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Jan 19, 2020 at 4.30pm UK at Anfield
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van Dijk (14'), Salah (93')
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All-time Premier League combined XI: Liverpool vs. Manchester United

Ahead of Sunday's showdown between Liverpool and Manchester United, Sports Mole selects the strongest combined XI from both clubs throughout the Premier League era.

The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United has been overwhelmingly one-sided during the Premier League era, with the Merseysiders' decline from their position as the dominant force in English football coinciding with United's rise.

The Red Devils began the new competition with only seven titles to their name - 11 fewer than Liverpool's 18 - but three decades later they boast 20 top-fight crowns courtesy of an unrivalled 13 Premier League triumphs.

The balance of power has shifted since Sir Alex Ferguson ended his Old Trafford reign, though, and when the two teams renew hostilities on Sunday it will be with Liverpool as the undisputed number one team in the country.

A 19th league title which has been 30 years in the making appears to be an inevitability courtesy of Liverpool's record-breaking start to the campaign, with United the only team to have taken points off them from 21 matches so far.

Ahead of that showdown, Sports Mole takes on the task of choosing an all-time combined XI from both squads throughout the Premier League era.

Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel

Peter Schmeichel pictured in 1999© Reuters

There were many reasons behind United's dominance of the Premier League throughout the '90s, but the presence of Peter Schmeichel in goal was one of the biggest.

The great Dane cost the Red Devils just £505,000 in 1991 and left eight years later as a five-time title winner and having made 292 Premier League appearances for the club. Schmeichel remains the only goalkeeper to win the Premier League Player of the Season award and was also named in the first ever Premier League PFA Team of the Year.

Honourable mentions: David de Gea, Edwin van der Sar, Pepe Reina, Alisson Becker

Right-back: Gary Neville

Gary Neville pictured in 2009© Reuters

Another stalwart from United's all-conquering 90s team and beyond, Gary Neville played for United his entire career and finally hung up his boots in 2011 after exactly 400 Premier League appearances for the club.

The 85-time England international helped himself to eight top-flight titles in that time, being named in the PFA Team of the Year on five separate occasions including three in a row between 1996 and 1999.

Honourable mentions: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Markus Babbel

Centre-backs: Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic

Nemanja Vidic in Manchester United colours© Reuters

If Liverpool continue on their current trajectory then there are a few positions in this team which may change over the next few years - centre-back being one of them.

Virgil van Dijk has arguably reached a level neither Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic ever achieved during their playing careers - a point backed up by his runner-up finish in the 2019 Ballon d'Or voting - but when it comes to solely Premier League form it is impossible to ignore the mixture of world-class talent and silverware that the United pair boast.

Arguably the best centre-back partnership in the division's history, Ferdinand and Vidic complemented each other perfectly during their time together, inspiring United to five league titles in that spell. Ferdinand had already won one before Vidic joined the club, with the Englishman also being selected in the PFA Team of the Year on six separate occasions.

Vidic earned that honour four times and was also named the Premier League Player of the Season twice - the only defender to have won the award more than once and one of only three players overall to have done so, along with Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Honourable mentions: Virgil van Dijk, Jaap Stam, Jamie Carragher, Steve Bruce, Sami Hyypia, Gary Pallister

Left-back: Denis Irwin

Denis Irwin pictured in 2001© Reuters

Mr. Dependable throughout his 12 seasons with United, Denis Irwin was equally adept at right or left-back and made almost 300 appearances for the club in the Premier League, having joined them before the new era began.

Also a set-piece specialist, Irwin won seven Premier League titles and was named in the PFA Team of the Year twice, narrowly edging fellow United alumnus Patrice Evra to a place at left-back.

Honourable mentions: Patrice Evra, Andrew Robertson, John Arne Riise

Central midfield: Steven Gerrard, Roy Keane

Steven Gerrard pictured in 2014© Reuters

United's haul of 13 Premier League titles to none for Liverpool means that the Red Devils unsurprisingly dominate this XI, but Steven Gerrard's ability made him impossible to leave out even if his trophy cabinet does not compare to many of those from Old Trafford.

Voted to the PFA Team of the Year a record eight times, the talismanic skipper also won the PFA Young Player of the Year, PFA Players' Player of the Year, FWA Footballer of the Year and PFA Fans' Player of the Year (twice) awards during his illustrious 17-year stay in the Premier League with Liverpool.

When Gerrard finally called time on his Anfield career he left having scored 120 goals in 504 Premier League appearances, firmly establishing himself as one of the greatest players the competition has ever seen.

Roy Keane can also fit into that category, and it is difficult to imagine a more fearsome and accomplished midfield duo from the Premier League era. Keane helped United to seven league titles in a period of 10 years, with four of those coming at captain.

Indeed, the outspoken Irishman left as United's most decorated captain of all time, while on an individual level he was named in the PFA Team of the Year five times and won the PFA Player and FWA Footballer of the Year awards in 2000.

Honourable mentions: Xabi Alonso, Nicky Butt, Jordan Henderson, Michael Carrick, Dietmar Hamann, Javier Mascherano

Right wing: Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo pictured for Manchester United in 2009© Reuters

There would not be many arguments with the suggestion that Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest player to have ever played in the Premier League, even though his very best years came after his United exit in 2009.

It was his Old Trafford spell which set him firmly on course to become one of the game's all-time greats, though, having arrived as a trick-happy winger and left as a formidable force who, at his peak in England, scored 31 goals in just 34 Premier League games.

Ronaldo won three Premier League titles with United, was a four-time inclusion in the PFA Team of the Year and picked up a plethora of other individual awards too, including being named the PFA Player, FWA Footballer and Premier League Player of the Season in both 2007 and 2008.

The first of Ronaldo's five Ballon d'Ors also came at Old Trafford, and when he left for Madrid in a world-record switch he had scored 84 goals in 196 Premier League appearances.

Honourable mentions: David Beckham, Mohamed Salah

Attacking midfield: Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes pictured in 2010© Reuters

Even Ronaldo was mesmerised by the passing ability of Paul Scholes, who remains one of the most revered players by former teammates and other ex-pros. A one-club man, Scholes ended his career in 2013 just one game short of 500 in the Premier League, during which time he scored 107 goals.

Only one player has won more Premier League titles than Scholes's tally of 11 in 19 years, although the suggestion that he was not always fully appreciated during his playing career is backed up by a lack of individual awards and the fact that he was only named in the PFA Team of the Year twice.

Honourable mentions: Eric Cantona, Philippe Coutinho

Left-wing: Ryan Giggs

Ryan Giggs pictured in 2008

The ultimate advert for longevity in the Premier League era, Ryan Giggs signed his first professional contract at United in 1990 and played his 963rd and final game for the club 24 years later. The Welsh wing wizard made 632 of those appearances in the Premier League, scoring 109 goals and creating a record 162 more as he outlasted even Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.

Giggs was at the club for all 13 of their Premier League title successes - Liverpool and United are the only clubs to have won more titles in English football history than Giggs alone - and he was named in the PFA Team of the Year on six occasions.

Honourable mentions: Sadio Mane, Steve McManaman, Marcus Rashford

Centre-forward: Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney for Manchester United© Reuters

Some of the greatest players in Premier League history are competing for a solitary striking role in this team, but for all of their brilliance none have the same mix of longevity, success and goalscoring prowess as Wayne Rooney.

One of only two players to have scored more than 200 goals in the competition, 183 of those came in 393 games for Manchester United, making Rooney the leading scoring for a single club in Premier League history - although that mark appears to be under threat from Sergio Aguero.

Rooney has also scored more away goals than any other player in the Premier League era and boasts 12 seasons in which he reached double figures in the competition - another record.

A five-time title winner, United and England's all-time leading scorer was named in the PFA Team of the Year three times and won a host of individual awards, including the PFA Players' Player, PFA Young Player, PFA Fans' Player, FWA Footballer and Premier League Player of the Season crowns.

Honourable mentions: Robbie Fowler, Luis Suarez, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Andy Cole, Fernando Torres, Dwight Yorke, Michael Owen, Roberto Firmino, Robin van Persie, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

All-time PL LIV vs. MNU XI ID:386338:

Who will win Sunday's Premier League clash between Liverpool and Manchester United?

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Steven Gerrard pictured in 2014
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