It should have been the biggest game of the season. A Manchester derby between teams atop the Premier League table, battling it out with just eight games left in the season in an epic battle for the title.
Instead, when Manchester United faces Manchester City on Monday, the Red Devils will hold a 15-point lead in the standings, all but assuring they will win the title that City stole from their clutches on the last day of the season a year ago.
Still, it's hard to not get at least a little excited for a clash between these two superpowers. Let's take a closer look at this year's second Manchester derby.
When: Monday, April 8, at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
Watch: ESPN; WatchESPN
What They're Saying
Perhaps this section would more aptly be named "What They're Not Saying," after Simon Stone (via the Daily Mail) reported that Nemanja Vidic won't talk to his Serbian buddies, Aleksandar Kolarov and Matija Nastasic, before the match.
The Manchester United skipper gets on well with his compatriots but the fact they play for Manchester City means there is tension ahead of such a big game.
So for Vidic, the only way to deal with the situation is not to communicate with his countrymen at all.
"I never speak with an opponent before a game," he said. "I am good friends with Kolarov and Nastasic. But I don't like to talk.
"I like to go there and do it. On game day I think about the game, I don't waste energy before the game starts, otherwise you end up tired."
Manchester United Player to Watch: Robin van Persie
Don't look now, but Van Persie hasn't scored for Manchester United in nine straight games in all competitions. That's quite the dry spell for a player that has tallied 23 goals in all competitions in his first season playing for the Red Devils.
United are so loaded with talent in the attack they can survive a player or two falling into a slump, but the Red Devils are virtually unbeatable when Van Persie is in fine form. And keep in mind, United does have two losses and a tie in its last five games.
If Manchester United are to stretch the lead atop the table to 18 points, Van Persie needs to have a solid afternoon.
Manchester City Player to Watch: Sergio Aguero
After a 2011-12 season that saw Sergio Aguero emerge as one of the Premier League's most dangerous strikers—he scored 30 goals for City in all competitions, remember—the 2012-13 season has been something of a disappointment for the Argentine.
Aguero has just 13 goals this season for City, a far cry from this torrid performance a year ago. Sure, the return of Carlos Tevez and form of Edin Dzeko has had something to do with that—as have a few injuries—but Aguero hasn't been the same guy this season.
If he's on his top form, however, City is as dangerous as any club team in the world. Keep an eye on the Argentine striker in this one.
I have a very specific prediction for this game. I have the strangest feeling that City will jump out to an early lead, scoring two goals and stirring belief among its fans that maybe the team will earn the win and be able to make an epic push to the title trailing by 12 points with seven games remaining.
But undeterred, United will strike back, scoring two goals (and one in stoppage time) to earn a draw and end any crazy City hopes of competing for a title.
It will be a far more tragic outcome for City than a simple loss.
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