Manchester Derby had always been one of the most important Derbies in European football. Over the years, it had its emotional and sentimental value for the people of Manchester but with the recent turn of event at Man City, Manchester Derby now plays host to some of the best players in the world.
Ahead of the 169th Manchester Derby, we try and pick a combined Manchester XI featuring players from the red and sky blue half of Manchester. However, since the New Year, United have played way better football than their neighbours.
So exactly makes it to my combined Manchester XI, let’s find out:
David De Gea – GK – (Manchester United)
Perhaps the stand out keeper of the season has been Manchester United’s David De Gea. Often this season, De Gea has come up with goods to win crucial points for his side. Therefore, it is no surprise that with 10 clean sheets this season the Spaniard walks in to my combined Manchester XI.
A case for Joe Hart could be made but his outstanding efforts have come in either Champions League or while playing International football with England.
Phil Jones – RCB – (Manchester United)
On form, Jones is United’s best defender. The only problem with him is his constant injury troubles. Lately, Jones has been featuring regularly for United and it is not a surprise to see a huge difference and assurance about the way Unite defend.
Vincent Kompany – CB – (Manchester City)
Manchester City captain is enduring a rather uneasy season at the Etihad stadium. Kompany has been seen making tactical errors at crucial moments. Kompany has been rushing in to his clearances and does not look the same assuring and imposing figure he once used to.
Kompany’s record in Manchester Derbies is enough to include him in my combined Manchester XI. He has not lost a Derby since 2011 when he has played against United. On his day, Kompany is still the best defender of Premier League. However, Kompany will face a late fitness test to ensure his participation in this massive Manchester Derby.
Daley Blind – LCB – (Manchester United)
Manager’s mind, the utility man, the complete player, these are some of the praiseworthy names Daley Blind has been given since his move to Manchester United. Blind was deployed in midfield for earlier part of the season but in the last 3 crucial games for United, Blind has moved back to the Left Back role where he used to play for Ajax and Netherlands.
Blind’s reading of a situation is perhaps the most assuring one in the United squad at the moment. Blind does not panic in any situation and can play beautiful passes as well as telling crosses. He might not have a hairy speed but he makes up for it with his intelligence and calmness over the ball.
Michael Carrick – CDM – (Manchester United)
It tells a lot about Carrick’s performances this season, since he has played only close to dozen games for United this season and he is hailed as United’s most important player on the pitch. When Carrick plays well, United look a different side altogether.
Wayne Rooney and many England stars have compared Carrick to the Italian great Andrea Pirlo. Rooney rightly said about Carrick: “You can never know how good Carrick is unless you have played with him”
Michael Carrick will play a huge role for United in rest of the games this season and once again a player who walks in to our combined Manchester XI.
Marouane Fellaini – CDM (Manchester United)
I remember when Fellaini was bought last season, he made his first real appearance in a Manchester Derby and was given a horror time by Yaya Toure. A year has passed on since and Fellaini has managed to find his feet at Manchester United.
Fellaini has been Van Gaal’s secret and most potent weapon this season. Not only prolific in the air, he has been quite handy playing balls on the ground and linking up with his teammates. Fellaini has turned himself in to a real presence in United’s midfield and in his manager’s words, Fellaini is irreplaceable at the moment.
Juan Mata – RCM – (Manchester United)
Yet another David Moyes signing who has thrived under Louis Van Gaal. Many questioned Van Gaal’s call of initially not playing Mata for over a month and then when he brought Mata in to the team, he stuck him on the right side of the midfield.
Seeing Mata operating from the right was not something United fans could fathom but slowly as the weeks have gone by, Mata has re-invented himself in that position and perhaps has found a new position (false right winger) where he is thriving in every game he plays in.
Mata has been providing and scoring goals for United and looks a real part of United’s our Combined XI’s midfield.
Ander Herrera – LCM – (Manchester United)
Ander Herrera makes it a clean sweep for Manchester United in the midfield area which was deemed as the weakest part of United’s play for last 18 months. He is the midfield player, United were looking for in the last 3-4 seasons since Scholes retired from the game.
Herrera is natural aggressive, likes to get on the ball, pass it and move to create space for others. Herrera is the ideal man for van Gaal’s tactic of possession play at United. He has scored 7 goal this season from midfield, which is amazing and indeed has been United’s most effective midfield player this season.
David Silva – CAM – (Manchester City)
In form or no form, one cannot ignore the craft and creativity David Silva brings to any team sheet he is named on. Silva has been City’s lone warrior at times this season with trying to do everything in his own.
Silva has scored crucial goals for his side and when the ball is at his feet, you want to stop everything else and watch him play. David Silva will be City’s biggest threat against United as the crafty Spaniard would look to guide his side to 5th Manchester Derby win in a row.
Sergio Aguero – ST – ((Manchester United)
Agueroooooooooooo, this grunt from Martin Tyler is still fresh in the memories of every football fan let alone the City fans. Aguero has proved to be one of the most prolific strikers to have played in the Premier League.
Aguero’s presence on the pitch sends shivers to the spines of opposing defence and the Argentine has a happy knack of scoring against Manchester United. He has revealed how he loves to score at Old Trafford as it gives him an unmatched ecstasy and he would love to be on target once again when these two giants of Manchester collide this Sunday.
Wayne Rooney (Captain) – ST – (Manchester United)
If ever, there is a simple fact in life it’s this, “Play Rooney upfront and he will score goals for you”. Van Gaal learned it the hard way but he eventually did. Ever since Rooney has gone up top for United, they look a completely different side.
Rooney has been banging goals for fun and has been the pivotal man to connect United’s attack and midfield. He happily drops back to let the likes of Herrera, Mata and Fellaini attack the opponent’s penalty box and he is always willing to help out defensively as well.
Rooney is indispensable to Manchester United and with his leadership skills this season, he is also the captain of my combined Manchester XI ahead of the massive Manchester Derby this season.
Manager – Louis Van Gaal
After the initial troubles at his spell in charge, Van Gaal has slowly began to assert his Philosophy and Tactics on his players and the results are for everyone to see as United have won 5 games in a row and look assured to finish in top 3 of the league.