James Rodriguez pips Thiago Alcantara to a midfield spot while Michael Keane joins Trent Alexander-Arnold at the back… but who else makes our Liverpool-Everton combined XI ahead of Saturday’s Merseyside Derby?
- Champions Liverpool face Everton in Saturday’s Merseyside Derby at Anfield
- Jurgen Klopp’s side lie in sixth place – one place and three points above Everton
- The Toffees are on a resurgence under Carlo Ancelotti and are eyeing Europe
- Sportsmail rates both sides for a Liverpool-Everton combined XI ahead of the tie
For the first time in 16 years, the Merseyside Derby will contest two sides aiming for a Champions League spot.
Premier League champions Liverpool have suffered a recent drop-off in the league and currently lie in sixth, one place above City rivals Everton who are enjoying a promising resurgence under Carlo Ancelotti.
With three points separating the Merseyside rivals ahead of Saturday evening’s clash, Sportsmail puts together a combined Liverpool-Everton XI from those available to play this weekend…
Liverpool and Everton renew their rivalry this weekend in Saturday’s Merseyside Derby
Sportsmail puts together a combined eleven from Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti’s squads
GOALKEEPER – Alisson (Liverpool)
Perhaps the most difficult position to call. Both Merseyside clubs have seen their first-choice goalkeepers go through a rough patch of late.
Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson had a rough fortnight when he gifted Manchester City two goals at Anfield in the Reds 4-1 loss to Pep Guardiola’s side, before a mix-up with new signing Ozan Kabak gave Leicester City three points last weekend.
Alisson is still the number one goalkeeper on Merseyside despite a difficult spell recently
Meanwhile, Jordan Pickford’s woes in between the sticks continued on Wednesday night as he let Bernardo Silva’s shot go through his palms – the latest in a catalogue of errors this season for the England number one.
But Alisson’s performance and clean sheet in midweek against RB Leipzig reminded both Liverpool fans and the goalkeeper’s critics that the 28-year-old is still the best shot stopper on Merseyside.
But given the standard of the two goalkeepers in recent weeks, there may be plenty of goals on offer this weekend at Anfield.
RIGHT-BACK – Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Alexander-Arnold was involved in 17 Premier League goals last season, including 13 assists, but the 22-year-old has been involved in just four this term as we move into the second-half of the campaign.
The England international may not be hitting the heights of last season but Alexander-Arnold has provided several reminders this season over his talents in this Liverpool side.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has not performed up to recent levels but can perform in big games
The Liverpool right-back shone against Spurs at the back end of last month, scoring one and assisting another in perhaps his best display of the season to date.
Jurgen Klopp will be hoping that his star defender can step up in another big game as the Reds look to move into the top four.
Everton options Seamus Coleman and Mason Holgate have played well this season but have a long way to go to reach Alexander-Arnold’s standards.
CENTRE-BACK – Michael Keane (Everton)
Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton are excellent going forwards but are also very difficult to break down. The latter characteristic is partly to do with the good work of Michael Keane at centre-half.
The 28-year-old is playing in the best years of his career and his displays are showing it. Keane has made 92 successful clearances in the top-flight so far this season, the eighth-highest total out of any player in England’s top-flight.
Michael Keane’s contributions at the back have been important in Everton’s rise this season
The Toffees man looks assured at the back and is well on course to be a key man for both Everton and England in what looks to be an important 2021 for Keane’s club and country.
With Yerry Mina suffering an injury blow against Manchester City on Wednesday night, Keane’s leadership skills and defensive astuteness is more important than ever.
CENTRE-BACK – Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Many eyebrows were raised when Liverpool’s captain was drafted in as a makeshift centre-back for the visit to Southampton earlier in the season, but Henderson’s new role looks like a masterstroke move by Klopp.
The Reds skipper looks like he’s been playing there for most of his career and his role at the back as eased Liverpool’s recent defensive injury nightmare.
Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson has not looked out of place despite being played at centre-back
The 30-year-old is reliable at the back due to his no-nonsense approach while his vocal skills as captain helps to drive Liverpool forward.
Henderson’s qualities are definitely missed in Liverpool’s midfield, but the quality last year’s champions possess there means the Reds captain is able to exert his influence from another position.
LEFT-BACK – Andy Robertson (Liverpool)
Andy Robertson vs Lucas Digne has been a close contest in the battle for Merseyside’s best left-sided defender.
But the Scottish international’s consistency, along with the fact Digne has spent most of the season either injured or playing at left midfield, means the Liverpool man gets the nod in our combined eleven.
Andy Robertson beats Everton Lucas Digne’s to the role of best Merseyside left-back this term
The full-back’s attacking qualities are still an important outlet for Klopp’s Liverpool, with other Premier League sides still working out how to reduce the influence of the 26-year-old on Liverpool’s attacking game.
Robertson may have more goal involvements to show his dominance in the left-back department had Liverpool’s finishing been better over the past few weeks.
CENTRAL MIDFIELDER – James Rodriguez (Everton)
Injuries may have slightly hampered the Colombian’s debut Premier League campaign, but James Rodriguez is still a vital cog in the Everton machine this term.
The 29-year-old brings flair and unpredictability to the Toffees attack and his five Premier League goals have all come at crucial times for the blue half of Merseyside.
James Rodriguez’s (middle) attacking flair has been influential in Everton’s style of play
As was shown at Manchester United last week, the Colombian is able to change the game at the click of his fingers and will be hoping to bring a similar attacking influence in Saturday’s derby.
He was brought in to add that Champions League quality to the Everton squad and a positive display on the weekend would take Ancelotti’s Toffees one step further to their overall goal.
CENTRAL MIDFIELDER – Gini Wijnaldum (Liverpool)
The Dutch midfielder is not the biggest household name when it comes to Liverpool stars but the 30-year-old operates quietly and efficiently in the Reds midfield.
Wijnaldum is vital to Jurgen Klopp’s squad in terms of pressing and reliability in the middle of the park. The Dutchman has missed just 25 matches in his five-and-a-half year Liverpool career and often forms the heartbeat of the Reds midfield.
Gini Wijnaldum’s (left) work rate and pressing game is important in Klopp’s Liverpool plans
The midfielder has shown an occasional quality in front of goal too, either with his smart finishing in difficult situations or his late runs into the box to find some extra space.
With his contract up at the end of the season, Liverpool should be thinking twice before letting a key part of their engine leave so easily.
CENTRAL MIDFIELDER – Abdoulaye Doucoure (Everton)
The 28-year-old has proven to be a smart piece of business by the Toffees since his summer arrival from Watford for £20million.
Doucoure does the difficult ground work in helping out his defence, while is always a threat going forward with his ball carrying from deep.
Abdoulaye Doucoure (middle) is currently getting the goals his Everton work rate deserves
The Frenchman is an imposing figure in the midfield that has the potential to dominate the middle areas against Liverpool this weekend.
Doucoure has always been an attacking threat for Everton this season, now he is getting the goals and assists to show for it.
RIGHT-STRIKER: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
There can be no combined XI involving Liverpool without a mention of Mohamed Salah.
As Jurgen Klopp’s side continue to falter in the Premier League, the Egyptian’s quality in attacking areas has remained and he comes into Saturday’s Merseyside Derby with four goals in his last four league games.
Attacker Mo Salah still leads the Premier League goalscoring charts with 17 so far this season
Salah still leads the Premier League goalscoring charts with 17, while he has the best minutes-per-goal ratio out of any of the Golden Boot contenders with a successful strike every 113 minutes.
His brilliant finish against Leicester City last weekend was worthy of an accolade but probably would not rank in the winger’s top five goals for Liverpool since his arrival in 2017.
Salah also has two goals in four Merseyside Derby matches and will be hoping to improve that record this weekend.
CENTRAL STRIKER: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
A difficult decision had to be made regarding who out of Roberto Firmino or Sadio Mane would partner Salah in the combined XI.
But Firmino’s regular goal threat gives him the nod over the Senegalese winger, who has just one goal in his last seven Premier League matches.
Roberto Firmino edges Sadio Mane to a striker spot in our Liverpool-Everton combined XI
The Brazilian forward leads the way for Jurgen Klopp’s men in terms of assists this season, with seven to Firmino’s name in a Liverpool side that has not scored a lot of goals of late.
The 29-year-old also has six league goals this season and is well on course to surpass last season’s total of nine. His quality at the top end of the pitch was epitomised by his clever backheel to Salah at Leicester last weekend.
LEFT-STRIKER: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)
There is no prizes for guessing who Everton’s key man will be in Saturday’s derby.
Calvert-Lewin’s 13 goals in 19 league games have been pivotal to the Toffees’ rise under Ancelotti which leaves them well and truly on course for a European finish.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin will be hoping for another Merseyside Derby goal to increase his tally
The 23-year-old’s absence in Everton’s last two games has been sorely felt but the striker is set to return from injury in time for the Liverpool clash.
It’s not just the forward’s clinical record in front of goal that makes his crucial to this Everton team, but also Calvert-Lewin’s selflessness in dropping deep and bringing others into the game.
The striker was largely marked out of the game when the two sides last met in October, but needed only one clear-cut opportunity to make Klopp’s side pay and find the back of the net.
This time around, Ancelotti will be demanding more of the same.
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