Arsenal vs Liverpool. It’s one of the Premier League’s great games, and can only mean one thing. Yes, it’s Combined XI time.
But rather than mash together the two squads who will take to the pitch this weekend, we’ve gone one better. Here, we attempt to put together the best Arsenal and Liverpool Combined XI from the entire Premier League era. It’s a staggeringly strong side.
Arsenal vs Liverpool – All-time Premier League Combined XI:
Goalkeeper: Alisson – Liverpool
Arsenal goalkeeping great David Seaman is unfortunate to miss out, though there’s an argument that Alisson might be the most complete number one of the Premier League era. The brilliant Brazilian is great with his feet, commanding of his box and is one of the best one-on-one stoppers the league has seen.
The role of a goalkeeper has evolved over the last decade and Alisson has been at the forefront of the new era. Liverpool, without him, would not have had the same success.
Right-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
Another talent who has redefined his role. Right-back was once an unfashionable position on the pitch, but Trent Alexander-Arnold has helped full-backs become bang-on trend.
The Scouse star holds the Premier League record for assists by a defender (57) alongside teammate Andy Robertson, including a single-season record of 13 as Liverpool won the title in 2019/20.
Alexander-Arnold boasts a passing range rarely seen from full-back – or any position for that matter – and at 25, he’s made 300 appearances for Liverpool and won every available major honour.
Centre-back: Tony Adams – Arsenal
A statue of Tony Adams sits proudly outside the Emirates Stadium, a recognition of a one-club career that saw the centre-back captain Arsenal for 14 years and win league titles in three different decades.
A Gunners great, Adams was the centre-piece of the North London side’s famous back four, a water-tight rearguard featuring Steve Bould, Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn that became famed for their understanding as a unit.
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 3, 2023
He bounced back from personal problems to thrive in the Arsene Wenger era, captaining the club to domestic doubles in 1997/98 and 2001/02, as the French coach mixed the old-school English nous of Adams with an increasingly cosmopolitan core.
Centre-back: Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool
Virgil van Dijk has set standards at Liverpool that have meant defenders across the division are continually compared to the Dutchman. Signed from Southampton in a £75m club-record deal, Van Dijk made an instant impact in turning Liverpool’s soft centre into an area of strength.
His six seasons with the Reds have resulted in a clean sweep of major honours, lifting the Champions League and Premier League. Individually, he became only the third defender in the Premier League era to win the PFA Player of the Year award and finished as runner-up for the 2019 Ballon d’Or.
Since he arrived at Anfield, no player in the Premier League has won a higher percentage of their duels.
Left-back: Ashley Cole – Arsenal
Arguably the best all-round full-back of the Premier League era, Ashley Cole’s career was spent shutting down the best widemen in the division. Tenacious in his defensive work and a willing runner to contribute further forward, Cole was excellent at both ends of the pitch.
After coming through the Arsenal academy, he won two league titles with the Gunners and formed part of the club’s famous ‘Invincibles’ team in 2003/04. The club’s failure to tie down Cole for the long-term, leading to a controversial cross-capital transfer to Chelsea, must still rankle in North London.
Midfield: Patrick Vieira – Arsenal
Arsene Wenger’s success at Arsenal was built on unearthing untapped potential. Patrick Vieira was among the best business of his reign, signed after struggling to make an impact at AC Milan.
In North London, Vieira blossomed into a monstrous midfield presence, a box-to-box powerhouse who dominated duels and drove the Gunners onwards. The Frenchman stamped his authority on Premier League midfields and captained the club to the Premier League title in unbeaten fashion in 2003/04.
Though goals were not his speciality, he scored big goals at big moments, including one as the Premier League title was secured at arch-rivals Tottenham in 2004. His battles with Manchester United captain Roy Keane, the defining leaders of the early noughties, are iconic imagery of the Premier League.
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 24, 2020
Midfield: Steven Gerrard – Liverpool
One of the most influential midfielders of the Premier League era, Steven Gerrard’s determination to drive Liverpool to silverware success cemented his place in the club’s history.
He made 504 Premier League appearances for the Reds, scoring 120 goals, and often carried the weight of expectation for his boyhood team. Gerrard’s greatest nights coincided with Liverpool’s success of that period, with man-of-the-match showings in the 2005 Champions League final and the FA Cup decider a year later.
A scorer of crucial, and spectacular, goals he was named in the PFA Team of the Year on a record eight occasions, acknowledged by his fellow professionals as one of the outstanding talents of his generation.
Right-wing: Mohamed Salah – Liverpool
Mohamed Salah’s incredible consistency has seen the Egyptian shatter records since he arrived at Liverpool. There was an element of risk to Liverpool’s capture of Salah after an underwhelming spell at Chelsea earlier in his career, but he has proven to be a stunning success.
Just four players have ever scored more goals for Liverpool (204) than Salah, while he has collected medals in the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and Community Shield.
The highest-scoring African footballer in Premier League history, he is a three-time winner of the Golden Boot and two-time PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year.
Left-wing: Robert Pires – Arsenal
Robert Pires takes up a role on the opposite flank, edging out Sadio Mane for a place in this team. The fleet-footed Frenchman was a key protagonist in Arsenal’s best successes of the early noughties, combining elegantly with Ashley Cole and Thierry Henry in a tantalising trio down the left.
Pires overcame a slow start in English football to evolve into one of the Premier League’s most effective imports, scoring 87 times across six seasons in North London and winning the FWA Footballer of the Year award in the club’s double-winning 2001/02 campaign.
— Premier League (@premierleague) July 3, 2022
Forward: Luis Suarez – Liverpool
Liverpool’s long lineage of strikers reads like a roll call of Premier League favourites, but arguably the best of the bunch was Luis Suarez.
Suarez’s time in the Premier League was perhaps too brief to be considered among the league’s finest-ever forwards, though his peak was as good as anything the division has seen.
The Uruguayan scored 82 times in 133 appearances in a red shirt, with his best season seeing Suarez win a clean sweep of individual honours, taking home the PFA Player of the Year, FWA Footballer of the Year and Golden Boot in 2013/14. That campaign saw him stand out as the Premier League’s finest footballer, a highlight in a career that has seen the forward win leading scorer accolades in Holland, England and Spain, and two European Golden Shoes.
Luis Suarez vs Norwich. Inevitable 💥 pic.twitter.com/r5DA3jZx0H
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 28, 2024
Forward: Thierry Henry – Arsenal
For many, perhaps even for most, Thierry Henry is the greatest player of the Premier League era.
Henry’s best saw him star as an unstoppable force in an iconic Arsenal team, with the Frenchman – adorned in trademark gloves and high socks – bending Premier League games to his will. A record four-time winner of the Golden Boot, the flair and finesse of Henry is some of the most defining memories of the Premier League era.
Thierry Henry. ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/FpFPkJVO1A
— Premier League (@premierleague) August 17, 2023
Watching him in full flow was Premier League poetry, defenders trailing in his wake as he floored the accelerator to leave opposition challenges in the rear-view mirror. A great goalscorer and scorer of great goals, he is Arsenal’s record scorer with 228 for the Gunners.