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Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Manchester City

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

Liverpool will be looking to pull themselves back into the Premier League title race when they welcome Manchester City to Anfield on Sunday afternoon.

The Reds suffered another shock home defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday night and are currently fourth in the table, seven points behind leaders City, who also have a game in hand.

Jurgen Klopp's side are actually without a win in their last four home Premier League fixtures, but City have been victorious in their last 13 matches in all competitions, setting a new club record in the process.

Pep Guardiola's team will enter this weekend's contest off the back of a comfortable 2-0 victory away to Burnley, and they have not conceded a single goal in England's top flight since the start of January.

The two teams shared the points when they locked horns at the Etihad Stadium back in November, with Gabriel Jesus cancelling out an early penalty from Mohamed Salah as it finished 1-1 in Manchester.

Some of the Premier League's biggest talents will be on display in this game and with that in mind, Sports Mole picks a combined XI from both squads, using only players available for the contest.

Combined XI: LIV vs. MNC

The goalkeeping spot in this particular XI was arguably the most difficult position to choose as both Liverpool's Alisson Becker and Manchester City's Ederson have largely been excellent since arriving in the Premier League. Alisson has actually only kept five clean sheets in England's top flight this term, while Ederson has 13, but City's defence has been superb for much of the campaign. It was a very close call between possibly the two best stoppers in the Premier League, but Alisson's form over the last 12 months or so just sees the 28-year-old given the nod.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson have both been below-par in recent weeks, but it is difficult to leave either of the Liverpool full-backs out of the team considering what they have provided for the Reds during a hugely successful period at Anfield. Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo deserve praise for their performances for City this term, but it is tough to leave out either Alexander-Arnold or Robertson.

For the same reasons, it was not difficult to pick the two central defenders; Virgil van Dijk would have been a certainty had he been available, but the Netherlands international is still battling to overcome a serious knee injury. Liverpool continue to have serious problems in the middle of their defence, with Fabinho and Jordan Henderson both being asked to operate in that area of the field during the 2020-21 campaign.

John Stones and Ruben Dias have both been in terrific form for Guardiola's side, who have the best defensive record in the league this season with just 13 goals conceded. Stones has taken his form to a new level in order to keep Aymeric Laporte out of the side, while Dias has been a revelation for the Citizens since his arrival and can now be considered as one of the best central defenders in England's top flight.

Further forward, Ilkay Gundogan has been in terrific form for City this term, scoring nine times in 23 appearances, and the 30-year-old sails into the midfield. Kevin De Bruyne would have been a certainty had he been available, but the Belgium international is still injured, while Rodri has not always been at his best this season. As a result, there are two from Liverpool in the middle of the park, with the inspirational Jordan Henderson joined by Thiago Alcantara, who has impressed since returning from injury.

The front three was difficult to choose, especially as Liverpool's attacking unit has been underwhelming in recent weeks. Sadio Mane has struggled to find his best form this season, but the 28-year-old has to be in this XI due to his contribution over the last couple of years, and he has still scored 10 times and provided five assists for the Reds in 2020-21 despite finding it difficult to show his best form for the club.

Raheem Sterling has also scored 10 times at club level this season, which is below what he would have expected at this stage of the campaign, but the 26-year-old is an inspirational figure for Guardiola's side, and he has been in strong form in recent matches, managing three goals in his last four league outings.

The final spot in the XI goes to Mohamed Salah, who keeps out the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino to feature. In truth, Salah's inclusion was one of the easiest decisions to make in this side as he has again been in strong form for the Reds this term, scoring 21 times in 31 appearances in all competitions.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pictured on January 4, 2021
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