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Liverpool V Manchester City: A Combined Best XI Based On This Season’s Stats

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Liverpool and Manchester City square off on Saturday evening in a game that could have major repercussions for both sides’ respective Premier League title challenges.

Jurgen Klopp’s side, fresh off the back of a comprehensive 4-1 against Stoke, will be looking to finish 2016 unbeaten in the league, while Pep Guardiola’s men, having seen off Hull on Monday, are aiming to leapfrog their opponents into second place and hopefully narrow the gap on leaders Chelsea.

Attack-wise, both sides have been a joy to watch at times – Liverpool are the league’s top scorers this season while Man City began the campaign with ten straight victories in all competitions. However, serious questions have been asked of both defences – particularly in the goalkeeper position – as both look to stay in the race in spite of their backlines rather than because of them.

But in a combined Liverpool/Man City XI (using ratings from Whoscored and Squawka), how many from each side would make the cut?

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Goalkeeper:

Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14: Simon Mignolet of Liverpool celebrates the final whistle during the Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Liverpool at Riverside Stadium on December 14, 2016 in Middlesbrough, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

It’s a sorry state of affairs when Simon Mignolet, a man who was demoted to second choice at his club over the summer, is performing not only better than his replacement, but the £17m goalkeeper Man City also brought in.

With a Whoscored rating of 6.75 and average Squawka score of 14.92, the Belgian international is putting in significantly better displays than the other three goalkeepers ranked. In his defence, he has looked far more competent upon winning his place back from Loris Karius than at any stage last season.

Bravo, meanwhile, has been erratic (at best) since arriving at the Etihad from Barcelona in the summer. Much was made of Pep Guardiola’s decision to replace Joe Hart in the summer, but it has yet to yield the result that would deem the move a success.

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Defenders:

Right-Back: Bacary Sagna (Manchester City)

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Bacary Sagna of Manchester City in action during the Premier League match between Burnley and Manchester City at Turf Moor on November 26, 2016 in Burnley, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Centre-Back: Joel Matip (Liverpool)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Joel Matip of Liverpool and Andre Ayew of West Ham United compete for the ball during the Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield on December 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Centre-Back: Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: Nicolas Otamendi of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images)

Left-Back: James Milner (Liverpool)

SWANSEA, WALES - OCTOBER 01:  James Milner of Liverpool celebrates scoring his sides second goal during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Liverpool at Liberty Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The right-back battle was a pretty close one. Nathaniel Clyne’s work at Liverpool can often go undetected, but he is still a valuable part of the Liverpool engine. However, Bacary Sagna shaded it with a Whoscored rating of 6.95, compared to Clyne’s 6.85. The former Arsenal defender has had to battle with injury problems and Pablo Zabaleta for a starting role this season, but has been impressive when called upon.

At centre-back, meanwhile, Nicolas Otamendi has been miles ahead of £47m summer signing John Stones for Man City, while free transfer Joel Matip has been a rock at the heart of the Liverpool backline. There a bit of a gap between those two (7.6 to 7.16) with Dejan Lovren not far behind.

On the left, James Milner (7.37) has taken to his new position like a duck to water. The 30-year-old has been able to maintain his presence as part of Liverpool’s attack while simultaneously being a fine presence in defence. He scored ahead of Aleksandar Kolarov (7.14) and Gael Clichy (6.98).

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Midfielders:

Centre Mid: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  Jordan Henderson of Liverpool during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool at the Vitality Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Bournemouth, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Centre Mid: Adam Lallana (Liverpool)

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 16:  N'Golo Kante of Chelsea and Adam Lallana of Liverpool battle for possession during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on September 16, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Attacking Midfield/Number Ten: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14: Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City in action during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Watford at Etihad Stadium on December 14, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

In Henderson and Lallana, Liverpool have two midfielders that have come on leaps and bounds in the past fifteen or so months under Klopp. The former has completed the most passes of any player in the league this season, while the latter has added goals in a manner that suggests that his overall game and performances this season have made him an early contender for PFA Player of the Year if he keeps this up.

However, Lallana will have a big challenger for that award in the form of Man City’s Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian international has been a star performer and if Guardiola’s side do bring silverware to the Etihad this season, he will have a major part to play in that.

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Forwards:

Right-Wing: Sadio Mané (Liverpool)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19:  Sadio Mane (19) of Liverpool celebrates after scoring the winning goal in injury time during the Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on December 19, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Left-Wing: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 16:  Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool is chased by Oscar of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on September 16, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Striker: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City shows his dejection during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Liverpool’s attack has been so deadly this season that it was almost a case of a complete Reds whitewash in the front three positions (in fact, Whoscored had rated Roberto Firmino at 7.61, slightly higher than Sergio Aguero’s 7.4). However, Squawka’s ratings, plus Aguero’s better goal return, meant that the Argentine international merited inclusion.

There was much less of a debate to be had on the flanks. Coutinho’s rating (7.85) is higher than £34m signing Sadio Mané’s (7.67) with both ahead of Raheem Sterling (7.33). The Liverpool duo have contributed 10 goals and 12 assists between them, and have been massively important figures in the side’s challenge. Sterling is a much improved player under Guardiola, but is still lagging behind the Anfield pair this year.

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Author: The PA Team

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