Liverpool vs Man United Combined XI: Virgil van Dijk misses but Darwin Nunez scores

Manchester United’s trip to Anfield on Sunday shows what a difference a year can make when the Red Devils’ favorites face Liverpool in one of the biggest Premier League clashes of the year.

United stand a chance of a double over Liverpool for the first time since the 2015-16 season, while Jurgen Klopp’s Reds will be on the hunt for the precious three points that would close the gap to Champions League places.

The two will only have three full days to recover after Erik ten Haga’s side reached the FA Cup sixth round after a 3-1 win over West Ham on Wednesday, and Liverpool continued their recovery with a top-flight win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Ten Hag will be primed for his first trip to the raucous Anfield under the management of Man United, and beating his side’s biggest rivals would put pressure on the top two teams Man City and Arsenal, and for Klopp it’s the perfect opportunity to bounce back.

Remembering that sports mail named a combined XI – but who makes our roster?

Manchester United travel to Anfield on Sunday

Liverpool are looking for valuable points against Man United

Manchester United could complete a league double over Liverpool when they visit Anfield on Sunday, while the hosts need valuable points to close the gap to the top four

Man United boss Erik ten Hag (centre) will get his first taste of Anfield supporters on Sunday

Man United boss Erik ten Hag (centre) will get his first taste of Anfield supporters on Sunday

Goalkeeper – David de Gea (Man Utd)

Tough choice considering the Manchester United defender has only kept one more clean sheet (10) than his Liverpool counterpart (9), but David de Gea deserves his place after rediscovering his best form under Erik this The Hague.

Allison is a world-class goalkeeper and was arguably the best goalkeeper in the Premier League in recent seasons, but at times this season he seems to lack confidence and has been red-faced on more than one occasion for passing directly to opposing strikers.

De Gea is developing, as are the rest of United’s players, and with new contract negotiations underway, expect a great performance from the Spaniard at Anfield.

Right-back – Diogo Dalot (Man Utd)

The Portuguese attacking defender did not seem to have a future at the club when he was previously on loan to AC Milan, but like many of his teammates, he has been reinvigorated under Ten Haga.

Trent-Alexander Arnold demonstrated his devastating attacking prowess as Liverpool conquered Europe, won their first Premier League title and tasted domestic cups in recent seasons. However, his defensive weaknesses have been exposed more than ever this campaign.

The Reds defender has been turned inside out by Marcus Rashford before and it would be no surprise if the Premier League star shone again on Sunday.

Wan-Bissaka also deserves a mention after solid performances against Barcelona and Newcastle in the Carabao Cup final.

Centre-back – Raphael Varane (Man Utd)

You could flip a coin to decide whether to pick Virgil van Dijk or Raphael Varane, but the Frenchman comes in given his epic performances at the heart of United’s defence.

Varane has been one of his team’s most important players this season and, along with Lisandro Martinez, helped keep the third-most clean sheet in the division.

His rookie year in red was hampered by injury, but he looks very different now.

There are few things that could divide him and Van Dijk when both are at their best, but the Liverpool Dutchman has been in and out of the team too much this season to deserve a place above Varane.

Raphael Varane (left) has played a key role in Manchester United's defense this season

Raphael Varane (left) has played a key role in Manchester United’s defense this season

Centre-back – Lisandro Martinez (Man Utd)

Manchester United’s Argentine “butcher” lived up to the nickname that followed him from Ajax and is one of the main reasons why the team’s defense has been transformed from woefully ineffective to one of the best in the English Premier League.

Since returning from the World Cup with Argentina, he has been in top form and seems to love nothing more than a crushing tackle. A trip to Anfield offers plenty of them.

Liverpool’s Ibrahim Konate, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez have been cut too often by underdogs this season to displace Martinez.

Left-Back – Luke Shaw (Man Utd)

The England and United defender appears to go from a great season to one followed by frustration. Fortunately, this year is the first for Shaw.

He made 31 appearances in all competitions for United this campaign – four more than last season – and was crucial both in defense and attack. Ten Hag revealed he missed Wednesday’s FA Cup win with a slight blow and will be a big miss if he doesn’t show up.

Andy Robertson is the Englishman’s biggest challenger, but is again far from the best results this season. The Scot struggled like most of Liverpool’s defense and was left on the bench on Wednesday ahead of United’s visit on Sunday.

Central midfielder – Casemiro (Man Utd)

It was the easiest choice of all, given how the Brazilian handled the Premier League challenges like a duck to water.

The former Real Madrid player looks like he’s been around the English Premier League for years, and in his first season he was arguably the best defensive midfielder in the division.

His defensive prowess was obvious as Casemiro was the only player from both sides to reach the top 10 in the Premier League for tackles.

United’s Brazilian midfielder Casemiro has been starring since moving to the club in the summer

Attacking midfielder – Stefan Bajcetic (Liverpool)

There haven’t been many bright spots in Liverpool’s season, but Bajcetic’s breakthrough is one of them.

The 18-year-old was rewarded by the club with a new contract for his performances and quickly became one of the mainstays of Liverpool’s midfield.

Admittedly, injuries may have brought Bajcetic into the spotlight much sooner than expected, but they took advantage of those opportunities. His relentless running will ensure a great battle against Casemiro.

Stefan Bajcetic (right) was one of the bright sparks in a difficult season for Liverpool

Stefan Bajcetic (right) was one of the bright sparks in a difficult season for Liverpool

Attacking midfielder – Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd)

Portugal’s magnifico Man United is one of those players fans love but rivals hate, but his class is undeniable.

Six assists in the league put him in the top five Premier League playmakers this season, but his consistency was even more impressive as Fernandes played 90 minutes in all top-flight matches, one for the Red Devils.

The 28-year-old was United’s reserve captain and Harry Maguire was often on the bench and is one of the main reasons for the club’s rise to third in the league table.

Right winger – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

The Egyptian has been one of the best players in the world since joining Liverpool in 2017, but his performance has waned this season after his attacking partner Sadio Mane decided to leave for Bayern Munich in the summer.

Salah has scored nine Premier League goals this season, ten fewer than at the same stage last season, but there are signs he is starting to rediscover much-needed regularity at the right time.

United winger Antony has shown glimpses of why the club paid over £80m for him in the summer, but Salah deserves his place and will be hoping to replicate the two goals he scored in that draw last season.

Mohamed Salah hasn't been at his best but he has undoubted talent and could shine on Sunday

Mohamed Salah hasn’t been at his best but he has undoubted talent and could shine on Sunday

Left Wing – Marcus Rashford (Man Utd)

Rashford is in the form of his career, with 10 goals in his last 11 Premier League games making him one of the most devastating strikers in the world.

It was his goal against Liverpool that proved to be the winning goal at Old Trafford in August and he has been unstoppable since returning from the World Cup with England.

The 25-year-old enjoys the best goal return of his career and can sprinkle salt on Liverpool’s wounds with an amazing performance at Anfield.

It seems almost inevitable that Rashford will score once he comes on, Liverpool’s defenders have to figure out how to stop the star or risk letting him riot.

Marcus Rashford has been in devastating form since returning from the World Cup with England

Marcus Rashford has been in devastating form since returning from the World Cup with England

Forward – Darwin Nunez (Liverpool)

In the throw between Weghorst and Nunez, the Uruguayan gets the nod. Admittedly, he has fared much worse since moving to Liverpool in the summer, he was supposed to be a challenger to Man City’s Erling Haaland after all, but there is a good player out there.

Nunez is ranked 20th among the Premier League’s top scorers this season and has been hailed by his rivals as having missed big chances, 16 in fact, but apart from Salah, no partner has created more chances in front of goal.

Everyone is still waiting for his crowning achievement and United’s visit could be the big deal he’s been waiting for.

Sportsmail's Liverpool - Manchester United linked their XI ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash at Anfield

Sportsmail’s Liverpool – Manchester United linked their XI ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash at Anfield

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