Manchester City and Arsenal collide in the Premier League this evening, as the table’s top two meet in a potential title decider at the Etihad.
The two teams have been comfortably the finest in the Premier League this season, with Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal emerging as contenders to City’s recent dominance of the division. It promises to be a must-watch match on Wednesday night, as the two contenders go toe-to-toe.
Ahead of the clash, we’ve chosen our Manchester City and Arsenal combined XI.
Goalkeeper: Ederson – Manchester City
Even if there is a feeling from some that Ederson’s standards have dipped this season, he remains an ideal goalkeeper for the demands of Pep Guardiola’s side.
The Brazilian has won four Premier League titles in five attempts and has claimed the division’s Golden Glove on three occasions, while his distribution has made Ederson a unique weapon for City over short or long distances.
He boasts the best long pass accuracy in the Premier League this season among goalkeepers and earns the nod over Aaron Ramsdale given his proven experience of performing in the biggest fixtures.
Right-back: Ben White – Arsenal
Ben White has been a revelation since his switch from a central role to right-back this season, emerging as one of the most consistent performers in Mikel Arteta’s side. The 25-year-old is proactive in possession and forward-thinking, while he boasts composure on the ball to step into midfield with ease.
Add in his comfortability in moving inwards to form a back three and it is the sort of in-game intelligence and tactical versatility that might just be admired in the opposition dugout this week.
Centre-back: John Stones – Manchester City
John Stones is certainly enjoying his football right now.
The Manchester City defender has taken on a unique role in Pep Guardiola’s plan, one which has led to a run of impressive results. Stones has flittered between roles at right-back, central defence and in midfield, spending much of his time venturing forward to join Rodri in a double-pivot at the base of the midfield.
Sensational defending from Stones! ⛔️ pic.twitter.com/TE71ba2Txo
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 6, 2023
It takes a brilliant footballer to execute that game plan and be so adaptable. Stones is just that.
Centre-back: Ruben Dias – Manchester City
Ruben Dias’ return has been a key reason for his side’s upturn in results, with City unbeaten in all competitions since the defender’s return from a hamstring issue.
The Portugal international has been in fine form in recent weeks with City having conceded just seven league goals since Dias returned to the starting side from injury in early February.
He was outstanding across both legs as Pep Guardiola’s side beat Bayern Munich to reach the Champions League semi-finals, producing the sort of body-on-the-line defending that has been his hallmark since arriving at the Etihad.
Unreal, @rubendias ⛔️ pic.twitter.com/fxQoVwfN3L
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 14, 2023
A natural leader and commanding presence, but with all the calm in possession of a Guardiola defender, he is arguably Europe’s leading centre-back right now. City have a better win percentage, and have scored more goals and conceded less per game, with Dias in the side this season. A player who often brings the best from those around him.
Left-back: Oleksandr Zinchenko – Arsenal
Oleksandr Zinchenko faces his former side on Wednesday evening, as the Arsenal left-back looks to take his new team a step closer to the Premier League title.
Zinchenko won four league titles during a decorated career at Manchester City and is now chasing a fifth winners’ medal in the colours of Arsenal, having had a transformative impact on Mikel Arteta’s improving team.
Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko return to The Etihad for the first time in the Premier League since leaving!! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/jB9fEHPFQ0
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 26, 2023
The Ukrainian’s tactical intelligence and technique have enabled him to adopt an inverted full-back role, one which has seen Zinchenko drift inwards to overload the midfield and contribute to Arsenal’s ability to build from the back. His adaptable role has been a major part of Arteta’s tactical plan, with Zinchenko an integral part of the club’s unexpected title challenge. A superb addition at the Emirates.
Midfield: Rodri – Manchester City
Erling Haaland might have dominated the headlines at Manchester City this season, but there is an argument that Rodri has become the most important cog in Pep Guardiola’s winning machine.
The Spaniard is the conduit of City’s possession dominant side, leading the Premier League for touches (2818) and racking up a pass completion (91.4%) that no midfielder in the division can match.
Rodri's first #UCL goal 🤯 pic.twitter.com/uJstcE8tgN
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 19, 2023
Add in a reputation for delivering vital goals on the big occasion and presence and poise that has added grit to a team chasing history, Rodri is arguably the best midfield anchor in world football right now.
Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City
Kevin De Bruyne continues to create chances at an unmatched rate, having racked up a league-high 15 assists in the Premier League this season.
The Belgian’s ability to fashion up goalscoring opportunities is a striker’s dream and De Bruyne recently became the fifth player to reach a century of Premier League assists, achieving the feat faster than any of the names before him in just 237 appearances.
Could watch this nutmeg assist from Kevin De Bruyne all day long 😍
(via @ManCity) pic.twitter.com/060xMSq7mF
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 22, 2022
The 31-year-old has found his form in recent weeks as City charge towards a treble challenge, with four assists in his last three league appearances indicating De Bruyne – ominously for Arsenal – is approaching his top level ahead of the run-in.
Midfield: Martin Odegaard – Arsenal
Martin Odegaard continues to get better and better as the creative hub of Mikel Arteta’s team, with the Norwegian having stamped his influence on Arsenal’s title challenge.
Odegaard has scored 12 league goals and provided a further seven assists for the Gunners in the Premier League this season, emerging as one of the most influential footballers in England’s top tier.
This Odegaard assist 🤩 pic.twitter.com/4GeKd7rn9n
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 3, 2023
The 24-year-old is a brilliant talent to watch when in full flow, as he drifts around the final third with delicate touches and threaded passes through lines. His ability to find space will be crucial to Arsenal’s chances at the Etihad, with Odegaard a potential difference maker on the big occasion.
Right-wing: Bukayo Saka – Arsenal
If Bukayo Saka is still to reach his ceiling, then that must be a scary thought for Premier League full-backs.
Saka has been exceptional as the leading light of Arsenal’s exciting young side, producing career best numbers as one of the Premier League’s most effective attacking options.
Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli are the first two teammates aged 21 and under to record 20+ goal involvements in a single Premier League season since Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney 👏 pic.twitter.com/V1TQlaTuRM
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) April 24, 2023
Only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane have been directly involved in more goals than the 21-year-old this season (24), while Saka is the only player in the Premier League to reach 10+ for both goals and assists. Electric in possession and often unstoppable one-vs-one, City will need to formulate a plan to deal with Saka in the absence of Nathan Ake this evening.
Left-wing: Gabriel Martinelli – Arsenal
Arguably the toughest selection on the team sheet with Jack Grealish now appearing at home in a Manchester City shirt, but it’s difficult to overlook the contribution of Gabriel Martinelli to Arsenal’s title challenge.
The 21-year-old has been brilliant as an irrepressible and indefatigable presence in the Gunners’ forward line, tormenting Premier League full-backs with his mix of electric speed and work-rate.
Most goals scored by Brazilian players in Europe's top five leagues:
15 – Gabriel Martinelli
13 – Neymar
9 – Vini Jr, Jesus, Firmino
Leading the way. 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/FEb0ECILlZ
— Squawka Live (@Squawka_Live) April 21, 2023
Martinelli is Arsenal’s leading scorer in the Premier League with 15 goals this season, with no Brazilian having outscored the forward across Europe’s top five leagues. Only Crystal Palace’s Eberechi Eze (59) has completed more dribbles than Martinelli (56) this season and the forward’s speed and movement will be key to Arteta’s attacking game plan against his old employers.
Forward: Erling Haaland – Manchester City
Erling Haaland and record-breaking feats have gone hand in hand this season.
Never before has a footballer arrived in the Premier League and took such little time to make this level of impact, with Haaland having obliterated records that had stood for some time. It’s been a thankless task for our writers, who have needed to update lists of records and achievements on an almost weekly basis.
Cannot. Wait. 🔵 #mancity pic.twitter.com/6mV4NIuz6w
— Erling Haaland (@ErlingHaaland) April 25, 2023
Haaland’s is already the most prolific season from a Premier League player ever with 48 goals in all competitions and counting. You can rest assured he’s not done yet, as City chase a historic treble and elusive Champions League success.
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