Liverpool vs Man United match preview: Fernandes, Salah & Rashford feature in combined XI

Liverpool vs Man United preview

Liverpool welcome Manchester United to Anfield on Sunday afternoon for the headline Premier League fixture of the weekend. 

There has been a distinct lack of optimism at United this season but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes his side to Merseyside knowing that a win will take them six points clear of their historic rivals.

United's progress has gone under the radar somewhat during an unbeaten run of form that has seen them win nine of their last 11 league games. 

Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp's men have suffered a tangible dip since sticking seven past Crystal Palace shortly before Christmas, taking just two points from the last nine available. 

Ahead of the clash of two of England's most historically prestigious sides, GIVEMESPORT have selected a combined XI based on individual form so far this season. 

Liverpool boast a slight numerical advantage with six players to United's five, while there is no place for either Paul Pogba or Virgil van Dijk. 

Let's take a look at who makes the cut...

Goalkeeper: Alisson

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While question marks continue to hang over David de Gea's status as United's number one goalkeeper amid Dean Henderson's rise to prominence, Alisson continues to perform consistently as the last line of a markedly weakened Liverpool defence. 

The Brazilian is one of the best stoppers in world football and comfortably earns his place.

Right-back: Wan-Bissaka

Aaron Wan-Bissaka may not possess the technical prowess of Trent Alexander-Arnold but you can't fault his defensive output this season.

The English spider has stuck out one of his eight legs to dispossess players 3.3 times per game, per Whoscored, and boasts an average rating of 7.11, which has only been bettered by Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes.

Alexander-Arnold has been below his typically world-class standards this season, particularly in recent weeks, and misses out to his compatriot. 

Centre-back: Harry Maguire

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Those who prophesised a disastrous season for Harry Maguire have fallen quiet of late. 

The acrimonious fallout from Maguire's summer trip to Mykonos impacted his early season form but, as elite talents so often do, he has emerged from the storm as a reformed player, marshalling the United defence with a renewed sense of authority. 

He earns his selection over Virgil van Dijk, who was glaringly below his world-class best before a knee ligament injury ruled him out for the majority of the season. 

Centre-back: Fabinho 

Where would Klopp be without Fabinho?

The Brazilian enforcer has adapted to his new central defensive role in a time of crisis for the Reds, ably deputising in the absence of van Dijk Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.

His telepathic understanding of the game and distribution speak to a player who has spent the entirety of his career in defence. 

Perhaps he'll be following Javier Mascherano down a similar path. 

Left-back: Andrew Robertson

Andrew Robertson has been just so relentlessly reliable for Liverpool in recent years and, while his fellow full-back Alexander-Arnold has struggled, he's one of few players who have carried their rich vein of form from last season into their title defence. 

A return of five assists is the best at the club and his threat from left-back remains one of the club's most devastating assets. 

Centre-midfield: Fred

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In a midfield containing Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba it's easy for Fred's performances to go under the radar, but his steady improvement has been an understated United success story. 

The Brazilian has grown in stature and cuts a markedly more confident figure in United's midfield than the one who timidly went about his business in the first year following his arrival from Shakhtar Donetsk. 

As a natural left-footer he provides some well-needed balance in this combined XI.

Centre-midfield: Bruno Fernandes

The first name on the teamsheet on current form. 

Fernandes' impact has underpinned United's rise from the ashes since his arrival nearly twelve months ago, and his return of 11 goals and seven assists this season has put him firmly in the running for the PFA Player of the Year award. 

Critics have suggested Fernandes has a tendency to go missing in high magnitude clashes, so it will be intriguing to see how he fares on Merseyside this weekend. 

Attacking midfield: Diogo Jota

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Diogo Jota's place in this XI is a testament to the impact he made before his rapid progress was scuppered by an injury setback. 

A return of five goals in seven league appearances is well beyond what most expected of him following his move from Wolves, and he looks well equipped to seamlessly adapt to a range of role in Liverpool's expansive, free-flowing attack.

The Portugal international gets the nod over Paul Pogba here despite the Frenchman's promising resurgence of late.

Right-forward: Mohamed Salah

Mo Salah's place was never in doubt.

He's firmly in the hunt for the Premier League Golden Boot award this season alongside Son Heung-min and Fernandes and Jamie Vardy having scored 13 in 16 appearances.

That Salah is scoring at such a prolific rate in the midst of a season in which the Egyptian appears to be a level below his scintillating best proves what a world-class talent he is. 

Left-forward: Sadio Mane

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Sadio Mane's goal contribution return doesn't read quite as impressively as Salah's but don't let that fool you: the Senegal international has been in excellent form this season. 

No Liverpool player has been fouled as regularly as Mane (2.6 times per game) or completed as many dribbles (2.3). 

His battle with tackle-master Wan-Bissaka promises to be a captivating one. 

Centre-forward: Marcus Rashford

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Chief protagonist Fernandes has dominated United narratives this season with his relentless knack for goal scoring - or penalty-taking, depending on your interpretation - but Rashford has been performing excellently on the field while admirably writing his own narratives in British political discourse. 

The England international has scored seven goals and provided five assists and is the second-highest rated player (7.31) at Old Trafford.

At the spearhead of the attack he forms part of a formidable front three with Salah and Mane either side of him. 

Here's the line-up in full:

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