Monday 24 July 2017

Our combined Man United/Liverpool XI featuring six Red Devils and five Reds

L-r: David De Gea, Nathaniel Clyne, Anthony Martial and Robert Firmino
L-r: David De Gea, Nathaniel Clyne, Anthony Martial and Robert Firmino

Tom Rooney

English football’s most heated rivalry resumes on Sunday and, just to further stoke the fires, we’ve selected a combination starting XI of the best Liverpool and Manchester United currently have to offer.

Now, it’s no secret that neither club are even close to the all-conquering forces they once were, but their squads are speckled with genuine quality, even if both sides have struggled for a favourable continuity in this campaign.

In order to marginally cull the playing pool, the side will be selected from the match day squads fielded by the clubs in their most recent outings, both of which were 3-3 draws incidentally.

We’ve decided to opt for Jurgen Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3 formation. Do you agree with our selection?

David De Gea

A complete and utter no brainer. Not only is the Spaniard the best keeper in the league, he is again one of the most vital players in the United squad. The same cannot be said for his floundering Merseyside opposite number.

Nathaniel Clyne

The former Southampton man has proved himself one of Brendan Rogers’ better signings, though that’s hardly a ringing endorsement. The full back has remained a rare source of consistency in Liverpool’s rear guard, and just shades it past the promising Matteo Darmian.

Chris Smalling

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Chris Smalling is hoping Manchester United can bounce back against Liverpool on Sunday

His performance against Newcastle left a lot to be desired, though it’s forgivable in light of the incredible composure he has shown at the heart of United’s defence all season.

Mamadou Sakho

Like Smalling, Sahko will want to put his showing mid-week quickly behind him, particularly the lead up to Aaron Ramsey’s equaliser for Arsenal at Anfield. This should not obscure what he has been a fine campaign for the Frenchman.

Alberto Moreno

Moreno slots in at left back almost by default. Ashley Young is clearly not a defender, even if this fact is yet to occur to Louis Van Gaal, though he is handicapped by the long-term injury to Luke Shaw. Moreno is a solid operator, if yet to deliver on the early promise he showed on Merseyside.

Jordan Henderson

The Liverpool skipper has acquitted himself well since returning from injury and provided a fine assist for Roberto Firmino against the Gunners. He’s a well-equipped midfielder with far more guile than his Manchester counterparts.

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Henderson: Injury concern. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Morgan Schneiderlin

Another member of the ex-Southampton brigade, Schneiderlin has been solid since his summer move to Old Trafford but  is yet to demonstrate some of dynamism he did at his former club. One of the better defensive midfielders around.

Ander Herrera

His inclusion is probably unwarranted on current form, but Herrera has largely been criminally underused by Van Gaal. When it suits him, the 26 year-old is capable of genuine craft, while his finishing is nothing to be sneezed at. 

Roberto Firmino

The Brazilian’s sporadic brilliance has frustrated the Liverpool faithful, but his ability is undoubted. He looked spectacular at times against Arsenal and his second strike of the night was pure class.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates with Roberto Firmino

Wayne Rooney

The United skipper has had to endure his fair share of time under microscope following a pretty pedestrian first half of the season. Of course, at United, he’s not alone there.

However, flickers of the old spark have been appearing since the turn of the year, and the England international was near unplayable while netting his brace on Tyneside.

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Wayne Rooney celebrates with Anthony Martial after scoring the second goal for Manchester United Photo: Reuters / Andrew Yates

Anthony Martial

Martial made his debut in the corresponding fixture last September. In what was an unforgettable cameo, the then teenager, who was largely unheard of, sent Old Trafford into pandemonium with a sumptuous goal as United cruised to a 3-1 victory.

He’s been patchy in the interim but, like so many of his colleagues, the French striker has been consistently played in a  wide position that many observers feel undermines his talent.

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