The eyes of the football world will be on Manchester as the city’s football clubs lock horns in a league title derby decider.
Success-starved Manchester City, now the world’s richest club, face rivals United, the most successful club in English domestic football, in a game many expect will effectively crown the winners as Premier League champions, with just two more games of the season left.
The Manchester derby’s fierce rivalry has increased another notch with City hoping to end their league title drought by beating their trophy-laden neighbours to top spot for the first time since 1968.
An oil-rich Arab buyout has helped City to rival their illustrious neighbours this season and a victory would be all the sweeter for sky blue fans who have suffered relegation and humiliation while watching United win honour after honour.
A United win could lead to a record 20th title for the club - and be all but accomplished at City’s home ground, who the Reds have derided as the “noisy neighbours”.
Just 48,000 lucky fans will pack City’s Etihad Stadium to capacity, with tickets for the match reportedly on sale for up to £1,500.
But hundreds of thousands more will pack pubs and clubs across Manchester with tens of millions more watching in the UK and across the world due to the English Premier League’s global appeal.
Fans in Manchester regard it as probably the most significant cross-city clash since West Gorton St Marks (City) first met Newton Heath (United) in 1881 and local police are gearing up for a busy night.
Chief Superintendent John O’Hare of Greater Manchester Police said: “As so much rests on this game, emotions will be running high and our main aim is to ensure the game is a safe and enjoyable experience for all fans.”