Manchester derby combined XI: Fernandes goes straight into midfield

Manchester derby combined XI: Bruno Fernandes goes straight into midfield, City’s Ederson wins the battle of the goalkeepers and United’s improved defence dominates ahead of Sunday’s battle at Old Trafford

  • Manchester United take on bitter rivals City in the Premier League on Sunday
  • Victory at Old Trafford would boost Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s top four chances
  • But City will want to get revenge after being beaten twice by United this season
  • Here, Sportsmail has picked a combined XI from the United and City squads

Manchester United host Manchester City on Sunday in the fourth meeting between the bitter rivals so far this season.

A victory for United would continue their good form and provide a major boost to their hopes of finishing in the Champions League places.

But victory for City will delay Liverpool’s procession to the Premier League title by at least another week. 

Manchester United and Manchester City meet in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon

United have had the beating of City so far this season, winning both of their games at the Etihad in the Premier League and League Cup semi-finals with devastating counter-attacking performances.

But City showed their class when they dismantled United in the first leg of that Carabao Cup tie before going on to lift the trophy at Wembley last week and it promises to be a fascinating encounter.

With that in mind, Sportsmail has put together a combined derby XI from the two Manchester teams. 


David de Gea’s recent form has made this call easy. The Spaniard has struggled for a series of good performances all season, making his latest error in the draw at Everton last weekend.

Dawdling over the ball, the Spaniard kicked it straight at the onrushing Dominic Calvert-Lewin before it bobbled into the empty net.

There is talk that Dean Henderson, impressing on loan at Sheffield United, could be brought back in the summer to challenge De Gea for the No 1 spot.

Ederson, meanwhile, continues to catch the eye with his combination of reliable shot stopping and precise distribution and it is for that reason that he wins a place in the team. 

David de Gea has struggled for form all season while Ederson has been his reliable best


When Sportsmail drew up a combined XI for the first meeting of the season between these two clubs it was Kyle Walker who occupied the right back slot.

But it shows just how impressive Wan-Bissaka has been in recent months that he has managed to dislodge Walker.

He continues to thrive following his move from Crystal Palace, showcasing his defensive abilities and an ever-improving focus going forward.

Wan-Bissaka has the second highest number of tackles in the Premier League this season and has been vital to United’s ongoing turnaround under Solskjaer. 

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is going from strength to strength on the right side of United’s defence


Maguire has been ever present in the United defence so far in the Premier League this season. He has proven to be good value for money too since arriving from Leicester.

His willingness to get on the ball and drive through the pitch or ability to spray a pass to one of United’s forwards mean he is equally adept to playing possession-based football or on the counter.

No doubt Maguire will have his work cut out against Sergio Aguero on Sunday but he has come through two stern tests against City already this season and will back himself to come through unscathed.

Harry Maguire has been ever present for United in the Premier League so far this season


If he was fully fit then it would most definitely be Aymeric Laporte lining up alongside Harry Maguire in the heart of defence.

But the Frenchman’s injury woes continue to rob Pep Guardiola of his best defender, a man who the Spaniard says cost him dearly in the title race with Liverpool.

Therefore Fernandinho, who has been slotting into defence for Guardiola, wins a place in the back four.

A reliable operator, Fernandinho has the tactical acumen and defensive nous to play centre back comfortably even if he is a little short of pace. 

Fernandinho has been playing in defence for City in the absence of Aymeric Laporte


Shaw has recently been playing as the left centre back in a defensive five for Solskjaer and has been flourishing.

Gary Neville recently said Shaw ‘looks strong and has his running back to where it was’ after slotting in seamlessly to the new system with academy prospect Brandon Williams playing ahead of him.

Shaw has been ravaged by injuries since moving to Old Trafford but finally looks to be reaching the heights he seemed capable of when he burst onto the scene at Southampton.

If he can continue this form over the coming months then there is no reason he can’t challenge Ben Chilwell in the England team at Euro 2020. 

Luke Shaw is now playing regular first-team football and flourishing in a new role in defence


Fernandinho’s move into the back four means Rodri comes in at the base of the midfield trio in our team.

The Spaniard has not quite had the impact many expected he would when he signed from Atletico Madrid over the summer but he hasn’t been totally underwhelming either.

Rodri has made 25 appearances in the Premier League this season and six in the Champions League so clearly he is impressing Guardiola.

With Fernandinho in the twilight years of his career, there is no doubt that City feel confident they have his successor already in place. 

Rodri is still adapting to English football but looks like he could play for City for years to come


It doesn’t matter who City’s opponents are, De Bruyne will always be in a combined XI somewhere. 

The Belgian is by far the best midfielder in the Premier League and combines attacking flair with precise passing and powerful athleticism to cause teams different problems.

So far this season, De Bruyne has scored nine goals and recorded 20 assists. He is Guardiola’s creative hub and must be stopped by Solskjaer’s midfield if they are to have any chance of winning. 

There are doubts he could play at Old Trafford due to a shoulder injury though and United will be praying the Belgian isn’t fit enough to make the trip. 

Kevin De Bruyne has once again had an excellent campaign and usually causes United issues


I think it is fair to say that even the most loyal Manchester United fans are a bit surprised by how quickly the Portuguese midfielder has settled in.

Fernandes has scored three goals and provided two assists in six appearances since arriving for £68million from Sporting Lisbon.

But his impact is not just limited to stats though, he seems to have given United a whole new level of confidence on the pitch.

It is the first time in a long time that United have had a threat from central midfield and City will have to be wary of him dealing them a fatal blow. 

Bruno Fernandes has had a major impact on United since arriving from Portugal in January


The England international has not quite hit the heights of last season but he has still scored 20 goals and provided seven assists.

Sterling’s pace and his willingness to dribble straight at defenders mean he is always a threat to opposition defences in and around the penalty area.

Sterling missed City’s last two Premier League games with a hamstring injury but returned against Real Madrid in the Champions League and played 90 minutes in the Carabao Cup final.

He should be fit and raring to go on Sunday and will be a big problem for Wan-Bissaka.  

Sterling has had a hamstring injury recently and only just returned to the first-team picture


United needed somebody to step up when Marcus Rashford was ruled out for a lengthy period of time with a back problem and Martial has certainly done that.

The Frenchman has been operating largely as a centre forward this season and has scored 15 goals across all competitions. 

Martial hit the back of the net in a crucial win against Chelsea last month and continues to be United’s main man in attack.

Odion Ighalo was brought in as cover for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but there is no doubt that Martial is the club’s leading attacker at the moment and he could be a game-changer come Sunday. 

Anthony Martial has carried the United attack since Marcus Rashford was ruled out injured


There may be very few opportunities left for Aguero to turn in a match-winning display for City at Old Trafford.

Aguero started and scored in the 6-1 win over United in 2011 that showed change was in the air in Manchester and, at 31, he is entering the twilight years of his career.

But only this week has Aguero scored two goals in two games to put them ahead in the Carabao Cup final and through to the FA Cup last eight.

He is still so vital to this City team and any hope City have of taking all three points from Old Trafford will surely be reliant on Aguero turning in a superb performance.

Sergio Aguero has scored two vital goals in two games this week to highlight his importance

Share this article

Source: Read Full Article