Picking a Combined Liverpool-Manchester City XI

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistApril 12, 2014

Picking a Combined Liverpool-Manchester City XI

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    Rui Vieira

    It's surely the biggest game of the season so far, with Liverpool and Manchester City meeting at Anfield on Sunday with Premier League supremacy on the line.

    A win for the Reds would take them seven points clear of City, albeit having played two games more, whilst a win for City would place them just a point off the top of the table and secure them as firm favourites for a second league title in three years.

    There is little doubt that the pair have been two of the teams of the season anywhere in Europe but what would a team made up of their combined talents look like?

    Given that between them Liverpool and City have scored a staggering 174 goals in their combined 64 Premier League games this season, we're going to base our team on an all-out attacking approach which could shoot down pretty much any opposition.

    Here's our combined XI:

Joe Hart

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    England's Joe Hart just edges out the Liverpool and Belgium goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to take our No. 1 shirt because of his extra experience at the highest level.

    Hart may have lost his place to Costel Pantilimon earlier this season, but the regaining of his best form has been crucial to City's title challenge, and he will again be a hugely important player as the Blues face tough contests at Liverpool and Everton before the end of the season.

    The shot-stopper will be in goal for England at the World Cup in the summer, too, and the attacking nature of our team means he might be needed to keep out a few efforts following counter-attacks!

Pablo Zabaleta

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    When he's been fit Glen Johnson has had a largely impressive season for Liverpool but for greater consistency we've gone for Manchester City's Pablo Zabaleta at right-back.

    The Argentinean has proven to be a huge hit at City ever since arriving from La Liga's Espanyol in the summer of 2008, so much so that he has long since been taken to the hearts of the Etihad Stadium faithful.

    A sometime captain of the side, Zabaleta's experience is vital on the right side of the City defence as they undertake the several challenges that they need to go through during a season.

Vincent Kompany

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    The Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany makes it into our team, and he'd surely be one of the first names on anyone's team sheet.

    The big Belgian has developed into a renowned leader during his time in England following a move from Anderlecht in 2008, and he has now managed to lift all of the domestic trophies as City skipper, with the FA Cup in 2011, Premier League title in 2012 and the League Cup last month.

    Widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the Premier League and Europe, Kompany will also be a key figure for his country at the World Cup in the summer.

Martin Skrtel

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    The chances of Martin Skrtel being involved in a team such as this back in the summer would have been pretty slim, but the big Slovakian international has enjoyed a fine campaign as a key component of the Liverpool defence.

    He was arguably considered as the club's fourth-choice centre-back at the beginning of the season, but he's been an ever-present since the 1-0 victory over Manchester United on September 1, contributing six goals during the campaign including doubles in goal-filled victories over Arsenal and Cardiff City.

    French international Mamadou Sakho might end up developing into a much better defender, but Skrtel deserves his place here for his rate of improvement this season and also his goal threat, although, admittedly, we're not short of that elsewhere!

Aleksandar Kolarov

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    Adding even more attacking impetus from the left is Manchester City's Serbian Aleksandar Kolarov, who sees off competition from his team-mate Gael Clichy and Liverpool youngster Jon Flanagan to earn a starting spot.

    Kolarov's defensive capabilities can sometimes be called into question, but he is often a key outlet for his side going forward and a strong threat from set-pieces.

    The former Lazio man has a hammer where his left foot should be, with his big, booming efforts making him a favourite with the City fans.

Steven Gerrard

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    The Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard has adapted so well to his new deeper midfield role this season that he gets a start there ahead of his Liverpool team-mate Lucas Leiva and also Manchester City's Fernandinho, who has been superb during his first season in English football.

    Like Kompany, Gerrard is the recognised leader for his side, and the go-to man whenever they need to roll up their sleeves and impress.

    Gerrard's two goals against West Ham last weekend took him above Kenny Dalglish and into sixth place in Liverpool's all-time top goalscorer's list, and he's now just 10 strikes off Robbie Fowler in fifth.

Yaya Toure

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    Fans of both Liverpool and Manchester City would place Yaya Toure as one of the first names on their team sheet here, with the Ivorian having long since established himself as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League and the European game.

    Toure's trademark bursts from midfield are one of the great sights of the modern English game, and the thought of what he could do in partnership with Gerrard in the centre is sure to make any of our team's opponents tremble with fear.

    Sadly for Yaya though, there's no place here for his older brother Kolo...

David Silva

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    He's been in wonderful form in recent weeks, and Manchester City's Spanish magician gets a place in our midfield playing ahead of Gerrard and Toure in a central three.

    The likes of Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho and Samir Nasri could all have claims for a role in the side, but the World Cup and double European Championship winner Silva outshines them all and brings a huge element of creativity to the side.

    Perhaps he could stand to improve his goals output, but after crucial strikes against Hull City and Arsenal in recent weeks, his goals are proving crucial for City in the title race.

Luis Suarez

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    Kicking off our incredibly potent front three is Liverpool's main man Luis Suarez, who has stood head and shoulders above every other forward in the Premier League this season thanks to his 29 goals.

    The Uruguayan is set to win all of the Player of the Year awards that are on offer, with the Reds currently banking on him to fire them to a first league title in 24 years.

    Suarez has simply been exemplary this season, and you can be certain that City boss Manuel Pellegrini would love to have him in his side. 

Sergio Aguero

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    Manuel Pellegrini does possess Sergio Aguero though, and although the Argentinean ace has had his injury troubles this season, he is still one of the prime goal-getters in world football.

    The former Atletico Madrid man will always maintain hero status amongst City supporters for scoring the goal which dramatically won them the 2011-12 Premier League title, and he could well be gearing up to repeat the feat in the coming weeks.

    The forthcoming World Cup offers Aguero the chance to pair up with his good friend Lionel Messi in the Argentina attack, and the thought of facing both is sure to fill plenty of opponents with dread.

Daniel Sturridge

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    Completing our attacking lineup is Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge, the former City youngster who is second only to Suarez in the Premier League top scorers list this season.

    Sturridge has been terrific throughout the campaign, scoring 20 Premier League goals and becoming just the second player in the competition's history to find the net for eight games in a row.

    The £12 million that Brendan Rodgers paid Chelsea for the forward in January 2013 looks like more and more of a bargain with every passing week, and Liverpool would be certain to get more than double that amount were they to sell him now. Not that they'd want to, of course.