Arsenal host Manchester City this Sunday in the Premier League in what will be one of their most important games this season.
The Gunners have lost 12 straight league meetings with Pep Guardiola’s men, but they did win the Community Shield on penalties at the start of the campaign. Could that give them the psychological edge to finally get one over their rivals in the top flight?
Arsenal v Man City combined XI:
GK: Ederson – Man City
The Brazilian’s shot-stopping came in for scrutiny last season, but Ederson has been a solid pair of hands between the sticks for City so far this term and his distribution is peerless. Aaron Ramsdale and David Raya have traded the gloves, but both have had ropey moments in goal.
🔝 back-to-back saves in added time from Ederson to secure the clean sheet! 🧤⛔️ pic.twitter.com/WpbHQdR2jz
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 23, 2023
RB: Kyle Walker – Man City
Kyle Walker came close to leaving City to joining Bayern Munich in the summer, but the England defender has looked about as good as he ever has this year. Ben White performs well at right-back, although it is not his natural position, while Takehiro Tomiyasu cannot hold a candle to Walker.
CB: William Saliba – Arsenal
After finally getting the chance to prove his chops in the Premier League last season, William Saliba has continued to show what a superb defender he is. The Frenchman also plays an important role in Arsenal’s attack, with no defender in the Premier League boasting a better pass completion in the final third (92%).
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 28, 2023
CB: John Stones – Man City
Man City have a ridiculous level of depth at centre-back, but John Stones oozes class and he has managed to prove a hell of a lot of people wrong in recent years. Pep Guardiola has come to rely a lot on the Englishman in build-up play, even moving him into midfield while in possession.
💪 Centre-back ➡️ midfield maestro ✨
— Premier League (@premierleague) June 16, 2023
LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko – Arsenal
Oddly, there is unlikely to be a ‘true’ left-back on the pitch this Sunday. City loaned Joao Cancelo to Barcelona and Arsenal sent Kieran Tierney on loan to Real Sociedad, while Guardiola has taken to lining up with four centre-backs in his defensive line.
Although Oleksandr Zinchenko was originally an attacking midfielder, the Ukrainian became one of the best utility players around while at City and was converted into a left-back, the role he predominantly performs at Arsenal now. The Gunners’ stuttering performances in his absence earlier this season show how important he is to the team.
CM: Rodri – Man City
Arguably Man City’s most important player last season, Rodri is the glue that holds the whole operation together. This year the Spaniard has been able to roam forward more often and has already bagged three goals in all competitions. Unfortunately for them, he’s suspended for this tie.
5/15 – Since Rodri made his Premier League debut in August 2019, Man City have lost five of 15 matches without the Spaniard in the competition (W9 D1); by contrast, they have lost just five of their last 67 league games when Rodri has featured (W53 D9). Irreplaceable. pic.twitter.com/DiQx9GANPB
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 30, 2023
CM: Martin Odegaard – Arsenal
We could very easily have had a trio of City midfielders, but Martin Odegaard elevated his game last season to the point where he is now considered among the very best number 8s in the Premier League. The Arsenal captain plays a ginormous role in Mikel Arteta’s team, and only James Maddison (26) has more goal involvements among Premier League midfielders than him (25) since the beginning of last season.
This Odegaard assist 🤩 pic.twitter.com/4GeKd7rn9n
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 3, 2023
CM: Phil Foden – Man City
Phil Foden did not make it into our combined XI ahead of the Community Shield, but he has played his way into this team after a strong start to the campaign. The 23-year-old has been fantastic in midfield, registering two goals and four assists in all competitions. With Kevin De Bruyne out injured, we’re giving his place to the Stockport Messi.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) October 5, 2023
RW: Bukayo Saka – Arsenal
If Bukayo Saka misses Sunday’s game through injury, then it’s curtains for Arsenal before a ball is even kicked. The 21-year-old is that good and that important to the Gunners, Arteta cannot afford to be without him in this match. Which makes you wonder why the manager has been running him into the ground ahead of this one.
Bukayo Saka has played in each of Arsenal's last 87 Premier League games, a club record streak of uninterrupted appearances in the competition.
He's in contention to make 88 in a row. 👀 pic.twitter.com/5TFiS5PAfh
— Squawka (@Squawka) October 6, 2023
LW: Julian Alvarez – Man City
Julian Alvarez won a World Cup and a Champions League in the same campaign last year, and yet it didn’t feel like we had even seen the very best of him. The Argentine has gone up a level this season though; he is virtually running City’s attack, expertly linking play with Erling Haaland as a playmaker/second striker.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 30, 2023
CF: Erling Haaland – Man City
Just seven games into the new Premier League season, Erling Haaland already has eight goals (and an assist). The Norwegian has 60 in all competitions since the beginning of last season. That is obscene.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 23, 2023