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Combined XI: Chelsea vs. Manchester City

Combined XI: Chelsea vs. Manchester City

Ahead of Saturday’s Premier League showdown between Chelsea and Manchester City, Sports Mole selects a combined XI from the two star-studded squads.

The big matches continue to come thick and fast in December, and this weekend it is the turn of Chelsea and Manchester City to do battle at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea looked like possible title challengers a few short weeks ago, but a dip in form coupled with Man City’s relentless run of victories means that a 10-point gap now separates the two sides.

Maurizio Sarri‘s side are still unbeaten at home this season, though, and know that they could claw themselves back into a potential title race by inflicting a first defeat of the campaign on Pep Guardiola‘s men.

Here, Sports Mole selects a combined XI from both squads, using only players available for this weekend.

Chelsea boast the most expensive goalkeeper in the world, but Kepa Arrizabalaga still has work to do to be regarded as the best. Man City’s Ederson – himself once the most expensive keeper in football history – is a lot closer to that status than his Chelsea counterpart.

Saturday’s hosts are one of few teams who can put up a fight against Man City when it comes to defensive representatives in this side, though. The only clear choice in the back four is Marcos Alonso at left-back given Benjamin Mendy‘s injury, with his closest competition coming from Fabian Delph.

Guardiola has so far favoured a centre-back partnership of Aymeric Laporte and John Stones for the most part this season, and who are we to argue with the City mastermind? Nicolas Otamendi, Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz also deserve mentions, though, and certainly would not look out of place in this team.

There is more fierce competition at right-back, with Kyle Walker just being pipped to a place in the team by Cesar Azpilicueta. Few would argue that Azpilicueta boasts the better defensive attributes, while he has also assisted two goals this season compared to one goal scored by Walker.

City dominate the team from midfield forward, though, despite Chelsea also possessing some serious quality in the middle of the park. Jorginho has settled nicely into the Premier League and keeps Chelsea ticking over, but Fernandinho is one of the best in the world in his position and provides the base for those in front of him to work their magic.

N’Golo Kante is ordinarily a staple pick for these XIs, but he has not hit his best form in his new position under Sarri, and it is impossible to ignore the dual threat of Bernardo Silva and David Silva, who have directly contributed to 14 league goals between them already this season.

Raheem Sterling has reached that figure on his own this term with eight goals and six assists, and that earns him a place in this team ahead of some stiff competition. Teammates Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez have also been in scintillating form, while Willian and Pedro also deserve a mention, but it is Eden Hazard – scorer of seven goals and creator of six more in the league this term – who takes up residence on the opposite flank.

A fearsome front three is completed by Sergio Aguero, who is a doubt for this match but does have a chance of featuring after two games out. City teammate Gabriel Jesus has been misfiring of late, but he still provides the main competition to lead the line ahead of Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud.

Raheem Sterling celebrates putting his side back ahead during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Bournemouth on December 1, 2018

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