David James made some controversial calls in a combined XI ahead of the biggest Premier League game of the season.
Liverpool travel to the Etihad Stadium to take on league leaders Manchester City in what could prove to be a title decider.
Only one point separates the teams ahead of Sunday’s clash and James, who has played for both teams during his playing career, has revealed who he would pick in a combined squad.
Mohamed Salah has been left out of David James’ Liverpool v Manchester City combo
James played for Liverpool and Manchester City during his playing career
In his selection, he told Genting Casino he would choose not to include star Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Revealing his team, James said: “I placed Alisson above Ederson based on the fact that Alisson had more to do.” If you consider how important Alisson has been to keeping his sheets clean and stopping over the past few months.
“I think in the last few games Ederson has kicked the ball twice over the halfway line.
“I would have Robertson at left-back on Joao Cancelo because he doesn’t shoot as much and therefore doesn’t give the ball away as much.”
“I would have Luis Diaz and Virgil van Dijk. I would go Kyle Walker and the reason for that is that there is going to be a lot of space and he will have to come back and defend.
“I love Trent Alexander-Arnold going forward and he’s a decent defender, but I would only get Walker ahead of him.
Salah has been left out despite contributing 38 goals in all competitions this season
Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been left out despite his impressive performances at right-back
The Liverpool right-back has been left out for experienced and fast defender Kyle Walker
“I will go with the whole City midfield, so Rodri, KDB (Kevin De Bruyne) and Bernardo Silva in midfield.
“I would go Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Luis Diaz up front, so no Mo Salah.”
“But if you ask me again in half an hour, I’d probably say a completely different team!” »
In total, James has chosen just four Liverpool players for the squad compared to Man City’s seven – with five of the top six positions filled by members of Pep Guardiola’s squad.
Salah has had a fantastic season in which some have called him the best player in world football.
The 29-year-old has scored 28 goals in all competitions this season and provided ten more assists.
Former goalkeeper James opted to pick Alisson over international teammate Ederson
Joao Cancelo has also been left out of the combined XI in favor of Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson
However, he has been in struggling form recently and hasn’t scored a goal from open play since the 3-1 win over Norwich in February.
Alexander-Arnold also enjoyed a fantastic season in which he produced 17 assists in all competitions.
James, however, opted for Diaz who has made a strong impression since arriving from Porto in the January transfer window.
Cancelo and Ederson were the big names to miss out on Manchester City’s selection, with Robertson and Alisson picked ahead of them respectively.
During his playing career, James played for Liverpool from 1992 to 1999, making 214 appearances, before playing 100 games for Man City from 2004 to 2006.
Although many perceive this game could prove to be the title decider, James believes that with seven more games for each team after this, it is too early to call.
Although he said, “I think it depends on who wins. On a simple basis that if Liverpool win, it’s hard to see them losing the title.
“We must always use the past as an indicator. If you look at them a few years ago, they were on an 18-game winning streak, they’re capable of going all the way to the end of the season and winning all of their games.
Seven Manchester City players have been in the squad, including Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne, the latter making up a midfield comprised entirely of City players.
Luis Diaz was the only Liverpool striker to make the squad after his impressive debut at Anfield
Foden and Sterling replace Salah, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino
THE DAVID JAMES TITLE HUNTING XI
(4-3-3): Alisson; Robertson, Dias, Van Dijk, Walker; Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva; Foden, Sterling, Diaz
“I was at the Atletico Madrid game and also attended two Chelsea games this season, I know City are capable of smothering teams and they could do that against Liverpool.”
Liverpool’s recent record at the Etihad is poor, having not won in the Premier League since 2015.
The defeat there, the only one of the 2018/19 top-flight campaign, ultimately cost Jurgen Klopp’s men the title as they lost the title by one point.
Manchester City still have a chance of winning the treble, while Liverpool are on the treble after beating Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final.
The teams will face off again on April 16 at Wembley when they meet in the FA Cup semi-finals.
The two teams could also meet in the Champions League final to be held at the Stade de France on May 28 in Paris.
James doesn’t believe Sunday’s clash will decide the title, although he will have a say in whether the Premier League trophy goes to the Etihad or returns to Anfield after a year’s absence.