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Oct 30, 2019 at 8.05pm UK at ​Stamford Bridge
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Combined XI: Chelsea vs. Manchester United

Ahead of Wednesday's EFL Cup clash between Chelsea and Manchester United, Sports Mole selects its strongest combined XI from both squads.

A place in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup is up for grabs on Wednesday night when Chelsea welcome Manchester United to Stamford Bridge.

The Blues were on the wrong end of a 4-0 thumping when they visited Old Trafford on the opening day of the Premier League season as Frank Lampard's career as manager of the club he served so well as a player got off to a nightmare start.

However, that did not prove to be a sign of things to come, with Chelsea now heading into this match on the back of a seven-game winning streak whereas United are seven points adrift of them in the league table.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have experienced a mini-resurgence in the past week, though, becoming the first team to take points off Liverpool before back-to-back away wins against Partizan Belgrade and Norwich City respectively.

Here, Sports Mole selects its strongest combined XI from both squads, using only players available for Wednesday's match.

Combined XI: MNU vs. CHE

Many of the players selected in this XI may not actually play on Wednesday due to the tendency to rotate for EFL Cup games, while the quality of the team is also hit by injuries to the likes of N'Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Antonio Rudiger.

One position which is keenly contested is the goalkeeper's jersey, though, and David de Gea still sits above Kepa Arrizabalaga in that pecking order despite not being at his world-class best for a while now.

Both teams are also strong in the right-back department, where Cesar Azpilicueta's experience and consistency earn him a place above Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Azpilicueta did not get off to the best start this season, but he is now seemingly back in the sort of form we have grown accustomed to seeing from him down the years.

Indeed, Chelsea provide three of the back four, with Fikayo Tomori's progress being recognised with a place above the likes of Kurt Zouma and Victor Lindelof, although injuries to Rudiger and Andreas Christensen also play a part in that. It is a similar story at left-back, where a fully-fit Luke Shaw might have pipped Marcos Alonso to a starting role.

United contribute Harry Maguire to the defensive line, with the world-record summer signing settling quickly into life at the club and providing a consistent level of display despite the team's struggles as a whole.

Scott McTominay could also be included under that umbrella of solid performers in an under-performing team, with his displays often outshining the big-money and more high-profile midfielders he plays alongside. The Scot benefits from injuries to Pogba and Kante, but is also selected on merit ahead of Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic to partner Jorginho in central midfield.

Arguably United's brightest spark all season has been Daniel James, who has gone from strength to strength since capping off the scoring against Chelsea on the opening day. The Welshman's three goals and two assists this season narrowly earn him a place above Willian and Pedro, while on the opposite flank Marcus Rashford pips Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic to a spot in this XI having directly contributed to eight goals in 10 league games this term.

Mason Mount is just one behind Rashford in the goalscoring stakes having emerged as one of the best things about Chelsea's transfer ban, comfortably earning his place in this team ahead of Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard, while something similar can be said for Tammy Abraham.

The new England international has eight goals and one assist from 10 league games this season - one behind leading scorer Jamie Vardy - and has firmly established himself above Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi as Chelsea's number one striker now. When fit, Anthony Martial seems to be Solskjaer's preferred choice through the middle, but the Frenchman has only just returned from injury and cannot really compete with Abraham for a place.

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Who will progress from Wednesday's EFL Cup clash - Chelsea or Manchester United?

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