Picking a Combined Chelsea and Manchester United XI

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2014


Chelsea and Manchester United, two teams with new managers but with very different problems and challenges.

As Jose Mourinho adds to his squad with the incredibly shrewd signing of Nemanja Matic from Benfica, David Moyes desperately searches for value in the market to kick start the rebuilding of his crest-fallen Red Devils team. 

Chelsea host United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, with the Blues very much in the title race, despite their style of football lacking excitement and verve. However, Mourinho's issues with performance levels are nothing compared to Moyes.

A defeat for Manchester United would extinguish even the smallest ambitions they might still have of retaining the Premier League title. 

So who will influence proceedings in this crunch tie? Here we pick a combined team from the best of The Reds and The Blues. 

Goalkeeper: David de Gea

Comparing Petr Cech and David de Gea is like comparing a seasoned boxer with the fast hands of a young pretender. 

de Gea had his character assassinated in his early days with United, after a series of blunders and confidence sapping performances, but the Spanish wonderkid has kicked through the gears to become one of the best goalkeepers on the planet in no time at all.

Even though Cech is still a hugely dependable player for Chelsea, it is de Gea who is in the ascendancy. The 23-year-old hot stopper was voted as the best in his position by his fellow professionals last season, which included in the PFA Team of the Year.

Defence: Rafael, John Terry, Jonny Evans, Ashley Cole

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  (L-R) John Terry and Ashley Cole (R) of Chelsea react  after a decision by Referee Howard Webb during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on December 29, 2013 in London, Englan
Julian Finney/Getty Images

When considering that United have performed so abysmally in defence this season, it is difficult to choose any of their playing staff for this back four.

Not so long ago, the superior talents of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand would have strode into this selection with assured authority, with only John Terry to challenge them.  

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 11:  Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mate Rio Ferdinand (R) during the UEFA Champions League Round of Sixteen, Second Leg match between Manchester United and Inter Milan a
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Fast forward only 12 months, and with Vidic and Ferdinand looking like time has caught up with their bodies, Chelsea captain Terry is having a renaissance, having played in every minute of The Blues Premier League campaign (h/t Squawka.)

Terry has been the leader that Mourinho required on his return to English football, statistically only second to Eden Hazard in general performance, per Squawka.

The left-back position is a direct battle between Ashley Cole and Patrice Evra. As the Frenchman is about to be shown the door at Old Trafford, per Jamie Jackson of The Guardian, England stalwart Cole is in line to be offered a new contract by his manager, per ESPN.

Despite not starting every match for Chelsea this season, Cole has still showed his quality and looks certain to be included in Roy Hodgson's England squad for the World Cup. Cole has the edge on Evra defensively, whilst being able to match his endeavour in the forward positions.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23:  Rafael Da Silva of Manchester United celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 with team mates Shinji Kagawa and Jonny Evans during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on Septemb
Michael Regan/Getty Images

United's contribution to this back four is Rafael and Jonny Evans.

Despite injury severely hampering Rafael's playing time this season, the young Brazilian right-back excelled for United during last season's championship triumph, as did Evans. The Irishman has grown in stature over the past three seasons, and he has developed into a bona fide leader. 

A Jonny Evans/John Terry centre-back partnership would be an intelligent and savvy pairing for any club. 

Defensive Midfield: David Luiz and Michael Carrick

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 28:  Roberto Soldado of Tottenham Hotspur wrestles with David Luiz of Chelsea off the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane on September 28, 2013 in London, Engla
Clive Rose/Getty Images

With Chelsea and United's flair in the last third of the pitch, it is down to Luiz and Carrick to anchor the team.

On his day, Brazilian Luiz is one of the most talented defensive footballers in England. However, his ability to carry the ball and pass his way out from deep lends his skillset to being more Yaya Toure than John Terry. 

He is wasted at centre-back, and surely a future lies for him in midfield. Mourinho has tested the water recently by playing him in this position when his team battled Liverpool (h/t The Guardian.)

It seems unfair to leave out Ramirez, who has improved as a footballer every season since he has been at Chelsea, but with this team requiring two genuine defensive midfielders, we have opted to plump for Michael Carrick. 

NORWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Nathan Redmond of Norwich City battles with Michael Carrick of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and  Manchester United at Carrow Road on December 28, 2013 in Norwich, England.
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Carrick is vital for United in the way he controls football matches from deep. When asked who his player of the year was last season, Arsene Wenger opted for Carrick, saying he was good enough to play for Barcelona, per John Cross of The Mirror.

A bedding of Luiz and Carrick would not only be solid, but the quality of possession through the midfield would be guaranteed. 

Attacking Midfield: Oscar, Wayne Rooney and Eden Hazard

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Just the sight of these three players together would scare the life out of the whole of Europe. It is no surprise why Mourinho still has his sights on Wayne Rooney, per Matt Law of The Telegraph, and is prepared to go back in for him in the summer.

The loss of Rooney could potentially cripple United. The player has been sensational for Moyes, and surely any fee received from Chelsea would be outweighed by monies spent by United on a top class replacement.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21:  Eden Hazard (R) of Chelsea is congratulated by teammate Oscar (L) after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on August 21, 2013 in London, Englan
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Oscar and Hazard have both lived up to their huge billings this season, with the pair being Chelsea's top goalscorers, per the BBC.

When footballers deliver such fantastic quality and consistency, you completely forget how much they cost your club. It is clear to see why Juan Mata cannot get a game. 

A triple threat of these three wonderfully talented players would be unstoppable. For the hopes and dreams of Man Utd, the Premier League and its football clubs, let's hope Mourinho does not get the opportunity to make this dream combination a reality. 

Striker: Danny Welbeck

With the injury to Robin van Persie, who would take this final spot in the team, it comes down to a direct choice between Fernando Torres and Danny Welbeck.

To compare the two players in years gone by would have been ridiculous: the predatory Torresarguably the best striker in the world during his time at Liverpool, compared to the exuberance of a lanky Mancunian kid, whose finishing is suspect. 

However, in 2014, it is the young England international who is the form striker of the two, giving Moyes the sort of selection headache he wants, per Stuart Mathieson of The Manchester Evening News. 

As Mathieson reports, Welbeck has scored six times, a third of United's goals since Rooney last netted, in the match against Tottenham Hotspur

NORWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Danny Welbeck of Manchester United scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and  Manchester United at Carrow Road on December 28, 2013 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDo
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Torres has just seven goals for the season in all competitions, and despite seeing an improvement in his personal form under Mourinho, remains a shadow of his former self.

Welbeck deserves his place in this combined team. If his goal-scoring run continues, he will undoubtedly start for England at the World Cup in the summer. His all round game is now very impressive and has vastly improved.

The closest thing Chelsea have to him is Romelu Lukaku, and he is displaying his value at a different club. 

Formation: 4-2-3-1

With United struggling to prove that 4-4-2 is the way forward for them, 4-2-3-1 is the obvious formation for this combined team. 

With the anchoring and industry of Luiz and Carrick, then the explosive talents of Oscar, Rooney and Hazard could dominate, with the mobility and strength of Welbeck supporting their magic.

Despite both clubs facing time in a state of transition, the combination strengths of the two teams is still huge.

The summer transfer window could make or break both Moyes and Mourinho, with neither manager having infinite time to get things right. 


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