Manchester City host Chelsea on Saturday evening in the Premier League, the two sides set to play out an intriguing dress rehearsal ahead of the UEFA Champions League final at the end of the month.
Pep Guardiola’s side coasted to victory when the two sides met at Stamford Bridge earlier this season, although Thomas Tuchel’s men exacted revenge in a drab FA Cup semi-final clash at Wembley last month, ending City’s hopes of securing a quadruple.
With two squads full to the brim with star quality, we’ve take on the unenviable task of putting together the ultimate side, here is The Football Faithful’s Man City and Chelsea combined XI:
Goalkeeper: Ederson – Manchester City
As good as Edouard Mendy has been in his debut campaign in west London, the unique talents of City’s Brazilian stopper make him a shoo-in for this side, not least for his unrivalled playmaking ability.
As demonstrated with his sublime pass to Oleksandr Zinchenko in the build-up to his side’s first goal in the 2-0, second-leg win over Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night, the former Benfica man is just as effective a creator as he is shot-stopper and has revolutionised modern goalkeeping since his arrival in Manchester in 2017.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 4, 2021
Not just a genius with his feet, the 27-year-old is also pretty handy with his gloves, having recorded 70 clean sheets in the league in just four seasons, with 18 of those coming this term as he looks to clinch the Golden Glove for a second successive campaign.
Right-back: Kyle Walker – Manchester City
A previously heavily criticised figure for his often rash decison making, the England international has been simply superb this season, solidifying his status as one of Europe’s most impressive and consistent players in his position.
Despite being set to turn 31 two days after the Champions League final, the full-back has retained his electric pace and uses it to lethal effect, preventing many a counter-attack with his incredible recovery speed.
Such form has made him arguably the only guaranteed right-back to be in Gareth Southgate’s European Championship’s squad this summer, with a starting berth at the tournament looking more and more likely with each passing game.
Centre-back: Ruben Dias – Manchester City
It’s not often that a centre-back signing can transform a side, yet the Portugal international appears to have done so, turning what had been a problem area for City into perhaps their biggest strength, their Premier League and European successes this season having been built from the back.
The 23-year-old has shown incredible maturity beyond his years since his arrival in the summer, helping the club to finally move on from the shadow of the legendary Vincent Kompany, with his leadership qualities and apparent love of a clean sheet a real joy to behold.
The Ruben Dias effect at Manchester City:
▪️Average a goal conceded every 2 games
▪️Won 37 Drawn 6 Lost 3 in games he’s played
▪️EFL Cup 🏆
▪️Premier League ⏳
▪️First #UCL final appearance in club’s history
— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 5, 2021
That leader-like presence was on show in the second-leg triumph over PSG in midweek, the former Benfica man producing a defensive masterclass to repeatedly thwart the Parisians star-studded attack, quite literally throwing himself at the ball on numerous occasions to ensure his side’s progression to the final.
Centre-back: Thiago Silva – Chelsea
While John Stones has enjoyed something of a renaissance this term, the other centre-back slot in our team has to go to the veteran Brazilian, the 36-year-old slotting in seamlessly to help bolster another previously shaky backline.
Although he’s perhaps been aided by Tuchel’s deployment of a back three, the former AC Milan defender has commanded that backline brilliantly, turning a side that shipped goals for fun into real clean sheet merchants.
The experienced centre-back has conceded just 16 league goals in 20 top-flight appearances, keeping 10 clean sheets in that time, with the Blues now on course to secure a top-four spot following a stuttering start to the campaign.
Left-back: Ben Chilwell – Chelsea
There’s a strong case for both Oleksandr Zinchenko and versatile teammate Joao Cancelo to get an inclusion, yet Chilwell’s performances for Chelsea of late have been particularly impressive, the full-back snatching back his starting berth from Marcos Alonso after a slow start to life under Tuchel.
The £50m summer signing looked set to be under threat both at club and international level, yet has proven in recent months that he’s more than capable of slotting in as a left-wing back, a position that many previously thought he may not quite be suited to.
A capable defender, the England international has also showcased his ability to make a difference in the final third, popping up with five assists and two goals in the league thus far, a better record than both his City counterparts.
Midfield: N’Golo Kante – Chelsea
After rumours of a potential departure from Stamford Bridge following an injury-hit few years for the diminutive Frenchman, he’s looked back to his relentless best of late, producing an awe-inspiring display across both legs of his side’s semi-final triumph against Real Madrid.
Against an, albeit ageing, world-class midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro, the World Cup winner simply ran the show, his typically hard-working performance a key factor in his side’s relatively comfortable progression.
Such a sensational showing reinforced the belief that he is quite simply the best in his position in world football.
🔵 Kanté in the knockout stages…
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 7, 2021
Midfield: Ilkay Gundogan – Manchester City
A perhaps underrated performer in recent seasons, the German midfielder is finally getting the credit he deserves after a real standout campaign, the former Borussia Dortmund man having netted 16 goals in all competitions as the club’s top scorer.
In truth, it was his goalscoring spree that really helped spark Man City‘s season, the club recovering from an indifferent start to really catch fire at the turn of the year, before winning 21 consecutive games across all competitions to simply blitz any other title contenders.
A real smooth operator, the 30-year-old has showcased his ability to seamlessly switch between a more defensive midfield role and a more creative berth around the edge of the box.
Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City
Arguably, the world’s best midfielder has once again been at his potent best this season, following up from last year’s sensational haul of 20 league assists – a joint Premier League record – to conjure up another 11 this term.
While he’s only found the net five times in the league, it’s his creative influence that is often the key to City’s success, the Belgian international creating an average of 2.58 chances per 90 minutes, a record only bettered by Jack Grealish (2.95) among the division’s top assisters.
Still only 29, the former Blues playmaker has plenty of time to enhance his already notable reputation and will perhaps go down as top-flight’s finest ever passer of a football.
Right-wing: Riyad Mahrez – Manchester City
Not that he’s underdelivered since his move from Leicester City back in 2018, yet his performance across both legs of his side’s European semi-final triumph felt like a real defining moment in his career at the Etihad, the Algerian netting three times in the tie to propel his side to the showpiece
Magnificent Mahrez! 🪄
A beautifully crafted counter-attacking move, and the Algerian winger is at the back post to clean up for his second goal of the night!
Man City are so close to Istanbul! 🙏 pic.twitter.com/8SRlUmCfBp
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 4, 2021
The fleet-footed winger has already proven his ability to make a difference on the big stage after helping guide the Foxes to the league title five years ago and it would appear he’s beginning to have just as big an impact at his new home.
The 30-year-old currently has nine goals and four assists so far in the league this season, continuing to provide a devastating impact off the right for the champions-elect.
Left-wing: Mason Mount – Chelsea
After being on the receiving end of some bizarre criticism while Frank Lampard was at the helm, it would appear that the change in manager has finally opened many people’s eyes as to just how good Mason Mount is, the versatile forward having arguably been one of few real consistent components for the Blues throughout the entire campaign.
Now recognised as one of the division’s biggest and most exciting talents, such a rise has seemingly been inevitable since he plundered 14 goals as a teenager while on-loan at Dutch side Vitesse, before going on to net another 11 under Lampard at Derby County.
Since breaking into the first-team last term, the Englishman has netted 13 times and registered ten assists in the league, 11 of those goal contributions having come in the current campaign.
False-nine: Phil Foden – Manchester City
While usually deployed off the left, the absence of any real regular striking presence for either side sees the England international slot in in a central role, fending off the likes of Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner for a spot in our side after a sensational breakout campaign.
This run from Phil Foden 🤤 pic.twitter.com/f22owAywPd
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 4, 2021
After playing a bit-part role in recent years, the 20-year-old has finally become a first-team regular this season, ousting teammate Raheem Sterling from the starting lineup.
At present, the England international is setting pulses racing with a string of jaw-dropping displays, while he’s also got the stats to back it up, having reached double figures for both goals and assists in all competitions to date (14G, 10A).