Manchester United are on track to win the Premier League title for the second time in three years. If Manchester City want to make a miracle comeback to defend their title, it must begin with a road victory inside Old Trafford today.
The Red Devils currently hold a 15-point edge with eight matches left for both sides. It would take a collapse of monumental proportions for them to lose their grip on first place. Given their fine league form throughout the campaign, it's extremely difficult to imagine it happening.
That said, City would love to inject a little drama into the situation over the final few months and at least some pressure on their rivals down the stretch. Anything less than three points on Monday would eliminate those hopes.
Here's a look at all the important viewing information for the EPL clash, followed by a match preview and a prediction for the latest edition of the Manchester derby.
Where: Old Trafford in Manchester, England
When: Monday, April 8, at 3 p.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
The complexion of the title chase changed after the first meeting between the clubs. Pablo Zabaleta scored a late equalizer that seemed like it would salvage a point for City after falling behind 2-0, but Robin van Persie struck late to steal the match back for the Red Devils.
United's victory stretched their edge to six points, and they haven't looked back. The confidence gained by going into Etihad Stadium and emerging with three points really seemed to help fuel their ability to run away from the pack.
City would like to think returning the favor would turn the tide back in their direction. It's probably too late, however, which takes a little bit of the usual hype away from the match. But they must convince themselves otherwise until it's mathematically impossible to come back.
The biggest key for the defending champions is getting off to a strong start. Last time, they were down by two goals within the first half hour. While they fought all the way back to tie it, van Persie took advantage of a late lapse and eliminated the reward for all of that effort.
In the rematch, City must control the middle of the field and attempt to control possession with Yaya Toure and Co. in the midfield. They must get Sergio Aguero a lot of touches in the final third early, with hope he can set the tone with an early strike.
What the second-place club can't allow to happen is United getting free on the wings. If Shinji Kagawa or Danny Welbeck are able to get free for consistent runs on the outside, they will eventually create some golden scoring chances for van Persie against Joe Hart.
Ultimately, it should be an exciting back-and-forth match with plenty of scoring chances for each side. A draw seems like the most probable result.
Prediction: Manchester United 2, Manchester City 2
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