The Manchester Derby is coming closer and closer, and this time it means a lot in the EPL race. Manchester City will be looking down at Liverpool as they are closer to the Reds than they are to the leaders, Chelsea. Meanwhile, United will be looking to keep up the pace or overtake Arsenal in the leaderboard as the Gunners travel to Turf Moor to play Burnley.
The Derby is a great showing of some of the best talent around, and I’ve built a super-team around which players would make the best combined team (formed in a 4-2-2-2). This is also based on form, so though Yaya Toure, Angel Di Maria, Vincent Kompany, Radamel Falcao, Robin Van Persie and Luke Shaw are fantastic players, they don’t show up in the team for today.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea David De Gea is in contention for the PFA Player of the Year award, headlining the list alongside Harry Kane and Eden Hazard. De Gea has been worth more points to Manchester United than any player to any team this year, and he was there when United wasn’t. An interesting statistic to highlight is that Manchester United has the most defensive errors in the Premier League but have conceded the least amount of goals. I wonder why that is…
Right Back: Pablo Zabaleta For the most part, this is by default, as even though the Argentinean has been out of form, Pablo Zabaleta is still above Bacary Sagna. Rafael hasn’t been playing, and Antonio Valencia is United’s biggest liability defensively. At his best, Zabaleta can reach the heights of the best right fullbacks in the world.
Centre Back 1: Chris Smalling United’s weakest area on the pitch is also City’s weakest area, and Chris Smalling has been one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League this year. No one would’ve believed me if I told them this would happen at the beginning of the season, and to be fair I wouldn’t have told them such. Smalling’s United career looked over when he was sent off (stupidly) at the Etihad in the first edition of the derby, but he completed a remarkable turnaround since.
Centre Back 2: Marcos Rojo Rojo is the most consistent centre-back in Manchester, as he works hard, passes calmly and tackles with commitment. Not unlike Nemanja Vidic stylistically (strangely, Smalling is like Ferdinand), Rojo is dominant in the air. In addition, at 25 and 24 years of age, Smalling and Rojo have the time and talent to develop into world-class centre backs.
Left Back: Daley Blind As I stated before, this list is about form, and Daley Blind has been United’s 2nd best player over the last month. Blind looked one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League for the first three quarters of the season, but he’s been THE best left-back in the league since his conversion. Based on my previous sentences, you could probably infer that he is very versatile and intelligent, his two best attributes.
Central Defensive Midfielder: Michael Carrick The Red Devils train continues, and, to be honest, they dominate this list. A year ago the only United players you would likely see in the team would’ve been Phil Jones and Wayne Rooney, but now City players are the ones out of form. Anyways, Michael Carrick is the reason United’s midfield quad in front of him can play the connected, composed game they do. Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata and Ashley Young/Angel Di Maria can have the freedom to cut through defences and show off, freeing Wayne Rooney to score the goals. Carrick is the most underrated English player there is, and, much like this description, his play directs the attention on other players.
Central Midfielder: Ander Herrera The United man is a complete, world class machine and has developed miles since he transferred. From central midfield, he averages 2.5 tackles a game, intercepts the ball prolifically, protects Michael Carrick, feeds Juan Mata, contributes directly to a goal every 1.5 starts, and hassles absolutely everyone on the pitch. I wouldn’t be surprised if Christian Benteke had issues dealing with Herrera’s performance against Villa last week, as it was the best statistical performance from a midfielder in Europe this season (96% completion of 98 passes, 108 touches, 2 goals, 2 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 key passes). His connection with Juan Mata is particularly outstanding.
Left-Attacking Midfielder: David Silva After 5 United players in a row, we now shift the attention back to City for their undoubtedly best player, David Silva. Though I strongly disagree with the claims Silva is the best in the Premier League or even the best attacking midfielder in the Premier League, I still believe Silva is mesmeric. As I’ve stated many times, his skill and technique compliment his decision making, and he pairs another Spanish attacking midfielder in this list.
Right-Attacking Midfielder: Juan Mata I had to. I’m not even a supporter of Spain, but a midfield trio of Silva, Mata and Herrera would absolutely destroy any defence in the Premier League due to their technical ability (EPL teams typically defend with physicality). Juan Mata at his best is unplayable, and the hardest type of player to mark due to his ability to score and set up others. His creativity stands out, but he is also capable of scoring 15 goals a season consistently if he plays.
Striker 1: Wayne Rooney What is there to say for the United captain? He is consistently remarkable, becoming the first player to score 10 goals a season for 11 years straight. To perform at such a level for 11 years and only be 29 points out the fact that Wayne Rooney has shown dedication since his teenaged years and will probably show them well into his 30s. You can also expect him to convert to a defensive midfielder as he loses his turn of pace.
Striker 2: Sergio Aguero Sergio Aguero is the most prolific player in the Premier League when fit and firing, but he often has problems with both. His consistent injury and fitness problems combined with his inconsistency force him to go through bad patches like the one he is in right now. When he is scoring, though, he does it on streaks, and puts in a goal every game. His inconsistencies have inspired me to add a list of substitutes.
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart
Third Goaleeper: Victor Valdes
Fullback: Gael Clichy
Fullback: Luke Shaw
Centre Back: Martin Demichelis
Centre Back: Phil Jones
Midfielder: Yaya Toure
Midfielder: Angel Di Maria
Winger: Ashley Young
Utility Man: James Milner
Physical Utility Midfielder: Marouane Fellaini
Striker: Robin Van Persie
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