It’s imperative for Manchester City to win on Monday night in the Manchester derby.
The title race is probably over, barring some sort of bizarre sequence of events which sees Manchester United forget how to defend, close out games and produce a repeat of the back end of last season.
However, that doesn’t mean that the Manchester derby is any less significant, especially for Manchester City who produced the performance of the season last year to win this fixture 6-1 as they went onto win a first Premier League crown.
United have responded well this season but it’s vital for City to try and win this match, not because of the points but because of what it means in the greater scheme of what both clubs are trying to achieve.
City need to win the match to prove to not just themselves, but to United that they are ready to dig in and fight until the very end for the rest of this season and for all of the tense battles that both teams are going to endure over the next few seasons.
It’s important for them to send out that message because if United win this match, add well to their squad this summer and then progress next year, the gap could start to get bigger and start looking like it was before City were fortunate enough to be bought by some very wealthy people.
It’s also important for Roberto Mancini because the Italian may have started to doubt himself and his methods at times this season, especially in the context of European football.
A lot has been made of the sort of decisions that Mancini has gone with over the course of this season, the tactical changes he has made during games and the combination of players he has used.
There is literally no bigger test for his side than going to Old Trafford, to the team with a 15 point lead at the top of the table and turning them over for a second season in a row.
That should give him the momentum and the belief to head into the summer with a clear and focused vision of where the side needs to improve and how they can add another Premier League title to their most recent collection.
There are also plenty of players in the City team who will be looking to make a point and are under pressure to perform.
One such player is Yaya Toure, who has just signed an extended contract with the club meaning he’s under pressure to put in a performance, considering City are likely to have caved in to most of his demands in order to get him to stay.
It’s also an important match for their shopping window this summer, because a few potential targets could be put off if they watch this game and judge that United are in a much more advanced or stronger state.
Who do you think will win?
image: © geetarchurchy