Manchester United host Arsenal this weekend as one of the Premier League’s great rivalries is resumed, the two having shared some iconic encounters during their peak years as regular challengers for silverware.
Both sides are currently in transition and under the guidance of former players, though each will harbour ambitions of challenging for honours this season and will be seeking an important three points this weekend.
Ahead of Sunday’s eagerly anticipated clash at Old Trafford, we’ve decided to assess each side and compile the best players from each squad into a dream XI.
Here is the Football Faithful’s Manchester United and Arsenal combined XI:
Goalkeeper: David De Gea – Manchester United
Arguably the most difficult decision on the team sheet, David De Gea edges out Bernd Leno for our goalkeeping position by the narrowest of margins.
The Spaniard has endured a mixed time of late and has come under the fiercest criticism since his early months of adaptation at Manchester United, but he has looked more assured and closer to his best in recent weeks, including a fine performance in the club’s Champions League victory at Paris Saint-Germain.
Leno is an excellent shot-stopper in his own right, however, and remains perhaps underrated amongst the division’s best, recording the fourth-highest save percentage during the 2018/19 season before an injury-hit campaign last time out.
However, De Gea’s longevity at the top and previous heights – including winning a record four Manchester United Player of the Year awards – earn him a narrow inclusion here.
Right-back: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Manchester United
Aaron Wan-Bissaka fills our right-back position ahead of Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin, the youngster having emerged as one of the best defensive full-backs in Europe in recent seasons.
The 22-year-old’s contribution on the ball remains a work in progress but has has shown signs of improving his attacking output, though it is undoubtedly the defensive side of the game where Wan-Bissaka thrives.
Wan-Bissaka topped the Premier League for tackles last season and is brilliant when faced one-against-one, his timing in the challenge superb and it is a quality that has nullified some of the game’s best forwards including the likes of Raheem Sterling and Neymar in recent months.
Centre-back: Gabriel – Arsenal
Arsenal looked to solve their long-standing issues at centre-back this summer with Mikel Arteta securing the signing of Gabriel from Lille, the summer arrival having looked a shrewd acquisition in the opening weeks of the new campaign.
The Brazilian was highly-rated during his time in France and was reportedly courted by the likes of Napoli and Manchester United, with the youngster having only enhanced his reputation since moving to the Emirates in a £27m deal.
Gabriel scored on his debut at Fulham and has brought presence to the Gunners backline, being named as the north London side’s Player of the Month for September.
His solid start to life in English football has raised optimism that Arsenal have finally addressed their Achilles’ heel in central defence.
Centre-back: Harry Maguire – Manchester United
Few would have included Harry Maguire in any combined sides just a matter of weeks ago following a difficult summer and start to the season, but the defender has returned to form in recent fixtures and earns inclusion here over the likes of David Luiz and Victor Lindelof.
Maguire led by example during the victory at Newcastle and scored a captain’s goal to equalise at St James’ Park, whilst playing an important role in a recent upturn of form for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
The England international’s world-record price-tag has often been used as a stick with which to beat him with and whilst he remains some way below the elite defenders in the game, the United captain has largely improved the club’s solidity since his arrival and slots into this side at centre-back.
Left-back: Kieran Tierney – Arsenal
Kieran Tierney has emerged as a fans’ favourite at Arsenal since his arrival from Celtic last summer, the Scotland international impressing since moving to the Premier League despite injury problems.
Tierney’s performances in an Arsenal shirt have been accomplished and he has comfortably handled the step up in quality since arriving in England, whilst his committed attitude and unassuming nature have only endeared him further to the Gunners’ support.
The 23-year-old possesses a dynamic style and is solid defensively in addition to providing a forward threat, his no-frills approach to the game earning him the kind of cult hero status the often much-maligned Luke Shaw could only dream of at Old Trafford.
Midfield: Thomas Partey – Arsenal
Arsenal’s marquee signing of the summer transfer window, Thomas Partey joined Mikel Arteta’s revolution at the Emirates after completing a deadline day move from Atletico Madrid.
The Ghana international has forged a reputation as a powerhouse midfield talent during a hugely impressive spell in the Spanish capital, Partey a player who seemingly covers every blade of grass to aid his side’s cause.
Strong in the challenge, elite athletically and possessing underrated technical talents, Arteta will be hopeful the summer signing can emerge as a key figure in his side’s new-look engine room.
Arsenal have lacked a dynamic and physical presence in their midfield for several seasons and Partey has the talent to become one of the Premier League’s finest enforcers, the arrival of the 27-year-old and centre-back Gabriel significantly strengthening the Gunners’ spine.
Midfield: Paul Pogba – Manchester United
Paul Pogba remains the Premier League’s greatest enigma with the midfielder having often flattered to deceive since a world-record return to Manchester United four years ago, fluctuating between moments of quality and ineffective displays.
There is very little doubt about the ability of the France international who can count four Serie A titles and the World Cup amongst his collection of silverware, however, Pogba is a player who mixes sublime technique with an imposing stature and perhaps plays his best football when unshackled of responsibilities.
Finding his best role and unlocking Pogba’s complete skillset has proven the difficult, though his performance on the left-hand side of a midfield diamond against RB Leipzig in midweek offered encouragement.
Midfield: Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United
Manchester United’s mid-season signing of Bruno Fernandes galvanised the club last season and proved the catalyst for a surge into the Champions League places, the midfielder having earned instant hero status at Old Trafford.
Fernandes has quickly become the creative spark of the Red Devils side and has compiled a hugely impressive goal and assist record since moving to English football, scoring 16 goals and providing a further 12 assists in just 30 appearances in all competitions.
Comfortable in tight areas and possessing a vision to pick out his teammates’ attacking runs, Fernandes is happy to shoulder responsibility and has emerged as a leader of an emerging side under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Right-wing: Mason Greenwood – Manchester United
Arsenal’s Willian had been a proven Premier League performer for several seasons at Chelsea before making the move across the capital this summer, though we’ve opted for youth over experience with the inclusion of Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood in our combined XI.
Greenwood burst onto the scene last season to establish himself as arguably the most exciting talent in English football, becoming the first player since Michael Owen over two decades earlier to score 10+ Premier League goals in a season aged 18 or under.
The forward finished the campaign with 17 goals in all competitions for the Red Devils, equalling the record for a teenager previously achieved by George Best, Brian Kidd and Wayne Rooney.
Rarely has a player looked to at ease when shooting off both feet, Greenwood a devastating finisher and a player seemingly destined to reach the very top.
Left-wing: Marcus Rashford – Manchester United
Marcus Rashford continues to make a huge impression both within football and in wider society, the forward a brilliant talent using his platform to make significant and much needed change.
Rashford’s campaign work deserves huge credit, but it is his footballing ability that wins him inclusion here and he seems to be continuing his upward trajectory over the opening weeks of the season.
The 22-year-old scored a career-best 22 goals in all competitions last season and has begun the new campaign in similar fashion, scoring seven times in nine appearances including a clinical hat-trick against RB Leipzig in midweek.
Rashford’s electric pace and dribbling ability make him perfectly suited to an inside-forward role, his best performances often coming when starting on the left and drifting into dangerous central areas.
Forward: Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang – Arsenal
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has fulfilled a similar role to Rashford on the left of the Arsenal attack of late, but there is an argument persisting to return one of the Premier League’s finest finishers to a centre-forward position.
Aubameyang has rifled in goals with unerring regularity since signing for Arsenal in January 2018, scoring 73 goals in just 113 appearances in all competitions and winning a share of the Premier League’s Golden Boot during the 2018/19 season.
The Gabon international has endured a difficult start to the new campaign but remains the key figure for Arsenal as they seek a top four finish this season, the north London side desperate to return to the Champions League following a four-season absence.