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All-time Premier League combined XI: Manchester United vs. Manchester City

Ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby, Sports Mole takes on the impossible task of choosing an all-time XI between Manchester United and Man City in the Premier League era.

The balance of power in English football has shifted many times down the years, but two of the most dominant teams in the Premier League era are both situated in Manchester, less than five miles apart.

Sunday sees the 182nd and latest edition of the derby between Manchester United and Manchester City and, while both have had to play a distant backup role to Liverpool this season, the fixture will evoke memories of many a recent title battle in the Premier League.

Whereas United dominated the 1990s and 2000s, their noisy neighbours Man City came into their own in the 2010s with four titles, three of which have come since the Red Devils last lifted the trophy.

As is to be expected from two of the most successful sides in the Premier League era, some of the competition's greatest names have graced the clubs, with some even crossing the divide to feature for both.

Here, Sports Mole takes on the near-impossible task of choosing the best combined XI between the two clubs from 1992 onwards.

Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel

Peter Schmeichel pictured in 1999© Reuters

There were many reasons behind United's dominance of the Premier League throughout the '90s, but the presence of Peter Schmeichel in goal was one of the biggest.

The great Dane cost the Red Devils just £505,000 in 1991 and left eight years later as a five-time title winner and having made 292 Premier League appearances for the club. Schmeichel remains the only goalkeeper to win the Premier League Player of the Season award and was also named in the first ever Premier League PFA Team of the Year.

Honourable mentions: David de Gea, Edwin van der Sar, Ederson, Joe Hart

Right-back: Gary Neville

Gary Neville pictured in 2009© Reuters

Another stalwart from United's all-conquering 90s team and beyond, Gary Neville played for United his entire career and finally hung up his boots in 2011 after exactly 400 Premier League appearances for the club.

The 85-time England international helped himself to eight top-flight titles in that time, being named in the PFA Team of the Year on five separate occasions including three in a row between 1996 and 1999.

Honourable mentions: Pablo Zabaleta

Centre-backs: Rio Ferdinand, Vincent Kompany

Vincent Kompany celebrates his crucial goal during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Leicester City on May 6, 2019© Reuters

One of the most abiding memories of this fixture in recent years is Vincent Kompany's towering header against United in April 2012 - a goal which earned victory for his side to lift them above United on goal difference with only two games of the season remaining, setting up the dramatic events of the final day as Man City pipped their local rivals to the title when United were already celebrating.

Kompany again popped up with a goal as stunning as it was important to beat Leicester City in last season's title race, and the Belgian has lifted all four of Man City's Premier League crowns to firmly establish himself as one of the competition's greatest ever captains. In all he made 265 appearances in the Premier League, being named in the PFA Team of the Year three times and winning the Premier League Player of the Season award in 2011-12.

All of those accolades are enough for him to beat Nemanja Vidic to a place in this team, but one half of that famous partnership does make it. Rio Ferdinand became the most expensive defender in history when he joined United in 2002, but it quickly proved to be money well spent with the England international going on to make 312 top-flight appearances for the club.

During that time Ferdinand helped the all-conquering United to six Premier League titles and was named in the PFA Team of the Year five times, adding to the one selection he had earned during his final season with Leeds United.

Honourable mentions: Nemanja Vidic, Jaap Stam, Aymeric Laporte, Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister

Left-back: Denis Irwin

Denis Irwin pictured in 2001© Reuters

Mr. Dependable throughout his 12 seasons with United, Denis Irwin was equally adept at right or left-back and made almost 300 appearances for the club in the Premier League, having joined them before the new era began.

Also a set-piece specialist, Irwin won seven Premier League titles and was named in the PFA Team of the Year twice, narrowly edging fellow United alumnus Patrice Evra to a place at left-back.

Honourable mentions: Patrice Evra, Gael Clichy, Aleksandar Kolarov

Central midfield: Paul Scholes, Roy Keane

Roy Keane pictured in 2004© Reuters

Yaya Toure would get into most combined XIs from the Premier League era, but it is impossible to ignore the spine around which some of United's most successful years were built.

Keane's fallout with manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been well publicised, but he left Old Trafford as United's most successful ever captain, boasting a trophy haul which included seven Premier League titles among a plethora of other honours.

In all the outspoken Irishman made 326 Premier League appearances for the club, being named the PFA Players' and FWA Footballer of the Year in 2000 and earning a place in the PFA Team of the Year on five separate occasions.

Even Keane has to play second fiddle to Scholes in the silverware stakes, though, with the pass-master helping United to a whopping 11 Premier League titles - amongst other trophies - during his illustrious 22-year stay at the club.

Revered by his peers and teammates, Scholes remarkably only earned a place in the PFA Team of the Year on two occasions, but most were in no doubt as to his ability and, when he eventually hung up his boots for a final time after briefly coming out of retirement once, he had scored 107 goals in 499 top-flight outings for United.

Honourable mentions: Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Nicky Butt, Michael Carrick

Right wing: Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo pictured for Manchester United in 2009© Reuters

There would not be many arguments with the suggestion that Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest player to have ever played in the Premier League, even though his very best years came after his United exit in 2009.

It was his Old Trafford spell which set him firmly on course to become one of the game's all-time greats, though, having arrived as a trick-happy winger and left as a formidable force who, at his peak in England, scored 31 goals in just 34 Premier League games.

Ronaldo won three Premier League titles with United, was a four-time inclusion in the PFA Team of the Year and picked up a plethora of other individual awards too, including being named the PFA Player, FWA Footballer and Premier League Player of the Season in both 2007 and 2008.

The first of Ronaldo's five Ballon d'Ors also came at Old Trafford, and when he left for Madrid in a world-record switch he had scored 84 goals in 196 Premier League appearances.

Honourable mentions: David Beckham

Attacking midfield: David Silva

Manchester City midfielder David Silva in action during the Premier League clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers on January 14, 2019© Reuters

Quite possibly the toughest position to fill in this XI given the quality of the two honourable mentions, David Silva's arrival at Man City in 2010 played a major role in them becoming one of the dominant forces in English and European football.

The Spaniard will leave the Etihad Stadium this summer after a decade of lighting up the Premier League, and it may be that his importance to the club is not fully appreciated until he is gone. Silva cannot boast the numbers or individual honours that many of his teammates in his XI can - like Scholes he has only been named in the PFA Team of the Year twice - but he too is a player whose quality is perhaps best described by those who have played with him.

Silva recently moved past 300 Premier League appearances, during which time he has scored 54 goals to help the club to four titles.

Honourable mentions: Eric Cantona, Kevin De Bruyne

Left-wing: Ryan Giggs

Ryan Giggs pictured in 2008

The ultimate advert for longevity in the Premier League era, Ryan Giggs signed his first professional contract at United in 1990 and played his 963rd and final game for the club 24 years later. The Welsh wing wizard made 632 of those appearances in the Premier League, scoring 109 goals and creating a record 162 more as he outlasted even Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.

Giggs was at the club for all 13 of their Premier League title successes - Liverpool and United are the only clubs to have won more titles in English football history than Giggs alone - and he was named in the PFA Team of the Year on six occasions.

Honourable mentions: Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford

Centre-forward: Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur on August 17, 2019© Reuters

United have naturally been responsible for some of the Premier League's most abiding moments down the years, but they were on the wrong end of perhaps the most memorable of all when Sergio Aguero stole the title from their grasp in the last minute of the last game of the season in 2012.

That was the Argentine's first season in English football, and since then he has gone on to become Man City's all-time leading goalscorer and the highest-scoring foreign player in Premier League history, taking that record off Thierry Henry.

Only three players have ever scored more goals in the Premier League and, while honourable mention Wayne Rooney is one of those and unfortunate to miss out on this team, Aguero's consistently prolific nature and superior goals-per-game ratio earns him the nod - no-one with 100 or more goals in the competition can match his average of 0.69 goals per game.

Indeed, Wednesday night's goal against Sheffield Wednesday took Aguero to 254 goals in 367 appearances across all competitions for Man City - one more than United's record scorer Rooney managed in 559 outings for the Red Devils.

Going into Sunday's derby Aguero has netted 180 times in just 260 Premier League appearances, helping Man City to four league titles, winning the Golden Boot in 2014-15 and twice being named in the PFA Team of the Year.

Honourable mentions: Wayne Rooney, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Andy Cole, Carlos Tevez, Dwight Yorke, Robin van Persie, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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CManchester CityMan City38275683325186
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd382111673442974
5Leicester CityLeicester382061268501866
6West Ham UnitedWest Ham381981162471565
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs381881268452362
9Leeds UnitedLeeds38185156254859
11Aston Villa38167155546955
12Newcastle UnitedNewcastle38129174662-1645
13Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38129173652-1645
14Crystal Palace38128184166-2544
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton38914154046-641
RWest Bromwich AlbionWest Brom38511223576-4126
RSheffield UnitedSheff Utd3872292063-4323

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