There were a couple of really difficult decisions when making our Liverpool/Manchester City combined XI 9 months ago

There were a couple of really difficult decisions when making our Liverpool/Manchester City combined XI

This was tough to put together.

Liverpool vs. Manchester City is a fixture which rarely disappoints. Tonight, though, it's the Champions League, so it's a different beast altogether.

Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp come face-to-face once again in what promises to be a spectacular and thrilling European tie under the lights at Anfield.

With that in mind, we decided to put together a combined XI of the two sides. To clarify, in order to qualify for this team, the players must be fit and available. Sorry, that means no Benjamin Mendy.

Goalkeeper: Ederson

There should be no debate here. The Brazilian has improved Pep Guardiola's side immeasurably. After the calamitous season that Claudio Bravo endured last year, City have felt the benefit of Ederson's shot-stopping ability as well as his distribution. He doesn't face much competition from Liverpool's 'keepers either, to be honest.

Right-back: Kyle Walker

Again, a summer signing who has helped City reach new heights. His dynamism, aggression, powerful overlapping runs and underrated passing ability make him the best right-back in the league. Honourable shouts to then injured Nathaniel Clyne and Trent Alexander-Arnold, who looks like a very hot prospect though.

Right centre-back: John Stones

After a shaky start to his City career, the England international has ironed out some of his weaknesses and polished his strengths even more. Guardiola has praised the 'balls' with which Stones plays football, committing to passing from the back despite criticism, not allowing the mistakes to discourage him. And that commitment has paid off; he's now a key part of City's side, and a key part of this combined XI.

Left centre-back: Virgil van Dijk

No surprises here. Manchester City were also apparently interested but Liverpool beat them to the Dutch defender, forking out €85m in the process. Van Dijk is a presence in the air, comfortable on the ball and strong in the tackle. Head and shoulders above any other central defender at the two clubs, he is an easy pick.

Left-back: Andy Robertson

Robertson was behind James Milner and Alberto Moreno in the pecking order at Liverpool earlier this season, but has since fought for his place in the team and impressed when given the chance. It's not hard to look defensively sound when Alberto Moreno plays like a headless chicken on speed, to be fair. If Benjamin Mendy were fit, he'd be a shoo-in for this slot. Fabian Delph has filled his shoes adequately, but he's not a natural full-back, despite Pep doing everything to convert him into one.

Defensive midfield: Fernandinho

Another City player who has developed even further than many people imagined he could. Before Guardiola arrived, his role was to do Yaya Touré's running for him, putting out fires, but under Pep he has shown his passing ability in the holding midfield role. Jordan Henderson deserves a mention but against the counter-attack, he has been exposed as defensively suspect.

Right central-midfield: Kevin De Bruyne

Joint top of the Premier League assists table, he's been vital for City this season. His creativity, dynamism and improved goal output, especially with his weaker foot, make him one of the stand out candidates for Player of the Season.

Left central-midfield: David Silva

Sorry to make the midfield entirely Manchester City players, but it's hard not to when it's oozing with such quality. Silva and De Bruyne have both reinvented themselves as free-roaming number 8s under Guardiola, making space for the rapid wingers that are so important for their system. Now 32, Silva still plays with the magical spark he always has, and is an expert at threading eye of the needle passes against deep defences.

Right wing: Mohamed Salah

Some were skeptical of how he would fare in the Premier League second time around, but he has been sensational, with 29 league goals and 37 in total. Raheem Sterling is enjoying the most productive season of his career so far, but Salah pips the England international here.

Left-wing: Leroy Sané

His inaugural season in the Premier League was a mixed bag, but he's now established himself as one of the most dangerous wingers in the league. The fact that he was behind Nolito at the start of last season seems crazy now. With electrifying pace and the dribbling of a young Ryan Giggs, he terrifies defenders, and that's why he has just beaten Sadio Mané to make it into this combined XI.

Centre-forward: Sergio 'Kun' Agüero

Hardly a difficult decision, is it? Roberto Firmino is an essential cog in Jürgen Klopp's gegenpressing machine but if you want a world-class centre-forward, you're going to pick the player who has produced time and time again over the last seven years.