Manchester City vs Chelsea – Combined XI ahead of Etihad clash

Manchester City take on Chelsea in the Premier League this weekend, with the latter looking to continue a mini-revival under Mauricio Pochettino.

Chelsea face a formidable challenge in taking on the champions at their Etihad fortress, who are unbeaten in 11 games at home in the Premier League this season.

Ahead of the contest between the big-spending blues of Manchester and London, we’ve selected our Manchester City and Chelsea Combined XI.

Goalkeeper: Ederson – Manchester City

Ederson’s shot-stopping has been questioned this season but the Brazilian remains in a league of his own when it comes to distribution. No goalkeeper, perhaps ever, has boasted the composure and passing range of the City ‘keeper, whose ability to bypass defensive lines with raking balls forward is a feature of Pep Guardiola’s side.

Right-back: Kyle Walker – Manchester City

Kyle Walker has shown few signs of slowing down as the right-back approaches his 34th birthday. The England international was voted captain at the Etihad in the summer, a recognition of his decorated career with the club, leadership, and importance to the side.

Walker’s exceptional athleticism has long provided Pep Guardiola’s side a safety blanket at the back, boasting recovery pace few in the Premier League can match.

Centre-back: Ruben Dias – Manchester City

Ruben Dias has been a rock-like figure of defensive security for the Citizens in recent campaigns, emerging as one of the best centre-backs in Europe at the Etihad. The Portugal international brings commitment and composure in central defence while serving as a leader of the side without the armband.

No player in Europe’s top five leagues has carried the ball further in possession than Dias this season.

Centre-back: John Stones – Manchester City

The return of John Stones to fitness is a huge boost for Manchester City, with the centre-back reuniting with Dias at the heart of the defence in the Champions League in midweek. Stones adds silk to the steel of Dias and has evolved into a multi-functional footballer for Pep Guardiola, stepping into midfield confidently to help City take control of games.

Arguably the key puzzle piece during last season’s run-in as City swept all before them to claim the treble, Stones made the most dribbles in a Champions League final since Lionel Messi in 2015, as City beat Inter Milan in Istanbul.

Left-back: Ben Chilwell – Chelsea

Left-back is perhaps the greatest weakness in this current Manchester City side, with Nathan Ake and Josko Gvardiol often deputising in an unfavored full-back role. The former, particularly, has performed admirably on occasion, but neither possesses the natural qualities of Chelsea’s Chilwell.

Fitness issues have plagued Chilwell in recent seasons, but he remains one of the most effective left-backs in the league when fit. Full of energy, technical quality and dangerous deliveries, he can bring balance to the Blues under Mauricio Pochettino.

Midfield: Rodri – Manchester City

Rodri’s reputation continues to soar with the Spaniard the centre-piece of the Manchester City side. The likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland might dominate the headlines, but Rodri is perhaps the most irreplaceable player in the squad.

Tall, imposing, technical and combative, he excels in and out of possession at the base of the midfield. Arguably, probably, the best defensive midfielder in the game right now, all four of City’s defeats this season have come in his absence. That is not a coincidence.

Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City

Kevin De Bruyne’s brilliance has ensured he has returned to the Manchester City side without missing a beat in recent weeks. After an extended period on the sidelines, De Bruyne has scored twice and provided seven assists in seven games, with City winning each contest.

His goal in midweek against FC Copenhagen was exceptional, passed into the corner perfectly as only he can. A special, special footballer and the one who got away from this weekend’s opponents.

Midfield: Bernardo Silva – Manchester City

Part Duracell Bunny, part ballerina, there are few footballers quite like Bernardo Silva. The Portuguese playmaker is a perfect mix of industry and technique, covering every blade of grass and producing moments of bewitching footwork.

Pep Guardiola has fought tooth and nail to keep Bernardo when other unsettled stars have been allowed to leave the Etihad. There’s good reason for that.

Forward: Cole Palmer – Chelsea

Cole Palmer took a leap of faith last summer in leaving Manchester City in search of games. A frustrated onlooker on the fringes of the best squad in Europe, Palmer believed he was ready for first-team football and has proven that emphatically.

The 21-year-old has scored 10 goals and laid on six assists for Chelsea this season, form which earned the forward a senior England debut in November. Producing consistent quality in a campaign of inconsistency at Chelsea, there might just be some regret at the Etihad if Palmer continues on his current trajectory. His first season at Chelsea has been a breakout one.

Forward: Phil Foden – Manchester City

Phil Foden reckons he is producing the best football of his Manchester City career right now and it’s difficult to argue with that assessment.

The Stockport schemer has been in sensational form for the Citizens, scoring four times and providing four assists in his last six league appearances.

“I think it’s the most run of games that I’ve played in a City shirt consistently,” Foden said after scoring against Copenhagen in midweek. “I’m in good form, scoring consistently and helping the team as much as I can and I’m delighted with that.

“I want to keep doing that, that’s the goal every game. I’d say I’m playing my best football in a City shirt.”

On current form, he must start for England at this summer’s European Championship.

Forward: Erling Haaland – Manchester City

An easy and obvious selection, here.

It’s now 52 goals in 53 Premier League games for Erling Haaland, who also happens to boast the best goal-per-game ratio in Champions League history.

A footballing freak, meant in the most complimentary sense possible. City, and the Premier League, are fortunate to have him.

Read – Guardiola calls Palmer ‘star player’ ahead of reunion

See more – Palmer discusses Man City return and decision to leave

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