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Our Arsenal vs Manchester City combined XI

Arsenal host Manchester City in the Premier League on Wednesday evening as the division’s top two go head-to-head in a huge clash.

Mikel Arteta’s side are top of the division after a fantastic start to the season, but have wobbled in recent fixtures to see their lead reduced. Manchester City – champions in four of the last five seasons – are just three points behind and can move above Arsenal on goal difference with a win at the Emirates.

 

It promises to be a fascinating showdown and a test of each side’s championship credentials, with the team who hold their nerve set to be in a strong position to win the Premier League this season.

Ahead of a must-watch encounter in north London, we’ve chosen our Arsenal vs Manchester City combined XI.

Goalkeeper: Ederson – Manchester City

Ederson earns the nod in goal, with the Manchester City goalkeeper long established as one of the Premier League’s finest number ones.

The Brazilian’s distribution is the benchmark for modern goalkeepers, with Ederson boasting unerring accuracy with his feet over a range of distances. His comfortability in possession allows Manchester City to build from the back, as Guardiola demands a possession dominant approach from his side.

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Aaron Ramsdale continues to go from strength to strength and has the attributes and temperament to become England’s number one, but Ederson’s proven record on the biggest stage sees him claim our number one shirt.

Right-back: Kyle Walker – Manchester City

Kyle Walker has been one of the Premier League’s top full-backs for several seasons, racking up honours across five seasons at Manchester City. He has won four league titles and five domestic cups at the Etihad, evolving from the marauding speedster seen at Spurs to a more well-rounded footballer under Pep Guardiola’s management.

Walker’s intelligence and recovery pace are essential to City’s defensive balance and the 32-year-old will be a key presence in attempting to shutdown Arsenal’s vibrant forward threat this week.

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Ben White deserves a mention after an outstanding season for Arsenal, with the England international having excelled since moving into an unfamiliar right-back role.

Centre-back: Ruben Dias – Manchester City

Ruben Dias’ return is a welcome boost to Manchester City ahead of their title showdown at Arsenal, with the centre-back remaining the most authoritative figure in the club’s backline. John Stones’ hamstring injury has heightened the need for Dias to return to his best level and the performances of the Portuguese defender will be vital in the coming weeks.

The 2020/21 FWA Footballer of the Year is a commanding leader at the heart of the defence, a combination of old-school grit and more modern centre-back silk.

A powerful presence and cool in possession, he has emerged as one of Europe’s top central defenders since arriving from Benfica in 2020.

Centre-back: William Saliba – Arsenal

William Saliba has taken his chance at Arsenal this season, returning from a loan spell at Marseille to become a fixture in the side. Saliba was named as Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Season last term and has emerged as one of the Premier League’s finest young defenders in 2022/23.

The 21-year-old has formed an impressive understanding with Gabriel, with the latter having also taken notable strides forward this season. Their centre-back combination has seen Arsenal concede just 18 goals this season and only Newcastle have a better defensive record.

Saliba has had difficult moments as he adapts to the demands of the Premier League, but the France international all the attributes to become one of world football’s best centre-backs.

Left-back: Oleksandr Zinchenko – Arsenal

Oleksandr Zinchenko will come up against his former side on Wednesday evening, having had a huge impact on Arsenal since his summer arrival from Manchester City.

Zinchenko has brought a winner’s mentality to table-topping Gunners and has integrated with ease into Mikel Arteta’s side, revolutionising Arsenal in his complex full-back role. An elite technician, Zinchenko has often moved into the ‘6’ space to overload the midfield and has built the play from deep with his intelligent use of the ball.

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One of the signings of the season, Manchester City might just regret having allowed the Ukraine international to leave for the Emirates. Rarely a regular at the Etihad, he has become integral to an Arsenal side looking to dethrone his former employers.

Midfield: Rodri – Manchester City

Is Rodri the best defensive midfielder in Europe? It is an argument that is certainly increasing in weight.

The Spaniard is having another superb season as the conduit of the Manchester City side, leading the Premier League for touches (2166), progressive passes (176) and passes into the final third (190).

No midfielder in the division can better his 91.4% pass completion, though Rodri is far more than just a tempo-setter, combining passing accuracy with a willingness to mix it defensively and a knack for scoring important goals.

The 26-year-old headed home the opener against Aston Villa last weekend, settling any early nerves as City closed the gap on Arsenal at the top. The stage is set for a seismic showdown in midweek.

Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City

Kevin De Bruyne might not have reached his optimum level this season, but remains the most consistent creative presence in the Premier League and leads the division for assists.

No player in Europe’s top five leagues has created more goals than De Bruyne (11) this season, with the Belgian’s vision and precise delivery manufacturing countless chances for Manchester City.

The 31-year-old has provided five assists for Erling Haaland alone, a combination that has brought instant chemistry this season. De Bruyne has now provided 97 assists in the Premier League and is closing in on becoming just the fifth man to reach a century in the division. He has been one of the most complete footballers of his era.

Midfield: Martin Odegaard – Arsenal

Arsenal’s captain has grown in stature this season, emerging as one of the most influential figures in the division.

Odegaard has long been a talent rich with potential, but has started to fulfil those expectations during a brilliant season with the Gunners. The Norwegian is the creative hub of Arsenal’s improving team and has been directly involved in 13 goals this season, scoring eight and creating a further five.

His subtle touches and clever interchanges in the final third have been a joy to watch this season and Odegaard will hope a career-best campaign can end with him hoisting aloft the Premier League.

Right-wing: Bukayo Saka – Arsenal

Bukayo Saka’s evolution into one of the Premier League’s leading lights is close to completion and keeping the winger under wraps will be key to Manchester City’s hopes of success.

Even when below his best, the 21-year-old has the capability to change games in an instant and is a full-back’s nightmare when left in isolation up against defenders.

Full of spark and improving end product, Saka has seven goals and eight assists in the Premier League this season and has been one of the players of the campaign to date. He has been a driving force of Arsenal’s title challenge and is among the most watchable talents in Europe.

Left-wing: Phil Foden – Manchester City

Phil Foden has been forced to watch on in recent weeks with the England international having failed to complete 90 minutes in the league since the season’s restart.

It has been a frustrating period for City’s homegrown star, but he will hope a proven big-game record can earn him a recall in midweek. Foden has delivered consistent quality whenever called upon in the biggest fixtures, emphasised with a hat-trick against Manchester United earlier in the campaign.

The back-to-back PFA Young Player of the Year is a fluid footballer who floats around the final third, boasting a level of street-footballer skill rarely associated with English players.

Still just 22, he has produced 91 goal involvements in 197 appearances for City and has won four Premier League titles.

Forward: Erling Haaland – Manchester City

Erling Haaland heads into this week’s clash as a fitness doubt and those of a City persuasion will be praying the club’s goal-machine is passed fit.

Haaland has been unstoppable for much of his debut Premier League campaign, one which has seen records shattered in the most prolific first season from a foreign footballer in the division’s history.

It’s already 25 league goals for Haaland, just one short of Sergio Aguero’s best-ever total in a Manchester City shirt. Those are the extraordinary numbers that the Norwegian is posting, in a season that has more than a third still remaining.

The Golden Boot appears a formality for Haaland, while the Premier League’s single-season goalscoring record appears a matter of time. It has been a freakish season so far for the 22-year-old phenomenon.

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