The two great powerhouses of English football go head to head at Old Trafford this weekend as Manchester United look to put a huge dent in Liverpool’s title ambitions on Sunday.
Liverpool, hunting for a first league title since 1990, currently trail United’s local rivals, Manchester City on goal difference. However, if Jurgen Klopp’s side can draw or win their game in hand at the home of their bitter rivals, the Merseysiders would overhaul City at the top of the table.
However, United supporters will be desperate to ensure that they spoil Liverpool’s pursuit for a first league title in 29 years, to hand the initiative to Manchester City instead – given their added rivalry with the Reds.
A victory for the hosts on Sunday could also effectively guarantee the permanent manager’s job for interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has had quite the impact at Manchester United since taking over in December.
Ahead of the game, we drew up a combined XI from players of the two sides..
GK: David de Gea
Both sides have quality goalkeepers at their disposal – Liverpool’s capture of Alisson from Roma in the summer has transpired to be a vital piece of business in their title challenge. However, simply due to De Gea’s consistent world class performances at United, the Spaniard gets the nod here.
RB: Trent Alexander Arnold
Unsupririsngly, Alexander-Arnold makes it at right back in our combined XI. Whilst United certainly have a prospect in Diogo Dalot, there is no doubting that Liverpool’s 20-year-old full back has more talent than the somewhat uninspiring Ashley Young.
CB: Virgil van Dijk
Certainly another no brainer. Van Dijk has been one of Liverpool’s influential players in their title challenge this term since his arrival from Southampton last January, and there can be no debate over his inclusion here.
CB: Victor Lindelöf
Although he struggled at times under Mourinho, Lindelof has been one of many players reinvigorated by Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s arrival in December – and has arguably enjoyed his best spell of form at the Manchester club since arriving over a year ago.
LB: Andrew Robertson
This wasn’t a difficult choice to make at all. Robertson has been a key figure for Liverpool this season with his reliable performances gaining him plenty of admirers on Merseysiders. Although Luke Shaw has begun to slowly pick up form for the Red Devils, the Scotsman’s sheer consistency for a season gets him a place in the XI.
After going under the radar in his opening months in England, Fabinho has finally hit first gear in a Liverpool shirt. Despite some unconvincing performances in his first few matches, he has demonstrated his importance to the Jurgen Klopp’s side of late with some really impressive displays. He kept Robert Lewandowski at bay brilliantly against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, and his defensive ability will be a key asset for Liverpool if they are to record a triumph against their arch rivals.
CM: Paul Pogba
It’s difficult to think of a player who received as much flak as Paul Pogba did in the first few months of the campaign for Manchester United. Despite some eye catching displays for France at the World Cup, he struggled to emulate that kind of form on the club stage for Jose Mourinho. But, like Lindelof, since Solskjaer’s arrival at United he has been a different class. 9 goals and 6 assists this season have reaffirmed what he can bring to the side – and we simply couldn’t leave him out of this XI.
CM: Georginio Wijnaldum
Wijnaldum didn’t exactly impress many pundits and fans during his first two seasons at Anfield after some inconsistent performances – but it appears to be that this season he is finally stepping up his displays. Although he may not be a very attacking midfielder, he is still very much unappreciated in the balance he brings to the Liverpool midfield and his ability in possession.
LW: Mohamed Salah
Whilst he hasn’t hit the hefty heights of last season’s record breaking campaign, Salah still remains a vital man for Liverpool. Man United are the only top 6 side Salah is yet to score against in the Premier League – and if he manages to break that feat on Sunday, he will become the fastest Reds player to reach 50 goals in the league.
ST: Marcus Rashford
Like Pogba and Lindelof, Rashford too has enjoyed quite the renaissance in a Manchester United shirt since December. He was often villified and at times the scapegoat under Mourinho having been left out of the side on many occassion, but six goals under Solskjaer and his pace on the counter has increased his importance for the Red Devils.
LW: Sadio Mane
Anthony Martial certainly deserves a mention, but Sadio Mane just about edges it in our combined XI – given his superior recent form for the Reds, having scored four times in the last five games for Liverpool.