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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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Ferguson wants to party like it's 1999

Sir Alex Ferguson has told his Manchester United players that he expects them to challenge for the Treble this season, Chris Smalling has revealed.

After finishing last season with only the Community Shield to show for their efforts, United are currently 12 points clear of second-placed Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table.

They also secured a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League second-round tie against Real Madrid, and are favourites to progress when they host Reading in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday night.

Ferguson recently compared his current squad favourably with that of the 1998-99 season, when United won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, and Smalling has said that the Scot is eyeing a repeat.

"The manager has stressed that he expects to go to the end in all three competitions," he explained.

"The FA Cup is notoriously unpredictable. Luton reached the fifth round this year, which shows that anything can happen, so there is no point looking too far ahead. But our home form has been good, and another victory can give us the impetus to kick on and get to another final."

United's last two FA Cup finals ended in disappointment as they lost to Arsenal on penalties in 2005 and Chelsea in extra-time in 2007. Their last success came in 2004, when Championship side Millwall were defeated.

"I was quite shocked at how long it has been since United won the FA Cup," Smalling said. "It is a massive competition and one we all look forward to.

"Before we played West Ham in the third round, the manager stressed how much we wanted to win this tournament. There are quite a lot of lads who haven't won it despite being here for quite a while."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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