Merseyside/Manchester combined XI for 2016: Who makes the cut?

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho celebrates scoring their third goal

Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City - four of the great Premier League clubs - but who makes a North-West Premier League XI of the year?

It would be fair to say both Merseyside and Manchester clubs have enjoyed mixed fortunes this calendar year.

Across the Stanley Park divide, Jurgen Klopp's swashbuckling game has been stamped on Liverpool, whilst managerial upheaval has led to inconsistencies creeping in at Goodison Park.

Over in Manchester, The Citizens continue to bask in further league glory and the potential of further silverware under Pep Guardiola. United come to grips with a mammoth rebuilding process, with Jose Mourinho enjoying varying results thus far.

But who of the four clubs make it into a combined XI of 2016?

Goalkeeper/Defence 

Between the sticks is a no-brainer. Despite the appearance of uncharacteristic errors this campaign, David de Gea remains the outstanding choice having kept 21 clean sheets this year. His average of just over two saves a game this term, will be a worrying statistic however.

In defence, the choices are less clear cut. At full-back Nathaniel Clyne has blossomed under not only Brendan Rodgers but now Klopp. A source of intent at both ends of the pitch, contributing two assists this term and 15 shut-outs over the 12 months.

On the opposite flank, Aleksandr Kolarov gets the nod for attacking intent alone.

Manchester United's Daley Blind in action with Everton's Kevin MirallasManchester United's Daley Blind in action with Everton's Kevin Mirallas

The Serbian's set-piece threat has overtaken the likes of Leighton Baines for Everton, whilst The Red Devils' rotation scheme allows little chance for consistency for either Marcos Rojo or Luke Shaw.

In central defence we go for Daley Blind and Otamendi, short of two better options. Whilst United struggled for goals last term, the Dutchman was a force at the back and now from corner kick routines. 

Nicolas Otamendi is forging a path in Manchester, as a bullish - almost Barcelona-esque - centre half that likes to play the ball out of defence, that emphasizes Guardiola's footballing ethos. Aerially, the Argentine has begun to adapt to the Premier League this season.

Midfield

Jordan Henderson continues to quietly tread his path at Anfield, however the England international's distribution is now a closer example of his former captain Steven Gerrard. 

Sitting in a midfield three with a rotational four of Adam Lallana, Georginio Wijnaldum, Emre Can and Lucas Leiva, the man who cost £20million from Sunderland back in 2011 (as reported by BBC Sport) is starting to merit that pricetag.

Manchester City's Fernandinho celebrates scoring their first goal with David SilvaManchester City's Fernandinho celebrates scoring their first goal with David Silva

In The Reds engine room, Henderson sits deeper than Gerrard did, but his eye for a pass is now reaching the upper echelons of the league charts, with four assists so far this term.

Fernandinho is a slightly more edgy player, but has done no lesser a job for both Manuel Pellegrini and now Pep Guardiola.  

A tough but fair tackler, the Brazilian is now Guardiola's perfect weapon of choice at both central defence and midfield, able on the ball and with an eye for goal.

Attack

Liverpool dominate the wide areas of our attack. Philippe Coutinho's stock continues to rise as the Brazilian mesmerizes opposition defences.

The biggest beneficiary of Jurgen Klopp's arrival has been the rise of Adam Lallana. The England man has been instilled with faith on the ball by his manager, but perhaps most importantly, off it as well.

This season, the 28 year old has allotted six goals and six assists for his side and with the recent absence of Coutinho, Lallana has picked up the baton, albeit temporarily.

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne celebrates scoring their second goalManchester City's Kevin De Bruyne celebrates scoring their second goal

At number 10, Kevin De Bruyne is the only logical choice. The Belgian's return to the Premier League has seen the 25 year-old moulded into one of the finest dead-ball wizards in Europe.

With an impressive 11 assists this term already the Belgian maestro has an average of 3.2 key passes per game. 

Finally up front, Kun Agüero spear-heads our attack, edging out both Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Everton's Romelu Lukaku. With a phenomenal 27 goals in the calendar year, the Argentine has still missed seven games due to indiscipline. 

That fact continues to be a worrying factor in his recent play, as does his form internationally. Not that Manchester City will bat an eyelid, with a striker that is simply a case of hand to glove in the English top flight, with a mix strength, pace, passing and lethal finishing.

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