17 Oct Who starts in a combined Manchester United – Liverpool XI?
One of the grand old rivalries of English football reignites this weekend as league leaders Liverpool travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.
Bitter enemies, the pair’s trajectories have gone in slightly opposite directions over the last couple of seasons.
In the post Sir Alex Ferguson era, United have yet to find a stable footing, while Liverpool have gone from strength to strength under Jurgen Klopp.
Ahead of this weekend’s big clash, we looked at how a combined United-Liverpool XI (4-3-3) might look based on technical quality, and some physical metrics.
Having to choose between two of the best goalkeepers in the world is always difficult. Both David de Gea and Allison have very similar attributes.
They’re great shot-stoppers, wonderful distribution, and have an excellent command of their area. However, we’re going with De Gea based solely on his longevity and experience at the highest level.
Despite his recent injury, Aaron Wan-Bissaka has settled into life as a Man Utd player pretty well. He’s fast (max speed of 33.91 kmph), got huge endurance, and a brilliant tackler.
But this slot must go to Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Reds flyer has all those attributes with the added wand of a right boot. The England full-back has already bagged a goal and two assists in eight games and will expect to reach double figures by May.
Virgil van Dijk is the first name on the team-sheet, and captain, too. The imperious centre-half has it all: pace, guile, strength, technical ability, an excellent passer, and weighs in with goals. He was also the fastest player in last season’s Champions League with a max speed of 34.5 kmph.
Harry Maguire joins VVD in the centre. And Andrew Robertson completes the defence at left-back. The Scotland international’s high-speed running stats are off the charts, making 676 sprints last season.
If this team was based on covering total distance alone, Scott McTominay would make the selection, with young midfielder regularly covering 11-12km per game.
However, we’re going with Fabinho at the base of the midfield, with Jordan Henderson the roving box-to-box starter. The Liverpool captain covered 11.4km in their 3-1 win earlier in the season and really thrives in that all-action central role.
The final midfield slot was a tough choice. James Milner, despite his veteran status, is still a remarkably fit and durable athlete. He won the lactate acid test in pre-season aerobic tests at Melwood and regularly manages around 40 sprints per game.
However, we’ve plucked for Paul Pogba in this position. The World Cup-winning midfielder has had a tough couple of seasons at club-level but is generally on hand when a bit of magic is required.
Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford can count themselves unlucky to be up against some of the best forwards the Premier League has ever seen.
The trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah are the perfection combination of raw pace, technical skill, and deadly finishing ability.
Mane and Salah regularly hit max speeds of 33kmph and more every week, with Firmino nicely knitting the attack together with amazing awareness.
Salah finished last season with third-most sprints (667) in the Premier League, with Mane and Salah sharing last season’s Golden Boot award with Arsenal’s Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang.
So, there you have it – three players from Manchester United, and eight from reigning European champions, Liverpool.
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