Manchester United and Liverpool enjoy a rivalry like no other, and this weekend’s game is even more tantalising given they are first and second in the Premier League.
So what better time than now to pick a combined team? This one incorporates the best players from each team but only those available for the Anfield showdown on Sunday. Crucially that means no Virgil van Dijk. So how many United players get into the side?
Here, MEN Sport picks a United and Liverpool combined XI, based on form:
Arguably the most straightforward pick. David de Gea has rediscovered some form this season, but Alisson has been the superior keeper for a good 18 months to two years and remains a more rounded goalkeeper than the Spaniard. One to Liverpool.
Trent Alexander Arnold
Another fairly simple choice, although in truth neither Alexander-Arnold nor Aaron Wan-Bissaka have shown their best form this season. Their strengths are very different, the Liverpool man preferring to attack and the United star better defensively, but Alexander-Arnold offers more overall.
Since Liverpool will likely have no fit centre-backs for the clash, United’s have to dominate this combined team. Even if Jurgen Klopp did have some of his options available, Bailly is a justified choice. He’s a natural defender and has been in fine form in recent weeks.
Maguire and Van Dijk would likely be the duo picked if everyone was fit and available. United copied Liverpool’s centre-back transfer tactic when paying £80million for a defender to transform their back line. Maguire isn’t perfect, he makes the odd mistake, but he has certainly improved United.
United have two very decent left-backs in Luke Shaw and Alex Telles but neither are in Robertson’s class at the moment. The Scot is a dynamic and determined footballer going forward and back.
Fabinho has played most of his football this season as an auxiliary centre-back, but he’s actually the best defensive midfielder on either side. Again, United may well have more depth in this position with Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic, but Fabinho is a fine player.
Pogba is on form, enjoying his football and contributing goals and assists right now. It remains to be seen where exactly Ole Gunnar Solskjaer accommodates him in the United team to take on Liverpool this Sunday, but Pogba is an easy choice when he’s in this kind of form.
How Liverpool must be wishing they had gambled on Fernandes in January last year. They didn’t, and United did and Solskjaer’s side have reaped the rewards since. There’s a good argument to say Fernandes is the best player on either side.
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Manchester United secured a vital 1-0 victory over Burnley on Tuesday night to go top of the Premier League.
Paul Pogba scored the decisive goal in a hard-fought contest at Turf Moor, meaning United are now three points clear of Liverpool — who they face this weekend at Anfield.
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Salah has been a sensation for Liverpool since returning to the Premier League from Roma. With the help of Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, he provided Klopp and Anfield the division’s best front three. He will be a major threat to United’s chances of clinging on to top spot this weekend.
Mane can run hot and cold, but when he’s on his game there are few better. Anthony Martial is a similar sort of player in terms of enigmatic form, but Mane does it on a more consistent basis, especially against the lesser lights of the league. He can be lethal.
Rashford may have to play a central role in this imaginary team, but in truth he could interchange with Mane and Salah if needed. The United forward has been lauded for his off-field work in the past 12 months, but he’s also grown into a very dependable attacking player in that time as well.
Subs: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Thiago, Fred, Henderson, Firmino, Cavani.