Manchester City host rivals Manchester United on Sunday in the Premier League. The Manchester Derby has played out some classics over the years, as well as showcased some of the best talents world football has to offer. This derby is no different. We’ll be looking at a Combined XI of the two clubs, with the stipulation that it’s based on current form.
Let’s get into it!
Both teams deploy the system currently and since this is based on current form, we thought it would only make sense.
Ederson makes our XI due to how vital he is to the way Man City play, despite the lack of certain goalkeeping fundamentals. However, given that new Man United boss Erik Ten Hag deploys a similar system, I’m sure he’d love to have Ederson’s ability on the ball in his team.
Right-Back: Joao Cancelo
Joao Cancelo has been nothing short of a revelation since joining from Juventus a few years ago. The Portuguese International is mainly being used at left-back, and has revolutionized the role of an inverted fullback, often slotting into midfield and showcasing his obvious on-the-ball talents.
Given that he’s naturally a right-back though, we’ll be putting him in his preferred position, where I’m sure he’ll do just as well.
Centre-back: Raphael Varane
Former Real Madrid man Raphael Varane seems to have found his feet in the Premier League after initially struggling to adapt to life in England.
After not starting the opening two games, Varane was brought into the starting XI for the Liverpool game and hasn’t looked back since, forming a formidable partnership with Lisandro Martinez.
Overall, United look much more solid when Varane starts, unsurprising considering the man has won the UEFA Champions League four times.
Centre-back: Lisandro Martinez
After a tough opening two outings in England for Lisandro Martinez, the defender has begun to show why United stumped up around €60million for him.
Martinez’s partnership with Varane seems to be gaining strength each week, only conceding two goals as pairing in four games together.
His ball-playing abilities has helped United progress the ball quicker, often playing line-breaking passes through the opposition’s first line of the press. Martinez’s no-nonsense attitude has seen him become a fan’s favourite already as United fans believe they have their centre-back pairing set for years to come.
John Stones would have been in this combined XI if he hadn’t picked up the injury on international duty.
Left-back: Tyrell Malacia
New United left-back Tyrell Malacia has proven to be an astute signing from Feyenoord at just £13million.
Like Varane, he was given a first start against Liverpool and did well up against the world-class Mo Salah. Since then, Malacia has kept his place in a much better defence, exhibiting more organization.
As a result, Luke Shaw is unable to regain his place, and it’s clear to see why.
In essence, it was a battle between Diogo Dalot and Malacia for the last fullback position in this combined XI, due to Cancelo being guaranteed and able to play on both flanks. But due to how quickly he’s adapted since coming from Holland, Malacia just pips it for me.
Defensive Midfielder: Rodri
Over the last year or so, Rodri has proven to be the best number six in the Premier League, casting aside players such as Declan Rice, Yves Bissouma and Fabinho. The Spaniard was handed the torch from Man City legend Fernandinho, and the transition has been seamless.
Rodri has been pivotal to Guardiola’s side breaking up play and protecting his defence. Not only is he a massive defensive presence, but he also is good at progressing the ball and hardly ever loses it.
Rodri is one of the few players in world football that can hold down the defensive aspect of the midfield by himself, often having to make up for the lack of defensive cover from all of Man City’s attacking options. And he does it to a top, top standard.
Centre Midfielder: Christian Eriksen
Christian Eriksen has arguably been the bargain signing of the summer, arriving at Old Trafford on a free transfer after spending six months at Brentford.
Like most of Man United’s squad, the Denmark International’s form improved after the opening two games, with the former Spurs man playing key roles in all of United’s victories.
Eriksen has been deployed a bit deeper this season by Erik Ten Hag, who lets Bruno Fernandes occupy the more attacking midfield role.
However, Eriksen’s influence in the final third hasn’t diminished from this deeper role, often setting off counter-attacks with inch-perfect passes.
His pedigree in the Premier League also supplements his claims for a place in this XI.
Centre-Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne
Need I say much about Kevin De Bruyne? Undoubtedly in the top three players in the Premier League with a strong claim for being number 1, De Bruyne has ripped it up since arriving in Manchester.
The Belgian International, who won PFA Player of the Year in 2021/2022 off the back of 15 goals and 8 assists in 30 league appearances, currently leads the assist charts this campaign with 6 in the opening 7 games.
De Bruyne has inspired Man City to numerous PL titles, playing a crucial role in all of them. De Bruyne also jointly holds the record for most assists in PL season with 20.
One of, if not the first name in this XI.
Right-Wing: Bernardo Silva
There is no team in world football that Bernardo Silva doesn’t start for. Many raised their eyebrow when it was rumoured he was off to Barcelona in the summer. Pep Guardiola must’ve been one relieved man when that didn’t materialize as Silva continues to be one of City’s key performers this season.
The Portuguese International is a fantastic dribbler and ball progressor, often maneuvering out of tight spaces with ease, such is his press resistance. Furthermore, he helps out defensively as well as he never seems to stop running.
Silva already has 2 goals and 3 assists this campaign and is well on course to beating last season’s return of 12 goals and assists in total.
Left- Winger: Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford seems to have found his form again after what has been a very disappointing two seasons, to say the least.
New boss Erik Ten Hag has gotten the English star firing again, finding a role for the wide player to utilize his explosive pace and exploit spaces left by opposition defences, such as against Arsenal where he scored twice and assisted another.
Rashford has also just picked up the Player of the Month Award for September, such has been the upturn in his form. For that reason alone, he deserves a place in this combined XI.
Striker: Erling Haaland
The name on everyone in football’s lips, Erling Haaland is a goal-scoring machine. The City striker has taken to life in the Premier League like a duck to water, netting 11 goals in the opening 7 games.
The Norwegian has scored goals wherever he’s been, netting 149 goals in 176 appearances since making his debut for Molde FK in 2017. In fact, Haaland has scored 100 goals in his last 99 appearances in all competitions. Frankly ridiculous.
The striker currently sits top of the goal charts not only in England but across Europe’s top five leagues. Haaland is on course to smash Mo Salah’s Premier League record of 32 goals in a single campaign, and become a modern-day living-legend in the process.
Let us know what you think of this combined XI, and tell us what you would’ve done differently in the comments below.