Monday 20 November 2017

Manchester derby combined XI: No place for Martial, Rooney or Sterling in the team

Manuel Pellegrini and Louis van Gaal
Manuel Pellegrini and Louis van Gaal

Eoin Harrington

It's the Manchester derby on Sunday. We compiled the best combined XI from both sides ahead of the heated encounter.

GOALKEEPER: David de Gea (Manchester United)

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David de Gea's proposed move to Madrid fell through at the last minute

While Joe Hart was, for a period, considered the best goalkeeper in the Premier League, this was a fairly straightforward choice. On form, de Gea is arguably as good as – if not better than - Bayern and Germany ‘keeper Manuel Neuer. The Spaniard has returned to spectacular form after the summer controversy over his botched move to Real Madrid.

RIGHT BACK: Matteo Darmian (Manchester United)

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Swansea's Jonjo Shelvey grapples with Manchester United's Matteo Darmian

Darmian was a surprise acquisition by Louis van Gaal during the summer, but the Italian has settled in marvellously and has been one of United’s best players of the season. Pablo Zabaleta would have given us a selection headache, but his injuries have made it difficult to judge his form this year.

CENTRE BACK: Chris Smalling (Manchester United)

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Manchester United crashed to a 3-0 league defeat aganist Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium

A target of abuse and jokes during the David Moyes era and dubbed one of Ferguson’s weaker signings, Smalling has matured into one of the Premier League’s best centre backs and van Gaal rates him very highly – he is United’s vice captain. The former Fulham man is an example of how to turn your career around after a poor spell.

CENTRE BACK: Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)

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After leaving Kompany rooted to the bench, Pellegrini made it clear that it is the manager, and not the captain, who has control at the Etihad Stadium.

The Belgian has been a rock at the heart of the City defence since joining in 2008 and, although his form has dropped off somewhat in the past twelve months, he isstill a staple in Premier League dream-teams. One of the best defenders in world football, Kompany is an inspirational leader for the “citizens”.

LEFT BACK: Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City)

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Manchester City's Aleksandar Kolarov in action with Watford's Odion Ighalo

Apart from last weekend’s 5-1 victory over Bournemouth, Kolarov has only missed seven minutes of football for City this season and has been in inspired form. Luke Shaw’s injury takes away any potential for a battle for the left back position, but Kolarov is a more than worthy choice.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Yaya Toure (Manchester City)

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Manchester City's Yaya Toure battles for the ball with AFC Bournemouth's Matt Ritchie (left), Dan Gosling (second right) and Sylvain Distin

The midfield is the most loaded area of this team and, for that reason, I’ve gone with a 4-2-3-1 formation to try and accommodate all of the remarkable talent. The Ivorian giant is a mainstay of the City team and, although he was dramatically off form last season, his regular self has returned this year and he has been one of City’s best performers.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Ander Herrera (Manchester United)

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Manchester United's Ander Herrera celebrates scoring his side's second goal

Louis van Gaal’s repeated resistance to picking Herrera is baffling because when the Spaniard is in United’s team, they are a completely different side. His passing range and accuracy are phenomenal and his incredible record from last season – six goals from six shots on target – shows how deadly he is in front of goal.

LEFT WING: Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)

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Kevin De Bruyne strikes Manchester City's winning goal against Sevilla

The ex-Chelsea player was City’s big buy of the summer and so a lot of pressure was on him to perform. The Belgian has more than lived up to the pre-season hype and his injury-time winner against Sevilla last night proves that he is a man for the big occasion. De Bruyne could well be the key man for City on Sunday.

CENTRAL ATTACKING MIDFIELDER: Juan Mata (Manchester United)

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Manchester United's Juan Mata in action with Arsenal's Nacho Monreal

Van Gaal’s decision to drop Mata for both Saturday’s game against Everton and the Champions League trip to Moscow was confusing, considering Mata has been far and away United’s best player this season. The former Chelsea man has finally been showing the form which convinced David Moyes to spend £40million on him two years ago and has been a shining light in an otherwise inconsistent season for United.

RIGHT WING: David Silva (Manchester City)

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Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero, right, and David Silva, left, both picked up injuries on international duty

On his day, Silva is the best creative player in the Premier League. Showed flashes of brilliance last season but his form never amounted to a serious “player of the season” charge. However, the Spanish native has been in superb form for City and he will be sorely missed by their attack on Sunday afternoon.

STRIKER: Sergio Agüero (Manchester City)

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Argentina's forward Sergio Aguero is assisted by medical staff during their Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers match against Ecuador, at the Nacional stadium in Santiago de Chile

Another man who will be sorely missed by City on Sunday, Aguero is, without any shadow of a doubt, the best striker in the Premier League and is rightly being touted as one of the best players in the world. His five goal spree against Newcastle is a case study in how to play as a Premier League striker and Aguero’s absence could cost City this weekend.

BENCH:

- Joe Hart (MCFC): Best English goalkeeper in the league.

- Pablo Zabaleta (MCFC): Has been unfortunate with injury this season, but on his day a world class right back.

- Daley Blind (MUFC): Nobody seems sure of van Gaal’s preferred position for him, but the Dutchman is a consistently solid performer.

- Fernandinho (MCFC): Arguably as big of an influence on City as his partner-in-crime Yaya Touré.

- Morgan Schneiderlin (MUFC): United look an infinitely better team with the Frenchman in it – he’s settling in nicely in Manchester.

- Raheem Sterling (MCFC): Has finely started living up to his reputation – in sensational form.

- Anthony Martial (MUFC): One of the surprises of the season – has a knack of scoring important goals. One for the future.

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