Manchester City and Manchester United prepare to do battle for local bragging rights once more this weekend, in a rivalry that has increased to new levels over the past decade.
For much of their history it has been Manchester United in the ascendancy, though City’s emergence as a genuine force in English and European football has added a new dimension to an already fierce rivalry between the two sides.
It has been the blue half enjoying much of the success in recent seasons, but who would make a combined XI of the best players from each side?
Here is the Football Faithful’s Manchester City and Manchester United combined XI, based on players available for tomorrow’s game…
Goalkeeper: Ederson – Manchester City
Perhaps the most difficult position in our team to select, given Manchester United’s David de Gea’s remarkable consistency over the past few years, though we’ve opted for City’s Ederson in goal.
De Gea was lauded as the world’s finest for several seasons, however, his standards have dropped slightly of late and there can be no disputing Ederson’s transformative impact on Pep Guardiola’s side.
The Brazilian international possesses the best distribution of any goalkeeper in world football, his ability to fire pinpoint passes across the field adding yet another threat to City’s all-conquering side.
Few can match De Gea’s shot-stopping ability, but Ederson’s revolutionary performances in the role of goalkeeper give him the edge here.
Right-back: Kyle Walker – Manchester City
Walker may be facing a fight to save his international career at present, but he remains important to Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, with few full-backs in world football capable of matching the 29-year-old for pace and athleticism.
Walker’s game has evolved since making the move to the Etihad from Tottenham two years ago, adapting slightly from his rampaging wing-back style into a player capable of tucking inside and keeping possession.
A back-to-back title winner in the past two seasons, Walker beats off competition from the developing Aaron Wan-Bissaka for a place in our side.
Centre-back: Fernandinho – Manchester City
The inclusion of Fernandinho in our side is as much testament to the Brazilian’s abilities as a player as it is to the lack of central defensive options for either side at present.
A midfielder by trade, the 34-year-old has been utilised in the unorthodox role for much of the season and has performed admirably, despite some indifferent results for the champions who have lost ground in the title race.
The veteran has proved to be an inspired signing for City during his six years at the Etihad, the former Shakhtar Donetsk player’s energy, tenacity and tactical intelligence seeing him thrive in English football.
Yet to open talks over a new deal with his contract set to expire next summer, City fans will be sad to see him go should this prove to be his final season at the club.
Centre-back: Harry Maguire – Manchester United
Maguire’s transition into life as the world’s most expensive defender has not been smooth, with the England international having not quite delivered the performances expected over the opening months of the campaign.
That said, at his best Maguire is an imposing defender and warrants inclusion in this side, especially given the indifferent performances of partner Victor Lindelof and City pair John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi.
Already a popular figure and leader within the Old Trafford dressing room, the 26-year-old has been earmarked as a future permanent captain of the club.
Left-back: Angelino – Manchester City
A problem position for both sides this season, the Spaniard makes our side almost by default.
Luke Shaw has missed the majority of the season for Manchester United, whilst Oleksandr Zinchenko has suffered his own injury problems for City.
Benjamin Mendy has been woefully out of form, whilst the ageing Ashley Young and raw Brandon Williams also miss out on our side.
Angelino still has much to prove since being re-signed by Pep Guardiola during the summer, though he fills in a left-back here.
Midfield: Rodri – Manchester City
Signed during the summer as the long-term replacement for Fernandinho in midfield, the Spaniard has enjoyed a quietly impressive adaptation to life in English football as he bids to cope with the increased pace and physicality of the Premier League.
The former Atletico Madrid player possesses the stature and composure to thrive in the holding midfield role, whilst his latest showing in the club’s comfortable victory at Burnley was another indicator he is truly beginning to settle.
Only two players in the Premier League can better the midfielder’s 91.8% pass success rate this season.
Midfield: Bernardo Silva – Manchester City
The Portuguese schemer could perhaps be disappointed with his ninth-place finish in this season’s Ballon d’Or, given his form during a year that included a domestic treble with Manchester City and Nations League success with the national side.
Last season’s Man City Player of the Year edges out namesake David for a place in our team, despite having quite not hit the heights of last season just yet.
A pair of assists in the win over Burnley on Tuesday night was a reminder of his quality, the 25-year-old having scored five goals and provided four assists so far this season.
Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City
Arguably the first name on the team sheet, the brilliant Belgian has a strong case for being the best player in the Premier League.
Already this season De Bruyne has been at his creative best, leading the league with nine assists for the campaign and contributing a further four goals, including a Goal of the Season contender at Newcastle last weekend.
Thierry Henry’s all-time record of 20 assists in a single season is well within De Bruyne’s reach and capabilities, and few would bet against him achieving the feat.
OHHHHH KEVIN DE BRUYNE!! 😳
WHAT. A. GOAL!
An absolute rocket to put Manchester City ahead!
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 30, 2019
Right-wing: Riyad Mahrez – Manchester City
The Algerian may have struggled to cement his position as an automatic starter under Pep Guardiola, though he possesses a quality from wide that few others in the division can match.
Mahrez’s goal against Burnley on Tuesday night was his fourth of the season, whilst he also became the first Algerian in history to score 50 Premier League goals and just the ninth African to achieve the feat.
A brilliant dribbler capable of ghosting past players, the 28-year-old has contributed a further three assists this season and will hope for increased involvement in the coming weeks.
Left-wing: Raheem Sterling – Manchester City
The England international has evolved into a talismanic figure for club and country in recent years, and despite a quiet patch of late is a certainty to feature in our combined XI.
Sterling has scored 15 goals in 21 appearances in all competitions for City so far this season, and is likely to play an influential role in the 179th Manchester derby this weekend.
The reigning Football Writer’s Footballer of the Year will hope to be amongst the contenders for individual accolades once more, though team success will remain his priority after a trophy-laden spell in recent seasons.
Forward: Marcus Rashford – Manchester United
The Manchester United man makes our side, edging out Gabriel Jesus for a place in our Manchester-based frontline.
The England international’s best position may still be a subject for debate, though there is no doubting his quality in attacking areas and the 22-year-old is currently enjoying the best goalscoring form of his career.
Rashford has now scored 12 goals in his past 12 appearances following Wednesday night’s brace at Tottenham, whilst he continues to demonstrate an ability to shine against elite opposition.
Electric when at his very best, Rashford completes our Manchester derby combined XI.
9️⃣ goals ⚽️
2️⃣ assists 🅰️
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 5, 2019