Manchester City and Manchester United, who were touted to be the two main contenders for the Premier League title are now going to battle it out for securing a top-four finish when they cross swords in the 174th Manchester Derby on Thursday night at the Etihad. The situation is in stark contrast to what was expected of them at the start of the season following a combined summer spending spree of £323mn on transfers. While Manchester United has already won silverware – the EFL cup and are another three steps away from lifting another – Europa league. Securing a Champions League spot is all that Guardiola's Manchester City are l̥̄eft to fight for as they are set to end the season without any trophies. As far as the Premier League is concerned, both clubs have left a lot to be desired with and a win on Thursday night could restore some lost pride to what has been an underwhelming campaign for both Manchester clubs.
Ahead of the derby, we decided to put together a combined Manchester XI, focusing only on the players who could feature on Thursday night. The cost of the starting XI is £263.7m — roughly the amount which will get you three Pogba's in the current transfer market.
Take a look at our combined City and United XI arranged in a 3-4-3 formation:
GK – DAVID DE GEA
Imagine thinking it’ll be easy to replace De Gea if he leaves for Madrid
Recently inducted into the Premier League PFA team of the year, it was a no-brainer to pick the Spaniard as the custodian between the sticks considering City's goalkeeping woes this season.
31 Matches, 13 Clean sheets, 47 Saves made and 65% Distribution Accuracy.
RCB – ERIC BAILLY
Arguably Jose Mourinho's pick of signings last summer, Bailly has provided the much-needed steel United were desperately looking for, since losing Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Eric Bailly was like a bouncer for #MUFC today, and if you were wearing football boots, you weren’t getting into our box
20 Matches, 34 Aerials won, 37 Tackles won, 54 Interceptions and 114 Clearances.
CB – VINCENT KOMPANY
He may have played just 300 minutes of Premier League football but Kompany remains City's premier centre-back option. On his day, the Belgian is no less than an unbreachable fortress and the Citizens will be certainly hoping to see the best of him in the Manchester Derby.
Vincent Kompany: “It’s been a miracle that I got back into the team after all those injuries.” #mcfc ?? (?Hoogvliegers / @playsports)
5 Matches, 1 Goal, 2 Tackles made, 4 Interceptions, 7 Aerials won and 13 Clearances
LCB – ALEKSANDR KOLAROV
The Serbian left-back has predominantly served as a centre-back in recent times for Manchester City. Barring his obvious flaws and occasional blips, Kolarov has executed his new role in the team quite impressively and could well be lining up in the City backline on Thursday.
26 Matches, 1 Goal, 11 Chances Created, 30 Tackles won, 45 Interceptions, 69 Aerials won and 154 Clearances
RWB – ANTONIO VALENCIA
A unanimous pick, Valencia has been a revelation under Jose Mourinho. Defensively astute and proficient going forward, the Ecuadorian's well-rounded game makes him one of the must-have in this Manchester XI.
@Anto_V25 wants a big performance for the #MUFC fans on Thursday: https://t.co/Igz5qqmasH
26 Matches, 1 Goal, 3 Assists, 20 Aerials won, 30 Chances Created, 40 Interceptions, 41 Tackles won and 64 Clearances
RCM – ANDER HERRERA
Arguably the best midfielder in the top-flight right now, Herrera is enjoying his most prolific season in the north-west of England. Jose Mourinho made a mistake by not starting him last time these two sides met at Old Trafford and could well be a game-changer going by his outstanding display versus Chelsea less than a fortnight ago.
Happy Wednesday to everyone ?
26 Matches, 1 Goal, 6 Assists, 35 Chances Created, 58 Clearances, 60 Tackles won and 79 Interceptions
LCM – DAVID SILVA
Partnering Herrera in the midfield is his compatriot David Silva who continues to pull the strings for the Etihad outfit. From a left wing-back to attacking midfield, the Spaniard has executed every role to perfection and his ability to dictate the play will be key to City's hopes of triumphing in the derby.
30 Matches, 7 Assists, 2 Goals, 45 Take- ons and 74 Chances Created
LWB – LEROY SANE
After struggling to come to terms with the new environment in the first-half of the season, Sane has returned to his normal self in the second-half of the campaign and has quickly established himself as a mainstay in the first eleven. His nimble footwork and creativity in the final third are expected to cause some serious troubles to the usually compact United defence.
Leroy Sane “Pep is able to help me with things because he knows how Messi plays, how he trains because he saw him every day
20 Matches, 5 Goals, 22 Chances Created and 43 Successful Take-ons
LF – KEVIN DE BRUYNE
Premier League's assist king this term gave a Man of the Match performance last time the two sides met at Old Trafford. De Bruyne has since endured a mixed run of form between then and now but boasts the potential to land a mighty blow at any point of the match.
30 Matches, 4 Goals, 13 Assists, 55 Chances Created and 36 Successful Take-ons
RF – MARCUS RASHFORD
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juan Mata not around, Rashford is Manchester United's highest goalscorer in the Premier League among the lot of players currently fit and available. The corresponding fixture last season saw him become the youngest scorer in the Manchester Derby aged just 18 years and 141 days. The teenager will be leading the line for the visitors and United hopes will be pinned on him to produce a repeat of last season's performance.
Marcus Rashford vs Manchester City @MarcusRashford retiring Demichelis! ? #ManchesterDerby #MUFC #GGMU https://t.co/4ubtEKr1TF
Take-5 Goals, 17 Chances Created, 55% Shot Accuracy and 36 Successful 27 Matches, ons
CF – SERGIO AGUERO
8 goals in 10 Manchester Derbies just shows how much the Argentine striker relishes to play on big occasions. Aguero recently scored his 30th goal of the season albeit in a losing cause against the Gunners but has been enjoying a purple patch of late as he scored for the sixth game in a trot across all competitions. In such red-hot form, Manchester United backline would have their work cut out in keeping 'Kun' quiet.
The main man will turn up yet again.
26 Matches, 17 Goals, 22 Chances Created, 53% Shot Accuracy and 67 Successful Take-ons