Manchester United host Liverpool in a Premier League epic on Saturday afternoon.
The two sides have enjoyed their ups and downs this term, but just two points separate second placed United from third-placed Liverpool.
Local pride is at stake, and ahead of the big game, the Ladbrokes News team have put together their ultimate Manchester United-Liverpool XI for this season.
Here’s the team…
GK – David De Gea
No contest here. Liverpool’s goalkeeper problems have been well documented, while David de Gea is arguably the best goalkeeper in the world.
The Spaniard has come to Jose Mourinho’s rescue time and time again.
LB – Andrew Robertson
Liverpool had a problem at left-back in Jurgen Klopp’s early days, but they’re fixed it good and proper in Andrew Robertson.
The £8m signing from Hull City has proved a bargain. He’s got a solid defensive head, and brings an extra edge with his marauding runs down the flanks. He easily trumps Luke Shaw/Ashley Young to make the XI.
CB – Virgil van Dijk
We know Virgil van Dijk has only been a Liverpool player for two months, but his colossal presence gets him the nod here.
To be honest, none of Liverpool or United’s centre-halves have shone this term to give the Dutchman much competition.
RB – Antonio Valencia
He’s 32-years-old, but Antonio Valencia continues to be one of Man United’s consistent performances.
The Ecuadorian can mix it in a physical battle at the back, while his former days as a winger give him a terrific edge going forward. In a few years’ time this could be Joe Gomez’s for the taking, but Valencia still rules the right-back roost.
MF – Nemanja Matic
This was a close one and Emre Can could easily have been given the nod. But Nemanja Matic just edges it.
The Serbian is one of the few top-line defensive midfielders in the Premier League, and Antonio Conte was reportedly furious to lose him to a top-four rival last summer.
United have kept 21 clean sheets when Matic has played, and that’s not a coincidence.
MF – Georginio Wijnaldum
Liverpool’s number five keeps them ticking along in a manner which United can’t replicate this season.
There’s are many reasons Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have been so successful up front this season, and it’s a big part of it is because they’ve got Wijnaldum covering their backs.
MF – Paul Pogba
We can’t leave out the £90m man can we? Paul Pogba has been criticised this season, and even Jose Mourinho is unsure how to get the best out of him.
But with three goals and a tidy nine assists from 19 Premier League games, his stats beat any Liverpool equivalent, and he’s in the team.
MF – Jesse Lingard
Sir Alex Ferguson said it would take a while before we saw the best of Jesse Lingard, and the 26-year-old has duly arrived.
With Henrikh Mkhitaryan sold, and Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford reduced to substitute appearances, Lingard has continued to shine for Mourinho’s side and is increasingly becoming increasingly more clinical from deep.
FW – Mohamed Salah
The star of the show. Mohamed Salah has been sensational this season, and simply waltzes into this side.
With 32 goals from 39 games in all competitions, the Egyptian is averaging a goal every 96 minutes this season, and is already held in iconic esteem but the Anfield faithful.
FW – Roberto Firmino
Salah’s success is down in no small part to the role of Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian is arguably Liverpool’s most crucial forward.
Firmino’s link-up play and movement has caught defences out time and time again. With 22 goals and 13 assists, it’s a no brainer for him to be in the XI.
FW – Romelu Lukaku
He still has his critics, but we can’t leave out Romelu Lukaku. The Manchester United number nine has scored 23 goals this season.
A physical nightmare to defend against, the Belgian’s off-the-ball game is improving all the time, as is his link-up play. The best is yet to come.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication