Manchester City vs. Liverpool combined starting XI: Erling Haaland, Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk headline



Manchester City and Liverpool meet on Saturday as the Premier League’s top two face off at Etihad Stadium. Pep Guardiola’s men are one point better off than Jurgen Klopp’s side, while the Reds are level on points with Arsenal, one point ahead of Tottenham Hotspur and two clear of Aston Villa. Neither side is unbeaten, although Liverpool have only lost once compared with City’s two defeats, but they are, of course, defending European champions. Despite a number of star names missing ahead of this one including Kevin de Bruyne, Andy Robertson and John Stones who would be part of this XI if fit, we tried to concoct a fairly balanced combined side. In order to fit the most talent into a coherent XI, this team will line up in a 3-4-3 formation so notable names do miss out and drop to the bench.

Substitutes

City: Ederson, Kyle Walker, Jeremy Doku, Josko Gvardiol and Jack Grealish.

Liverpool: Trent Alexander Arnold, Alexis Mac Allister and Luis Diaz.

Goalkeeper

Alisson (Liverpool): The Brazilian shot stopper starts ahead of his City counterpart Ederson at international level and that hierarchy will be respected here. The Reds’ shot stopper has been an ever-present in the Premier League so far this season as part of a defense which has been meaner than City’s to date. Alisson and Virgil van Dijk have arguably been Liverpool’s two most consistent performers at the back since Andy Robertson’s injury and key contributors to their current second place.

Defense

Ruben Dias (City): Although not always at his imperious best of late, the Portugal international remains a top defender and pretty much picks himself in this XI. Manuel Akanji might be grabbing all of the plaudits recently, and a fit John Stones would certainly be in this side, but few can deny that Dias’ ability merits inclusion. Pairing alongside Van Dijk would be formidable for any Premier League striker to come up against — even teammate Erling Haaland.

Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool): It is little surprise then that the Netherlands international takes one of the two remaining defensive berths alongside Dias. Klopp’s captain has been in strong form so far this season and we will be seeing him at next summer’s UEFA Euro 2024 after the Dutch booked their ticket to Germany this November international break.

Manuel Akanji (City): One of City’s most impressive performers so far this season has been the Switzerland international who is on an improbable goal streak with three goals from his last three games for Guardiola’s men. Although not in this XI solely for his goal scoring prowess, it did not hurt his chances of inclusion and with him included, it is difficult to imagine this back line shipping too many goal in the Premier League or even in the UEFA Champions League.

Midfield

Rodri (City): One of Guardiola’s key men and a lynchpin in this City side is the Spain international who is the first name on this particular team sheet. Kevin de Bruyne’s absence is not being felt as acutely as it might have and that is down, in part, to Rodri’s incredible all-action style of play and ability to step up when he team needs him most with a mixture of goals and assists which he is doing domestically and Europe.

Dominik Szoboszlai (Liverpool): Anfield’s new darling was a fairly straightforward pick for this one too given his decent start to life in England. The Hungary international is nothing short of talismanic with the Magyars and is celebrating a Euro 2024 berth ahead of next summer’s tournament. With an eye for a spectacular goal, he will hope to play a starring role in Manchester this weekend.

Bernardo Silva (City): Another one of Guardiola’s most dependable figures, who is enjoying a very good start to the season is the versatile Portuguese star. It looked for a while as if he might move on last summer but the 29-year-old is still at Etihad Stadium and one of the most influential figures in this current City side.

Phil Foden (City): Making the most of De Bruyne’s absence and Guardiola’s tactical adjustments, the England international has returned to form and played his way into this XI ahead of Saturday’s big game. His versatility dictates more of a midfield placement in this selection but his five goals and four assists across all competitions cannot be overlooked.

Attack

Erling Haaland (City): A fitness concern ahead of this one after suffering an injury while on international duty, the Norwegian superstar would be a major loss if he is ruled out. With 13 goals and three assists across all competitions, Haaland is a no-brainer in any combined XI. The 23-year-old will also return with the added motivation of having just missed out on another major international tournament with his country.

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool): Joining Haaland in attack is the prolific Egyptian superstar who is also in double figures for goals with 12 across all competitions and four more assists thrown in for good measure. Salah and Julian Alvarez playing around Haaland as a focal point of the attack would be pretty difficult to stop for any defense in world soccer right now.

Julian Alvarez (City): The Argentina international makes up the final berth in this imaginary XI and brings a touch of versatility to the attack given his ability to play in more of a playmaker role this season which has still seen him notch seven goals and five assists with City across all competitions. The trio between them have over 30 goals already this campaign and would run riot against pretty much any opponent at any level.





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