Manchester United vs Manchester City – Combined XI Featuring 6 Red Devils and 5 Citizens
Let the Manchester derby countdown begin! Manchester United ensured safe passage into the Champions League round of 16 with a 2-1 victory over CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford.
Meanwhile, Manchester City picked up yet another win against West Ham on Sunday and lost to Shakhtar Donetsk by a 2-1 margin in their final game of the Champions League group stages. However, that did not affect Man City’s progress into the knockout phase as group leaders.
With that done, all eyes will surely now turn to Sunday’s colossal Manchester derby. There is plenty at stake at Old Trafford; City could establish an 11-point gap with a victory, while United could cut the lead to five and give their cross-town rivals a jolt with Spurs a week later.
It is the first meeting between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola this season. Expect all the fireworks as we approach, what is arguably the biggest game of the season. Let the game begin!
For hosts, Mourinho is facing a midfield crisis ahead of this weekend’s clash with City. Midfielder Paul Pogba, who played against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday, is out of the derby as he serves the first game of a three-match suspension after the club decided against appealing the red card he picked up in the 3-1 win over Arsenal on Saturday.
Eric Bailly and Michael Carrick have been ruled out of the game due to respective injuries, while Mourinho confirmed Marouane Fellaini, Phil Jones and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have chances to feature. Nemanja Matic missed the game on Tuesday with a muscle problem but the United manager confirmed in his presser that the Serbian will play on Sunday.
On the other hand, City have only left-back Benjamin Mendy out with a knee ligament injury. Guardiola confirmed that David Silva is out of the clash against Shakhtar with an unspecified ‘problem’ and is unsure about his availability for the derby.
The Combined XI
David De Gea (GK)
Ederson has been immense for City this season, but De Gea is widely regarded as the best in the world and for all right reasons. The Spaniard was the sole reason why United beat Arsenal.
Antonio Valencia (RB)
It is a tough pick between Valencia and Walker, but I choose to go with the former. Valencia led the team from the front at Emirates, scoring the opener against Arsenal. Defensively, he has been solid too and that’s where he eclipses Walker, who has proved to be a tremendous piece of business for Guardiola this summer.
Nicolas Otamendi (CB)
City’s defence has been quite strong, and Otamendi has been a big reason behind that. He gets into this team and surely, he will look to continue his good run of form after bundling home the equaliser against West Ham last weekend.
Chris Smalling (CB)
The Manchester United man has stayed solid at the back for the Red Devils this season and makes it into the side ahead of the likes of City captain Kompany and the injured Bailly. With Jones being doubtful to feature, Smalling is my choice.
Ashley Young (LB)
Who would have thought about Young making it to this side as a left-back? Not me, to be very honest. Well, that’s how the 32-year-old has performed since getting an opportunity, keeping the likes of regular full-backs Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian out of the picture.
Young has not only turned his Old Trafford career around, but he’s developing his leadership skills too. Easy pick to select him ahead of City’s Fabian Delph.
Nemanja Matic (CM)
Matic has arguably been United’s best player of the season so far since moving from Chelsea, wasting no time in reinforcing the midfield and giving France international Pogba the freedom to roam forward and pick holes in the opposition defences.
Despite having muscle issues, Mourinho confirmed that the Serbian will start the game, after having missed the win over CSKA Moscow.
Kevin De Bruyne (CM)
Arguably the best player in the Premier League right now, De Bruyne will certainly be the biggest threat to United on Sunday. The Belgian is enjoying the form of his life and demonstrated his class against West Ham with a chipped cross for Silva to score the winner.
Fernandinho has been quite brilliant for Manchester City this term and the entire City team’s balance depends on his performance. Pep has made wonderful use of Fernandinho and he makes it to this team ahead of David Silva, who might not feature against us, as Pep Guardiola has confirmed.
Anthony Martial (LW)
A ruthless and relentless Anthony Martial is making great strides this season. He was wonderful against Watford and even better in the massive victory over Arsenal. The second season syndrome is over for the Frenchman as he looks to make United’s left-wing position his own.
No offence to Leroy Sane, who has also been breathtaking for City this campaign. The jet-heeled German has scored and assisted goals in premium but just drops out of my combined XI simply because of his current form.
Raheem Sterling (RW)
It’s astonishing to learn how many times has Sterling rescued City this season! With his late goals in numerous games which saw City pick up wins, the winger, who has been reborn under Guardiola, is a menace to the opposition all day long.
Currently, the world is at his feet!
Sergio Aguero (ST)
When there is Aguero in the mix, it becomes really hard to choose anybody else over him. A combination of explosive pace and deadly finishing, the Argentine wins the race against Gabriel Jesus and Romelu Lukaku with ease for a place in my line-up.