Jul 2, 2020 at 8.15pm UK
Man CityManchester City
De Bruyne (25' pen.), Sterling (35'), Foden (45'), Oxlade-Chamberlain (66' og.)
Mendy (41'), Walker (57')
FT(HT: 3-0)

Gomez (24'), Henderson (90+1')

Combined XI: Manchester City vs. Liverpool

:Headline: Combined XI: Manchester City vs. Liverpool: ID:404532: from db_amp
Sports Mole selects its strongest combined XI for Thursday night's Premier League clash between dethroned champions Manchester City and their successors Liverpool.

Liverpool's first match as Premier League champions takes place at the home of the former champions on Thursday night when Manchester City welcome the Reds to the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola's side will give Liverpool a guard of honour as they take to the field, having fallen 23 points behind the runaway leaders with only 21 points left to play for.

Jurgen Klopp's men are still chasing a number of records set by Man City in their 2017-18 centurion season, though, so the hosts have plenty of reason to look to inflict a rare defeat on their visitors.

Here, Sports Mole selects its strongest combined XI of players from both squads, using only those available for this match.

Considering the world-class array of talent and incredible strength in depth at Man City's disposal, it is perhaps surprising for them to have only one player in this XI.

However, the 23-point gap between the two sides speaks volumes and it is difficult to argue a case for many of the Man City players to feature above their Liverpool counterparts in the same position.

In goal, for example, both Ederson and Alisson Becker can be regarded as two of the best keepers in world football, but this season Alisson has kept more clean sheets, conceded 15 fewer goals, made more saves on average per game and has a higher save success percentage.

It is a similarly easy choice for three of the back four; Trent Alexander-Arnold is arguably the best right-back in world football at the moment and needs just one more assist to break his own record for a defender which he set last season, while Andrew Robertson can lay a good claim to being the world's best left-back too.

Virgil van Dijk, meanwhile, is regarded by many as the best defender in the world full stop, so all three are relatively straightforward picks ahead of Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Man City's centre-backs.

Perhaps the most controversial choice is Joe Gomez instead of Aymeric Laporte, the latter of whom is justifiably regarded as one of the best in his position too.

However, Laporte has only made 10 appearances all season and Man City have kept just one clean sheet in those games, compared to 11 clean sheets from 21 outings for Gomez.

Indeed, despite being on the field for more than twice as long as Laporte this season, Gomez has only conceded five goals compared to four for Laporte.

The area Liverpool seemed weakest compared to City at the start of the campaign was in midfield, but the Reds have certainly closed that gap this season with captain Jordan Henderson a front-runner to be named PFA Player of the Year and Fabinho having established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders around.

As impressive as Liverpool have been, though, there is no doubting that Kevin De Bruyne deserves a place in this XI; he has scored 10 goals and registered 16 assists in the Premier League this season and would walk into just about any team in the world, Liverpool included.

Man City have plenty of talent up front too, with Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus among the players competing for a place in this team, although Sergio Aguero is ruled out through injury.

We cannot break up the Liverpool front three, though, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane both in the Golden Boot race and statistically outperforming their Man City rivals this season.

Roberto Firmino is the man that knits that all together and, while his goal return this season has been a little underwhelming, Aguero's absence counts out his main competition and he is chosen ahead of his compatriot Jesus.

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