This evening's Manchester derby has been billed as possibly the biggest game in the history of the Premier League. Given how close we are to the end of the season, with United and City still battling for the title, it is difficult to argue with that.
It's great for the Premier League to be able to deliver a fixture of this magnitude at such a key stage of the season. It has certainly got the broadcasters and sponsors buzzing. This is why so many companies plough so much money into the English game, for the exposure their names will get at times like this.
There are still two games to go after this one, but I do believe that whoever wins tonight at the Etihad Stadium will be crowned champions. Even though both sides have let their advantage slip from their grasp at certain points, I can't see whoever emerges in front tonight slipping up again. Everything about this game points to it being the decider.
Manchester City know that they have to win, and they will be confident of doing so having beaten United 6-1 at Old Trafford and having only dropped two points at home all season. However, their need for a victory could play right into United's hands.
United set themselves up so well for the counter-attack, and that is the way they have managed to claim so many wins against top opposition in recent years. City are defensively excellent, but the longer the game goes on without them leading the more they will have to commit to attack, and that could be their downfall. Having said that, going into a game knowing that you only need a draw can be a dangerous mindset to be in.
United are the only team who have beaten City at the Etihad Stadium this season, but their win in the FA Cup was a nervy 3-2 result against a home side who had 10 men on the pitch for most of the game. United cannot afford to let the same complacency which they displayed at three goals up in that tie creep in again tonight if the match is goalless with 20 minutes remaining, for example.
A lot will depend on Roberto Mancini and how he decides to set his team up this evening. We have seen City play some of the most exciting, free-wheeling football in England for many years at points this season, but at other times he has still shown the tendency to clam up in pressure situations. There have been several occasions when his team have been chasing a draw or victory and he has baffled the crowd by bringing on a defensive player rather than another attacker.
The other big factor will be how much United's experience matters against City's superior individual talents. While many of City's players have won trophies at other clubs, they do not have the same level of history and achievement as a unit that United's players can draw upon. If Mancini can instil enough team spirit and drive into his players, they will have a great chance.
These are the games when players at big clubs truly prove their worth. You can be great week in, week out against the average teams, but if you don't deliver in situations like the two teams find themselves in tonight then don't be surprised if your agent is looking for a new club for you come the summer.