With the Premier League season less than a week away we compare some of the teams’ squads who are gunning for the title. First up, is Manchester United vs Manchester City.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea vs Joe Hart
Joe Hart may be regarded as England’s finest goalkeeper at the moment, but De Gea comes out on top in terms of talent.
The Spaniard suffered a rocky start to life after signing for Manchester United, but he has gradually developed into one of the finest custodians in the league and provides a better option than Hart does between the sticks.
Right-back: Rafael vs Pablo Zabaleta
Rafael may have more natural speed than Zabaleta, but that is about the only area that he comes out on top.
Zabaleta has established himself as a fans’ favourite at the Etihad because of his no-nonsense approach to defending and undying commitment to the cause.
A sturdy defender, who can also provide an option going forward, the Manchester City man is the clear winner in this area.
Centre-back: Chris Smalling vs Vincent Kompany
A no-contest. Chris Smalling may have the potential to be an excellent defender, but at the moment he is not in Vincent Kompany’s league.
The City captain has guided his side to two Premier League titles with his imposing performances at centre-back and is arguably the best centre-back in England.
Centre-back: Jonny Evans vs Martin Demichelis
A battle of two defenders who have received more criticism than they deserve.
Both centre-backs are a decent option for any side, if not quite at world-class standard, and their victimisation from many neutral fans is unjustified.
However, Evans arguably just about comes out on top in this battle as he is the more mobile of the pair.
Left-back: Luke Shaw vs Aleksandar Kolarov
In the future Luke Shaw will surely develop into a better player than Aleksandar Kolarov, but at the moment the City man represents a better option.
The Serbian is one of the best full-backs in the division in an offensive sense, but he has made improvements to his defending in recent times and now can be considered as one of the best in his position in England.
Right-midfield: Antonio Valencia vs Jesus Navas
Two of the quickest men in the Premier League, if this was a sprint-race the outcome may be more even, but as footballers there is only one winner.
Navas only moved to England last year, but his pace has already proved to be a threat and his final ball is far superior to Valencia’s, as his ability in possession.
Central-midfield: Ander Herrera vs Yaya Toure
Ander Herrera may well turn out to be one of this summer’s best buys, but he cannot be chosen over Yaya Toure.
The Ivorian’s style is perfectly suited to the Premier League and his physical stature allows him to win midfield battles single-handedly.
Toure managed to score 20 times last season and he will be hoping to improve on that total even more this year.
Central-midfield: Juan Mata vs Fernandinho
One of City’s unsung heroes, Fernandinho has a value in any side, but Mata’s creativity and natural talent edges him ahead in this match-up.
The Spaniard has made a promising start to his United career and looks set to be used in his favoured position under Louis van Gaal this season, of attacking midfield.
It means that there is a hope that Mata can rekindle the form which he showed at his best in a Chelsea shirt and be the catalyst in United’s revival.
Left-midfield: Danny Welbeck vs David Silva
Despite being totally different players, Silva is clearly ahead of Welbeck in terms of talent.
The England international may be a valuable player in certain games – where his defensive nous and powerful attacking runs can be utilised on the counter – but Silva has shown that he is one of the Premier League top-talents.
The creative fulcrum of the City side, Silva is comfortable laying on chances for others, but can also score himself and he is one of Manuel Pellegrini’s most vital players.
Striker: Wayne Rooney vs Sergio Aguero
On his day, Aguero is arguably the sharpest marksmen in the Premier League, but his unreliability with injuries mean that he simply cannot be chosen.
Rooney has proven over the years that he is one of the best players in England’s top-flight and, although he may not be as ruthless in-front of goal as Aguero, his consistency makes him a better option.
Striker: Robin van Persie vs Edin Dzeko
Both strikers are lethal finishers, but Van Persie holds the edge of Dzeko due to his greater all-round game.
Dzeko can often be criticised for being lazy in games and doesn’t quite match up to Van Persie in-front of goal.
Both are excellent forward players, but the Dutchman is the better of the two.
Manager: Louis van Gaal vs Manuel Pellegrini
Manuel Pellegrini may have made a bright start to life as a Premier League manager, but Van Gaal’s past makes him the bigger-name of the two.
The Dutchman has been a success almost everywhere he has been and has managed some of Europe’s biggest sides.
He now faces one of his biggest takes left in taking Manchester United back to the top of the Premier League.
Overall: Manchester United 6 v 6 Manchester City
Overall the two sides are pretty well-matched, which shows just how badly Manchester United underperformed last season.
They may be considered as a team in a transitional period with Van Gaal in charge, but he still has a lot of quality at his disposal and anything other than a top-four finish should be considered a failure this campaign.