Chelsea v Man U: Paul Merson, Phil Thompson Pick Combined XI

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Ahead of Saturday’s clash between Chelsea and Manchester United, we challenged Paul Merson and Phil Thompson to come up with their best combined XI from the two squads.

The pundits found it difficult to make a case for any Manchester United defender, as Chelsea lock out the entire back line, although David de Gea gets the nod over Thibaut Courtois in both selections.

It’s not quite so straight forward in midfield, though, with Merse opting for two holding players behind a fearsome attacking trio.

MERSON’S COMBINED XI (4-2-3-1): David De Gea; Cesar Azpilicueta, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic; Michael Carrick, Nemanja Matic; Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Ashley Young; Wayne Rooney

Merson told Sky Sports: “I’d love to have Courtois in there, but if we’re talking about over the course of the whole season then how can I leave De Gea out?

“I couldn’t have any United players in the back four though so it picks itself really – it’s all Chelsea, I had no problems there.

“I’d like to have both Michael Carrick and Matic in deep positions in midfield, with three attackers ahead of them.

Merson’s Tip:

Wayne Rooney to score first in a 1-1 draw – 35/1

“So that would have to be Eden Hazard and Ashley Young, because he’s earned his place back in that United side. I’d have them either side of Cesc Fabregas pulling the strings in the middle.

“Up front, I’d have to go with Rooney – he’s been too good since he went back up top. Not a bad team really is it?”

Thommo, on the other hand, favours a 4-4-2 formation, but has left out Fabregas in favour of Carrick and Matic in the centre.

THOMMO’S COMBINED XI (4-4-2): David De Gea; Cesar Azpilicueta, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic; Eden Hazard, Nemanja Matic, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young; Diego Costa, Wayne Rooney

He said: “Chelsea’s back four has been far more consistent than Manchester United’s over the course of the season and is probably the best back line in the Premier League.

“It’s been a really tough season for United’s defence, especially earlier on, and De Gea has had to be fantastic – and he really has been.

“United have improved of late defensively with Chris Smalling and Phil Jones doing a lot better, but I’m still not convinced and they have too many errors in them.

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Hamilton Nwosa

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