Liverpool make the short trip down the M62 to face rivals Manchester United on Saturday afternoon.
So we have taken the opportunity to pick a combined XI from the two squads ahead of what promises to be a fascinating encounter…
Despite the recent form of Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius, there can only be one choice for this position. Spain international David De Gea has been United’s best player for some years now and he claims the gloves in this team comfortably ahead of the German and Simon Mignolet too. Liverpool fans will be hoping that he doesn’t have one his trademark unbeatable games this weekend.
I am going to go with a back four for this eleven, as that is what both Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho tend to deploy in their respective sides.
My selection at right-back is going to be a second United player, with Antonio Valencia getting the nod over Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold. I am not considering England international Nathaniel Clyne as he has spent the season injured so far. Ecuador international Valencia has developed into a fine defender at Old Trafford since his move from Wigan Athletic back in 2009, when he was a winger by trade. He is quick, strong and tactically sound. I expect Alexander-Arnold to develop into a fine right-back in the future, while I see Gomez as a centre-back primarily. So I’ve had to make it two from two for United, unfortunately.
But my choice for left-back is a Liverpool player. I am going to put Scotland international Andrew Robertson into the position in this side. He has shown that he is definitely good enough to be a Liverpool player following questions asked after his switch from relegated Hull City last Summer and he has also seen off the challenge from Alberto Moreno, for now. United aren’t blessed with left-back options and the likes of Ashley Young and Luke Shaw do not make it into my side.
Virgil Van Dijk is the first player to claim a place at the heart of the defence. The Holland international oozes class and is a defensive leader, which any good backline requires. He has shown in his short time at Anfield so far that he is exactly what Klopp’s defence was missing.
The decision of who should partner him is not straightforward. There are several players who can stake a claim to be the second centre-back, but each of them has shown that they are capable of making costly mistakes. Liverpool trio Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan are all good defenders, but each of them are known to be error prone. The same goes for United trio Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof. Eric Bailly hasn’t started a league game for United since before Christmas, but has been on the bench recently. He would be my pick to partner Van Dijk.
I am going to go with a two man midfield, which will be anchored by Nemanja Matic. The former Chelsea man offers plenty of defensive security at the base of the United midfield and would bring that into this side too. He isn’t the quickest player, but his job would be to regain possession and get the ball to a more creative team-mate. That’s not to say he isn’t a technically capable player, which his goal against Crystal Palace proved this past week.
The Serbia international will be partnered by Germany international Emre Can. The former Bayer Leverkusen man can be frustrating, but he offers power, a moderate goal threat and determination in the centre of the park. He is better defensively than France international Paul Pogba, so he gets the nod over the former Juventus man – which will no doubt leave many United fans irate. Perhaps the decision not to pick Scott McTominay will do the same! Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson doesn’t make the cut for inclusion either, alongside Gini Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini, Adam Lallana and Jesse Lingard.
I am going to be slightly controversial, at least in the eyes of some, by picking Chile international Alexis Sanchez to play behind my front three. He is undoubtedly a wonderfully gifted player, but he just hasn’t shown it for United since signing for them in January. I expect he would fare better playing alongside the attacking trio I am going to pick for my combined side. Juan Mata is a player I have a lot of time for and he would be next in line for the position, but Sanchez gets the nod.
Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are a superb unit for Liverpool and they all make it into this team too. How could they not? They all score goals, provide assists and work so well together. United fans will feel that Anthony Martial could be chosen over Mane, but he isn’t assured of a place in their side, so he doesn’t come into this one either. Marcus Rashford has stalled somewhat of late and Sweden legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks to be on his way out of Old Trafford.
And so that concludes my picks for a combined Liverpool and Manchester United XI…
David de Gea
Virgil Van Dijk
Who would be in your team?