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Oct 14, 2017 at 12.30pm UK at ​Anfield
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Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Manchester United

Ahead of Saturday's Premier League showdown between Liverpool and Manchester United, Sports Mole assembles a combined XI from the two teams.

The two most successful teams in English football history will renew their rivalry at Anfield on Saturday when Liverpool welcome Manchester United to Merseyside.

The formbook suggests victory for the visitors, with Liverpool winning just one of their last seven games compared to nine wins from 10 for United, including six in a row heading into the match.

However, Jurgen Klopp's record against his top-six rivals has been second to none since he took over at Liverpool just over two years ago, so both sides will go into Saturday's showdown confident of coming away with all three points.

Here, Sports Mole assembles a combined XI from the two squads, using only players available for the weekend's fixture in a 4-3-3 formation.

GK: David de Gea

David De Gea applauds after the Premier League game between Manchester United and Crystal Palace on May 21, 2017© SilverHub

Even the most ardent Liverpool fan would struggle to make a case against David de Gea tending the goal in this side, with the Spaniard establishing himself as one of the best keepers in world football during his time at Old Trafford.

De Gea has been beaten just twice in his seven Premier League matches so far this season, keeping six clean sheets in the process while helping United to set the early pace alongside Manchester City.

In contrast, Simon Mignolet has conceded 12 goals in his six league outings this term, with Liverpool having managed just one clean sheet with the Belgian between the sticks.

RB: Antonio Valencia

Antonio Valencia celebrates scoring during the Premier League game between Middlesbrough and Manchester United on March 19, 2017© SilverHub

With Nathaniel Clyne yet to feature this season due to injury, Antonio Valencia has a pretty much free run at the right-back slot in this team, with Liverpool having rotated between Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold in that position.

Valencia has settled in well to his more defensive position since being moved further back a few years ago, although he still remains a threat going forward as he showed with a stunning strike in United's 4-0 victory over Everton last month.

An ever-present so far this season, Valencia has fought off competition from the likes of Matteo Darmian and Ashley Young to make the right-back spot his own at Old Trafford.

CB: Eric Bailly

Eric Bailly in action for Manchester United on August 15, 2016© SilverHub

Jose Mourinho appears to have settled on his centre-back partnership of Eric Bailly and Phil Jones nice and early this season, and that settled backline has helped United to keep six clean sheets from their seven league games so far.

Bailly in particular has been impressive during his six outings this term, even adding a goal into the mix at the other end to hold off competition from the likes of Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Daley Blind.

Dejan Lovren is his closest competitor from the Liverpool camp, but the Croatian's performances have been called into question this season following a string of defensive lapses.

CB: Joel Matip

Liverpool defender Joel Matip in action during his side's Premier League clash with Newcastle United at St James' Park on October 1, 2017© SilverHub

Lovren is certainly not the only Liverpool defender to have been at fault during a seven-game wait for a clean sheet, but things may have been even worse without Joel Matip's steadying influence at the heart of the defence.

The Cameroon international is the only Liverpool defender to have featured in every game so far this season, with Jurgen Klopp clearly regarding him as his first-choice centre-back ahead of Lovren, Gomez and Ragnar Klavan.

Jones from the United camp runs Matip close due to his consistency this season, but Matip has so far managed to maintain his own high level of performance despite others around him making costly errors.

LB: Alberto Moreno

Alberto Moreno in action during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Arsenal on August 27, 2017© SilverHub

The inclusion of Alberto Moreno in this team is proof, if needed, that neither Liverpool nor Manchester United are particularly blessed in the problem area of left-back.

The Spaniard has enjoyed something of a revival at Anfield this season and his form is certainly better than it has been in previous campaigns so far, but his penchant for getting forward whenever possible often leaves the defence short at the back and he has been more of a liability than a help on more than one occasion during his Liverpool career.

Still, Mourinho is yet to decide on his first-choice left-back, with Ashley Young in favour now but Darmian, Blind and Luke Shaw also in the equation, whereas James Milner has lost his left-back spot for Liverpool this term and Andrew Robertson is yet to work his way back into the team.

CM: Juan Mata

Juan Mata of Manchester United in action during their Premier League clash with Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on November 6, 2016© SilverHub

A position which would ordinarily be filled by Paul Pogba but for his injury, Juan Mata gets the nod ahead of the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum, Emre Can and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for this central midfield role.

Mata may prefer to play further forward, but with such attacking quality at the disposal of both sides he will have to make do with a deep-lying playmaker role in this side - something he could do to great effect considering the players around him.

The Spaniard has started six and featured in all seven of United's Premier League fixtures so far this season, helping himself to one goal in the process.

CM: Nemanja Matic

Nemanja Matic in action during the Champions League game between Manchester United and Basel on September 12, 2017© Offside

Romelu Lukaku has understandably been stealing all of the headlines for Manchester United so far this season, but it is another summer signing who could prove to be just as important to any title challenge.

Mourinho poached Nemanja Matic from former club Chelsea, and the champions must already be wondering why they let him go following an impressive start to life at Old Trafford for the Serbian.

Matic has started all seven Premier League games, with his presence allowing more freedom for those around and in front of him, and he deserves his place in this side ahead of Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson.

CM: Philippe Coutinho

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho in action during his side's Premier League clash with Newcastle United at St James' Park on October 1, 2017© SilverHub

With each passing week Liverpool must be more and more relieved that they resisted Barcelona's advances for Philippe Coutinho during the summer, and if he continues in the vein he has started this season then they will have even more incentive to do so again in January.

The Brazilian did not feature in the league until September 16, but he has scored twice and picked up one assist in his three Premier League appearances so far.

Coutinho is a minor doubt for this weekend's fixture having played 87 minutes for Brazil in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but Klopp will know that the inclusion of the 25-year-old could be key to unlocking what has been a miserly United defence so far this season.

RW: Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah in action during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Crystal Palace on August 19, 2017© SilverHub

One of few players who could actually challenge Lukaku for the signing of the season so far, Mohamed Salah has made a blistering start to his Liverpool career with four goals and one assist in his seven Premier League appearances.

The Egypt international has won the club's Player of the Month and Goal of the Month awards in August and September, although he will go some way to wresting the latter off Coutinho in October following the Brazilian's stunner at Newcastle United before the international break.

United have no shortage of wide attacking talent themselves, with the likes of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford pushing for a place in the team, but Salah has been Liverpool's brightest light so far this term.

CF: Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring the second during the Premier League game between Manchester United and West Ham United on August 13, 2017© Offside

If there were any doubts regarding Lukaku's goalscoring ability before he moved to Old Trafford, the Belgian has answered them emphatically with 11 goals from his opening 10 games for the club.

Should he score against Liverpool on Saturday then he would set a new club record by netting eight times in his first eight Premier League appearances for the Red Devils, with an assist thrown in for good measure too.

The one remaining question is how Lukaku will fare against the bigger clubs, and another dominant display at Anfield would silence a few doubters as to whether the former Everton man is the real deal.

LW: Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Manchester United winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan in action during his side's FA Cup fifth round clash with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on February 19, 2017© SilverHub

The absence of Sadio Mane is a blow for both Liverpool and this team, with the Senegal winger having been in fine form this season either side of his suspension before been ruled out for six weeks with a hamstring injury.

There are plenty of exciting attacking players ready to take up the mantle, though, and despite Rashford and Martial battling for the left-sided attacking role for much of the season at United, it is Henrikh Mkhitaryan who gets the nod in this XI.

The Armenian has notched five assists already this term in addition to scoring one of his own and now looks to have established himself as a regular member of Mourinho's starting XI following a debut campaign in and out of the side.

Read Sports Mole in-depth preview of saturday's blockbuster match by clicking here.

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Eric Bailly in action for Manchester United on August 15, 2016
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