Rashford, Trippier, Varane lead Man United-Newcastle combined XI for Carabao Cup final
Manchester United and Newcastle will face off at Wembley on Sunday in a battle to win the first available major trophy of the season.
Although critics question the importance of the Carabao Cup, both sides are in desperate need of bringing trophies back to their clubs.
Eddie Howe’s high-flying Newcastle head to Wembley for their first major tournament final in 24 years with the aim of securing a major domestic trophy for the first time since the 1955 FA Cup final.
Meanwhile, Erik ten Hag’s rampant Red Devils are aiming to secure a first major domestic trophy since their Carabao Cup final win against Southampton in 2017.
With both sides playing some of their best football in years, Sportsmail names a combined Man United and Newcastle XI – but who makes it into our line-up?
Manchester United (right) and Newcastle (left) face off on Sunday in the Carabao Cup final
Bruno Fernandes and Bruno Guimaraes will pull the strings in their respective midfields
Eddie Howe and Erik ten Hag have got Newcastle and Man United back to their best this season – and below, Sportsmail names a combined XI from the two clubs ahead of the cup showpiece
Goalkeeper – David de Gea (Manchester United)
Had Newcastle’s No 1 goalkeeper Nick Pope not picked up a calamitous red card against Liverpool, this decision would have been a lot more difficult to make.
Pope has kept the most clean sheets (12) in the Premier League this season with David de Gea just behind (10).
However, after the England keeper saw red for diving onto the ball with Mohamed Salah racing towards him in Newcastle’s last game before the final, Howe has been left with starting either Loris Karius or Mark Gillespie at Wembley because Martin Dubravka is cup-tied and Karl Darlow is on loan at Hull City.
Given Karius has not even made his debut for Newcastle – while Gillespie has not played for two-and-half years – it is a no-brainer that the in-form and experienced De Gea takes the spot between the sticks.
United’s Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea (pictured, above) has kept the second most clean sheets in the Premier League this season, only behind the suspended Magpies star Nick Pope
Right-back – Kieran Trippier (Newcastle)
Kieran Trippier has been one of the key components of Newcastle’s rock-solid defence that has helped the Magpies reach their first major domestic final in 24 years.
The England right-back has been in scintillating form and offers as much off the pitch as he does on it.
Given the fact Erik ten Hag is still trying to work out who his first choice right-back is between the resurgent Aaron Wan-Bissaka and the dependable Diogo Dalot, Trippier is surely the pick of the three.
Last month, Trippier signed a contract extension to keep him at the club until the summer of 2025. The 32-year-old insisted that he is playing the best football of his career at St James’ Park.
Kieran Trippier said he’s playing the best football of his career when he signed a new contract
Centre-back – Raphael Varane (Manchester United)
The former Real Madrid defender has been one of Man United’s greatest signings in recent years.
His wealth of experience, defensive talent and superb consistency in performance is one of the key reasons as to why Man United are still competing in four competitions – the only team in Europe to be doing so.
Varane, who made his 50th appearance for United against Barcelona last Thursday, has been key in marshalling the United defence.
United fans were delighted to hear that Varane had retired from international duty earlier his month, meaning his sole focus is now on winning trophies at Old Trafford.
Former Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane is one of Man United’s greatest recent signings
Centre-back – Sven Botman (Newcastle)
Manchester United fans will wonder how Lisandro Martinez does not make the combined XI.
However, you only have to look at Sven Botman’s record to see that he could simply not be left out.
Newcastle have the best defensive record in the Premier League and their 2-0 defeat against Liverpool was actually Botman’s first ever Premier League loss in 21 games.
The Dutchman, who is only 23, arrived at St James’ Park for £35m from Lille in the summer, and his impact has been phenomenal. Very few attacking sides would be able to break through a defensive spine of Varane and Botman.
Sven Botman suffered his first Premier League loss in 21 games for Newcastle versus Liverpool
Left-back – Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
Although Dan Burn has been excelling as a full-back in Newcastle’s solid defence, Luke Shaw is well and truly back to his best for Man United.
The England international has showed both his defensive nous and attacking threat throughout the season.
Shaw played a pivotal role in England’s World Cup run in Qatar, while he has shown versatility under Ten Hag by playing as a makeshift centre-back when needed.
United are a team that often overload down the left-hand side, and more often than not, Shaw is at the heart of their free-flowing attacks as he looks to link up with the likes of Marcus Rashford.
United’s left-back Luke Shaw (above) has been a consistent performer for Ten Hag this season
Central midfield – Casemiro (Manchester United)
A shoo-in. The Brazilian maestro has got Man United back competing where they should be.
Casemiro’s presence in the heart of the United midfield is unrivalled. After sitting out a three-match domestic suspension for putting his hands round Will Hughes’ neck against Crystal Palace, Casemiro will be raring to go.
The former Real Madrid midfielder is no stranger to winning silverware, and he will be desperate to add to his impressive trophy cabinet on Sunday.
It’s no coincidence that on the two occasions Casemiro has been suspended this season, United have gone on to drop points in their follow-up fixtures.
Casemiro has been one of Man United’s best players this season after joining in the summer
Central midfield – Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle)
Another feisty Brazilian would slot straight into this combined XI. Don’t be surprised if sparks fly on Sunday with Casemiro and Bruno Guimaraes returning to their side’s from respective three-match suspensions.
Guimaraes’ impact at Newcastle has been sensational since arriving at St James’ Park last January.
Since his straight red card in Newcastle’s Carabao Cup semi-final against Southampton, Howe’s side have failed to win on three attempts.
Newcastle fans will be relieved that thanks to their heavy fixture congestion, Guimaraes’ first game back will be at Wembley.
Newcastle did not win any of the three games that Bruno Guimaraes was suspended for, but he will be back for the Carabao Cup final
Central midfield – Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
Because one Bruno’s not enough. Fernandes and Guimaraes – both of whom were January signings, albeit two years apart – have had the same impact since arriving in the Premier League.
Fernandes is up there with the Premier League’s top midfielders and would no doubt walk into most teams in Europe.
The playmaker, who has taken captain responsibilities for United in Harry Maguire’s absence, has been in scintillating form this season, creating 68 chances. Only Trippier (70) and Kevin de Bruyne (75) have more.
The ‘Portuguese Magnifico’ – as he is hailed at Old Trafford – created nine goalscoring chances against Leicester last Sunday – more than any other player has achieved in a league game this season (other than Fernandes himself against Spurs back in October).
Only Kevin de Bruyne and Trippier have created more chances than Bruno Fernandes this term
Right wing – Miguel Almiron (Newcastle)
The Paraguayan trickster is Newcastle’s top goal scorer this season, netting 10 times in the Premier League so far.
Considering he had just eight Premier League goals to his name in his two-and-a-half-years at the club before Eddie Howe arrived, ‘Miggy’ is a player reborn.
Although Almiron had to work hard to earn his place on the right wing of Newcastle’s three-pronged attack, the 29-year-old has not looked back since.
Almiron has been vital in Newcastle’s road to Wembley, picking up assists in both the quarter-final and semi-final ties.
Miguel Almiron is Newcastle’s top goal scorer this season, netting 10 times in the league so far
Striker – Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
Perhaps the easiest decision to make. There’s not a manager in the world who would not pick red-hot Rashford right now. But there are plenty that would fear him.
The 25-year-old has scored 16 goals in his last 17 games, taking his tally for the season to a career-best 24.
If Newcastle are to beat Manchester United at Wembley, Howe’s first port of call will be doing whatever he can to prevent Rashford getting on the ball.
Rashford has shown versatility by playing across the front three for United this season, but he has most recently looked electric as a No 9 with Wout Weghorst playing in behind him.
If Rashford is firing on Sunday, Newcastle will be in big, big trouble.
Man United forward Marcus Rashford is in the form of his life, netting 16 goals in his last 17
Left wing – Joelinton (Newcastle)
From one of the easiest decisions to one of the hardest. The left-wing spot will no doubt divide opinion but if we are looking at consistency, Joelinton deserves a spot in the combined XI.
Man United fans may argue that Jadon Sancho has to make this side given his fine form after returning from some time away to work on his physical and mental health.
But Joelinton has enjoyed a new lease of life under Eddie Howe, who has used the Brazilian from the left or in a midfield three. He has been a mainstay in Newcastle’s side as they push for the top four and a first major domestic trophy since 1955.
Such is his form this season, there is a chance Joelinton may be called up to the Brazil squad for the first time for the country’s friendly against Morocco next month.
Joelinton has enjoyed a new lease of life under Eddie Howe, who has used the Brazilian from the left or in a midfield three
Sportsmail’s complete Manchester United-Newcastle combined XI for the Carabao Cup final