Manchester City take on Arsenal in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday evening, a crunch clash between two teams currently competing for the Premier League title.
Arsenal have exceeded all expectations this season to create a healthy gap at the top of the Premier League table, as the Gunners look to end City’s recent dominance of the division.
Mikel Arteta’s connection with City adds another intriguing sub-plot to the contest, having worked as an assistant under Pep Guardiola before emerging as his latest rival for major trophies.
Ahead of their FA Cup showdown at the Etihad this evening, we’ve chosen our Manchester City and Arsenal combined XI.
Goalkeeper: Aaron Ramsdale – Arsenal
Aaron Ramsdale edges out Ederson for our number one position with the goalkeeper having demonstrated his value to Arsenal in recent weeks.
Ederson’s kicking remains elite, but Ramsdale has proven to be a fine distributor from the back with accurate long kicks and throws often setting Arsenal on the front foot. He was excellent in the recent win over Tottenham, making a series of saves as Arsenal won at their north London rivals for the first time since 2014.
Save after save after save 🙌@AaronRamsdale98 👏 pic.twitter.com/OYYDBpt0KK
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 17, 2023
The England goalkeeper also leads Ederson for clean sheets this season and has a better save percentage in the Premier League during the current campaign.
Right-back: Ben White – Arsenal
Ben White has been brilliant in Arsenal’s run to the top of the Premier League this season, shining following his move into an unfamiliar right-back role.
No player in the division has successfully defended more dribbles than White during the current campaign, whose determined defending has come alongside a composure in possession and fine distribution.
Perhaps only Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier has a better claim as the Premier League’s best right-back this season, a testament to White’s performances in a role which is not his favoured. He keeps out Kyle Walker in our combined XI, with the England international left out of the City side for recent fixtures in place of teenager Rico Lewis.
Centre-back: John Stones – Manchester City
John Stones remains one of the most under-appreciated centre-backs in Europe outside of the Etihad circle, rarely receiving headlines despite continued excellence for one of world football’s best club sides.
Stones impressed at the World Cup with England and has returned to club action in impressive form, where he has been City’s most consistent centre-back option across the past 18 months.
Sensational defending from Stones! ⛔️ pic.twitter.com/TE71ba2Txo
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 6, 2023
Brilliant on the ball and rarely flustered, he has all the attributes Pep Guardiola demands from a central defender. The 28-year-old has won four Premier League titles since signing for City and will be a central part of the club’s future successes.
Centre-back: William Saliba – Arsenal
William Saliba had to be patient for his chance at Arsenal but it is one he has grasped this season since being introduced into the side.
The 21-year-old has been outstanding for much of the campaign for the Gunners, forming an impressive understanding with Gabriel. The defensive duo have shone for the Premier League’s second-best defence, with Saliba just edging his teammate for a place in our combined side.
The France international has an aura of confidence and cool in his defensive work and looks set for a long future at the top of the game. Arsenal are unsurprisingly keen to tie him down to a new deal.
Left-back: Oleksandr Zinchenko – Arsenal
Oleksandr Zinchenko has proven one of the signings of the season at Arsenal and will face his former side for the first time this evening.
Zinchenko won four titles in five seasons at Manchester City but rarely commanded automatic status, before demonstrating his class on a consistent basis in north London. The Ukraine international has been a revelation for the Gunners, performing his complex role in Mikel Arteta’s side to the highest standard.
Whether inverting into midfield or creating width on the flanks, Zinchenko is popping up all over the pitch and is thriving in an Arsenal shirt. He leads his teammates for touches, passes into the final third, and completed passes in the opposition half this season.
Oleksandr Zinchenko for Arsenal against Spurs and Man Utd:
◉ Most touches (178)
◉ Most passes (136)
◉ Most duels won (14)
◉ Most aerial duels won (6)
◎ 100% take-ons completed
◎ 100% aerial duels won
And no opposition player has successfully dribbled past him. pic.twitter.com/zV2g98Vztp
— Squawka (@Squawka) January 23, 2023
His role in Arsenal’s transformation can not be understated. A class act who City might just regret allowing to leave the Etihad.
Midfield: Rodri – Manchester City
Rodri has evolved into the fulcrum of Pep Guardiola’s side, adding authority to the base of the Manchester City midfield.
Arguably the best defensive midfielder in world football right now, he leads the Premier League for touches (1935), passes into the final third (171) and ranks third for progressive passes (101). No midfielder can better Rodri’s 91.3% pass accuracy in the division this season and the Spaniard is the conduit of the City’s possession dominant side.
Rodri for Man City in the first half vs. Wolves:
◉ 100% pass accuracy (39/39)
◉ Most possession won (4)
◉ Most duels won (3)
◉ Most tackles (2)
Everywhere. 🏃 pic.twitter.com/fwnAB0kFjd
— Squawka (@Squawka) January 22, 2023
The 26-year-old boasts the perfect combination of presence and poise, with the midfielder comfortable on the ball in tight areas and unafraid to make his mark with a crunching challenge.
Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City
Kevin De Bruyne remains the creative benchmark for Premier League footballers and leads the division for goals created once again this term.
De Bruyne has 11 assists in the Premier League so far this season, more than any other player across Europe’s top five leagues. Five of those assists have come for Erling Haaland in a connection that Manchester City will hope can fire the club to silverware this season.
Kevin De Bruyne has assisted Erling Haaland five times in the Premier League this season for Manchester City – this is the most assists by one player for another in the competition this term pic.twitter.com/PgDke0Zq7v
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 22, 2023
He might not be firing on all cylinders since his return from Belgium’s disastrous World Cup campaign, but De Bruyne’s class is enough to ensure his place in this XI.
Midfield: Martin Odegaard – Arsenal
Martin Odegaard has emerged as one of the finest footballers in the Premier League this season, with the midfielder the conductor for the league leaders.
The Norwegian has thrived with the added responsibility of the Arsenal captaincy this season, in what has been a coming-of-age campaign for a footballer who has long brimmed with potential.
Odegaard’s artistic touches have been mixed with an improved killer instinct and he has been involved in 14 league goals this season, scoring eight and creating a further six.
Martin Odegaard is a joy to watch, pass it on ✨ pic.twitter.com/5gu2NhD7Jo
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 19, 2023
Arguably the best player in the Premier League’s best team right now, his vision and inventive class has taken the Gunners up a level.
Right-wing: Bukayo Saka – Arsenal
Bukayo Saka just keeps on getting better and better.
This season the winger has evolved from an exciting young talent into one of the Premier League’s most effective footballers, having scored seven goals and provided another seven assists for Arsenal. Still just 21, Saka has time to continue improving and is one of the most watchable players in the division right now.
BUKAYO SAKA. WHAT A TALENT 🌟🔥 pic.twitter.com/0qKwbHrd95
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 22, 2023
Dangerous one-vs-one, explosive and creative, he is one of the driving forces behind Arsenal’s title challenge and appears to be embarrassing full-backs on a weekly basis. He’s been unplayable on occasion.
Left-wing: Phil Foden – Manchester City
As Saka shines as the poster-boy of the Arsenal academy, Phil Foden is the Etihad equivalent and remains the example for budding talents breaking through at Manchester City.
Foden has been a delight to watch since breaking into Pep Guardiola’s side on a regular basis, where he has won the affections of the Citizens’ support with wondrous moments of flair and innovation in the final third.
A first hat-trick for @PhilFoden 🎩🪄#ManCity pic.twitter.com/bqFtUKGTU1
— Manchester City (@ManCity) October 2, 2022
The 22-year-old – who has won the PFA Young Player of the Year award in each of the last two campaigns – has been involved in ten goals in 13 league starts this season.
Forward: Erling Haaland – Manchester City
Erling Haaland is a goalscoring machine.
Since arriving into English football last summer the Norwegian has obliterated goal records, scoring 25 goals in just 19 league appearances for Manchester City.
Haaland’s season is already the most prolific debut campaign from a foreign footballer in English football and he has outscored the Golden Boot winning totals from each of the past four campaigns.
Erling Haaland is on course for a 50-goal season in the Premier League 🤯 pic.twitter.com/nJa7ApMoHh
— GOAL (@goal) January 25, 2023
With half of the season still remaining, Haaland is capable of breaking every single season record in the book. Few would bet against him doing so after an unstoppable season so far.
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