On Sunday afternoon, a trio of goals in a little over seven minutes from Clint Dempsey, Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale resigned Manchester City to their fifth defeat of the Premier League season and handed Manchester United the chance to secure their record 20th league title at Old Trafford on Monday night, against relegation threatened Aston Villa.
With the almost inevitable league triumph awaiting United, what team will Sir Alex Ferguson field to make sure that his team secure the title?
With the Red Devils' next match against Arsenal at the Emirates, Ferguson will want to ensure the team that he puts out will secure the title against Villa ahead of the game with their rivals which, ironically, is against Robin van Persie's former team.
Will the desire to rub salt into the wounds of bitter Arsenal fans drive the Scottish tactician to field a strong team to make sure Van Persie and Co. will be presented with the 'Guard of Honour' from his former teammates?
Here's a look at how United could line-up tonight as they look to win their 20th league title.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
De Gea has now started 18 league games in a row for United, cementing his position as first-choice 'keeper. With De Gea only conceding three goals in his last nine Premier League appearances, with seven clean sheets in the process, there will be no temptation to rest him for Anders Lindegaard.
Right-back: Rafael da Silva
The Brazilian right-back has, arguably, been the most improved player in the whole United squad and has racked up three goals and five assists. Over the past few weeks, Ferguson has been rotating the right-back spot between Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, but with a game of such importance and attacking the main priority, Rafael will surely start.
Centre-back: Nemanja Vidic
The United captain will start in order to handle the physical and aerial presence of Villa's in-form striker, Christian Benteke.
Centre-back: Rio Ferndinand
With Ferdinand being one of the most consistent players in the United squad this season, he's likely to partner Vidic in the heart of United's defence for this decisive fixture.
Left-back: Patrice Evra
With the summer signing of Alexander Büttner, it kicked Evra into a more consistent and reliable player than he was last season. Evra will start against Villa due to the potential magnitude of the game.
Right-winger: Antonio Valencia
This season has definitely been one to forget for the Ecuadorian. However, on Wednesday night against West Ham United, Valencia scored his first goal of the Premier League season and put in one of his better performances. With Ashley Young ruled out for the remainder of the season, Valencia will be first-choice for the right-wing slot.
Centre-midfield: Michael Carrick
The recently nominated PFA Player of the Year candidate has played his finest season in a United shirt since he joined the club from Tottenham Hotspur. With Carrick being one of the best players in terms of consistency and importance, his name will surely be the first one down on the teamsheet.
Centre-midfield: Tom Cleverley
In the last few games, we have seen Anderson, Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones in the heart of the midfield, all with different outcomes. Cleverley has not started for United since their narrow 1-0 loss to Chelsea in the FA Cup replay, but with the rotation policy in force throughout the squad, Cleverley will be expected to make a return tonight.
Nani's last appearance came against Chelsea in the FA Cup, where he had a horrendous game and was subsequently dropped for the next few fixtures. With injuries and a lack of options taking their toll, Ferguson could turn to Nani for tonight's crunch clash.
Attacking-midfield: Shinji Kagawa
The Japanese international has endured a mixed first campaign at United, but with his man of the match performance against West Ham, in which he got two assists, he will be in line for another start against Villa in his favoured number 10 role behind the striker.
Striker: Robin van Persie
Like Carrick, Van Persie is United's only other player on the shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year award. Leading the scoring charts for United with 21 league goals, and with two goals in two games after a barren run, it would be impossible to drop United's leading talisman.
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