Pride of Mancunia: Coral’s marvellous Manchester derby best XI
With Manchester City preparing to host Manchester United in the bitter city rival’s first derby of the season, Coral writers bring you our best XI, featuring fit and in-form players from both teams.
Clashes between these two cross-town rivals always provide thrills, so here’s who we think would make the final combined cut.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
Spain stopper De Gea was crowned United’s best player last term and has begun this campaign in the same stupendous form. A string of super saves against Everton and Chelsea mean the talented 23-year-old is our pick for the position between the posts.
Right back: Pablo Zabaleta
The experienced Argentina defender easily takes the right back slot after being one of City’s most consistent performers over the past few seasons. His work ethic, leadership and positioning have seen Zabaleta rise to prominence as one of the finest in his position.
Centre back: Vincent Kompany
City captain Kompany is a born leader, and directs his defence with authority and aplomb. At his best, the Belgian is an impenetrable wall but also comfortable and confident in possession, and is arguably his side’s most important player. Kompany is 9/4 to help his team keep a clean sheet against the Red Devils.
Centre back: Marcos Rojo
Rojo is still adapting to the demands of the Premier League, but the left-footed Argentine just beats Eliaquim Mangala in the race to partner Kompany. Robust and energetic, Rojo is always eager to join the offence and has taken a senior role in the Red Devils’ young defence since his arrival.
Left back: Alexsandr Kolarov
The flying Serbia full back has been rotated with Gael Clichy this season, but his pinpoint deliveries into the box and curling set pieces make him City’s not-so-secret weapon. Kolarov’s rampages up and down the flank see him steal our first choice left back spot, as any Manchester team should aim to attack first and ask questions later.
Defensive midfield: Daley Blind
Quiet hero blind features in this XI, having been an ever-present in United’s campaign so far, and doing a fine job in filling space and plugging the gaps in the Red Devils’ porous midfield. With powerful options such as Fernandinho and Marouane Fellaini also available, Blind edges into our XI for his composure, decision making and ability to pick a pass.
Central midfield: James Milner
Milner was widely tipped to depart the Etihad over summer, but has remained and fought for his place admirably. The unsung England man has proven crucial as City have struggled with injuries, filling a variety of positions. Intelligent, versatile and energetic, Milner’s industry allows the Sky Blues’ superstars to shine.
Right wing: Jesus Navas
Once held back by homesickness, Navas has settled in Manchester well. His rapid pace down the right flank makes City lethal on the counter. The Spaniard has stepped up in Samir Nasri’s absence and the natural width he provides gives Manuel Pellegrini’s men another dimension. An able assistor, Navas has notched up three in eight Premier League appearances this term.
Attacking midfield: David Silva
Usually drifting in from the left, Silva has tended to play a more central role in bigger games this season. The Spanish maestro uses the pitch as his canvas anyway, popping up in numerous positions with his uncanny ability to find space and lay chances on a platter for his teammates. City were forced to pull Silva off against Newcastle United to preserve his artistry for the derby, but he will hopefully shake off his knee niggle in time.
Left wing: Angel Di Maria
United’s ‘Galactico’ purchase is already on the path to paying off his price tag, with four assists and three goals in seven games. A true game-changer, even on an off-day, ‘El Noodle’s’ trademark bending crosses, delicate through balls and scorching pace have terrorised defenders this term. Di Maria is 9/1 to hit home first against City.
Striker: Sergio Aguero
Now City’s record scorer, the Argentinian magician has shaken off injuries to rack up nine goals and one assist in nine Premier League outings this season. Considered to be in the rung just below the world’s best Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, City’s potent poacher with tricky feet is striving to hit those heights. Aguero is 4/1 to bag a brace or better against United.