DISCLAIMER: In the interests of fairness, by mutual consent the combined XI has a minimum of five players from each side.
Everton travel to former boss David Moyes and his Sunderland side on Monday. Royal Blue Mersey joined forces with fellow SB Nation blog Roker Report to create a combined XI that should give you plenty to rave and rant about as you count down the hours to the game. Our thanks to Rory for his time and effort on this, and we welcome all Black Cats fans who would like to comment on the side and any changes they would make.
CF - Adnan Januzaj
ST - Jermain Defoe
ST - Romelu Lukaku
RBM - Getting both Defoe and Lukaku on the pitch at the same time is definitely a priority. Picture this - a high ball from the midfield goes towards Lukaku, who with his back to the goal rises, nods the ball down behind the defence for a streaking Defoe to run in and finish coolly. Enough said. Trequartista could also be an interesting position for Januzaj to play at, as it gives him a lot more creative freedom than he has been allowed in the past.
RR - Coming up against Defoe and Lukaku would be awful for any defence. Both are excellent finishers and Lukaku's hold up play and inability to be knocked off the ball would create acres of space for Defoe. It would be a modern twist on the old "big man, little man" strike partnership with Lukaku even having the "good feet for a big man." Also benefiting from Lukaku's sheer presence would be Adnan Januzaj who, last time out for Sunderland, looked much more dangerous in more central role and this may well be the position that Moyes tries to get him operating in more often.
CM - Jan Kirchhoff
RM - Idrissa Gueye
LM - Ross Barkley
RBM - The former Bayern Munich man Kirchhoff revels in that pivot role. While Gueye is also good there, this formation allows him to play further forward and implement a higher press. This also relieves Januzaj from doing too much defending. For Barkley, this is not very different from what he does at Everton now, except that it gives him more room and more targets upfront to pass the ball to.
RR - Keeping how much I adore Jan Kirchhoff down to just a few words is going to be really difficult. Basically, if it wasn't for some injury problems then there's no way he'd be at Sunderland. The German maestro is that good. Getting to watch a player every week (well, when he's fit anyway) who is graceful and elegant but still capable of putting in a crunching tackle, is a true joy. Kirchhoff would work well alongside Idrissa Gueye, as both would be robust enough in stopping the opposition that it would allow players like Ross Barkley the chance to play with more freedom and flourish.
LB - Patrick van Aanholt
CB - Ashley Williams
CB - Lamine Kone
RB - Seamus Coleman
RBM - Since defence is almost an afterthought in these combined lineups, we'll pick two very aggressive fullbacks who will be charged with providing width to this otherwise narrow lineup. Williams and Kone provide an imposing centerback pairing that is solid in defence, good in the air and a huge attacking threat at set pieces too. Williams gets the captain's armband for his inspirational leadership that served Wales so well over the summer.
RR - Patrick van Aanholt improved massively under Big Sam last season and, bar a daft opening five minutes in the first game of the season, has continued in that vein. At right back, Seamus Coleman was always going to defeat the likes of Billy Jones and Donald Love. A great all round full back, Coleman is actually a player that Van Aanholt should be looking to emulate.
The centre half pairing could well have been one that actually lined up for Everton! Kone was huge in us staying up last season and, despite some of us getting annoyed at his attitude in trying to get a move/new contract this summer, it's really important that we held onto him. Along with Ashley Williams, that's a pretty mean, intelligent and strong partnership. Not a bad option for attacking set pieces either.
GK - Maarten Stekelenburg
RBM - Stekelenburg is in the form of his life right now. The last time he was this good he was playing in a World Cup Final.
RR - Hard to make a case for any Sunderland keeper here, really. Vito Mannone is capable of heroics and total calamity and Jordan Pickford, who may well one day end up as England number one, is still maturing. With great experience gained from spells at Roma, Ajax and international experience, added to his general strength between the sticks, Maarten Stekelenburg edges this one for me.
Thanks once again to Rory. So let’s hear it folks, who would you have instead in your combined eleven? Go on to Lineup Builder, make your own side and formation, and share it in the comments below.