Paul Merson was tasked with picking a combined XI from Manchester City and Liverpool ahead of their FA Cup semifinal clash on Saturday, 16 April.
With both teams studded with world-class stars, there was always going to be the risk of missing out on some big names.
While choosing between Kyle Walker and Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold for the right-back position, the former Gunners forward opted for the Manchester City defender.
Justifying his pick, he told Daily Star:
“Kyle Walker plays over Trent Alexander-Arnold for me, just because if it was me I’d rather play against Trent than Kyle Walker. Going forward, Trent is different class. But if I had to choose a full-back to have a go at, I’d pick him over Walker. I think Walker would be harder to beat.”
Choosing from the rest of the players, Merson explained how he would line up his team, saying:
“I’m going to go with Alisson in goal. Ederson doesn’t make as many mistakes but Alisson has made more important saves than Ederson has this season. The two centre halves are Ruben Dias and Virgil Van Dijk. That’s an easy call.
“[At left-back] Joao Cancelo can be a game-changer. But I’m going to go for Andrew Robertson over him because he’s more consistent.”
Incidentally, Walker is set to miss the crucial FA Cup clash against Liverpool due to an ankle injury.
Manchester City dominates Merson’s midfield
Merson picked all three midfielders from Manchester City, despite the likes of Thiago and Fabinho from Liverpool being in good form this season. He reasoned:
“I think Rodri is a shoo-in in midfield. I think he has really improved and makes them tick. Kevin De Bruyne is a shoo-in too, he’s one of the best players in the league. Bernardo Silva has been on fire at times this season. He has to get in that midfield as well.”
Liverpool forwards race ahead in front three picks
Mohamed Salah was an obvious choice for Merson. Among the rest, he opted for Diogo Jota and Riyad Mahrez, leaving out the likes of Phil Foden and Sadio Mane. Explaining his picks, he said:
“Mo Salah is one of the best in the world so he starts in the front three. You could easily pick Jota as well. What’s he done wrong this season? He’s been more consistent than Foden or Grealish.
“City don’t have a centre forward, so I’d have Sadio Mane there just so you can get another one of City’s wingers in the team. Do you go Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden? I’m going to put Riyad Mahrez in there because I think he just shades it over them this season. He’s scored goals. But there isn’t much in it, is there?”
This will be the second meeting between Manchester City and Liverpool in less than a week. The two clubs played out a 2-2 draw on 10 April in the Premier League.