Combined XI - Liverpool vs Manchester City

Combined XI: Liverpool vs Manchester City

Liverpool vs Manchester City – Combined XI.

Liverpool and Manchester City meet in a mouthwatering first-versus-second clash in the Premier League this weekend, as the title rivals face off at Anfield.

It’s a fixture which has often had plenty riding on it in recent seasons and this weekend is no different, with just a point separating the teams in the table. Sunday’s showdown will also be the final time Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola battle it out as Premier League managers, in an era-ending contest on Merseyside.

Ahead of the game, we’ve selected our Combined XI from the two squads with only available players considered.

Goalkeeper: Ederson – Manchester City

Caoimhín Kelleher has done a fine job standing in for the absent Alisson, though the Irishman misses out to Ederson for the number one shirt in our Combined XI. The Manchester City ‘keeper has been a prominent part of the club’s modern successes, setting new standards for distribution from deep.

Ederson’s expansive passing range is a unique weapon for the Citizens and the 30-year-old was acknowledged with The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper in 2023, following his role in the club’s treble-winning campaign.

Right-back: Kyle Walker – Manchester City

Often trusted ahead of Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold for England, given the balancing act he brings defensively for club and country.

Walker might be 33, but his blistering pace has shown few signs of decline and he so often provides a get-out-of-jail-free card for the Citizens when mopping up to cover counter-attacks.

Centre-back: John Stones – Manchester City

Do we even call John Stones a centre-back anymore?

An incredible footballer in a unique role, Stones brings control and unpredictability to the Citizens with his roaming into advanced areas of the pitch.

Centre-backs have long stepped forward into midfield, though none have done so in this manner. With the game in front of him or with his back to goal further upfield, Stones oozes comfort in any area of the pitch. He is irreplaceable for England this summer.

Centre-back: Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool

Virgil van Dijk has returned to his imperious best this season with Liverpool’s title challenge built on the pillar of the Dutch defender.

The captaincy has been a natural fit for the 32-year-old after Jordan Henderson’s exit in the summer, with the responsibility helping restore Van Dijk to a status as arguably the league’s best.

He has won the most aerial duels (112) and has the highest duel success rate (84.2%) in the Premier League this season. His battle with Erling Haaland will be one of the deciding factors in the contest at Anfield.

Left-back: Andy Robertson – Liverpool

Andy Robertson’s return for the Reds has been a welcome boost for Jurgen Klopp, with the Scotland captain one of the most trusted performers of the German’s time in charge. A leader of the side with relentless energy and dangerous deliveries from wide, his 58 assists are a Premier League record for a defender he shares with Trent Alexander-Arnold.

An obvious selection, with left-back arguably the Achilles heel of the Manchester City machine.

Midfield: Rodri – Manchester City

Rodri’s influence on Manchester City is no secret. The Spaniard has missed four games this season and each has ended in defeat. With the midfielder in the side, City are unbeaten in 60 games across all competitions, a record for a Premier League player.

Rodri might just be the Premier League’s Player of the Season so far, a footballer who dictates games from midfield, breaking up opposition attacks and starting new ones. The metronomic midfielder also has a knack for scoring crucial, and often spectacular, goals, including the decider in last season’s Champions League final win over Inter Milan.

This season, his influence has extended further into the final third with 17 goals and assists in 35 appearances.

The best in the world in his role.

Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City

Where would Manchester City be this season had Kevin De Bruyne been fit for more games? Top of the table, you would imagine.

The brilliant Belgian has been at his creative best since returning from a hamstring issue, scoring twice and providing 12 assists in just 13 appearances across all competitions.

De Bruyne is often the go-to man for Manchester City on the big occasion and will look to extend a strong record in this fixture this weekend. He has four goals and eight assists against Liverpool and has scored in three of the last four league meetings.

Midfield: Phil Foden – Manchester City

Phil Foden’s form has catapulted him into contention for individual honours at the season’s end, following a sparkling sequence of performances from the Manchester City midfielder.

Pep Guardiola called Foden the best player in the Premier League right now after a delightful derby performance against Manchester United last weekend, where the 23-year-old scored twice – including this stunning strike – to turn the game around for the champions.

One of the most watchable footballers in the league at his best.

Forward: Mohamed Salah – Liverpool

Mohamed Salah made his return for Liverpool in midweek to hand the Reds a big boost for the weekend.

The Egyptian international has been in fine form once again this campaign, posting the sort of numbers we have come to expect from Salah in a Liverpool shirt. He has 29 goals and assists from 29 appearances in all competitions, with elite production having become the norm since his arrival on Merseyside.

Manchester City know better than most the threat he will pose, with Salah having scored 11 times in this fixture since signing for Liverpool.

Forward: Darwin Nunez – Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp believes Darwin Nunez has ‘settled’ at Liverpool after an up-and-down first campaign with the club and the numbers back up that assessment after a season full of involvement.

Nunez has 16 goals and 11 assists for the Reds, after a brilliant brace in the midweek thrashing of Sparta Prague. The Uruguayan can be rash, that much is obvious, but he is a continual threat with his runs in behind, strength, and desire to disrupt defences.

Forward: Erling Haaland – Manchester City

No Combined XI would be complete without Erling Haaland, a footballer who has reached absurd levels of prolificacy.

The unprecedented goalscoring feats of his debut campaign left a tough act to follow but the Norwegian is doing a terrific job at following it up thus far. He has 29 goals from 32 games and is the leading scorer in the Premier League and Champions League once again.

That some have suggested Haaland has reached those numbers despite not quite being at the level of last season is a testament to his brilliance.

Read – Five managers set to dominate the summer headlines

See more – Noughties Nines: Nicolas Anelka – Sullen and spectacular

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