The Manchester Derby has arrived and it couldn't be a bigger game for either side. A win for United should help them get back into their groove and challenge the Top 6. The top two sides last year’s League have a lot of class, both fit nicely in a 4-1-2-3 formation. Here’s our ideal Manchester United Manchester City combined XI:
GOALKEEPER: David De Gea
This has never been a difficult decision. Ederson is a good goalkeeper, there is no debating that, but De Gea is the best in the world and saved United 19 points last season with his miraculous saves, most notably against Liverpool, Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Man City, and he was pivotal in the miraculous away win against Juventus last Wednesday.
RIGHT-BACK: Kyle Walker
Walker is an exceptional player and one of the best right-backs in the world alongside Dani Carvajal, Joshua Kimmich and Cesar Azpilicueta. Right-backs have been an issue for Manchester United this season with Valencia and Young showing that they do not fit naturally into the position. Diogo Dalot showed United fans what he can do against Young Boys and Derby County, but he’s currently injured so United must make do with Ashley Young who might struggle with the pace of Leroy Sane this weekend.
CENTRE-BACKS: John Stones and Aymeric Laporte
Honestly, I would love to put Lindelof in this line-up but the fact that United have kept three clean sheets in all competitions this season is preventing the Swedish centre-back from being here. This is also due to the unbelievable form of the Man City defenders who have only conceded four goals in the League this season and whose youthful partnership has frozen out Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi. Honestly, it’s a shock that Laporte has not made the French squad for the latest set of internationals and Mamadou Sakho has! Perhaps he should consider swapping allegiances to Spain with Pique's retirement, he could be a shoe-in for the side.
LEFT-BACK: Benjamin Mendy
Again, Luke Shaw would be in the side if the stats didn't favour Mendy. He has five assists in the League, joint highest with Ryan Fraser and Raheem Sterling. Mendy has surprisingly made only seven fouls and been booked once, whereas Shaw only has a goal and an assist but has made fifteen fouls and been booked four times - one away from suspension. Mendy's crossing ability is far superior and although Shaw's energy and attacking movement is much higher and faster, Mendy starts in an all-City back four.
CENTRAL DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER: Fernandinho
Another Man City player who has to be in this squad because in reality the stats don't lie. Fernandinho makes more passes per game, has an exceptional tackle success of 76% and wins roughly five duels a game. While Matic makes less fouls and more interceptions than the Brazilian, Fernandinho turns defence into attack much more than Matic and will sit back and allow the attacking prowess in front of him do their magic.
ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS: David Silva and Paul Pogba
With Kevin de Bruyne injured this became a far easier decision to make. David Silva is a magician and a Man City legend, scoring 51 goals in 258 appearances for the club. He was pivotal for their title winning seasons and especially so last season. When de Bruyne wasn't in form, Silva was. Pogba has become United's star player since his return, especially last season when he scored 6 goals and assisted 10 times in United's best season since Sir Alex retired. This year, he’s scored five goals; true, three of them were penalties and the other a rebound from Pickford's save against Everton, however in the past few weeks he’s been pivotal in most of United’s attacks.
RIGHT WINGER: Raheem Sterling
Since Pep Guardiola has come in, Sterling's game has improved substantially. He has scored 31 goals and assisted 22 times in 75 League appearances, meaning that he’s been directly involved in a goal every 63 minutes. His pace and versatility to play left, right and central makes him an easy starter in this XI and given United's struggle to find a natural right winger, an obvious choice.
‘Sterling and Martial both arrived in Manchester in the 2015 summer transfer window and have become vital players for both sides'
LEFT WINGER: Anthony Martial
Who else? Tony Martial has been exceptional for Manchester United in the last few weeks, scoring five goals in his last four League games and will undoubtedly be hungry to score for a fifth against a side he has yet to find the net against. When he takes players on he is a handful-and-a-half and has the composure of a natural striker in front of goal that makes it understandable as to why pundits and journalists compare him to Thierry Henry. What's more is that, with his impeccable current form, he deserved the rare call-up to France’s squad.
STRIKER: Sergio Aguero
Another Man City hero and an obvious choice given United’s current situation. It’s doubtful that Lukaku will play, although he has trained with his teammates after missing Wednesday’s game against Juventus. Aguero is a goal machine, scoring 20+ goals in five different seasons and is on track to make it a sixth – 5 in a row – after scoring 7 goals in 11 League matches so far this season. He averages a goal every 130 minutes in the League, bettering Luis Suarez, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. An excellent player who has adapted to Pep's football and can play through the channels, link up play and even act as a target man thanks to his low centre of gravity and footwork.