Wayne Rooney has scored four goals in his last five games, and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson is expecting the striker to continue to put the ball in the net when his team faces Lille on Tuesday in the Champions League.
"It will happen for Wayne. He'll explode onto the scene, there's no question about that," Ferguson said. "I'm hoping that he takes into the Lille game and matches the form he's showing now for us. Over the last few weeks he's certainly come back to his best."
Rooney was alone up front last year when United lost at Lille 1-0 and drew 0-0 at home in the group stage. The English team finished last in the group and didn't even get a spot in the UEFA Cup.
This year, Cristiano Ronaldo in good form and Rooney, who sat out Saturday's 1-1 draw against Reading in the FA Cup, is back to his best.
United leads the Premier League by six points over two-time defending champion Chelsea. Lille, which is third in the French league, slipped 18 points behind Lyon after a 2-1 loss to the leaders Friday.
"It's not the ideal result before playing maybe the best team in Europe at the moment," Lille defender Gregory Tafforeau said.
Lille has lost three of its last four games in injury time, and the team's defense is hardly looking forward to facing a team with 80 goals in all competitions 31 more than Lille has managed so far this season.
Lille's attack is also stumbling with just one goal in the last four matches.
"We're not at our best inside our heads to prepare the match against Manchester," Lille forward Nicolas Fauvergue said after the loss to Lyon.
Lyon's winning goal stemmed from slack Lille marking, and similarly poor concentration punished the team in a 1-0 loss to Toulouse the previous week.
"We will have to avoid that at all costs against Manchester United," Lille midfielder Ludovic Obraniak said. "These are errors which cost dearly. It's up to us to make amends."
In a scrappy game played at Stade de France on Nov. 2, 2005, Lille beat United on a goal from Slovenia midfielder Milenko Acimovic, reports AP.
Because Lille's temporary stadium at Villeneuve d'Ascq is still not ready to host European matches, the teams will play the first leg at Stade Bollaert in nearby Lens.
Although United faces five games in 15 days, midfielder Michael Carrick said the team is big enough to withstand player burnout.
"The season is building up, which is what playing for a club like this is all about," said Carrick, who scored against Reading. "We have to focus our minds on Lille now and get ready to go again."
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969