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Combined XI: Manchester United vs. Manchester City

Sports Mole selects its strongest combined XI from the squads of Manchester United and Manchester City ahead of Wednesday's crucial derby at Old Trafford.

Perhaps the most significant match of the Premier League season takes place on Wednesday evening when Manchester United host Manchester City in the derby at Old Trafford.

United face the unwelcome reality that either Man City or Liverpool will lift the title this season, but their role in the destination of the trophy will be of secondary importance to their own need for victory to boost their top-four hopes following a dreadful run of form.

City know that victory in all of their remaining games will be enough for them to defend the title, but anything less than all three points at Old Trafford would leave things in the hands of Liverpool with only three matches left.

Here, Sports Mole selects its strongest combined XI from both squads, using only players available on Wednesday.

Combined XI: MNU vs. MNC

It is no surprise to see Man City dominate this XI, particularly given the recent form of both teams, but perhaps the most contentious selection comes in goal where Ederson edges out David de Gea for the gloves.

De Gea has undoubtedly been one of the world's best for years now, but he made a howler in the Champions League against Barcelona and perhaps should have done better with two long-range strikes in Sunday's 4-0 defeat at the hands of Everton. It is now 11 games since United kept a clean sheet, whereas only Alisson Becker has kept more than Ederson in the Premier League this season.

Right-back has been something of a problem area for United of late, making Kyle Walker's selection a simple one ahead of the likes of Diogo Dalot, Ashley Young and Victor Lindelof, the latter of whom has filled in there for United in the past two games.

It is also a relatively easy decision to have two Man City central defenders, although the difficulty comes in selecting which two. Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany could both stake a claim for a place, but we have gone for John Stones and Aymeric Laporte, who have generally been Guardiola's preferred centre-back pairing for the majority of the season when fit.

If there is a weakness in this Man City side it arguably comes at left-back due to the injury problems suffered by Benjamin Mendy, and he is yet to rediscover his best form since returning from another lengthy absence. Oleksandr Zinchenko has filled in admirably, but Luke Shaw - available again on Wednesday following a two-match ban - gets the nod as the first United player to make the team.

Paul Pogba is the only other United representative in this XI despite his own personal dip in form during United's recent slump, although had Kevin De Bruyne been fit for the champions then Pogba's place in the team would be under serious threat.

Ilkay Gundogan provides further competition in midfield, but for now David Silva and Fernandinho remain above him in the pecking order. Fernandinho is a clear choice ahead of Nemanja Matic as the holding midfielder, while the evergreen Silva has helped Man City make light of De Bruyne's absences this season.

The quality of the Man City front three is highlighted by the fact that they have all been nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award, not to mention keeping the likes of Leroy Sane, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus out of the team on a weekly basis.

Raheem Sterling has 17 goals and nine assists in the Premier League this season and is one of the frontrunners for the individual award alongside Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk, while Sergio Aguero's stats are even better with 19 goals and eight assists.

Fewer would have expected such a major contribution from Bernardo Silva this term, but the Portuguese forward has established himself as arguably Guardiola's most trusted player and is now one of the first names on the teamsheet for City - which is more than enough to earn him a place in this XI ahead of the likes of Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku.

> Click here for a full match preview for Wednesday's match, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records

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Manchester City's Sergio Aguero scores against Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League on April 17, 2019
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States16171346
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia11151137
Great BritainGreat Britain891128
Today's Olympic highlights header

Saturday's key events

· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right
Olympic Games Men's Football
Scottish Premiership
Pre-Season Friendlies
Portuguese Super Cup
Taca da Liga
Scottish Championship
Scottish League One
Scottish League Two
Belgian Pro League
Swiss Super League
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Swedish Allsvenskan
Danish Superliga
Finnish Veikkausliiga
League of Ireland Premier
Belarusian Premier League
Ligue 2
Major League Soccer
Copa Diego Maradona
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX
Chinese Super League

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