Ahead of Sunday's Premier League showdown between Liverpool and Manchester City, Sports Mole selects its strongest combined XI from the two squads.

Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Manchester City

Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Manchester City

Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Manchester City

Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Manchester City

Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Manchester City
Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Manchester City
  • 2019-11-09 01:10:09 11 months ago
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Liverpool welcome Manchester City to Anfield in the Premier League on Sunday for a clash between the two best teams in the country.

A distinctive feature of this game will be, of course, the fact that victory for Jurgen Klopp's side would take them nine points ahead of City after 12 Premier League games.

Moreover, this meeting also serves to illustrate an emphatic gap between the two sides in relation to the rest of the league, such is the pace and precision of how both teams play.

Here, Sports Mole selects its strongest combined XI from the two squads, using only players available this weekend.


Combined XI: LIV vs. MNC

The battle between Ederson and Alisson Becker for a spot in this side would have been a close one, only for Guardiola to confirm on Friday that his keeper was ruled out of the game, meaning that the Liverpool keeper takes the spot with ease.

In the right-back slot you have a battle between Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold, both of whom are masters of their trade. Some might argue that Walker, as the senior of the two, should go ahead of the 21-year-old, but the latter's performances over the past two seasons set him apart from most right-backs in Europe.

Over on the other side, it is much more of a no-brainer: Benjamin Mendy is a highly exciting left-back but the Frenchman has spent the last two years mostly injured, while Andrew Robertson has played virtually every important game for Liverpool over the same period.

Should Joel Matip had been fit, there may be a case to argue that Liverpool deserve to dominate both centre-back spots, but this would perhaps come as a disservice to the quietly efficient and deeply aggressive Nicolas Otamendi, who is likely to get the nod ahead of John Stones on Sunday.

At the base of midfield, it is almost impossible to differentiate between Brazilian duo Fernandinho and Fabinho, who are both intractable forces, playing the dual role of screening the defence and setting up attacks. The former only gets ahead because of his greater level of Premier League experience compared with Fabinho, who only joined Liverpool in 2017.

While Kevin De Bruyne simply cannot be excluded from a combined XI, it becomes a trickier task when deciding who deserves the final midfield spot. Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson are all on a similar level - and so are injured duo Rodri Hernandez and David Silva - but the Liverpool captain just gets ahead of the rest due to his ability to instil discipline into those around him.

Given that Guardiola often alternates between Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo on the right hand side, it is hard to say that either deserves to come ahead of Mohamed Salah, an indispensable member of Liverpool's front three and already with eight goals to his name in all competitions this season.

While Sadio Mane has been an excellent force for Liverpool this season - arguably serving as their most potent attacker - the Senegal international does not match up the overall impact of Raheem Sterling, who now commands a senior role under both Guardiola and England manager Gareth Southgate along with claiming a remarkable tally of 13 goals since August.

Choosing between Roberto Firmino and Sergio Aguero is arguably even harder: the former has somewhat remoulded the way in which we view the number nine role, while the latter simply churns out goals as if it were nothing. In a game of fine margins and one ultimately decided by goals rather than craft, City's all-time goalscorer gets the nod ahead of the Brazilian.

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Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Manchester City

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