MX23RW : Wednesday, January 16 11:02:59
Jan 14, 2018 at 4pm UK at ​Anfield
Attendance: 53,285
Man CityManchester City
Oxlade-Chamberlain (9'), Firmino (60'), Mane (62'), Salah (68')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Sane (41'), Silva (84'), Gundogan (92')

Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Manchester City

In the buildup to Liverpool's Premier League showdown with Manchester City, Sports Mole selects a strongest combined XI from both squads.

Liverpool will become the latest team to attempt to stop the Manchester City juggernaut when they welcome the runaway Premier League leaders to Anfield on Sunday.

City are still unbeaten and have dropped only four points in the top flight all season, but they take on a Liverpool side who are yet to taste defeat in front of their own fans in 2017-18.

The reverse fixture ended in a 5-0 rout for Man City at the Etihad Stadium, but Liverpool will feel that a controversial red card shown to Sadio Mane scuppered their chances in that game, having held their own up to that point.

Here, Sports Mole selects the strongest combined XI using only players available for this weekend in a 4-3-3 formation.

GK: Ederson

Ederson celebrates City's equaliser during the Premier League game between Manchester City and West Ham United on December 3, 2017© Offside

The easiest position to choose in the team comes between the sticks, with Ederson far and away the obvious choice ahead of Liverpool's Simon Mignolet.

Ederson has been a revelation since joining in the summer and has immediately catapulted himself into the argument of the Premier League's best goalkeepers, with his distribution and ability with the ball at his feet every bit as important as his shot-stopping and command of his area.

The Brazilian will not have particularly fond memories of this fixture having been on the end of Mane's high boot and subsequently leaving the pitch injured in the reverse, but that hasn't preventing him from putting his body on the line on numerous occasions since.

RB: Kyle Walker

Kyle Walker battles with Danny Rose during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur on December 16, 2017© Offside

Another fairly clear choice for a place in this team, Kyle Walker joined Man City for a world-record fee for a defender at the time but has quickly started paying that price tag off with a string of impressive performances.

While the left side of the defence has been something of a problem area for City due to injuries, Walker has solved the full-back issues on the opposite flank and has weighed in with four assists from his 20 Premier League appearances too.

Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold have both seen their burgeoning reputations grow further with some good performances on Liverpool's right this season, but they are still some way behind the level of Walker.

CB: Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk in action for the Reds during the FA Cup game between Liverpool and Everton on January 5, 2018© Offside

The man who overtook Walker as football's most expensive defender, Virgil van Dijk is set to make his Premier League debut for Liverpool this weekend, and what a match to do it in.

The £75m man has already made a dream start to his Liverpool career by scoring a late winning goal at the Kop end in a Merseyside derby to fire the Reds into the FA Cup fourth round, and if he can have a similar impact on Sunday then suddenly the price tag may not seem so extravagant.

It is at the back where Van Dijk must improve Liverpool most, though, and they will not come up against a more thorough examination on that front than against Pep Guardiola's free-scoring City side.

CB: Nicolas Otamendi

Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi before the Champions League match against Napoli on October 17, 2017© SilverHub

Nicolas Otamendi has arguably been the Premier League's best defender this season, helping City to boast the fewest goals conceded while also weighing in with four goals at the other end too.

The Argentine has missed just one league game this season while the likes of John Stones and Vincent Kompany have spent time on the sidelines, and he will now be one of the first names on Guardiola's teamsheet week after week.

Otamendi beats the fit-again Stones into this team, having averaged more interceptions and clearances than any other player in the Man City squad this season.

LB: Fabian Delph

Fabian Delph in action for Manchester City on November 5, 2017© SilverHub

Left-back has been a problem area for a lot of teams this season, and Man City are no different following the serious injury sustained by big-money summer signing Benjamin Mendy.

Fabian Delph has proved to be an unlikely solution to that problem for much of the campaign, though, with the midfielder excelling as a makeshift left-back and ensuring that City have not felt Mendy's absence too strongly.

Alberto Moreno could be in line to return this weekend and has also impressed this season, while Andrew Robertson has shown signs of promise for Liverpool during the Spaniard's absence, but Delph narrowly beats both Liverpool contenders to a place in this team.

CM: Kevin De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne in action during the EFL Cup game between Manchester City and Bristol City on January 9, 2018© SilverHub

An instant pick in any combined XI, Kevin De Bruyne has arguably been the Premier League's best player so far this season and will surely be one of the frontrunners for the PFA and FWA awards at the end of the campaign.

Only teammate Leroy Sane can match De Bruyne's tally of nine assists in the Premier League, and the Belgian has also contributed six goals of his own during an ever-present campaign so far.

Thriving in a deeper-lying playmaker role, De Bruyne has been able to sit back and thread passes through to the pacy front three of City, and he would have a similar impact in this team too.

CM: Fernandinho

Fernandinho leaves the field after seeing red during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Burnley on January 2, 2017© SilverHub

Fernandinho may not get the headlines and plaudits of many of the players around him, but the Brazilian is every bit as important to Man City's success as the likes of Sergio Aguero, De Bruyne and David Silva.

Fernandinho's presence at the heart of the midfield allows the team's attackers to focus on hurting the opposition, and without him in the side City would be a much less balanced team.

The 32-year-old has still contributed two goals and three assists himself, though, and beats Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson to a place in this XI.

CM: David Silva

David Silva in action during the Premier League game between Manchester United and Manchester City on December 10, 2017© Offside

David Silva may well be absent for this weekend's match due to ongoing concerns over the health of his premature son, but he still deserves a place in this team to complete an all-Man City midfield trio.

At the age of 32 the Spaniard is still weaving his magic in the Premier League, with five goals and eight assists from his 19 appearances in the top flight this season.

Until last week Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho would have put up a good fight for a place above Silva in the team, but the Brazilian's move to Barcelona leaves Silva as the clear choice ahead of the likes of Adam Lallana, Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can.

RW: Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah refuses to celebrate scoring against his old side during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Chelsea on November 25, 2017© Offside

Mohamed Salah is rated as a minor doubt for this match having been sidelined with a groin strain recently, but it is likely to take a lot more than that to keep the free-scoring winger out of the Anfield showdown.

Only Harry Kane has scored more Premier League goals than Salah's 17 this season, and his five assists on top of that means that he has directly contributed to more goals this season than any player in either the Liverpool or Man City squads.

Indeed, Salah is perhaps the only player who could claim to be currently above De Bruyne in the Player of the Season pecking order and his pace caused Man City plenty of problems in the reverse fixture before Mane was sent off.

CF: Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero watches on during the Premier League game between Manchester City and West Ham United on December 3, 2017© Offside

An injury to Gabriel Jesus has temporarily brought an end to the weekly question of who will be leading the line for Man City, although Aguero had established himself as Guardiola's first choice even before his teammate was ruled out.

City's highest all-time goalscorer has added 19 more to his tally across all competitions this season, including 13 in the Premier League and an additional four assists on top of that.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino has also been in fine form this season, but Aguero remains one of the deadliest strikers in world football and is a relatively clear choice to start up front in this team.

LW: Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Watford on January 2, 2018© SilverHub

Raheem Sterling will return to Anfield this weekend in the form of his life, having directly contributed to more goals than any other Man City player in the Premier League so far this season.

Only Kane and Salah have scored more league goals than the 22-year-old, who has found the back of the net 14 times himself (18 in all competitions) as well as laying on four more goals for his teammates.

Sterling has been used on the right flank this season with Sane on the left, but Salah's presence pushes the England international over to the opposite side in this SAS front three.

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Ederson collides with Sadio Mane during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Liverpool on September 9, 2017
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