Jordan Henderson’s fine form, allied with injury to Steven Gerrard, makes the former Black Cats man a shoo-in for a mixed XI featuring players from Liverpool and Manchester City.
The Reds face a stern test of their top four credentials on Boxing Day with a trip to the Etihad to face a Citizens side in rude health, with Manuel Pellegrini’s side averaging over four goals a game at home in the Premier League this term.
But the Merseysiders will be no pushovers and boast a decent record against City, having gone four games unbeaten against the Sky Blues, taking four points from their last two trips to Manchester.
And while City dominate a best XI based on those available from the two sides’ squads, the Liverpool inclusions demonstrate just how far the side has come under Brendan Rodgers, with the Reds available at 10/3 to win the match.
In goal, the ongoing duel between Joe Hart and Costil Pantilimon, coupled with Simon Mignolet’s strong start to his Liverpool career, means the Belgian just shades it.
Vincent Kompany’s presence represents a no-brainer while Daniel Agger’s experience and consistency puts him ahead of Matija Nastasic and any of City’s other centre-back options.
Meanwhile, injury to Pablo Zabaleta gives Glen Johnson the right-back slot which, when partnered with Gael Clichy at left-back, gives the team plenty of options going forward.
Yaya Toure takes up a central midfield role and with Jordan Henderson on his right, the pair will be tasked with providing defensive cover and attacking clout in equal measure alongside a resurgent Samir Nasri on the left, who gets the nod just ahead of Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.
The team really comes alive in the final third, with David Silva taking up his traditional attacking role wide on the left while Luis Suarez is pushed a little further out on the right flank to make room for the monster that is Alvaro Negredo.
Admittedly selected in place of the injured Aguero, the former Sevilla man appears to be growing in stature every week and his aerial ability, finishing and skill at holding up the ball makes him the perfect foil for Suarez and co.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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