Mix n Match: Fellaini and Evra spark a storm with Southampton
Although we may be giving ourselves too much credit, the last time we merged two squads in the Mix n Match, Steven Gerrard failed to make our starting line-up when Liverpool hosted Chelsea.
Brendan Rodgers must now hope that he would have heeded our advice, with Gerrard’s famous slip the decisive factor in Chelsea securing three points at Anfield.
This latest instalment brings together mid-table duo Southampton and Manchester United ahead of their St Mary’s showdown on the final day of the Premier League season and again there is some controversy.
It is the Red Devils that edge a 6-5 victory in our team below, but it is the surprise inclusions of Patrice Evra and Marouane Fellaini that serve to tip the balance in their favour.
Like in our combined team, Man Utd are 6/4 to beat Southampton.
Lowlights is a word most at home in a hairdressing salon, but it can be equally applied to the Red Devils this season, given their squad-load of underachievers.
One player that is undeserving of such a tag is David De Gea, who has still managed 12 clean sheets, despite seeing the defence ahead of him shuffled more regularly than a dealing shoe in a casino.
Saints stopper Artur Boruc also deserves a mention, having kept clean sheets in half of his 28 starts, with Mauricio Pochettino’s men keeping just one without him.
At right-back Nathaniel Clyne and Rafael have both been slightly held back by injury this season, but it is the Southampton man’s better attacking return of four assists that wins him the nod.
It is on the other flank where there is big controversy, as Premier League Team of the Season member Luke Shaw is nudged out by Patrice Evra.
This is because Evra trumps his young rival for tackles, interceptions, clearances, crosses, assists and pass success rate this season, which is pretty much every noteworthy department on the field.
The other main area of controversy is in the centre of midfield. It is a no brainer picking Morgan Schneiderlin, who is potentially the most complete holding midfielder in the top-flight, in terms of winning back possession and then keeping the ball.
Marouane Fellaini has far from justified his price tag, but Belgium national team manager Marc Wilmots has a point in that he has been mis-utilised.
Wilmots feels Fellaini’s best role is as a box-to-box option and in a system where he is partnered by Schneiderlin, he would have the licence to get forward and not be shackled by starting too deep.
A front four of Adam Lallana, Juan Mata, Jay Rodriguez and Wayne Rooney would also be as good as anything any team currently have in the Premier League.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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