Manchester United travel to Wembley on Wednesday night to take on a Tottenham side desperate to break into the top four.
Fans of the north London club are becoming increasingly anxious; with speculation linking Spurs’ boss Mauricio Pochettino with a move to Real Madrid in the near future, combined with the sudden abundance of injuries to vital players in the squad.
A win on Wednesday would be a welcome break for Spurs and could propel the side into the top four – depending on Liverpool’s result away to Huddersfield – while Jose Mourinho will look to replicate his outfit’s performance in the reverse fixture, and pick up a vital win to keep the pressure on title favourites Manchester City.
Ahead of the tastiest fixture this week in the Premier League; here’s a combined XI of players from the European contenders.
1. David de Gea
Not much deliberation for this one…
David de Gea has cemented himself as one of the best goalkeepers in world football over the last three seasons and is currently favourite for the Golden Glove award this term – with 14 clean sheets.
The 27-year-old has been vital in big matches for Manchester United this season, notably away against Arsenal. The Spaniard made 14 saves over the 90 minutes that day, equalling the Premier League record.
2. Antonio Valencia
Antonio Valencia comes into the side at right back, after a number of sensational seasons since his transformation from right winger.
Having arguably been United’s best player this season, the Ecuadorian has it all; physicality, strength, pace, end product and defensive nuance and is finally putting it all together on a consistent basis.
Now being one of the first names on the team-sheet, Jose Mourinho claims his skipper has become “the best right back in the world.”
3. Jan Vertonghen
Jan Vertonghen has proven to be one of the most consistent central defenders in the league since joining from Ajax in 2012.
The Belgian international is highly adaptable and can play in central pair, a back three or a at fullback and is assured and steady in each role. He possesses a rare blend of aggressive defending and quality on the ball, often starting attacks from the back.
He has proven to be a player for the big occasion and has stepped up massively since the injury to superstar defender Toby Alderweireld.
4. Phil Jones
Phil Jones is another front foot defender that is improving every year in the Premier League and bar injury worries is probably England’s finest.
The 25-year-old optimises being a centre-back in the most physical league in world football. His willingness to put his body on the line to make last-ditch blocks is reminiscent of John Terry in his prime.
The English international has also massively improved his positional awareness and is a first choice for Mourinho when fit.
5. Ashley Young
Ashley Young comes into the side at left back over Danny Rose, with the latter seemingly struggling to hold down a starting position with Spurs thanks to recurring injuries.
Young is another attacking player that has blossomed in a defensive role in his later years. His versatility is a serious asset for his manager and every time he plays you know he will run and battle for the full 90.
Add to that his end product in the attacking third and you have a serious weapon at left back, and for that reason he pips Luke Shaw also.
6. Mousa Dembele
Despite not having his most consistent season at Spurs this season, Mousa Dembele is still a seriously talented midfielder.
It’s a rare combination to find a defensive midfielder that is equally good at attacking as he is defending and the brawny Belgian certainly comes into that category. His ability to carry the ball past a man and get straight at the back four makes him a serious asset when in possession, and when out of possession he shines.
His sheer physical prowess makes him a frightening advisory for any Premier League midfielder, his ability is simply a bonus.
7. Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba has become one of the most creative players in the league this season and has registered nine assists and three goals from 14 domestic appearances.
The 24-year-old’s range of passing, tricky footwork and ability to stroll through phases of the pitch make him a serious asset to his current side, and he is a nailed on starter for the big games when available.
8. Alexis Sanchez
Somewhat familiar with playing against Spurs; ex-Gunner Alexis Sanchez comes into the side on the right wing.
The Chilean superstar made his first appearance in the legendary number 7 shirt at United, in his new side’s 4-0 rout over Yeovil Town in the FA Cup on Friday and won the Man of the Match award in the process.
His quality is unquestionable and with his level of Premier League experience and pedigree he comes straight into the side.
9. Christian Eriksen
Christian Eriksen has become one of the finest playmakers in England in recent times and Spurs fans are hoping he will return from an illness on Wednesday.
The Danish international is absolutely lethal when playing in a free role behind the striker and is capable of unlocking any defensive line in world football with his vision, weight of pass and sensational shooting from range with both feet.
His best performance this term came against Real Madrid in the Champions League, in which he dazzled against Zinedine Zidane’s star-studded side constantly, before netting himself late in the second half.
10. Anthony Martial
Anthony Martial has rediscovered the form that excited football fans the world over in his debut season at Old Trafford and is once again scoring and assisting on a regular basis.
The French international is one of the more direct wingers in the league and constantly looks to hurt the opposition. The 22-year-old’s speed, close control and composed finishing have made him a fan favourite at his current club – with the player scoring three in his last three league appearances.
He also edged the game for United in the reverse fixture; scoring the only goal of the game after coming on twenty minutes from time.
11. Harry Kane
Harry Kane is arguably the best out-and-out striker in world football at the moment and is consistently being linked with the likes of Real Madrid.
The English international skipper is breaking goalscoring records every month and looks head-and-shoulders above any other striker in the league this campaign – currently leading with 21 league goals already.
The 24-year-old is a legitimate world class forward and could walk into any team in Europe on current form.