Ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium, Sports Mole selects its strongest combined XI from the squads of Man City and Man Utd.
One of the most eagerly-anticipated matches of the season will take place on Sunday afternoon when champions and leaders Manchester City welcome near neighbours Manchester United to the Etihad Stadium.
City are still unbeaten after 11 games of the campaign and go into this match in blistering goalscoring form, having racked up six-goal hauls in each of their last two outings.
United have endured a much more tumultuous campaign than their local rivals, but did pull off a famous victory away to Juventus in midweek and will be hoping for a similarly sizeable shock on Sunday.
Here, Sports Mole selects its combined XI from both squads, using only players available this weekend.
Plenty of Manchester United players have flattered to deceive so far this season, but if it was not for David de Gea then their plight over the last few years could have been significantly worse. The Spaniard has kept only one clean sheet in the Premier League this season but is still regarded as one of the world’s best goalkeepers and edges out Ederson for a place in this team.
A large reason behind United having shipped a whopping 18 goals – more than any other team outside the bottom six – is because of those in front of De Gea, so it is an easy choice to select an all-Man City defence. Aymeric Laporte and John Stones have established themselves as Pep Guardiola‘s preferred centre-back partnership, and in truth Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany would also be above the first United defender in the pecking order.
Ashley Young has once again proved to be an adequate stand-in during Antonio Valencia‘s recent absence, but there is still no competition for right-back against Kyle Walker, while on the opposite flank Benjamin Mendy is also an easy inclusion despite the revival of Luke Shaw this season.
It is an all-City midfield too, with both Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic struggling to find their best form on a consistent basis this season. There are no such problems for David Silva, who is enjoying arguably the best form of his illustrious City career, or Bernardo Silva, who has well and truly established himself in the first team during the absence of Kevin De Bruyne. Fernandinho provides the crucial base for all of the devastating attacks that go on in front of him.
City could quite feasibly provide the full front three too; Riyad Mahrez has been in fine form since his arrival in the summer and Leroy Sane is beginning to hit his stride after a slow start to the campaign. Neither are automatic choices in the City starting XI, though – largely due to the good form of the other – whereas Anthony Martial will be one of Jose Mourinho‘s first names on the teamsheet following a run of five goals in his last four league games.
Doubts remain over the fitness of Romelu Lukaku for Sunday’s match, but even so the main competition for Sergio Aguero probably comes from Gabriel Jesus, who staked his claim for a starting role by scoring a hat-trick in midweek. Aguero is the Premier League’s joint-top scorer, though, and has directly contributed to 11 goals in as many league games this season.
Arguably the division’s standout player so far this term has been Raheem Sterling, who already has six goals and five assists to his name in the Premier League. The England international comes into this match in stunning form and is perhaps the easiest selection of them all to make this combined XI.
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