Aberdeen-Rangers combined XI: Who makes it, who doesn’t?

Mark Warburton and Derek McInnes' sides will go head to head on Sunday. Pictures: TSPL/SNS
Mark Warburton and Derek McInnes' sides will go head to head on Sunday. Pictures: TSPL/SNS
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Combined XIs are great aren’t they?

The staple of the fans forum for a long time, they often look wildly different depending on your perspective.

The combined XI.

The combined XI.

For example, take these two teams. Should an Aberdeen-Rangers XI debate appear on AFC Chat, the team would likely look something along these lines:

Lewis; Logan, Reynolds, O’Connor, Shinnie; McGinn, Jack, Maddison, Hayes; Rooney, Waghorn

And if it appeared on The Bears’ Den, it’d go something like this:

Foderingham; Tavernier, Hill, Wilson, Wallace; Forrester, Halliday, Holt, McKay; Waghorn, Rooney

Recent form can often have a tremendous baring on who winds up in the final XI. After all, Philippe Senderos might have a better pedigree than Anthony O’Connor, but you’d be harshly derided if you went for the former over the latter. “Did you see the Old Firm game?” they’d scream.

With the two sides about to renew their rivalry this Sunday, in what’s sure to be an all-action encounter at Pittodrie, we’ve decided to traipse across this treacherous ground by picking our strongest Aberdeen-Rangers XI. Here goes nothing...

GK - Wes Foderingham (Rangers)

Selection for this team starts tough and doesn’t get any easier from here.

To separate Joe Lewis and Wes Foderingham, you basically have to ask yourself what you want in a goalkeeper. Do you want someone sturdy as rock? Or do you want someone who’ll pull off some incredible saves, and then drop a clanger. If you want reliability, Lewis is your man. If you’d prefer the spectacular, go for Foderingham.

We went for the Rangers stopper. Amid a weekend full of great goalkeeping in the last round of fixtures, his one-handed stop of Alex Schalk was perhaps the save of the lot.

DR - Shay Logan (Aberdeen), DC - Clint Hill (Rangers), DC - Anthony O’Connor (Aberdeen), LB - Lee Wallace (Rangers)

Never before has there been such a disparity in the skill level of full-backs to central defenders as there is in this amalgamated squad.

Logan, Wallace, Graeme Shinnie and James Tavernier provides an abundance of exciting, attacking play on the flanks. While a list of Hill, O’Connor, Ash Taylor, Mark Reynolds, Philippe Senderos, Danny Wilson and Rob Kiernan, quite frankly, gives us the fear.

O’Connor has improved Aberdeen’s defence this season. He’s commanding like Taylor without the oft-repeated errors. The difficult decision came in selecting his partner. Reynolds has still to find the form that deserted him when he returned from injury around this time last year, while we still don’t really know what we’re getting from any of the Rangers centre-backs. Though there are well-reported concerns about his pace, Hill’s not committed a dreadful gaff thus far, which pushes him above the rest. Besides, his leading of the defence helped secure what previously appeared impossible before last weekend, and that’s a Rangers clean sheet.

Shinnie would be in at left back ahead of Lee Wallace if he wasn’t needed elsewhere. On the other side it was difficult to leave out Tavernier. Unlike some of his team-mates, he’s acclimatised well to the top flight. He just falls short when compared to Logan, who may not score as many as Tavernier when he ventures forward, but is still an excellent attacking full-back and one who’s stronger in defence.

DM - Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen)

Left back is probably Shinnie’s best position, but with his terrific stamina and energy, it’s easy to see why Derek McInnes uses him as a driving force in the centre of the midfield. Consideration was granted to both Ryan Jack and Kenny McLean before both were rejected for their lack of consistency over the past year or so, while none of the Rangers midfielders are particularly stout defensively. As you may have noticed, this XI is set up to attack.

MR - Harry Forrester (Rangers), MC - Josh Windass (Rangers), MC - James Maddison (Aberdeen), ML Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen)

While they still appreciate his match-winning qualities, Aberdeen fans are reaching the end of their tether with Niall McGinn. Unstoppable some weeks, he has a tendency to go missing in others, with cynics among the Pittodrie support accusing him of “hiding”. Therefore, we’ve opted for Harry Forrester instead. He’s consistently threatened opposing defenders when given a chance this campaign, which cannot be said for a number of his team-mates.

Maddison and Windass may be controversial inclusions as they’ve only played four league games combined. However, they both showed terrific qualities and are expected to star as this season goes on. Maddison gives Aberdeen the dynamism they’ve been crying out for at the No.10 position since Peter Pawlett’s regression back into a squad player, while Windass’ dribbling ability will frighten the life out of any defender in the league. On the left, Jonny Hayes is peerless among classic, old-fashioned wingers in Scottish football.

FC - Adam Rooney (Aberdeen)

Rooney gets a bit of a “lifetime achievement” pass because he’s another who’s not made a particularly strong start to his campaign. We also haven’t seen enough of the other strikers to elevate them above Rooney. Martyn Waghorn may have taken his place if not for an injury against Hamilton that knocked the Ibrox hitman off-stride, thereby making it difficult to judge his ascension to a higher level, while Kenny Miller lacks the goal return of Aberdeen’s leading scorer.

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