Picking a Combined Manchester United-Manchester City XI

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistMarch 24, 2014

Picking a Combined Manchester United-Manchester City XI

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    The fact that 12 points and four Premier League positions currently separate Manchester United and Manchester City makes Tuesday's derby a more important one for the latter, but United will be determined to ruin City's championship challenge.

    The meeting at Old Trafford might be an uncomfortable one for home fans who still remember the 6-1 drubbing dished out by their rivals in October 2011, and indeed City's 2-1 win on the same stage last season.

    But United will at least approach it with some confidence following back-to-back wins over Olympiakos and West Ham which have at least ensured last weekend's 3-0 loss to Liverpool can be forgotten about.

    United may have had a tough season under David Moyes, but they still possess plenty of players that clubs around the world would love to have.

    So what if we combined the Manchester clubs to form one super-team? Who would be in our starting XI?

    In picking our team we've tried to imagine which players would fit best into a 4-2-3-1 formation, meaning that there is no place for the likes of Robin van Persie and Alvaro Negredo despite their obvious talents, whilst we've also gone for experience over youth ensuring that there is no spot for the promising Adnan Januzaj either.

    You'll all have your own opinions, so feel free to drop them in the comments box below:

David De Gea

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    United's Spanish stopper David de Gea makes it in ahead of City and England's stopper Joe Hart following a season in which he has further established himself as one of the Premier League's top goalkeepers.

    Who knows how far United would have plummeted down the Premier League table this season were it not for the former Atletico Madrid man, who also made crucial saves in the Champions League comeback against Olympiakos last week.

    He isn't a perfect goalkeeper but then who is?

    De Gea makes it in ahead of his Manchester rival Hart as he still maintains his youthful promise and excellence, something which the City man seemingly lost when he lost his place in the team to Costel Pantilimon earlier this season. 

Pablo Zabaleta

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    Offering resilience at right-back in our team is City's Pablo Zabaleta, a far more reassuring presence on the right side of the defence than his fellow South American, United's Rafael da Silva.

    Zabaleta is a consistent presence in the City side, offering attacking help whilst all the time not forgetting his defensive responsibilities.

    A bargain £6.45 million arrival from Espanyol in the summer of 2008, the Argentinean is still regarded as a favourite of the Etihad Stadium fans despite the many millions of pounds worth of talent which has followed him into the club.

Vincent Kompany

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    Leading from the back, Vincent Kompany stands out as comfortably the best central defender at either one of the Manchester clubs right now.

    The Belgian is City's club captain and has experienced lifting all three major domestic trophies during his time in England, most recently the League Cup at Wembley three weeks ago following the 3-1 victory over Sunderland.

    Whilst City may struggle to find him a regular and dependable central defensive partner, something which must be seen as a priority for Manuel Pellegrini in the summer, the former Anderlecht man continues to impress and to be a key presence in his side's challenge for honours.

Nemanja Vidic

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    This was always going to be the trickiest choice, but Nemanja Vidic makes it into our team as Kompany's defensive partner simply because the options elsewhere weren't too inspiring.

    Martin Demichelis, Matija Nastasic, Joleon Lescott, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans could all be considered for the role, but even though Vidic is slowing down and will be leaving United for Inter Milan in the summer, it is the Serb who just scrapes in.

    As witnessed by his red cards this year against Chelsea and Liverpool, the defender's reactions aren't what they once were, but he's still a respected figure and just about makes it into our team.

    Needless to say, centre-back is an area both Manchester clubs need to improve upon next year.

Aleksandar Kolarov

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    The French duo of Gael Clichy and Patrice Evra both have their qualities (and Alexander Buttner exists as well), but it is another Serb who comes in at left-back in the shape of Aleksandar Kolarov.

    The former Lazio man has slowly but surely edged Clichy out of the City team for the team's bigger matches, and he offers both a threat on the flanks when City attack and also the possibility of grabbing goals from set-pieces.

    His defensive work could still use some improvement, but our team is likely to be very attack-minded and Kolarov would certainly complement that well.

Fernandinho

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    A big hit in his first season in English football, Brazilian international Fernandinho takes up our holding midfield role surely without any complaints.

    Michael Carrick would once have been able to challenge him for the position, but the United man has been on a steady decline this season and can't match the quality of City's summer signing from Shakhtar Donetsk.

    Fernandinho's performances this season combined with injuries to others have seen him make a late run for a place in Brazil's World Cup team in the summer, and if he is called upon he won't let either manager Luiz Felipe Scolari or his nation down.

Yaya Toure

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    The first name on the teamsheet? Probably.

    City's rampaging midfielder Yaya Toure has been a fixture in Premier League football fans' select XIs ever since he moved to England from Barcelona in the summer of 2010, underlining his continuing importance to his club with a hat-trick in the win over Fulham at the weekend.

    The Ivorian has plenty of fans both in England and beyond, with United supporters surely not above wondering just how different the shape of their midfield would look right now if they could call upon such an experienced and quality performer. 

David Silva

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    Capable of influencing games with a flick here or a pass there, David Silva might not be as prolific a goalscorer as he'd like, but he is still one of the Premier League's best players.

    The Spanish international is a confirmed winner having picked up both the European Championship (twice) and the World Cup to go alongside his success with City, and there could well be more to come as he ticks down the season as still a vital member of both teams.

    Formerly at Valencia, Silva has been bewitching fans of the Premier League since moving to England in 2010, and he's currently contracted to City for the next three seasons.

Juan Mata

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    Although yet to score for Manchester United since joining in January, there was a glimpse of just what Juan Mata could do for the club when he was deployed in his favoured No. 10 role by David Moyes for the win at West Ham on Saturday,

    The Spaniard's best display for the club followed, and if Moyes allows the Spanish international to perform in the position that he is best suited to, or at least in a more fluid system such as the one we are trying to create here, then the £37.1 million arrival from Chelsea can start living up to his price tag.

    He faced strong competition from Samir Nasri to earn this spot in our team, and he'll need to perform well to hang onto it.

Wayne Rooney

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    Fresh from his stunning goal in the win at West Ham on Saturday, Wayne Rooney earns his spot in the XI as he chases top form ahead of the World Cup.

    As was the case with Mata, the Englishman faced extremely strong competition from some City players, most notably Alvaro Negredo, but he gets his spot due to his ability to emphatically impact on matches in the manner that he did at Upton Park at the weekend, and also because of the damage he can cause in linking up with our centre-forward.

    Rooney certainly has his flaws, but on his day he is a match winner and we're going to need one or two of those.

Sergio Aguero

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    Playing ahead of Rooney is Sergio Aguero, comfortably the best forward currently at either Manchester club and joining his City team-mate Yaya Toure in being one of the first names on the teamsheet here.

    The Argentinean has been disappointingly beset by injuries in recent months, robbing football fans of the chance to see one of the top performers in the division and European football, but when he's fit he's a great player to watch, and as clinical in front of goal as anyone in world football.

    Hopefully he'll be back from his problems and fully fit in time for the World Cup, a time when he could really establish himself as one of the top names in the modern game.