Liverpool vs. Manchester City:Combined XI

The Premier League's top-scoring teams face off in the Champions League on Wednesday night, as Liverpool and Manchester City battle it out for a place in the semi-finals of the competition. Goals aplenty are expected in the first European clash between the two sides, having netted a combined 163 between them in the top flight alone this term. Man City have looked a lot more stable at the back, however, conceding 14 goals fewer than their opponents, although Liverpool are certainly improving in that regard and have kept six clean sheets in their last 10 matches. Here, Sports Mole selects a combined XI from both squads, using only the players expected to be available for this week's clash. Ederson has kept 14 clean sheets in 31 league matches this term and has proved to be one of the key members of City's treble-chasing side. There is no doubt that Loris Karius has thrived on being given a regular run in the Liverpool side over Simon Mignolet, but his stats still fall some way short of Ederson's. The sides both have an outstanding full-back in their ranks, meanwhile, with Kyle Walker and Andrew Robertson - at different stages of their Prem careers - playing a direct part in seven and four goals respectively in all competitions. More than the assist figures alone, though, the two men have the ability to get up and down the flank with ease and create chances galore, seeing them get the nod over the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Oleksandr Zinchenko. Key to Liverpool's recent improvement at the back has been the record signing of Virgil van Dijk from Southampton, and he would surely only look even better partnered alongside a fit Vincent Kompany, as opposed to Dejan Lovren or Joel Matip. Both teams tend to go with three men in central midfield, and this is where City undoubtedly come out on top. For while the likes of James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Emre Can and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all have their own qualities, they lack the defensive nous of Fernandinho and do not come close to matching Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva in a creative sense. In fact, it could be argued that the Citizens' back-up options in Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan would also make it into Liverpool's XI. If City are to dominate the midfield three then it is only right the Reds' forward trio monopolise the forward line. There is an argument to be had that Sergio Aguero - a ruled out for Wednesday's game - would thrive in this hybrid side, while Raheem Sterling has enjoyed his best campaign in front of goal yet and Leroy Sane has also emerged as one of the finest young talents on the continent. However, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane work perfectly together - they have 19 goals in the Champions League alone - with Pep Guardiola admitting ahead of the game that they are 'almost impossible' to stop.

No comments: