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As the giants prepare to clash in a top-of-the-table Premier League showdown this weekend, Goal.com debates which players would make it into an overall team from both squads

DEBATE
By Chris Myson

One of the matches of the weekend in the Premier League takes place at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, with European champions Chelsea facing Manchester United in a top-of-the-table clash.

First meets third in London, but the pressure will mainly be on United's shoulders: they could reclaim second place with a win, but also face the prospect of falling seven points behind the Blues if they lose - something they are desperate to avoid at this stage of the campaign.

It is still early days in the new season, but already both clubs are looking set for strong seasons towards the top-end of the table and this fixture should be a good indicator of how good each of their chances are looking.

Ahead of the clash, Goal.com analyses each area of the Chelsea and United squads and attempts to come up with what would be the best combined team, lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

GOALKEEPER


Sir Alex Ferguson is still yet to decide who he considers to be the No.1 goalkeeper at Old Trafford, with both David De Gea and Anders Lindegaard vying for the role.

De Gea is improving after his early jitters with United and is probably the better shot-stopper of the two, but also the most likely to blunder. The Dane Lindegaard represents a safer and possibly more consistent option.

But in goal we go for the Blues’ undoubted first choice, Petr Cech. The experienced campaigner has re-established himself as one of the world’s top goalkeepers since the latter stages of last season.

The experienced Czech Republic shot-stopper knows he will be challenged for his spot by Thibaut Courtois in the years ahead but a recent long-term deal proves Chelsea still have full faith in him.

DEFENCE


Manchester United have struggled badly in defence this season and it appears Chelsea have better options in the back-line, even if they themselves have not been entirely convincing at keeping the goals out, particularly in Europe.

At right-back, we opt for Branislav Ivanovic over Rafael da Silva. The Serb is enjoying an excellent start to the new season, form which has kept new arrival Cesar Azpilicueta out of the side, and particularly seems to be developing the attacking side of his game.

In the centre, John Terry has again hit the headlines for the wrong reasons but despite his international retirement and slight decline in powers, he remains a formidable defender who strikers do not relish coming up against.

We partner him in a powerful central defensive duo with Nemanja Vidic, whose absence from the United side through injury has certainly been key to their struggles at the back.

That means the declining Rio Ferdinand, who has been under much scrutiny this year, misses out, along with the likes of Jonny Evans, David Luiz and Gary Cahill, with the ex-Bolton man the closest to being selected.

At left-back England are fortunate enough to have the world’s best player in that position in Ashley Cole and he gains selection over team-mate Ryan Bertrand, Alexander Buttner and United’s first-choice Patrice Evra. The Frenchman has been a great servant to the Red Devils but has come under criticism for his performances in the last 18 months.

MIDFIELD


With such a solid back-line behind us, we can afford to be a bit more attacking with our midfield, which is useful given the amount of talent that exists in the two squads.

United have long been criticised for having a lack of creativity in the middle of the park, but bringing back Paul Scholes from retirement was a good short-term fix to that problem – and the ginger maestro can still pull all the strings at the highest level.

Shinji Kagawa was then brought in from Borussia Dortmund and has made a good start to life at Old Trafford, with the promise of more to come when he recovers from a knee injury.

With the creative side looked after, it’s arguably a midfield general United now need, possibly in the mould of Chelsea’s Ramires, who is very unlucky to miss out as we opt for the options from England and Japan at the base of our midfield.

Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel and Darren Fletcher also just miss out in a fiercely competitive selection.

ATTACK



We are spoilt for choice in our three attacking midfield roles. Juan Mata makes the team based on his continued excellence for Chelsea. Despite the arrival of big-money signings in the summer, the Spaniard has still been influential for the Blues.

Wayne Rooney has been used in a more withdrawn role at times this season as Sir Alex continues to shuffle his attacking options. The England man remains a key figure for club and country and our team would look incomplete without his talents in a pivotal position.

Eden Hazard has lived up to the hype in his short Premier League career to date, so we slot him in on the left. The Belgium star certainly talked the talk before his arrival but has backed that up with goals, assists and vital contributions to help the Blues top the league in the early weeks.

That leaves one spot as a central striker and we go for Robin van Persie over Fernando Torres. The Dutchman has continued where he left off at Arsenal since he joined United for £24 million in the summer, scoring eight goals in 11 games.

Torres has shown some signs of improvement but still looks nowhere near the player we saw when he initially joined the Premier League with Liverpool, and now faces questions over his long-term future due to Chelsea’s pursuit of Radamel Falcao.

The other obvious omission from the ranks is Oscar. The starlet undoubtedly has a big future ahead of him and made his mark brilliantly against Juventus in the Champions League, but has not yet had the time to prove himself consistently at the highest level.

Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez and Daniel Sturridge are all impressive young talents but are simply crowded out by the quality senior players in our selection.

Suggested combined Chelsea & Manchester United XI

GOALKEEPER

Petr Cech


RIGHT-BACK
CENTRE-BACK
CENTRE-BACK
LEFT-BACK

Branislav Ivanovic

Nemanja Vidic

John Terry

Ashley Cole
CENTRE MIDFIELD
CENTRE MIDFIELD

Paul Scholes

Shinji Kagawa
RIGHT WINGER
ATTACKING MIDFIELD
LEFT WINGER

Juan Mata

Wayne Rooney

Eden Hazard

CENTRE FORWARD

Robin van Persie

HAVE YOUR SAY

Do you agree with our suggested best combined Chelsea and Manchester United starting XI? If not, who should be there instead and which players should get the chop? Which way is this weekend's crunch match going to go?

Let us know your views on the debate by posting a comment below or by engaging with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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