Manchester United and Chelsea combined XI

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MANCHESTER UNITED take on Chelsea on Sunday desperate to snatch victory that will keep them in the race for a top four finish in the Premier League.

Jose Mourinho’s side have been beaten twice by his former club this season – a 4-0 hammering in the league followed by an FA Cup defeat.

EPA

Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and N’Golo Kante have starred for Chelsea this season

Antonio Conte’s side have clearly had the upper hand over their rivals at Stamford Bridge and with an 18 point advantage over the Reds they have been the dominant side this season.


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But  how many United stars would get into a combined XI with Chelsea – and should it be Conte or Mourinho who picks the team?

Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are the undoubted leaders of the United dressing room

PA:Press Association

Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are the undoubted leaders of the United dressing room

SunSport casts an eye over the form of both squads this season to come up with a dazzling all-star team.

Tactics

Chelsea have been a revelation this season playing 3-4-2-1, with a formation and approach that has proved too good for everyone else in the Premier League.

United have been less set in their ways, with injuries and forms seeing them having to switch formations on a regular basis throughout the campaign.

But it is clear the three at the back approach has brought success across the league, so that is the approach that would best be suited for these players.

Goalkeeper

In David de Gea and Thibaut Courtois, we have two of the best young goalkeepers in world football going head-to-head for one spot.

Courtois has returned to his best form after a disappointing campaign last year, and when he has been called upon he has pulled off some excellent saves for his side.



United have relied on De Gea for the last few years to get them out of trouble and the Spaniard has rarely failed to deliver.

And De Gea just gets the nod for this team, though it was a close call.

David de Gea gets the nod, but is there room for Eric Bailly or Ander Herrera?

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David de Gea gets the nod, but is there room for Eric Bailly or Ander Herrera?

Defenders

There have been few better or more consistent performers in the Premier League this season than Cesar Azpilicueta – the versatile Spaniard is an automatic pick without hesitation.

A glance at the United squad exposes this position as one of their weak links – Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo have too many injuries or lapses in concentration for them to be considered.

That leaves two places up for grabs between David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Eric Bailly – clearly United’s best defender.

Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso and Gary Cahill all make the grade

Reuters

Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso and Gary Cahill all make the grade

Cahill has been excellent all season for Chelsea and plays out on the left of the trio, so has to get a slot to balance the back line.

And with the need to play out from the back in such a formation, Luiz edges it from Bailly.

Wing-backs

Victor Moses has enjoyed the best season of his career, and has been one of the surprise packages of the season by finally establishing himself at Chelsea after years being punted out on loan.

But no matter how well Moses has done, he just doesn’t do enough to oust Antonio Valencia from the right wing-back slot.

Valencia is a machine – defensively sound, consistent, still with pace to burn and one of the unsung stars of the top flight. In attack and defence he has it all.

Antonio Valencia is one of the unsung stars of the Premier League

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Antonio Valencia is one of the unsung stars of the Premier League

Out on the left, again United are exposed. Luke Shaw? Ashley Young? Matteo Darmian? All have been tried there by Mourinho, none have convinced.

In contrast, Marcos Alonso has surprised everyone by the way he has performed this season and has to be an automatic pick.

Centre-midfield

He was the driving force behind Leicester’s title win, and is just as important for Chelsea – N’Golo Kante has no competition for that vital holding role in midfield.

Mourinho wanted to sign him last summer but missed the boat, the Frenchman has been the outstanding player in that position in England for the past two years.

Sunday Premier League match preview featuring Man Utd v Chelsea

Michael Carrick’s importance to United is on the wane no matter his qualities, while Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas are players of undoubted quality.

Then we have the tigerish Ander Herrera who buzzes around the pitch for United, along with the world’s most expensive player in Paul Pogba.

There has been plenty of criticism fired in the direction of Pogba this season, but if you analyse his stats and displays, he has fared far better than people think.

He has to be in this team.

Paul Pogba has his critics, but he deserves to be in the combined XI

AP:Associated Press

Paul Pogba has his critics, but he deserves to be in the combined XI

Attacking midfielders

One of the favourites for the PFA player of the year, Eden Hazard would walk into pretty much any team in world football right now and we are not going to argue with that.

The other berth is up for grabs and in Willian, Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pedro there is plenty of quality to choose from.

Eden Hazard is an automatic selection but the jury is out on Diego Costa

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Eden Hazard is an automatic selection but the jury is out on Diego Costa

Of that quartet, Mkhitaryan and Pedro have arguably been the best performers – with the Chelsea man playing a crucial role in keeping his club’s run to the title on track.

His consistency and lack of injuries mean he just shades it for the position.

Pedro has been impressive throughout the season for Chelsea

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Pedro has been impressive throughout the season for Chelsea

Centre-forward

A two-man battle for selection between two of the Premier League’s biggest personalities – Diego Costa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Both can be destructive on their day, both can get into a little trouble with officials too. And both major influences on whether their teams play well.

Costa had a shocker last season but has been back on form this time round, while Ibrahimovic’s impact in England at the age of 35 has taken plenty by surprise.

But for all-round game, it is Zlatan who has the edge and he would lead our attack.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic gets the nod ahead of Diego Costa for his all round game

PA:Press Association

Zlatan Ibrahimovic gets the nod ahead of Diego Costa for his all round game

Manager

Jose Mourinho has won it all across Europe, while Antonio Conte is fast establishing himself as one of the top coaches in the world game.

Many underestimated the size of the job Mourinho was taking on at Old Trafford, inheriting a squad well short on the quality needed and a club in decline.

Conte himself had a job to do after Chelsea’s dismal displays the previous year, although he did inherit a squad pretty much ready to challenge for the title.

Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte both have valid claims to manage the side

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Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte both have valid claims to manage the side

Mourinho is making progress, although inconsistency at home has been a real Achilles heel for him.

But the way Conte has adapted to the demands of the English game has been remarkable – and he has to be the man to be handed control of this combined XI

The team

De Gea; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Valencia, Kante, Pogba, Alonso; Pedro, Hazard; Ibrahimovic

Manager: Antonio Conte

The Manchester United/Chelsea Combined XI

The Manchester United/Chelsea Combined XI

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