The sun will set and the skies will turn dark over Manchester on Monday evening as the atmosphere and anticipation finally hits boiling point. Two Mancunian football teams will emerge from the Ethihad tunnel entering a cauldron of noise and hatred.
The time will have finally stopped for the talking and mind games, as Manchester City go into battle against rivals Manchester United to give us a clearer indication as to what colour ribbons will be attached to the Premier League trophy in a couple of weeks time.
It could be reminiscent of a gladiator style bout in the Colosseum, minus the claret and fatality's.Both sets of players and supporters will know fully how huge a victory would be for their team and the statement it would represent. Will the red flag be flying high? Or will it be eclipsed by the blue moon that is evidently rising?
Its a clash of huge importance at the Etihad Stadium on Monday evening, its worthy of the title "the biggest derby ever" because quite simply, it is. Its a situation that has only become possible and made a reality,by the injection of Sheikh Mansour's billion pound war chest. Who's to know where City would be without their billionaire saviour? Certainly not challenging Manchester United for the league title.
The implications of a victory for either Manchester side are simple to understand. If City win, the title is then theirs to lose, a win for United will virtually, but not mathematically, guarantee that it will be the red side of Manchester who will be crowned Premier League champions for a record 20th time. A draw would be of more significance for the current champions rather than City as the gap would stay at three points with only two games remaining.
In the past, a fixture for City against United at this late stage of the season, would have represented nothing more than a chance for them to derail the reds title charge. Tomorrow that scenario is no different, City are still looking to put a spanner in works, but have the added incentive that for the first time in over 40 years, they have something to play for themselves, a shot at taking control of the chase for the Premier League title, and knowing that if they win their remaining fixtures they will be champions.
United reluctance to land the fatal blow and end this title race has seen a significant turn around at the top. The eight point advantage the reds had earned, has been cut to only three points following surprising results against Wigan and Everton that resulted in five points being surrendered. City have been playing with little pressure on them as Mancini claimed the race for the title was over, a comment the Italian still stands by but who is he trying to kid? If City win this fixture, the destiny of the Premier League crown will be controlled by his team.
Its a must win game for City if they are serious about their title dream, United however will be looking to avoid defeat to strengthen their stranglehold on a trophy they are only too familiar with. What better way to win the league than to win it in your neighbours backyard, on their turf, in front of their supporters? United supporters on the other hand will certainly not want to see a certain individual from Argentina teeing off in front of them or stood with his ears cupped. Hopefully it lives up to the hype that has surrounded it for the last week.