The 183rd Manchester Derby beckons!
In the building to the much-anticipated Manchester Derby tomorrow, we’ve taken the liberty of pulling together a combined XI of the top dogs from Manchester.
United are coming off an embarrassing exit from the Champions League following a shock 3-2 loss against RB Leipzig and are sitting two points off the top four in sixth with 19 points from 10 league games.
City, meanwhile, eased to a 3-0 victory in their midweek Champions League game against Marseille with Pep Guardiola fielding a strong starting XI having already booked their place in the Round of 16. By comparison, their league form leaves much to be desired; they sit a point behind United in seventh with 18 points from 10 games.
Saturday’s derby provides a tasty opportunity for either side to catapult themselves into the top four and announce their candidacy for the title. As such, both managers will have a lot of important decisions to make regarding their team selection and here we’ve picked a Manchester derby combined XI, only using players that are expected to be available for the encounter.
- Goalkeeper: Ederson
United’s David De Gea has had an inconsistent season so far, showing sparkles of his old form in some games along with some inexcusable mistakes in others. While Ederson hasn’t been perfect by his own standards, he boasts eight clean sheets this season to De Gea’s three in all competitions; so this ends up being an easy choice.
- Right-back: Kyle Walker
Aaron Wan-Bissaka has impressed defensively for United since joining last year but he has some ways to go to master the offensive side of things. Walker offers a solid balance of both and possesses the greater experience of the two.
- Right centre-back: Ruben Dias
The Portuguese tank is settling in nicely at the Etihad and has played a key part in City’s defensive record so far. By contrast, Victor Lindelof has, to no one’s surprise, been a disappointment and even managed to pick a fight with his own teammate.
- Left centre-back: Aymeric Laporte
The Frenchman has struggled to regain his form following his ACL injury but he remains one of the Premier League’s best centre-backs and in our books, absolutely deserves to start over United captain Harry Maguire, who is never a million miles away from a mistake.
- Left-back: Alex Telles
Rejoice United fans – the first addition from the red side of Manchester! 27-year-old Alex Telles has brushed aside competition from Brandon Williams and Luke Shaw to earn the left-back starting spot both at United and in our XI. The Brazilian is a straightforward pick over City’s Zinchenko and the injury-prone and inconsistent Benjamin Mendy.
- Defensive midfield: Rodri
Rodri has quietly been building a portfolio as City’s defensive anchor this season outdoing the likes the Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic to earn a spot in our XI.
- Left central midfield: Bruno Fernandes
Did you honestly think we could make a combined XI without this man? He’s managed 12 goals and six assists in all competitions this season. Enough said.
26 – No player in Premier League history has registered more goal involvements in their first 24 games in the competition than Bruno Fernandes (26, level with Andrew Cole). Classy.
Ahead of tomorrow's Manchester derby, we look at the importance of Fernandes to Manchester United.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 11, 2020
- Right central midfield: Kevin De Bruyne
There’s a silly misconception doing the rounds that Kevin De Bruyne’s levels have tailed off from last year; while his goal tally has dropped, he’s still managed 16 goal contributions in 17 games for club and country this year. Donny van de Beek, Phil Foden and Ilkay Gundogan all miss out here.
- Left wing: Marcus Rashford
It was a tricky choice between Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling but we sided with Rashford for this spot. The United forward has managed to outshine the City winger this season with 10 goals and four assists in all competitions this year. He’s beginning to shoulder a lot of the offensive responsibility for a struggling United attack at a young age while campaigning for social issues off the field as well. Top-notch!
- Right wing: Riyad Mahrez
The United trio of Greenwood, Dan James and Juan Mata are all kept out by the mercurial Algerian who scored a brilliant hat-trick against Burnley recently. The 29-year-old has kept Bernardo Silva out City’s starting XI in recent weeks and that’s saying something.
- Centre-forward: Sergio Aguero
While Edinson Cavani has added an interesting dimension to United’s attacking lineup, his inexperience in the PL and inconsistent form has seen us side with Aguero. The Argentine has nine goals against the Red Devils and scored in the midweek game against Marseille. No doubt, he’ll be eager to get going after a lengthy injury spell.