MX23RW : Monday, February 18 23:36:15

Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Manchester City

Sports Mole selects the strongest combined XI from those expected to be available for Liverpool's Premier League showdown with Manchester City on Sunday.

Liverpool and Manchester City lock horns at Anfield on Sunday afternoon with first place in the Premier League up for grabs ahead of the international break.

The Citizens have already suffered defeat to their opponents three times in 2018, having lost once in the league and twice in the Champions League, and they are aiming to avoid a fourth loss in a row against a single opponent in a calendar year for just the third time in their history.

City are the side in possession of top spot after seven rounds of matches, however, and it is they who are in better form ahead of this massive showdown.

Ahead of the latest meeting between the Premier League's top two, Sports Mole selects the strongest combined XI from both teams using those expected to be available this weekend.

Combined XI: LIV vs. MNC

Out: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Eliaquim Mangala, Claudio Bravo, Fabian Delph, Kevin De Bruyne
Doubtful: Adam Lallana, Naby Keita, Benjamin Mendy, Ilkay Gundogan

Arguably the toughest choice to make comes in goal, as Alisson Becker and Ederson have both adapted well to life in English football. By virtue of his superior saving ability from one-on-ones, which has already been put to good use over the last two months, it is the Liverpool keeper who gets the nod.

There is plenty of competition in the full-back departments, too, as Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have starred for Liverpool since forcing their way into the side last season, while Mendy and the versatile Kyle Walker have impressed for the Citizens. Mendy started his second season at the Etihad Stadium on fire, claiming four assists in four games, but he has been struck down by injury over the past few weeks and is a big doubt for Sunday's game. Robertson, who combines attack with defence superbly, is therefore the preferred choice at left-back, on the opposite flank to the consistently brilliant Walker.

Virgil van Dijk has justified his label as the world's most expensive defender since arriving at Anfield in January, and the Dutchman has also made teammate Joe Gomez look like a future £75m centre-back alongside him. There is a strong shout for Aymeric Laporte to be included, but the Frenchman has only recently started to show signs that he too is in the world-class category, while Vincent Kompany - so often a regular pick in these sides - is not quite the force of old.

Further forward, a three-man midfield suits both sides perfectly. City and Liverpool have numerous options in this department, both of the defensive and attacking variety, and in Keita - expected to be fit again after picking up an injury against Napoli - they have a number eight who can combine the two. Incredibly, 16 years after making his Premier League debut James Milner is arguably at the peak of his powers and is included in this side on merit. That leaves one more spot up for grabs, which any of Bernardo Silva, Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, Fernandinho or Gundogan could take, but it is simply impossible to leave out a player of David Silva's quality.

That just leaves the forward line, and a big call has to be made. Mohamed Salah has simply not been the same player than struck 40 times for Liverpool last season, and Roberto Firmino's figures have also taken a hit on a hugely impressive 2017-18. Sadio Mane may be accused of being a little too greedy at times, but he does at least boast a credible goals return, seeing him get the nod over his two teammates based on current form. Sergio Aguero is without a goal in nine trips to Anfield, meanwhile, but he remains arguably the best out-and-out striker in the division, and Raheem Sterling alongside him has contributed to 35 league goals since the start of last season - only Salah (46) and Harry Kane (36) have chipped in more regularly for their respective sides.

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Who will win Sunday's Premier League clash between Liverpool and Manchester City?

Liverpool
Draw
Manchester City
Liverpool
50.6%
Draw
14.1%
Manchester City
35.3%
Raheem Sterling celebrates with Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva after opening the scoring for Manchester City against Brighton & Hove Albion on September 29, 2018
Read Next:
How Man City could line up against Liverpool
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City27212474205465
2Liverpool26205159154465
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs26200654252960
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd26156552351751
5Arsenal26155653371650
6Chelsea26155645291650
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2611693433139
8Watford2610793434037
9Everton2796123639-333
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham2696113239-733
11Bournemouth26103133747-1033
12Leicester CityLeicester2695123134-332
13Crystal Palace2676132734-727
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2676132839-1127
15Burnley2676132947-1827
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2667132234-1225
17Cardiff CityCardiff2674152447-2325
18Southampton2659122844-1624
19Fulham2645172558-3317
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2625191448-3411

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