At a critical point in the season, Manchester City host Manchester United in a huge derby game that could shape the outcome of the top four.
This match also has the interesting back story of long-term rivals Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho coming head-to-head.
In their first clash in English football, Guardiola’s City side came out on top, beating their Manchester rivals by a 2-1 scoreline.
The reverse fixture at the Etihad Stadium has much more at stake and is set to be a cracker.
Both managers face huge selection dilemmas ahead of this game, but, who would make a combined XI between the two sides?
Picking the goalkeeper is possibly the easiest decision to make when choosing this combined XI. David de Gea takes the number one shirt ahead of Claudio Bravo, who hasn’t it is had the greatest of first seasons in English football. At right-back, Antonio Valencia makes the cut instead 0f Jesus Navas. The United man has been excellent this season and he was unlucky to miss out on the PFA Team of the Year.
The choices are limited at centre-back as both teams have options out injured. The Red Devils will be without Englishmen Chris Smalling and Phil Jones on Thursday, whilst City are also without an Englishman of their own, John Stones. It’s Vincent Kompany who partners Eric Bailly in this combined XI. Both men are very good defenders, but they are also composed on the ball, something that is hugely important to their respective sides.
Left-back poses a difficult decision, both teams are blessed with depth in this area, but neither have a world-class talent in this department. Gael Clichy is a very solid defender and has been doing it for a long time in the Premier League. However, it is Daley Blind who features ahead of Clichy and team-mate Luke Shaw. The Dutch international reads the game exceptionally well and is also extremely comfortable with the ball at his feet.
The midfield three is made up of Michael Carrick, Kevin De Bruyne and Ander Herrera. Injuries make this decision very easy with Paul Pogba and David Silva not available for this fixture. Yaya Toure is perhaps unlucky not to make the cut, but the recent form of Herrera earns the Spaniard a spot.
Michael Carrick makes the starting 11 as his passing ability and experience provide an anchor point for the rest of the forward-thinking talent to do what they do best; attacking. The Englishman is able to control the tempo of the game with his ball distribution and it’s likely that Pep Guardiola would have loved to have him in his side for this game.
Kevin de Bruyne rounds off the midfield three, meaning Marouane Fellaini, Fernandinho, Fabian Delph and Fernando all miss out. The Belgian is a threat in every game he plays, with his driving runs from the middle of the park. The former Chelsea and Wolfsburg man manages to impress almost every time City play to their full potential.
At right wing, Red Devil Henrik Mkhitaryan makes the side. Perhaps he has not been as prolific as he, or United fans, would have liked recently, but the Armenian’s talents cannot be denied.
He is a player who often has the key to unlock opposition defences and it may be down to him to perform against City with Pogba and Juan Mata ruled out. Based on the evidence from this season, Mkhitaryan enjoys playing on a Thursday night.
The mesmeric German, Leroy Sane, claims the left-winger role in this combined XI. Since starting his City career slowly, Sane has found the form of his career, breezing past players at will, while he was also nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award – a testament to the fantastic display of talent he has shown fans this season.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic ruled out, Marcus Rashford has had to step up in his absence. However, even the talented youngster can’t beat Sergio Aguero to a place in this side. The Argentinian has performed at his usual best this season and despite speculation around his future at City, he has continued to score goals.
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