Manchester City vs Arsenal Combined XI - Gabriel Martinelli
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Manchester City vs Arsenal – Combined XI ahead of Etihad clash

Manchester City and Arsenal collide in a huge showdown this weekend, with the Premier League title rivals meeting at the Etihad.

Arsenal are the league leaders and can take a giant step towards a first Premier League crown in two decades with a win, though the Gunners will be cautious after last season’s collapse at Manchester City in the title run-in.

Have Mikel Arteta’s team learned from that loss? Or are Manchester City a cut above when the pressure is on?

Ahead of their blockbuster clash, we’ve put together our Manchester City vs Arsenal Combined XI.

Goalkeeper: Ederson – Manchester City

David Raya has improved at Arsenal since a shaky start but Ederson earns the nod as number one in our Combined XI. The Brazilian’s brilliance with the ball at his feet remains the benchmark for modern goalkeepers and has transformed perceptions of how shot-stoppers should operate.

His impact in English football has contributed to change, with Arsenal’s pursuit of Raya – a fine distributor of the ball – following a Premier League trend that Ederson has helped create.

Right-back: Ben White – Arsenal

Kyle Walker’s expected absence leaves Ben White free to claim the right-back role in our side, having cemented himself in the position in north London. White’s adaptability and confidence in possession has seen him shift between roles, offering an outlet from the flanks and overloads in central areas.

His recent reluctance to link up with England is an issue that Gareth Southgate should solve. There are few defenders available to Southgate with attributes as ideally suited to international football.

Centre-back: John Stones – Manchester City

John Stones sets the standard for defenders offering poise in possession, after evolving into one of the most unique talents in the Premier League under Pep Guardiola. The box-to-box centre-back is not a role most would have envisioned, but Stones has become an influential oddity.

His licence to maraud forward into midfield – or even higher up the pitch – is crucial to the Citizens’ control of games.

Centre-back: William Saliba – Arsenal

William Saliba’s introduction into the Arsenal side had coincided with the club’s transformation from top-four hopefuls to title contenders, perhaps no real surprise given his impact on the side.

Effortless as he manoeuvres through the gears to repel opposition attacks, Saliba’s uber-cool when presented with danger has earned him Rolls-Royce status among Premier League centre-backs.

Left-back: Oleksandr Zinchenko – Arsenal

Manchester City were willing to allow Oleksandr Zinchenko to depart for Arsenal ahead of last season, though that decision has helped turn the Gunners into a genuine threat. The Ukrainian has flourished in an inverted full-back role for the north London side, where his security in possession is appreciated in more central areas.

Reservations remain over his defensive ability, but he is a crucial cog in the build-up for Arsenal. Mikel Arteta will hope the 27-year-old can find form and fitness across the run-in after a recent calf issue.

Midfield: Rodri – Manchester City

The names omitted from our combined midfield are the clearest indication of the strength of these squads.

Midfield is an area of real quality for both teams, with Rodri continuing to enhance his claim as the world’s best defensive midfielder in a Manchester City shirt.

The Spaniard is the conduit of City’s football, orchestrating proceedings from the base of the midfield. He is, arguably, the most influential footballer in the Premier League right now and has not lost a game for club or country in over 12 months.

Midfield: Declan Rice – Arsenal

Arsenal broke their transfer record by signing Declan Rice from West Ham last summer in a move designed to bridge the gap to this weekend’s opponents.

Rice had led West Ham to a drought-breaking major trophy last season and has become an instant leader in Mikel Arteta’s side, offering drive, dynamism and defensive security in midfield. Those who questioned his £105m price tag are becoming increasingly quiet and a statement performance this weekend will be the latest evidence that the 24-year-old is approaching the elite bracket.

Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City

The best player in the Premier League, still, when fit and firing.

Kevin De Bruyne might have missed the opening months of the campaign with a hamstring injury but he’s barely skipped a beat since returning. He’s racked up 13 assists from 14 games in all competitions, scoring twice, and continues to be the leading source of ammunition for Pep Guardiola’s frontline.

City, and the Premier League, have been blessed to have him.

Right-wing: Bukayo Saka – Arsenal

Is it still right to refer to Bukayo Saka as Arsenal’s starboy? This season, his performances have elevated him into world-class conversations.

Saka has produced some staggering numbers during Arsenal’s challenge for Premier League and Champions League success, with 16 goals and 13 assists in all competitions.

A first campaign in the Champions League has been taken in his lightning-quick stride, and Saka is now the go-to player in this Arsenal team when searching for attacking inspiration. Still just 22, he might not even be close to his ceiling.

Left-wing: Phil Foden – Manchester City

Phil Foden sits alongside Saka and Jude Bellingham as the jewels in the English crown for the next decade.

The 23-year-old has taken his game up another level this season with 18 goals and 10 assists while delivering match-winning performances in big games.

His derby demolition of Manchester United was another example of his class and Foden, a rare talent, should be handed a central role as the Three Lions aim for Euro 2024 success this summer.

Forward: Erling Haaland – Manchester City

Impossible to leave out, Erling Haaland’s goal return has begun to warp perceptions of the Premier League.

His debut season saw the Norwegian shatter the record for a single season (36), as he ended the campaign with 52 goals in all competitions in City’s treble triumph.

Embed from Getty Images

This time around, he’s the Premier League’s top scorer, despite some suggestions he’s not quite been at the same level. Oh, and he’s the Champions League’s top marksman for good measure. He’s so good that exceptional has become the norm.

Read – Ranking the five best defensive midfielders in the world right now

See more – Ranking the five best goalkeepers in the world right now

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