Choosing a combined Liverpool and Leicester starting XI
This weekend sees Leicester City travel to Liverpool and both sides will be hoping to challenge in the top six this season.
The rise of Leicester has been well documented, but this match was one of just three fixtures that they lost during their title-winning campaign.
The two clubs have talented squads and have added further quality during the transfer window.
Here is our best combined XI:
This is arguably Liverpool’s weakest position after the inconsistent performances of Simon Mignolet last season. They have brought in Loris Karius and the German could make his debut this weekend, but he is yet to prove himself in England. Kasper Schmeichel is the obvious choice for this position. He has been consistent for Leicester since their promotion and is now one of the best keepers in the league.
The right-back position goes to Nathaniel Clyne, who has grown under the tutelage of Jurgen Klopp. He adds a lot in the attacking half and has improved the defensive side to his game. At times he can rely on his pace to get him out of trouble, but he is a good full-back.
The other full-back is an easier choice, as Liverpool have major left-back problems. In their last match, James Milner was forced to fill in there and he could continue in the position this weekend. Christian Fuchs has been a revelation since joining on a free transfer and was even linked with Liverpool during the last transfer window.
At the heart of the defence, I would choose Joel Matip and Robert Huth. Although Mamadou Sakho is the best centre-back at either club, he is out of favour at Liverpool and won’t play for the foreseeable future. Matip has been one of the most improved centre backs in the Bundesliga over the past two years and will only develop further in England. Huth is dominant and organises the defence well. It was no coincidence that he was missing for the opening day defeat against Hull.
Emre Can is the most complete midfielder at either club and has to be selected for the combined eleven. He can play in almost any role in the midfielder and has the potential to become a regular for the German national team. Liverpool are lucky to have him.
I’d choose Danny Drinkwater to partner him after his superb contribution during Leicester’s title win. He has an incredible work rate and has a great relationship with Jamie Vardy. His ability to play perfectly weighted through balls to Vardy is impressive, especially when under pressure from opposition players. There are faults in his game that were covered up by the work of Ngolo Kante, but his journey from unwanted youth player at Manchester United to Premier League champion is a magical one.
The current PFA player of the year, Riyad Mahrez, is an obvious choice. He is yet to get going this season, but his dynamism and skill mark him as one of the best attackers in the league. The Algerian relishes the responsibility he has in the Leicester team and he is vital to their chances again this term.
The other two players that I would choose for the attacking roles behind the striker are Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino. They are excellent at pressing the opposition and can create chances from nothing. Firmino’s movement is sometimes undervalued, but he is very good at creating space for others. Meanwhile, Coutinho possesses one of the best long range shots in the league.
These three would play behind Daniel Sturridge, who I feel is a better all-around striker than Jamie Vardy. He has an excellent strike rate over the last two years, despite suffering from several injuries and he has that extra level that his compatriot doesn’t. Although Vardy’s rise has been spectacular, he is reliant on his pace and doesn’t have the ability on the ball to be considered a top tier Premier League striker.
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