Picking a Combined Manchester United-Liverpool XI

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistMarch 15, 2014

Picking a Combined Manchester United-Liverpool XI

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    When they meet, the world tends to watch, and the latest clash between Manchester United and Liverpool is sure to be one that will capture attention across the globe.

    United boss David Moyes knows that he will earn a lot of forgiveness from his club's fans if he can mastermind a win which will stop the Reds in their tracks, whilst Brendan Rodgers would love to establish a 14-point gap between his side and United as they chase a Champions League place and even unlikely Premier League glory.

    But what if both teams were combined? Who would make the cut?

    Both teams, and especially Liverpool, possess exciting young talents who have impressed many this season, but in picking our combined United-Liverpool XI we've largely gone for performers who are tried and trusted and have the medal collections to prove it.

    That hasn't however extended to picking United's player-coach Ryan Giggs, with a little more youthful energy inserted into our midfield alongside a name who many would have as the first on their teamsheet in Steven Gerrard.

    But who is picked in the team along with the Liverpool captain? Take a look through our starting XI:

David De Gea

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    United's Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea just edges out Liverpool's Simon Mignolet here, although there is a strong argument that the best goalkeeper at either club is Pepe Reina, currently on loan at Napoli.

    De Gea struggled upon first arriving in England, but he possesses all of the abilities of a top shot-stopper and has established himself as one of the top keepers in the Premier League.

    At 23, he's three years younger than Mignolet and only looks set to improve with age.

Glen Johnson

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    Just pipping United's Rafael Da Silva and Liverpool's Jon Flanagan to the right-back spot is England's Glen Johnson, who has had his troubles with injury this season but nonetheless remains a top class performer when fit.

    Johnson has recently returned to the Reds team after struggling with injury, with the versatility of both he and Flanagan ensuring that both can play in either full-back position.

    A virtual certainty to head to the World Cup in the summer after winning his 50th England cap recently, Johnson's club future might be uncertain as he waits to be offered a new contract. But for now, he remains one of Liverpool's top performers.

Nemanja Vidic

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    Nemanja Vidic won't be a Manchester United player for much longer following his pre-contract agreement with Inter Milan, but his leadership skills and reading of the game ensure him of a place in a department of the pitch where Liverpool aren't too blessed.

    Injuries may have dulled Vidic's abilities over the years, but on his day, he is still a fearsome performer that forwards don't like coming up against.

    He will leave a big hole for United to fill in the summer.

Daniel Agger

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    Surely Liverpool's best defender when fully fit and firing―although Mamadou Sakho has shown immense promise this season and is unlucky to miss out here―Daniel Agger earns a place in this team as one of its many leaders.

    The Danish international captain retains an ability to both bring the ball out of defence and to offer a goal threat too, and he could offer a good balance alongside Vidic, who, like Agger, moved to the Premier League in January 2006.

    Agger has had his uncertain moments this season, but then, so has every Liverpool defender. That said, he is more than worthy of a place in this team.

Patrice Evra

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    Age might be catching up with Patrice Evra if you believe some of the left-back's critics, but he's still a largely consistent performer who gives his all for his side week in, week out.

    The Frenchman has also added a goal threat to his game recently, with his six strikes in the past year-and-a-half doubling his output for the club in the seven seasons before that.

    A frequent captain of United, Evra's future at the club might not extend beyond the summer if he can seek new challenges elsewhere, but for now, he remains an important part of the Old Trafford furniture.

Steven Gerrard

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    What would United give to have a figure like Steven Gerrard dominating in their midfield right now?

    The 33-year-old has taken up a deeper position this season, with his ability to spot and spray passes coming in handy alongside his reading of the game. Liverpool have taken their attacking approach into pretty much every fixture they've played this season.

    Gerrard will captain England at the World Cup, but then his international future is likely to come into question, with Liverpool fans no doubt hoping that he can concentrate on leading out the Reds in the Champions League over the next few seasons.

Jordan Henderson

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    Jordan Henderson's relentless improvement this season and United's comparative lack of impressive midfielders ensures that the former Sunderland man earns his place in our team.

    All boundless energy and enthusiasm, Henderson has thrived under the tutelage of Brendan Rodgers this season, and he would perhaps be in line for some of the club's player of the season awards were it not for the goalscoring blitz that frequently happens in front of him.

    Looking likely to go to the World Cup in the summer after picking up his eighth England cap against Denmark, Henderson looks as though he'll be a member of the Reds midfield for years to come.

Juan Mata

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    Based solely on displays for their current clubs and Juan Mata would lose out to Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho here, but the Spaniard earns his shirt simply through his achievements and experience.

    A World Cup, European Championship and Champions League-winner, Mata was Chelsea's Player of the Year in each of the last two seasons before he was overlooked by Jose Mourinho and shipped off to Old Trafford in January.

    His appearances for United so far haven't necessarily pulled up any trees, but the Red Devils know that they have a special talent on their hands.

Wayne Rooney

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    Now signed on for the next few years at Manchester United and all set to be the club's captain once Vidic leaves, there is little doubt where the allegiances of the boy from Merseyside lie anymore.

    Wayne Rooney remains an icon of the modern game and a crucial cog in the United machine, with his ability to drop deep, link play and relentlessly score goals of vital importance to his club at a time when they haven't been hitting the standards that they would expect of themselves.

    Certain to be England's main man in the summer, Rooney has the talent to constantly impact games and drag displays out of his teammates, qualities that you want in any side.

Luis Suarez

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    The first name on the teamsheet here, Luis Suarez stands out as surely the best player that either of these two sides could offer to our combined XI.

    The Uruguayan is both the Premier League's top scorer and top assist-maker this season, a staggering achievement that is sure to make him the favourite for the Premier League's Player of the Year awards when they come around later in the season.

    Suarez's movement, touch, balance and frequently stunning goals have been a joy to watch this season and with him in this side then it will be able to beat anybody.

Daniel Sturridge

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    It was a close one, but we've gone with Liverpool's hotshot Daniel Sturridge over Robin van Persie for the final spot in our team, with the Englishman earning his place following what has been a stunning 14 months on Merseyside.

    Sturridge has scored 32 goals in 40 appearances for the Reds to date, a tally which stacks up more than favourably to Van Persie's record of 44 goals in 71 games for United.

    The former Chelsea forward has thrived at Anfield under a manager who believes in him and a team playing to his strengths, with his stunning performances this season making the £12 million that Liverpool paid for him in January 2013 one of their best pieces of transfer business in recent times.