FILE PHOTO - (EDITORS NOTE: COMPOSITE OF TWO IMAGES - Image numbers (L) 592215668 and 596883044) In this composite image a comparision has been made between Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho (L) and Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City.  Josep Guardiola brings his Manchester City team to Old Trafford to face Jose Mourinho's Manchester United in their first Manchester derby in the Premier League on September 10, 2016.   ***LEFT IMAGE*** MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19: Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United celebrates after the Premier League match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford on August 19, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28: Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City encourages his players during the Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham United at Etihad Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

Picking a Combined XI of Manchester City and Manchester United Ahead of Sunday's Derby

This Sunday's Manchester derby encounter will not impact either side's position at the top of the table, but make no mistake, this is unquestionably the game of the season to date.

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City sit 8 points ahead of their cross town rivals after just 15 games and a win would extend their lead to an almost unassailable 11 points, all but guaranteeing their ascendancy to the title.

A loss, however, strips City of what would be a record breaking win of 14 consecutive league games and narrows the gap down to a mere 5 points, giving momentum to Mourinho's side throughout the busy winter period. 

Between them these teams have scored a massive 81 goals in the Premier League, conceding an average of less than 1 goal per game. Excluding suspensions and injuries, here's a combined starting XI for those available to play in the Manchester Derby on Sunday...

1. GK: David De Gea (Manchester United)

Summer signing Ederson has made a huge difference to City's defence, but it can be none other than David De Gea between the posts. 

The Spanish international; perpetually linked to Real Madrid, has consistently been amongst the world's best and proved so against Arsenal, with a record equalling 14 saves in a single game. 

While Ederson is not shy of a save or two, averaging 1.6 per game. De Gea racks up an incredible 3.4. However, when it comes to successful passes it's unsurprising that the United man suffers, with a average of 57% completed, compared to Ederson at 87%. But this alone isn't enough to displace the Spaniard... Just yet.

2. RB: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)

Playing in a much more attacking side, it's Kyle Walker that beats his counterpart in attacking contribution, with 5 assists this season compared to the 2 goals so far from Valencia. 

But it's the Manchester United man that just stretches into the lead with his defensive contribution, outscoring Walker across tackles, interceptions and clearances per 90 minutes and for that reason he's narrowly secured his place in this line up.

3. LB: Ashley Young (Manchester United)

In an unexpected battle, the decision at left back comes down to two former midfielders, with both managers either through choice, or necessity giving a chance to an unlikely character. 

Ashley Young bucks the trend across the two sides and has outscored Delph in attacking contribution, recording 2 goals and 3 assists, compared to Delph at 1 a piece. 

The pair are much more closely linked defensively with Young just about taking the top spot across three categories with Delph picking up the remainder. For this reason it's Young that takes the position.

4. CB: Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City)

Even the most committed City fan might have been surprised by this selection this time last year. However, irrespective of injuries, Nicolas Otamendi has been by far and away the highest performing central defender of the two sides, becoming a dominant figure at the heart of the City defence and playing 400 minutes more game time than his nearest rival across both teams.

He takes the top spot across all bar 2 categories, narrowly missing out in clearances and passing accuracy and adds to that 4 goals, the total number of his counterparts combined, 3 of which come from injured team mate John Stones. 

5. CB: Phil Jones (Manchester United)

Moving away from Otamendi, the remaining centre back options are considerably more limited. 

Mangala, Smalling and Lindelof haven't showered themselves with praise, while John Stones and Eric Bailly are ruled out through injury. Phil Jones is doubtful because of injury and Vincent Kompany has just returned. 

Comparing the two shows a high level of similarity, with the exception of passing accuracy. Where the City captain has averaged an incredible 92.4% pass completion, only bettered by one player across the two teams; John Stones with 96.6%. 

However, despite Kompany's off field contribution, it is Phil Jones who has been the most consistent of the two this season. The United man has featured in 8 of his sides 9 Premier league clean sheets and thereby, should he overcome his latest injury setback, is fully deserving of his place in the team.

6. CDM: Fernandinho (Manchester City)

Arguably the most fiercely contested position in the line up. Nemanja Matic and Fernandinho are almost equally matched in their defensive contribution. 

However, despite his side's attacking prowess it is the City player that is victorious across the majority of metrics and with 2 goals and 2 assists two his name; as well as a relentless marshalling of City's high pressing defence, it is Fernandinho who takes the position. 

7. CM: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Who else but Kevin De Bruyne. Despite moving further back into a largely central midfield role, the Belgium attacker continues to pull the strings for City and can turn a game at the drop of a hat. 

With 4 goals and 8 assists so far this season he equals the contribution by fellow Chelsea reject Romelu Lukaku. De Bruyne also makes an average of 2.8 key passes per game, almost twice that of his United counterparts and notably above his City team mates. 

He is undoubtably one of the league's best players and one of the first names to feature in any line up.

8. CAM: David Silva (Manchester City)

Arguably one of the most underrated midfielders of the past 10 years. David Silva has been quietly instrumental in Manchester City's rise to the top of the table and a key player in the Spanish national team.

He would, however, have had a much tougher battle for a place in this line up had Paul Pogba not received a red card in the previous fixture. The French midfielder is a huge figure both physically and structurally in United's team, with his absence directly coinciding with a dip in form.

Pogba has more goals than his counterpart; despite playing 600 fewer minutes, and a marginally higher assists per game ratio. The pair are equal across almost every other statistic, bar defensive contribution; where Pogba just beats his counterpart. Pogba would, therefore, just have taken the position, had he not been suspended. 

9. RW: Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

Raheem Sterling's rise this season has already seen him outscore; by two, his total for the whole 2016/17 season. He has 13 across all competitions with two assists, only bettered by one player across both teams in total contribution. 

The former Liverpool man has also been directly responsible for his side picking up an additional 13 points in all competitions and for that reason alone he takes the right wing position in place of fellow Englishman Marcus Rashford. 

10. LW: Leroy Sane (Manchester City)

Choosing between Sane and Martial for the other wide role came down to one thing, goals. Of the two teams Sane has the highest contribution to goals scored of any other player, with 8 goals and 8 assists so far this season.

The winger's exceptional pace has literally left opposing players flat on their backs, he has more dribbles and crosses than his counterpart and has provided the most consistent performance of any attacker on this list.

11. ST: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Lukaku may have 1 more goal and assist to his name so far this season, however, Aguero has played the equivalent of nearly 8 fewer games than the Belgian. 

Surprisingly, despite both strikers having a very different styles of play and likewise featuring for very different teams, they make a similar number of passes per game at around 21. While Aguero just takes the edge defensively showing how Guardiola's all encompassing football style has affected his star striker.

Fellow City striker Gabriel Jesus is closing in on the Argentine. However, in the big games, Aguero is always the player to look out for and takes the position comfortably.