Experts’ insights on Premier League’s Manchester derby showdown Monday

Only five miles separate Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium from Manchester United’s Old Trafford. In 162 Manchester derbies (matches between teams from same town or local area), dating back to November 1881, Manchester United has 68 wins, Manchester City, 44, and there have been 50 draws.

However, many experts agree the Manchester derby has never been played with this much at stake at this point in the season — a potential Premier League title.

Leading up to Monday’s Manchester derby (ESPN, ESPN3 and ESPN Deportes at 2:30 p.m. ET), some of ESPN’s soccer commentators offer their thoughts.

Ian Darke, English-language play-by-play commentator who will call the match on ESPN:
“It is a title decider if Manchester United wins. I concur with Sir Alex Ferguson who says ‘It is the biggest Manchester derby game ever.’ The stadium is going to be so turbo-charged, and I expect it to be a fanatical, crazy, wild night of tension among the fans.”

Jose Hernandez, Spanish-language play-by-play commentator for the match on ESPN Deportes:
“Manchester United tends to play with a defensive approach in these types of games. But their defense made mistakes last match against Everton. They are not obligated to win. A tie would be enough for them to maintain the three-point lead. A key for both teams is to not only attack but also know how to use their defense — a slight mistake could cost you the game.”

ESPNsoccernet Press Pass analyst Shaka Hislop who played professional soccer in England for 14 years:
“This is more than just a derby. This is about Carlos Tevez going from Manchester United to Manchester City. This is about Alex Ferguson calling City ‘the noisy neighbors.’ This is about both clubs being at the top of the league at different points in the season. This is also about City winning 6-1 at Old Trafford. I can’t think of a single game in the Premiership that means this much.”

Steve McManaman, English-language soccer analyst for the match, a Liverpool FC legend who played two seasons for Manchester City:
“The English Premier League starts in August and finishes in May. It comes down to three games to get a winner and the top two teams are facing each other. It is about old money against new money. Manchester United, the most successful team in the League, against their arch neighbor Manchester City. Last year, City won the FA Cup. United won the league. The loser of the league this year will be left empty-handed.”

ESPN Deportes Fuera de Juego co-host Tato Noriega, Spanish-language analyst for the match and former Mexican player:
“What will happen at Etihad Stadium, home of the “Citizens,” would be a world-class event. This is not only because of the quality of the players, but also because of all the history and controversy that surrounds this league – one that has been considered the most attractive in the world for many years.”

ESPN International and ESPNsoccernet Press Pass analyst Tommy Smyth:
“I’ve been watching English football for about six decades. In those years, nothing between Manchester City and Manchester United has ever matched this. It is a game that the championship is riding on, which is very unusual that the two Manchester teams are vying for the title.”

Read CNN.com’s take on this match by clicking here.

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