Read how it all unfolded at a buoyant Old Trafford in our minute-by-minute updates below.
7pmGood evening readers! In just under three hours' time we could have a new Premier League champion.
7.01pmOf course, if United can complete the job this evening it's not their first Premier League crown but they will wrestle it back from neighbours Manchester City, who memorably stole the crown on the final day last season.
7.03pmTeam news from United and Villa should be with us very shortly, by the way. Tonight could live long in the memory as the Red Devils have only won three of their 13 Premier League titles at Old Trafford.
7.05pmVILLA XI: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett, Westwood, Delph, N’Zogbia, Weimann, Agbonlahor, Benteke
7.06pmUNITED XI: De Gea, Rafael, Jones, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Giggs, Carrick, Kagawa, Rooney, Van Persie
7.08pmWe have our two teams then. For visitors Villa, Lambert makes one change as Gabriel Agbonlahor returns to the side in place of Jordan Bowery. Ferguson has made a pair of changes to his lineup, both at centre-back, with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic out for Jonny Evans and Ryan Giggs.
7.09pmSUBS: Here are the two benches:
United: Ferdinand, Lindegaard, Hernandez, Nani, Welbeck, Cleverley, Buttner
Villa: Given, Holman, Sylla, El Ahmadi, Bent, Bowery, Clark
United: Ferdinand, Lindegaard, Hernandez, Nani, Welbeck, Cleverley, Buttner
Villa: Given, Holman, Sylla, El Ahmadi, Bent, Bowery, Clark
7.11pmFergie's two changes certainly jig his side up a little. Phil Jones reverts back to centre-half alongside Evans while Giggs could play from the left or centre of midfield.
7.12pmWayne Rooney has occupied a deeper role of late but he should be more advanced tonight alongside top scorer Robin van Persie.
7.13pmRooney could also again drop a little deeper and allow Shinji Kagawa to push on more but I expect the Englishman to go and support Van Persie up top.
7.15pmFor the Villans, Lambert will be hoping that they can continue their good form of late (they've picked up 10 points out of a possible 18) but there isn't a harder place to come than the Theatre of Dreams.
7.17pmIf Villa can pick up a win then they will ease their relegation fears by moving six points clear of the drop zone. They won't move up any places though.
7.19pmThe reason United can seal the crown tonight is yesterday's defeat for City at Tottenham Hotspur. Roberto Mancini's men looked on course for the three points until a second-half surge from Spurs saw them turn it around and win 3-1 to reignite their charge for a Champions League place.
7.21pmIt was a Sunday full of drama and all the headlines were written by Liverpool's Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan appeared to bite Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic before nicking a late draw for the Reds. Today, he has been charged with violent conduct by the Football Association and is set to be handed a lengthy ban. Click here to read more.
7.25pmThe reverse fixture of tonight's match was a real thriller in Birmingham on November 10. Villa took a two-goal lead but left with nothing after a Javier Hernandez-inspired United came back to win 3-2.
7.29pmREFEREE WATCH: Tonight's man in charge is Anthony Taylor.
7.33pmIf Villa are to snatch a surprise victory tonight, it would have to buck a nasty trend that Villa have when playing United. They have won only once in their last 32 league and cup games against the Red Devils - a 1-0 triumph at Old Trafford in December 2009 when Agbonlahor scored with a header. Could Gabby come back to haunt United once more?
7.36pmFerguson has just told Sky Sports News that Vidic is out because of an injury picked up in last week's draw at West Ham. Ferdinand is also carrying a knock but he's fit enough for the bench. Ferguson adds: "[Villa} have got some lively players in their team." He insists that United are respecting their opponents tonight.
7.39pmIf Villa do somehow upset the odds then it will be awful news for both QPR and Reading as they will be relegated. The two are as good as down but any hope could be killed off.
7.42pmIf you like a flutter and fancy a Villa upset, you can back Lambert's men at around 11/1. Worth a quid?
7.43pmA Villa victory would condemn United to successive Premier League home defeats for the first time since 2002. Surely they can't?
7.46pmThat win Villa did manage in 2009 was the last time United have failed to score in front of their own fans. You can back the visitors to keep United out at 12/1.
7.50pmPREDICTION! Ten minutes until the off so it's time for my prediction on the match. You won't be surprised that I'm siding with the hosts. I don't see it being a complete rout, maybe 2-0. Van Persie to score both.
7.54pmHere come United into the tunnel. Patrice Evra is up at the front and he's all smiles as he shakes referee Taylor's hand. Villa follow soon after and their skipper Ron Vlaar looks in the zone.
7.56pmUnited are, of course, in their classic red tops, white shorts and black socks while Villa are in their changed strip of hi-vis yellow-green. Here they come onto the pitch. Nearly ready for KO.
7.59pmHere we go then. Ninety minutes for United to win another Premier League.
0 minKICKOFF! Taylor blows his whistle for the first time and Van Persie and Kagawa get us underway.
0 minLooks like Rooney is starting deeper yet again, with Kagawa the man closest to Van Persie.
2 minGOAL! United 1-0 Villa (Van Persie)
2 minWhat a start! Rooney pings a fabulous pass over to Valencia. The Ecuadorian's right foot was offside but that was extremely tight. He goes at Bennett before pulling it back for Rafael to cross. The Brazilian's centre is a little deep but Giggs is there to volley it back across goal and Van Persie has an easy tap-in.
3 minCHANCE! Van Persie inches away from a second! Valencia's cross is misjudged by Vlaar and the Dutchman's volley is just over.
8 minUnited couldn't have dreamt of a better start but Villa have just come fairly close. Weimann picked up the ball in the box and sent over a cross-cum-shot that Benteke wasn't really alive to so De Gea sees it wide.
9 minCHANCE! Great stuff from Giggsy! He set up the goal and has just done Lowton for pace. His cross for Van Persie is good too but his knockdown for Kagawa is superbly defended by Vlaar.
10 minOFF THE POST! I said in my prediction that I didn't think a rout was on the cards but United are all over this! They come close once again as Rafael lets fly from outside the box and the ball slaps the far post with Guzan well beaten.
12 minCHANCE! End-to-end stuff at Old Trafford as Weimann streaks clear and lays in Benteke who just lifts his side-foot effort over the crossbar. I don't know if I've ever typed this quickly before.
13 minGOAL! United 2-0 Villa (Van Persie)
13 minOH MY GOODNESS ME! Rooney sends a searching ball over the top for Van Persie, the Dutchman could bring it down but he just wallops it on the volley into the corner. That is an incredible finish but he may have been slightly offside.
17 minWe'll be seeing that goal for a long time yet. I'm in dreamland as well because RVP is my fantasy football captain! Here's an interesting take on the goal from German journalist Rafael Honigstein: "Video evidence would have ruled that goal out. #justsaying"
18 minGiggs goes in very hard on Agbonlahor and is lucky to escape a booking from Taylor. The pair even appear to share a giggle.
21 minWe've just seen Fergie's celebration to that second Van Persie goal and even he seemed to stunned by the strike.
24 minFancy Villa to pull off the most remarkable of comebacks? You can back them at about 125/1! Ha!
26 minTasty cross from Bennett but De Gea has been much more assured of late when coming and claiming and he makes no mistake in plucking this one out of the air.
27 minYELLOW! First booking of the game to Evra for an ugly challenge on N'Zogbia who was looking to break away.
29 minIt looks like Ferguson's problems at centre-back are mounting up as Evans may be about to go off for Ferdinand. I'm not quite sure what the problem is.
31 minThis is better from Villa. N'Zogbia is picked out on the right of the area and his cross-shot deflects up and over De Gea but wide of the post for a corner.
33 minGOAL! United 3-0 Villa (Van Persie)
33 minA 33-minute hat-trick for the Dutchman! Giggs has all sorts of space on the left and he should probably shoot himself but instead passes inside to Van Persie. He takes a touch before moving it past Guzan and rifling it in off the post. There was a hint of offside about that goal too!
36 minWhat a title-winning party this is turning out to be for United. If you manually refresh this page you'll be able to see a cracking picture of RVP smashing home that wonderful second goal.
37 minAnd here's a nice little stat from @OptaJoe on Twitter: "5 - Robin van Persie has now scored five PL hat-tricks, drawing level with Andy Cole, D Berbatov, Ian Wright & R van Nistelrooy. Fab."
39 minThat third goal has now also taken Van Persie top of the Premier League scoring list, one ahead of Luis Suarez. It's likely that the Uruguayan will not play again this season after yesterday's antics so Van Persie should have the golden boot wrapped up.
41 minFabulous first-time football from the home side as Van Persie fires it out to Giggs and he puts in a low cross that Guzan does well to come and collect.
42 minSHOT! Villa have been seeing more of the ball of late and they come close to pulling one back as Agbonlahor twists on the edge of the box and fires a left-foot shot a yard or so wide.
45 min"Wheyyyy!" jeer the United fans as Vlaar shapes to shoot but balloons it high into the Stretford End. Two minutes have been added on, by the way.
45+2 minHALF-TIME: United 3-0 Villa
8.49pmWhat an electrifying half of football in Manchester - It's Robin van Persie 3-0 Aston Villa. If you've only just joined us and want a recap of the opening 45, click here to read Barney Corkhill's HT report. (There's some great full-size images on that article.)
8.53pmIs that second goal from Van Persie the goal of the season? Suarez's deftness against Newcastle, Lowton's stunner against Stoke and Bale's rocket against West Ham have to be up there but, for me, that goal tonight is the pick of the bunch.
8.58pmEven the most fantasising of fantasists couldn't imagine three Villa goals in the second half and that means that United will be crowned Premier League champions in 45 minutes time. Congratulations to them. If they win all of their remaining games then they will eclipse the record points total set by Chelsea.
9.01pmOut they come for the second half and Villa have made a half-time change, with Karim El Ahmadi taking the place of N'Zogbia.
47 minBennett makes a mistake to allow Valencia past him down the right. The number seven pops it inside for Van Persie who gets to the byline before winning a corner.
49 minWeimann has plenty of space down the right to whip over a cross but it's too close to De Gea, or is it? The Spaniard makes a real hash of it and Rafael has to hack away for a corner.
50 minOFF THE LINE! He's useful at both ends, this Van Persie lad. The corner comes over and Baker's header back across goal is flicked goalwards and it beats De Gea but not the Dutchman who stoops low to head it clear.
52 minEvra is penalised for a high foot on Lowton and remember, the Frenchman is on a booking so needs to be careful.
53 minSAVE! Rooney is dispossessed near his own penalty area and the ball falls for Benteke with no-one in front of him but his shot is kept out by De Gea.
58 minVilla are looking more and more dangerous. This time it's Weimann who has a chance to shoot right of centre but he looks for Benteke and he's denied by some excellent defending from Jones.
63 minCHANCE! Almost four for United as Van Persie fizzes a cutback to Rooney but he sidefoots it well over.
66 minVan Persie DOES SOMETHING WRONG! His perfect night has the tiniest of blips in it as he miscontrols a firm pass.
67 minJUST WIDE! Great burst of pace from Weimann to lose Giggs and his curling effort across goal veers wide of the far post. It may have been a cross but was far too hard for Benteke to have any chance of connecting.
70 minAlmost brilliant from Kagawa as he looks to flick right and then over his marker but can't quite retain control of the ball. It's been a fairly quiet night from the Japanese but he hasn't needed to shine.
71 minDanny Welbeck will be on shortly as Rooney prepares to take a corner.
72 minUNITED SUB: The forward takes the place of Wazza who has had a solid game in midfield. The pass for Van Persie's volley was inch perfect.
73 minRafael gifts the ball to Westwood and he turns it on to Agbonlahor who tries to beat Jones down the left but it's well defended by the youngster and De Gea collects.
75 minSHOT! What a goal this nearly was! Half-time substitute El Ahmadi lets fly from 30-odd yards and it dips very late and De Gea gets a fingertip to it to push it over.
77 minWHAT A MISS! Oh dear Shinji Kagawa! Valencia outmuscles Baker and then cuts it back for the Japanese who feints beautifully to open up a free shot at goal but he blasts it over under no pressure.
82 minIt's showboating time now for United as Kagawa cleverly leaves a pass and it spins around Vlaar to Van Persie before the move breaks down.
86 minVan Persie is flagged offside but still manages to show off his repertoire by shouldering a through-ball into Welbeck.
87 minVilla win a free kick about 25 yards out and it's El Ahmadi who takes it on. He gets it up and over the wall but De Gea is already across to catch with ease.
90 min"Champions, champions, ole, ole, ole!" sing the United fans. This game has been over since the 33rd minute.
90+2 minTwo minutes have been added on, by the way.
90+2 minFULL-TIME: United 3-0 Villa
9.49pmMANCHESTER UNITED HAVE WON THE PREMIER LEAGUE!
9.51pmWild celebrations on the pitch from the men in red. They've wrapped up the title with four games to spare. Congratulations to them.
9.52pmFor Villa, their eyes would have been on the weekend as they would have known that tonight's game was a real tough ask. In the end, they didn't really show up as United strolled to an unprecedented 20th league title.
9.53pmNice from Manchester City who have just seen their title slip away. The club have just tweeted: "Congratulations to Manchester United on winning the Barclays Premier League title for 2012-13."
9.54pmThanks for joining Sports Mole for United's title party. Be sure to stick around on site for plenty of reaction and analysis throughout the night and into Tuesday. See you tomorrow for the Champions League semi-final between Bayern and Barca!