The final of the season is approaching fast. Manchester United will face Chelsea on Saturday with similar thoughts – win the only trophy of the season and improve the feeling before the new one. The Devils did not manage to launch a proper title race and they also failed in Champions League and League Cup, while Chelsea’s slump in the league cost them Champions League football next term. This trophy therefore has a greater value.
Here is our combined XI from the two finalists.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
Do we really need to spend more time talking about David De Gea’s season. The Spaniard made 18 clean sheets in 37 Premier League matches and won the Golden Glove award, confirming he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. That says it all in itself, but also, it is worth pointing out that Thibaut Courtois did not have his best season either.
Centre-Backs: Andreas Christensen, Eric Bailly, Cezar Azpilicueta
The feeling was to go for three centre-backs, as Valencia and Alonso are better options when playing more offensively. Christensen proved you can get into Chelsea’s starting XI even if you are not a big name signing, while Azpilicueta has been one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League in the past five years. Eric Bailly also showed good things when he was healthy and United’s defence should be built around him.
The Dane is the best passer of the three, while the Spaniard and the Ivorian offer more of the usual defending qualities to this lineup. You could easily see this three working it out well.
Wing-Backs: Antonio Valencia, Marcos Alonso
As already mentioned, these two players are better at wing-back positions. Valencia is naturally a winger, while Marcos Alonso is thriving playing in this role for Chelsea these two seasons. He often scores goals coming late into the box and neither Victor Moses nor Ashley Young could realistically get into this side ahead of Valencia and Alonso.
Midfield: Nemanja Matic, N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba
The midfield is where we have something very familiar – Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante playing together. They won the Premier League title together at Chelsea in 2016-17 and had worked alongside each other quite well. Matic is more of a balancing player, while Kante offers dynamism. The Frenchman proved he is not only the ‘water-carrier’ and that he can actually do great things with the ball at his feet.
On the other hand, Paul Pogba would have all the freedom of this world to play the way he likes. He would be going box-to-box, offering drive and late runs into the box. Pogba also played alongside Kante in the French national team and they know each other well. With no modern wingers in this team cutting inside, Pogba would not be ‘suffocated’ in the central areas.
Attack: Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku
Eden Hazard might be a proper winger who likes to cut inside, but here he would play as more of a second striker, to work with Romelu Lukaku. He would have the freedom to roam to both sides of the Belgian and offer his unpredictability around the box. Lukaku as the only out-and-out striker would have Pogba and Hazard to feed him balls from central areas, but also Alonso and Valencia coming from wide.
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