Manchester Derby: United-City Combined XI

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United will host Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City this weekend, in one of the most anticipated matches in Premier League history. City, seemingly at their best in the history of the club, is looking to create a history to match that of their red neighbours. United has the aura of a fallen giant looking to re-establish themselves, and after three years of turmoil, United has transitioned into a side of quality with a massive chip on the shoulder and a point to prove. With seemingly endless talent at the disposal of both sides and a competitive spirit that every other city in the world envies, it only makes sense to merge the two sides of the weekend and pick the best talents in a combined side. Elton Wolf, Paul Bienkowski, Matt Henderson and I, Aaron Moniz, have done exactly that below.

Elton Wolf: It’s finally here, the most important Manchester Derby of recent years is just around the corner. United vs City. Counter attack vs ball possession. Jose Mourinho vs Pep Guardiola, once allies, now fighting each other not only for Manchester but the entire league itself. Saturday’s matchup has everything needed to make this particular derby one to remember.

No questions about De Gea, who is considered to be competing Manuel Neuer for the title as the best goalkeeper in the world. Valencia and Shaw have been key figures in United’s hot start to the season, and their performances edge out Sagna and Clichy. The centre backs are divided; Bailly’s incredible start cements his position, and next to him I have included Vincent Kompany, who I believe is one of the best in the world when fit. Holding the midfield together, record signing Paul Pogba is partnered alongside Fernandinho, a partnership I believe would work well if they ever got the opportunity to play together. De Bruyne has looked deadly under Pep, and will be a key figure for City this season. His talent will enable him to play on the right. On the left, Martial just edges out Sterling, this is due to the comparison of Martial’s previous season to Sterling’s start this season, and Sterling’s consistency is the key factor leading to Martial’s spot. No questions who plays up top, as Ibrahimovic and Aguero are two of the best in the world.

Paul Bienkowski: Manchester United and Manchester City have many great players within their squad and having a mixture of the best players, in my opinion, from each club would create a decent team. From United, I have chosen David De Gea, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I feel those players will add strength to any starting XI. A strong defence is important, as is a creative midfield, pace on the attack, as well as creativity there too, with the ability to score goals. The United players selected can do all of the above. From City, I have selected Bacary Sagna, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. The City players will complement the United players, making the defence strong, the midfield strong and creative, the three behind the striker are quick and creative too. Many may not agree that this is a good selection as some names have been left out, but I feel this is the best selection for a combined XI from both teams. Yes, there are many names left out, but I just do not feel they will complement the players I have chosen from both teams.

Matt Henderson: To get a decent balance from the two sides, and accommodate the best from each, the only possible formation is 4-3-1-2. De Gea is the only choice in goal. Hart isn’t technically a Manchester City player right now, and even if he were he wouldn’t be anywhere near de Gea who is the best in the world. At right-back, Zabaleta’s advancing years and the fact I plain don’t rate Sagna means Valencia gets the nod. Eric Bailly has impressed me thus far, hence his inclusion at centre-half and with Kompany next to him he would form a formidable partnership. Both tackle hard and are excellent technically, and when fully fit I’d have Kompany at Old Trafford in a heartbeat.

With the inclusion of Kompany, it allows Daley Blind to be pushed into the middle and utilise his passing ability and exemplary reading of the game further up the park. Fernandinho is in there for his defensive qualities. He is a quiet player at City, and I rate him on the sly as someone that just goes out there and does a job, sure he has his moments but don’t we all? Paul Pogba explains himself, world class personified. David Silva is another that, on his day, is unplayable and couldn’t be left out of a combined side. His ingenuity and talent would complement the front two of Aguero and Ibrahimovic perfectly. If goals are what you want then you can look no further. This partnership in real life would be a force to be reckoned with and breathes class.

Aaron Moniz: Choosing a formation was the toughest aspect of making this selection due to all the central talent at the disposal of both sides. David de Gea is the outstanding footballer in Manchester, but on an unrelated note, Claudio Bravo is an improvement on Joe Hart and a decent signing. Antonio Valencia has had a great start to the season, and he’s the best player who plays right-back (quality in a back five system) but it would be unfair to choose him over Bacary Sagna, who has been a stalwart in recent years for Arsenal and City. Vincent Kompany edges Eric Bailly when fit, though the former is on the decline as the latter is on the up, so he will join Daley Blind, the smartest defender on earth, at the back. Luke Shaw completes the defensive selection as obviously as de Gea.

Moving into midfield, I think Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera need more chances to be eligible for this list, so I’ve gone with Fernandinho, City’s most stable player, alongside Paul Pogba, who picks himself. The best team on the pitch would include Anthony Martial or Raheem Sterling to provide the pace, but this team is for the best players and it would be unfair to include either of them over the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who will play a free role on the right side of the diamond. Shaw and Sagna should provide sufficient width and pace. Up top, Sergio Aguero and Zlatan Ibrahimovic offer absolutely everything and omitting either of them would be unfair.

Written by Aaron Moniz


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