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Combined XI: Manchester City vs. Chelsea

Ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash between Manchester City and Chelsea, Sports Mole picks a combined XI from both squads.

Saturday's Premier League action kicks off with what should be a pulsating top-of-the-table encounter, as leaders Manchester City welcome second-placed Chelsea to the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola's men currently sit 10 points clear of the Blues at the summit ahead of the lunchtime clash, with Chelsea at risk of dropping down to third if results do not go their way this weekend.

Man City have a number of COVID-19 concerns to worry about, but the Premier League champions were victorious in a 4-1 FA Cup win over Swindon Town ahead of this encounter.

Meanwhile, Chelsea eased past Chesterfield 5-1 before enjoying more cup success in midweek, seeing off Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 on aggregate to book their place in the EFL Cup final.

Here, Sports Mole picks a combined XI from Man City and Chelsea's squads, using only players expected to be available for the encounter.

Combined XI: MNC vs CHE XI

With Edouard Mendy representing Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations and testing positive for coronavirus to boot, there was only one candidate for the gloves in this combined XI. Kepa Arrizabalaga has performed well when called upon for Chelsea this term, but Ederson and his league-high 11 clean sheets act as the last line of defence in our selection.

Ben Chilwell's absence through injury has led to Marcos Alonso reigniting his Chelsea career, but with Oleksandr Zinchenko still on the fringes of the Man City team, Joao Cancelo has taken full advantage with one goal and four assists - as well as 1,675 passes, the most in the league - to take his place at left-back. The right-hand side was a much more challenging call between Cesar Azpilicueta and Kyle Walker with Reece James out injured, but the Spaniard's greater contributions both defensively and offensively sees him edge out his rival.

There was not much debate as to who would occupy the two central defensive spots in our team, as Thiago Silva - at the ripe old age of 37 - remains an integral part of Thomas Tuchel's side. The Brazilian's 21 blocks is the third-most in the league, and he has also chipped in with two goals and an assist to pip Antonio Rudiger to a spot in the team. There were also no prizes for guessing who Silva's partner would be, as Ruben Dias - who has two goals and two assists to his name - can boast a staggering 93.4% pass accuracy as he consistently plays his part in the league's best defence.

N'Golo Kante has not had the best of luck with injuries over the past couple of seasons, but with the ever-energetic Frenchman returning from COVID-19 infection against Tottenham Hotspur in midweek, there was no argument not to include him and his 1.7 tackles per game in the XI. Accompanying Kante in the midfield is a man who continues to prove his worth to Pep Guardiola week after week, as Rodri averages 2.4 tackles per game for the Citizens and has also contributed at the other end with three goals and an assist. Ilkay Gundogan, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho were all unlucky to miss out.

The 2021-22 campaign may not be Kevin De Bruyne's most productive in terms of goal contributions, but the Belgian still has five goals and one assist to his name in the top flight this season - as well as averaging 2.4 key passes per game - so the ex-Chelsea man was a shoo-in for the number 10 role. De Bruyne is also no stranger to goals in this fixture either, bagging three in his last four against the Blues in the Premier League.

Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden were all absent from the squad to face Swindon amid City's COVID-19 cluster, and while the latter could make his return here, Mason Mount's tally of seven goals and five assists in league action this term sees him take his place on the left. However, Bernardo Silva was fit to take part in the FA Cup - helping himself to the opening goal - and with the Portuguese playing some of his best football this season, he keeps Timo Werner and Kai Havertz out of the XI.

Neither Romelu Lukaku nor Gabriel Jesus - who scored the winner in this fixture at Stamford Bridge - are best friends with the Chelsea faithful right now, and the latter certainly made a case for himself to edge out the Belgian with two goals and seven assists in league action this term. Jesus is often a victim of Guardiola's chopping and changing, though, and while Lukaku is yet to endear himself to the Chelsea faithful again, he just pips the City man to the final spot in our XI.

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Manchester City's Bernardo Silva in action with Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic on September 25, 2021
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Todays Game Header Right
1Manchester CityMan City23183255144157
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd2211563630638
5West Ham UnitedWest Ham23114841311037
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs2011362624236
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2110471916334
9Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2261242323030
10Leicester CityLeicester207583437-326
11Aston Villa2182112832-426
13Crystal Palace225983134-324
15Leeds UnitedLeeds215792440-1622
17Norwich CityNorwich2244141345-3216
18Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2129102143-2215

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