Michael Baddeley puts together his strongest lineup between Arsenal and Liverpool.
Today’s showdown at the Emirates is one that fans of both the Reds and the Gunners have been looking forward to since the day the fixtures were announced.
Unfortunately for Liverpool we have a tough trip down to London, but things might not be that bad as first expected with Arsenal look like they are set to field a very weakened defensive set up.
Both sides have talent throughout the squad. Some of that is mediocre obviously, but there’s a lot that are brilliant, some even world class. But who from both teams make it into my combined XI?
Goalkeeper – Petr Cech
The only keeper in both sides that can actually be seen as quality. But when we have a young Loris Karius and well, Simon Mignolet in our ranks then really it was the only option.
Right-back – Nathaniel Clyne
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This one was such a tough choice. Hector Bellerin is a very very good right back, but so is Clyney. The only real factor here was experience.
The 25-year-old England international has the ability to do both the attacking duties as well as the defensive ones and does it on a consistent basis.
Right centre-back – Dejan Lovren
I’d probably get stick for this choice from football fans, but under Jürgen Klopp, Lovren has been by far Liverpool’s best defender. He looks a completely different player under the German.
The talk of him possibly becoming the new Liverpool captain over the summer just proves how much he’s turned his form around. The 27-year-old can play out from the back but also does the no nonsense defending when required.
Left centre-back – Laurent Koscielny
The 30-year-old is one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League, without a shadow of a doubt. Whenever Arsenal don’t have him they struggle, however that may soon change with the signing of Shkrodan Mustafi.
His reading of the game is absolutely brilliant and would be a very good option to sit alongside Dejan Lovren
Left-back – Nacho Monreal
Liverpool have real problems at left back and this is probably the only option Arsenal have that can be considered as decent.
The ability to play out, good reading of the play and strong in the air makes the Spaniard a valuable asset in the back four. Although he isn’t a centre back he does posses the versatility needed to move over into the centre if required to.
Left central midfielder – Granit Xhaka
The more defensive of the two midfielders in the team. Not only does he offer the defensive stability in the middle of the park, but he adds a wide range of passing. His long balls are brilliant and can turn defence into attack in a matter of seconds.
The one problem he does have is his discipline. Seven yellow cards and three reds for Borussia Monchengladbach last season is a worrying sight for Arsenal fans. Regardless, he is probably better than the Liverpool midfielders at what he does so therefore he makes my team.
Right central midfielder – Emre Can
I couldn’t not pick our German maestro. He had a brilliant season last time around and he will be looking to build on that and take his game to the next level to be that leader that Liverpool so desperately need.
He adds real drive to the midfield. We’ve seen on many occasions that his tackling can be exceptional but his ability to then build on that and turn it into a counter attack with his driving runs from midfield is the main reason I chose him.
Attacking midfielder – Mesut Özil
We are led to believe that the German playmaker won’t feature this weekend for the Gunners, thank the lord because on his day this guy is nothing short of world-class.
His creativity is by far the best in the league and this is shown through the amount of assists he gets. Another player who loves to hold on to the ball and dribble but he does know when to release it at the perfect time.
Right wing – Alexis Sanchez
I don’t think I need to justify this decision do I? Any other joint XI and I’d pick Mane to sit in on the right hand side, but Alexis is just to good. The second world class player that Arsenal have on their ranks.
His work ethic is phenomenal, he is very quick, possess great skill and chips in with both goals and assists. Again, he would make it into any teams starting XI, just a shame for him that Arsenal can’t win titles.
Left wing – Philippe Coutinho
The Brazilian is arguably Liverpool’s best player and most prized asset. On his day he is phenomenal, not world-class, not yet anyway, but he is definitely phenomenal.
He can play behind the striker and does a pretty good job as well. But last season we saw him at his best when he was out on the left hand side in a front three linking up with Lallana and Firmino. Cutting inside and swapping positions with the other two caused problems for many top defences, and for this reason I am putting him here in my combined XI.
Centre-forward – Daniel Sturridge
The Englishman, when fit, is one of the best strikers in the world. His finishing, pace and movement is a real problem for opposition defences.
This was the toughest choice by far, Firmino, Origi and Giroud all had cases to be the main man in this line up, but Studge just pips it for me. He does like to drift out to the right to pick the ball up but the only means that Sanchez can drift inside and contribute up top!
Let us know what your combined XI would be in the comments section below.