All roads will lead to Anfield when the Liverpool vs Manchester City match kicks off Sunday, with the Premier League summit clash likely to have major bearing on the title race.

Their past meetings have been nothing short of epic and after significantly strengthening their spine since January, Liverpool look to have emerged as a serious threat to City’s reign this season.

While City have comfortably outspent their rivals in a bid to establish themselves as a true continental powerhouse, the Reds haven’t exactly been tightfisted for the past 12 months or so, breaking the bank to sign some real talents.

Both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have a problem of plenty when deciding their teamsheets for every game, such is the quality of their respective squads.

Ahead of Sunday’s showdown in Liverpool, The Statesman takes the liberty of putting together a combined XI from the Red half of Merseyside and the Blue of Manchester, in a 4-2-3-1 formation, to get the debate raging:

Goalkeeper: Ederson (Manchester City)

Brazil’s No1. And No.2 goalkeepers ply their trades Liverpool and Manchester City, respectively, but with Ederson having spent an entire season in the Premier League already, the Sky Blues shot-stopper has his nose ahead.

At least for now.

For Alisson has been nothing short of exceptional for Liverpool this campaign, even if he did make a high-profile blunder against Leicester City.

It’s one thing having Brazilian flair up top, it’s quite another having it at the back and that just goes to drive home the point that these two sides are likely to be jostling for the Premier League tile come may.

Fine margins, but Ederson just about edges ahead of his compatriot at this stage.

Left back: Andy Robertson (Liverpool)

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Robertson’s (L) rise to the top of the footballing pyramid is nothing short of remarkable! (Photo: AFP)

 

Benjamin Mendy is an absolute beast of a player, but after his season-wrecking knee injury last season, he has not been able to light up the Premier League as much as City would have wanted.

The World Cup winner began the current campaign on a terrific note, but a suspected metatarsal issue has curtailed his involvement whereas Liverpool’s flying Scot has hardly missed a game since making his debut last season.

And due to that consistency for the past year or so, Robertson gets the nod here but should Mendy remain fit this season, then it could get interesting.

Centre back: Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)

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This could be Kompany’s last season at the Etihad! (Photo: AFP)

 

A world-class defender whose career has been blighted by injuries, but credit to the City skipper’s for having spent the past decade with the Blue half of Manchester.

By the looks of it, Pep Guardiola’s easing out the veteran Belgian but the 32-year-old is arguably the best defender of the Sky Blues squad and perhaps even the Liverpool one.

Joe Gomez has come into his own at centre back and while the future is indeed bright for the English defender, it’s still to early in the season to even consider him as a competitor to Kompany.

The same rings true for January signing Aymeric Laporte while John Stones continues to struggle with immense expectations borne out of his enormous price tag.

Centre back: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

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Van Dijk (R) has been a rock at the back for the Merseysiders! (Photo: AFP)

 

This may sound like a stretch, but what Kompany was/has been to City, van Dijk can be to Liverpool if he plays into his 30s.

The strapping centre half hasn’t put a foot wrong since his January arrival from Southampton and has never once looked like he’s been burdened by his world-record transfer fee.

Along with Alisson, van Dijk’s been a major reason why the Reds have started the season the way they have.

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Nicolas Otamendi had a standout 2017/18 season, but the Argentine isn’t a confirmed starter at the moment.

Truth be told, even if he was, he wouldn’t have stood a chance against Liverpool’s towering Dutchman.

Right back: Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

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Sane (L) and Walker are among the fastest players in world football! (Photo: AFP)

 

Both sides are blessed with quality fullbacks, arguably in contention to be considered the finest in the Premier League so we’re spoilt for choice, but only one can make the cut.

Walker made the step up from Tottenham Hotspur to City last season and everything’s worked out pretty nicely for him since then.

Questions about his lack of mental application are far less frequent and he’s arguably the best right-back in the Premier League.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Walker’s understudy for England, has become a Liverpool regular despite still being a teenager, but the 19-year-old’s got a long way to go before he can enter the debate.

Central midfield: Fernandinho (Manchester City)

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The South American battler would be an asset for any side! (Photo: AFP)

 

Yes, at 32 Fernandinho’s powers seem to be waning, but the Brazilian hardman is still one of the best enforcers in the Premier League.

Except for Naby Keita, an out and out defensive midfield role would not suit any of Liveprool’s hardworking midfielders.

And while the Guinean has been terrific in his debut season, he cant’t be picked ahead of a player even Pep Guardiola considers irreplaceable.

Central midfield: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Eden Hazard may be running riot at the moment, but it’s easy to forget that the diminutive winger probably isn’t even the best Belgian plying his trade in the English top-flight.

That honour belongs to Kevin De Bruyne.

Mohamed Salah may have won the PFA Player of the Year gong last season, but many felt that De Bruyne’s sustained brilliance that enabled City to break every record possible en route to a title romp should have been the clincher.

As it stands, the Belgian—who’s in contention to start at Anfield—is head and shoulders above the competition and was one of the few no-brainers for this composite XI.

Left wing: Leroy Sane (Manchester City)

Considering Liverpool and City have two of the best attacking units in the world, this was always going to go down to the wire.

Sadio Mane has been terrific ever since signing across the dotted line from Southampton (where else?), but City’s German winger was nothing short of sensational last season either.

After a difficult few months, Sane’s found his groove again and is back in Pep Guardiola’s first-team plans.

Mane definitely has more top-flight experience than his Citizens counterpart and Liverpool fans will be up in arms with the Senegalese’s omission, but the left-footed Sane has that X-factor about him that sees him sway the the vote.

Central attacking midfield: David Silva (Manchester City)

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El Mago (R) contienes to bail City out of trouble! (Photo: AFP)

 

With so much pace on either flank and ahead of him, Silva would rack up the assists playing for the side.

De Bruyne can play this role too, but it looks like Guardiola was onto something when he insisted on playing him as a deep-lying playmaker instead.

Meanwhile, Bernardo Silva’s primed to take over David Silva’s mantle at City and may even do so as soon as the end of the current season, but until he consistently beats his fellow Iberian to a starting spot, the Spaniard veteran makes the cut.

Liverpool have a terrific midfield, but neither Jordan Henderson nor James Milner would be suited to such advanced roles and while Adam Lallana could thrive in the position, the injury-prone Englishman is simply not in David Silva’s league.

Right wing: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

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Salah’s still carrying a shoulder injury from last season it seems! (Photo: AFP)

 

Raheem Sterling’s statistics from last season were nothing short of world class, but then Salah had a otherworldly campaign (44 goals in all competitions) and hence, the Egyptian just about nicks it.

Much has been made of his sluggish start this campaign, but he’s no one-season wonder and quite frankly, it’s ridiculous that the African winger gets stick despite scoring thrice (and getting assisting once) in seven Premier League appearances.

Sterling continues to improve in leaps and bounds, but his lack of application in the final third still prevents him from being called elite and until he can start being clinical in front of goal, Salah will comfortably be among the first names on this teamsheet.

Striker: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

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The Argentine hitman is arguably the best striker in the Premier League! (Photo: AFP)

 

In the battle of the South American strikers, only one could come out on top and that’s City’s record top scorer.

Firmino and Aguero, who represent bitter rivals Brazil and Argentina respectively, are as different as chalk and cheese, but both get the job done with minimum fuss.

However, Aguero’s just been turning it on for too long for him to miss out.

His ability to conjure special goals from nothing is unparalleled and the diminutive Argentine is closing in on the likes of Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney in the all-time Premier League scoring charts.

While it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be able to catch either of them, Aguero will go down as one of the greatest Premier League strikers of all time when his career comes to a close in the years to come.

Firmino’s graft is unmatched and he’s right at home in Liveprool’s free-flowing attack, but when it comes down to it, your striker has to score lots of goals and in that area, Aguero pulls ahead with ease.