Who makes Sportsmail's combined Liverpool-Manchester United XI?
De Gea’s reliability puts him in goal, Casemiro and Bajcetic run the midfield, with Rashford the first name on the team-sheet… but who else makes Sportsmail’s combined Liverpool v Manchester United XI?
- Manchester United re-ignite their rivalry with Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday
- United can do the league double over Liverpool for the first time since 2015-16
- So who makes Sportsmail’s combined XI from two of England’s biggest clubs?
Manchester United’s trip to Anfield on Sunday shows the difference a year can make with the Red Devils favourites going into one of the Premier League’s biggest clashes of the year against Liverpool.
United have the chance to record a double over Liverpool for the first time since the 2015-16 season, while Jurgen Klopp’s Reds will be hunting for a valuable three points that would close the gap to the Champions League places.
Both will have just three full days of recovery after Erik ten Hag’s side advanced to the FA Cup sixth round with a 3-1 win over West Ham on Wednesday and Liverpool continued their resurgence with an English top-flight victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Ten Hag will be braced for his first trip to a noisy Anfield in charge of Man United and beating his side’s biggest rivals would put pressure on the top two of Man City and Arsenal, for Klopp it is the perfect opportunity to bounce back.
With that in mind, Sportsmail has named a combined XI – but who makes it into our line-up?
Manchester United can do the league double over Liverpool when they visit Anfield on Sunday while the hosts need valuable points to close the gap to the top four
Man United boss Erik ten Hag (centre) will get his first taste of the Anfield crowd on Sunday
Goalkeeper – David de Gea (Man Utd)
A tough choice given the Manchester United shot-stopper has kept just one more clean-sheet (10) than his Liverpool counterpart (9) but David de Gea deserves his spot after rediscovering his best form under Erik ten Hag.
Allison is a world class goalkeeper and in recent seasons has arguably been the Premier League’s best, but at times this season looks low on confidence and has been left red-faced on more than one occasion for passing straight to opposition strikers.
De Gea is thriving, just like the rest of United’s players, and with fresh contract negotiations underway, expect a big performance from the Spaniard at Anfield.
Right back – Diogo Dalot (Man Utd)
The Portuguese attacking full-back didn’t appear to have a future at the club when he was previously sent on loan to AC Milan but like so many of his team-mates has been revitalised under Ten Hag.
Trent-Alexander Arnold has demonstrated his devastating attacking capabilities as Liverpool conquered Europe, won a first Premier League title, and tasted domestic cup success in recent seasons. However, his defensive frailties have been exposed more than ever this campaign.
The Reds full-back has been turned inside-out by Marcus Rashford before and it would be no surprise to see the Premier League’s most in-form star dazzle again on Sunday.
Wan-Bissaka deserves an honourable mention too after solid outings against Barcelona and Newcastle in the Carabao Cup final.
Centre back – Raphael Varane (Man Utd)
You could flip a coin to decide whether to pick Virgil van Dijk or Raphael Varane but the Frenchman gets in given his epic performances at the heart of United’s defence.
Varane has been one of his team’s most important players this season and alongside Lisandro Martinez has helped keep the third most clean sheets in the division.
His debut year in red was hampered by injury but now looks a completely different player.
There is very little to split him and Van Dijk when both are playing at their best, but Liverpool’s Dutchman has been in and out the side far too much this season to deserve a place above Varane.
Raphael Varane (left) has been instrumental at the heart of Man United’s defence this season
Centre back – Lisandro Martinez (Man Utd)
Manchester United’s Argentinian ‘butcher’ has lived up to the nickname that followed him from Ajax and is one of the main reasons why the team’s defence has been transformed from woefully ineffective to one of the English top-flight’s best.
Since returning from winning the World Cup with Argentina he has been at the top of his form and looks as if he loves nothing more than making a crunching tackle. A trip to Anfield offers plenty of those.
Liverpool’s Ibrahim Konate, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez have been cut open too many times by lesser opposition this season to force out Martinez.
Left back – Luke Shaw (Man Utd)
It seems as if the England and United defender flip-flops from a season of greatness to one followed by frustration. Fortunately this year is the former for Shaw.
He has managed 31 appearances in all competitions for United this campaign – four more than last season – and has been vital in both defence and attack. Ten Hag revealed he missed Wednesday’s FA Cup win with a slight knock and will be a big miss if he doesn’t feature.
Andy Robertson is the Englishman’s biggest challenger but has again been far from his usual best this season. The Scot has struggled like most of Liverpool’s defence and was left on the bench on Wednesday ahead of Sunday’s visit of United.
Centre midfield – Casemiro (Man Utd)
This was the easiest pick of the bunch given how the Brazilian has taken to the challenges of the Premier League like a duck to water.
The former Real Madrid man looks as if he has been strolling around the English top-flight for years and in his first season has been arguably the best defensive midfielder in the division.
His defensive capabilities have been evident with Casemiro the only player from either team to feature in the Premier League’s top ten for tackles.
United’s Brazilian midfielder Casemiro has starred since moving to the club in the summer
Attacking midfield – Stefan Bajcetic (Liverpool)
There haven’t been many bright points in Liverpool’s season but Bajcetic’s breakthrough is one of them.
The 18-year-old was rewarded with a new contract by the club for his performances and has quickly grown to become one of the mainstays in Liverpool’s midfield.
Admittedly, injuries may have forced Bajcetic into the limelight a lot sooner than expected but he has taken those chances. His relentless running will make for a great battle up against Casemiro.
Stefan Bajcetic (right) has been one of the bright sparks in a difficult season for Liverpool
Attacking midfield – Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd)
Man United’s Portuguese magnifico is one of those players loved by his supporters but hated by rivals, however his class is undeniable.
His six league assists thrust him into the Premier League’s top five playmakers for the season so far but his consistency has been even more impressive with Fernandes playing 90 minutes in every top-flight game bar one for the Red Devils.
The 28-year-old has been United’s stand-in captain with Harry Maguire often on the bench and is one of the vital reasons behind the club’s rise to third in the league standings.
Right wing – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
The Egyptian has been one of the best player’s in the world since joining Liverpool in 2017, but has seen his effect wane this season after strike partner Sadio Mane decided to leave for Bayern Munich in the summer.
Salah has bagged nine Premier League goals this campaign, ten less than at the same stage last season, but there is signs that he is starting to re-discover much-needed consistency at just the right time.
United’s winger Antony has shown glimpses of why the club paid over £80m for him in the summer, but Salah deserves his place and will be hoping to replicate the brace he scored in this tie last season.
Mohamed Salah hasn’t been at his best but has undoubted talent and could shine on Sunday
Left wing – Marcus Rashford (Man Utd)
Rashford is in the form of his career and 10 goals in his last 11 Premier League fixtures has made him one of the most devastating attackers in the world.
It was his goal against Liverpool that proved to be the winning strike at Old Trafford in August and since returning from the World Cup with England has been unstoppable.
The 25-year-old is enjoying the best goals return of his career and can rub salt in Liverpool’s wounds with an epic performance at Anfield.
It almost feels inevitable that Rashford will score when he steps on the field, Liverpool’s defenders must work out how to stop the star or risk letting him run riot.
Marcus Rashford has been in devastating form since returning from the World Cup with England
Striker – Darwin Nunez (Liverpool)
In a toss up between Weghorst and Nunez, the Uruguayan gets the nod. Admittedly he has vastly underperformed since moving to Liverpool in the summer, after all he was meant to be the challenger to Man City’s Erling Haaland, but there is a good player there somewhere.
Nunez ranks 20th in the Premier League’s top goalscorers for the season and has been slated by rival fans for missing big chances, 16 in fact, but alongside Salah no partnership has created more opportunities in front of goal.
Everyone is still waiting for his crowning moment and the visit of United may be just the big occasion he has been waiting for.
Sportsmail’s Liverpool – Manchester United combined XI ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash at Anfield
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