Europa League challengers: This combined Bournemouth and Palace XI would soar to 7th

The likes of Wolves, Everton and Leicester have done their utmost to bridge the gap between the top six and the rest of the league this season but the fact remains that there is still a huge gulf in terms of funding which, unfortunately, is what football is determined by these days.

For many teams placed seventh and below, a successful season constitutes survival, with anything else deemed a big achievement – Palace and Bournemouth, despite the outstanding quality they have on paper, are two of these teams.

The southern pair’s respective groups of fans surely feel that they could be doing better than their current mid-table finishes, so they will be expecting a big summer in terms of transfers to push the team that extra way.

But what if the two teams combined? With the likes of Ryan Fraser at Bournemouth and Wilfried Zaha at Palace, it’s a frightening prospect.

Combined Bournemouth and Palace XI

With Callum Wilson leading the line and the aforementioned Fraser and Zaha on the wings, this is a front three to strike fear into the hearts of any opponent.

Both Eddie Howe and Roy Hodgson’s sides thrive on the counter, with the Eagles and the Cherries scoring for fun on the break this season, but by merging the attacks you have a different animal.

Wilson and Fraser are one of the league’s best partnerships this season, while David Brooks has chalked up seven goals and five assists for Bournemouth since signing from Sheffield United last summer.

Capable of playing all across the midfield or behind the striker, the 21-year-old is best suited in a central role, where he can pull the strings and feed Palace’s Zaha in behind, for instance.

The influential winger may have played his last game in red and blue by the time Bournemouth leave Selhurst Park this weekend, having had a fantastic campaign, notching a personal-best 10 times and assisting eight.

He typically operates on the left side of the attack but he would be forced to move to the right wing to accommodate Fraser.

The 26-year-old offers plenty of speed out wide and has a box of tricks to rival that of Ronaldinho – he’s a full-back’s nightmare and arguably this combined XI’s standout player.

A defensive midfield pairing of Luka Milivojevic and Jefferson Lerma form a hardened wall of Serbian and Colombian steel in front of a back four that’s surely the best outside the top six.

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With Patrick van Aanholt and Diego Rico enduring respective struggles this campaign, Nathan Ake shifts out to left-back, where he impressed in the 5-0 thrashing of Brighton last month, while the Eagles’ pairing of Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins is difficult to split up.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka needs no introduction. The 21-year-old was named both players’ and fans’ player of the season recently and has established himself as one of the best young defenders in the Premier League.

This combined defence would be a real hassle to get through.

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