victory in Bordeaux cemented their place atop Group C, Rafael Benítez's team have shown little of that form in the Premiership. Eight games in and they are languishing in the lower half of the table, let down by poor results on their travels which have cost the Reds at Bolton Wanderers FC, Chelsea FC and, perhaps most gallingly, in a 3-0 defeat at neighbours Everton FC.
The Merseyside outfit finally broke their away duck at the seventh attempt on Wednesday, as Peter Crouch's goal earned the points in France, and Benítez believes it has come at just the right time. "I asked for a big performance from my senior players as we needed this win to improve our confidence. That is what I got and now we will turn our attention to United," the Spaniard said, with the imposing monolith of Sir Alex Ferguson's in-form side looming on the horizon on Sunday.
Like Liverpool, United are within touching distance of the last 16 in the UEFA Champions League after continuing their 100 per cent start to Group F with a 3-0 success over FC København on Tuesday. But unlike their north-west rivals, they have married that progress with strong displays in the Premiership. A 3-1 win at Wigan Athletic FC last weekend kept them top of the table alongside champions Chelsea; their only reverse to date coming courtesy of an 86th-minute strike from Arsenal FC's Emmanuel Adebayor.
United's eye-catching performances have owed to a good balance between the old and the new. Cristiano Ronaldo, Louis Saha, Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidić – who turns 25 on Saturday – have all been impressive, complementing the rejuvenated talents of Paul Scholes and Ole Gunnar Solskjær following their return from long-term injuries. It all bodes well for the Liverpool match, although Benítez's team were victorious the last time the sides met, in the FA Cup in February. It could be a classic.
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