The Premier League’s first marquee clash of the year 2018 is here it will feature Liverpool and Manchester City – two teams that have enthralled one and all with their attacking flair and attractive playing styles during the first half of this season.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have been in breathtaking form this season and are yet to lose a game, a run which has seen them open a 15-point gap over second-placed Manchester United. Liverpool, on the other hand, have blown hot and cold, with their defence letting them down on numerous occasions. They are currently 4th in the table, 18 points behind Manchester City.
In the first meeting between the two sides this season at the Eithad Stadium in September, City blew Liverpool away and went on to win the match 5-0, with Sadio Mane being sent-off for the Reds.
Ahead of this much anticipated clash at Anfield on Sunday (January 14), we take a look at the players who would make the combined XI. Both teams have an array of match-winners in their line-ups and have spent considerable amount of money in recent years, making this exercise extremely tedious and hard. But we’ve done our best.
Guardiola and Klopp’s Combined XI
Ederson – A relatively easier choice to make this one. Manchester City’s £35 million summer outlay on Ederson is certainly looking like a wise outlay and the Brazilian has been a calming influence at the back for the Citizens. Even if you discard the fact that Ederson is a wonderful shot-stopper, he is still head and shoulders above the options available in goal for Klopp at Liverpool – Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius.
Kyle Walker – Another man who has impressed for Pep Guardiola’s side after joining the club over last summer is right-back Kyle Walker. A clear problem area for the Etihad side last season, Walker has come in and played at a high level for his new team. The England defender is also miles ahead of his young counter-parts at Liverpool – Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Nicolas Otamendi – Coming to the centre-back positions, Nicolas Otamendi has been the standout defender in the Premier League in the current season and has also scored some Sergio Ramos-esque goals for his team. The Argentina international walks in as our first-choice central defender in this team.
Virgil van Dijk – We have gone with Liverpool’s record signing as the other centre-back in this team. It can be argued that John Stones deserves a place in this eleven on the back of his impressive performances for Pep Guardiola’s side this term but van Dijk is too good a player to leave out, as is also evident by the money that Liverpool had to fork out to secure his services from Southampton.
Fabian Delph – Nobody could have predicted that Fabian Delph would be the man manning the left side of defence for a side that is chasing Premier League glory this term. Benjamin Mendy’s long-term injury and Danilo’s inconsistent form has seen Delph make the left-back position his own for City. The England-international has been a consistent performer this season and edges out Liverpool’s Andy Robertson for this position in our team.
Kevin de Bruyne – Undoubtedly one of the performers of the season across Europe this term, Kevin De Bruyne’s selection should come as no surprise. The Belgian playmaker has scored 8 goals and assisted 12 across all competitions and has been instrumental in City’s 22-match unbeaten streak in the Premier League and their rise to the top.
Fernandinho – The Brazilian powerhouse has played the role of a ‘midfield general’ for his team with aplomb this season and has provided the perfect link between defence and attack, benefiting the men behind and ahead of them. Fernandinho duly takes his place in the side ahead of the likes of Emre Can, James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum.
David Silva – The diminutive Spaniard walks into the midfield of our team as another creative outlet who can change the course of a game with a moment of magic at any given point of time. David Silva is the first name on Pep Guardiola’s teamsheet and rarely ever disappoints. Silva has 5 goals and 8 assists in 19 league appearances so far this season and takes his justified place in midfield in this team.
Mohamed Salah – Only the second Liverpool player to make this combined team, Mo Salah has certainly been the signing of the season, having already scored 23 goals in all competitions for the Reds. Salah has been Liverpool’s talisman ever since he joined the club from AS Roma last summer and has everything in his locker – speed, tenacity, versatility, dynamism and game intelligence. He edges out Leroy Sane for this spot in our side.
Raheem Sterling – The England international has played like a man possessed this season, scoring match-winning goals time and time again. Sterling has already scored 14 league goals this season so far and deservedly walks into the team. He certainly has the ability to hurt his former side at his former hunting ground on Sunday.
Sergio Aguero – The final spot in this combined XI is again easy to pick with Kun Aguero being usual deadly self in front of goal for Manchester City. With a proven goal-scoring pedigree and 13 Premier League goals to his name this season, City’s record goal-scorer Sergio Aguero will be our man upfront in this combined eleven.
Liverpool vs Manchester City Combined XI (4-3-3) – Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, van Dijk, Delph, de Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva, Salah, Aguero, Sterling