My Manchester joint XI
With the Manchester derby just around the corner, it only seems right that I jump on the bandwagon with a more epic return than Thierry Henry by declaring to the world what my current Manchester XI would be.
This 11 is dependent on fitness, suspensions (sorry Surge) and general availability, as well as quality.
Goalkeeper – David De Gea
This is probably the most straightforward choice out of the bunch. Bravo having recently joined Manchester City has no Premier League experience while David De Gea has comfortably been the best goalkeeper in the league in the past few seasons. De Gea is now one of the best goalkeepers on the planet, with only Manuel Neuer springing to mind as someone who is potentially more influential than United’s Spanish starlet.
His shot stopping ability has never once come into question, and now with the ability to organise his defence and command his area as well, De Gea is undoubtedly one of the best keepers alive today.
Right back – Antonio Valencia
A difficult one. It could be argued that the experience of Bacary Sagna or the ever stern Pablo Zabaleta might be the more sensible choice, but I am choosing Antonio Valencia based on the fact that he looks more comfortable than ever defensively, while continuing to offer himself up as useful outlet on the right hand side for United.
With positioning seemingly added to his game, he just tips the aging City right backs to this place in the side, but honestly, this is the weakest spot in the eleven no matter who you choose.
Left back – Luke Shaw
Aleksandar Kolarov has been solid for City this season when called upon to play at centre back or at left back. However, I have gone with Luke Shaw who has been enjoyed a rejuvenation of his career after that horrible injury setback last year. Shaw has pace and decision making going forward, and also looks extremely comfortable when defending. This one isn’t too hard as I do not rate Gael Clichy at all, while Kolarov has been used in various positions thus far this season.
Centre back – John Stones
The first City name in the side is the world’s most expensive defender himself, John Stones. His ball playing ability will compliment his partner, revealed next, and under Pep’s guidance he looks to be growing in confidence defensively as well. With Kompany yet to return, Stones manages to get a spot in the line-up, just over fellow compatriot Chris Smalling who is returning from injury and the inform Daley Blind.
Centre back – Eric Bailly
The 22-year-old centre back has been nothing short of exceptional since signing from Villereal this summer. He has looked dominant when it comes to winning the ball back and can read the game extremely well for a man of his age. With pace, power and responsibility, Bailly has stepped up his game under Jose Mourinho. Bailly looks sure to not just be a flash in the pan, and will be dead-set on keeping out United’s ever present Chris Smalling. His partnership with Daleyy Blind has been nothing short of phenomenal thus far this year, but will have his work cut out against Manchester City this Saturday.
Right midfield – Raheem Sterling
While being nothing short of disappointing for England, Guardiola seems to have struck a chord with the pacey Englishman. He has been dangerous on the counter attack while decisive and effective in the final third. Pep will be looking for him to inspire Manchester City to victory in Surge’s absence. My decision to play him on the right is an easy one in Mkhitaryan’s absence.
Left midfield – Nolito
A slightly more challenging pick is on the left-hand side. Anthony Martial will be disappointed not to make the side but it is Nolito who has been the more promising of the two so far this season. Since earning a place in the starting 11, Nolito has scored twice. At 29 years of age, Nolito is far from young. However, he looks comfortable in the Manchester City line up so far.
Centre midfield – Paul Pogba
While the Frenchman’s departure from Manchester United for next to nothing may now seem ridiculous, it is undeniable that Paul Pogba is one of the best central midfielders alive today. His strength, power, passing and shooting qualities are all exceptional and he is an easy fit into this side over Manchester City’s tireless Fernandinho. While he may not be a goal scorer like most big money transfers, he has been just as pivotal to Manchester United’s excellent start to the season.
Attacking midfield – David Silva
The Spanish wizard has no trouble fitting straight into the side. Despite his slight aging, he still looks as graceful and elegant as ever with his wand like left foot and deft touch. His long-time partnership with Sergio Aguero may not be on show in this week’s Manchester deby but he is sure to cause the United defence problems if he receives the ball often enough.
Silva’s ability to dictate play while not on the ball also cannot be understated.
Attacking midfield – Wayne Rooney
Most Manchester teams that I have seen seem to be leaving out the England international. Stats wise, Rooney tops De Bruyne on all fronts. Having created the same amount of goals and chances as the Belgian, Rooney also boasts a goal to his name and a higher passing accuracy. Rooney’s criticism has been unwarranted, unfair, and too easy for fans across the country after England’s disappointing performance against Slovakia. However, Rooney has looked invigorated under Jose Mourinho with the number 10 position clearly being where his future lies. I may be going against the grain by selecting Rooney over De Bruyne but for me, the England captain is still world class.
Striker – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
With Aguero’s absence, the striker position chooses itself. Ibrahimovic has proven that he still has it so far this season, taking United’s young starlet Marcus Rashford under his wing in the process, who only misses out on a place in the side through a lack of game time, by the way. Zlatan truly is world class, and he will continue to score goals as long as he remains fit this season. His partnership with Wayne Rooney truly looks formidable and he has slotted into team far easier than most would have expected.
The Manchester derby is sure to be an epic encounter, but who would make your Manchester XI? Who will win the battle of Manchester?
Let me know your thoughts by tweeting @DanTempz or commenting below!