Which players make it into an Arsenal v Liverpool combined XI?
The game of the weekend sees Liverpool travel to Arsenal, the surprise leaders of the Premier League after the Gunners won seven of their opening eight matches.
Liverpool, meanwhile, are lagging 11 points behind Arsenal’s pace sitting in mid-table and in need of a statement result to kick start their season.
Jurgen Klopp’s squad is mostly the same as the team that has been challenging Manchester City for honours in recent years, but the sale of Sadio Mane has left a hole they are yet to fill.
With Arsenal seemingly at their peak as a number of players are in the best form of their life, it suggests a handful of Gunners stars would now make it into the Liverpool XI.
Ahead of Sunday’s match, we have picked out a combined Arsenal and Liverpool team.
There is still a question mark over Aaron Ramsdale even with Arsenal top of the table, so Alisson gets the nod in goal.
The Brazilian is one of a handful of Liverpool players to have been well under-par this season, but like his team-mates he has plenty of credit still in the bank.
Ramsdale’s distribution is not at Alisson’s level and the Englishman’s youthful impetuousness leads to fears he could cause issues for himself when put under pressure by the opposition.
Defence: Trent Alexander-Arnold, William Saliba, Virgil van Dijk, Oleksandr Zinchenko
Alexander-Arnold is having a difficult time, with critics pointing out he appears to lack both concentration and defensive instinct. His playmaking talent is not in doubt but he is yet to provide an assist in the Premier League this season, which means the rock-solid Ben White is perhaps unfortunate to miss out.
Similarly, Van Dijk‘s historic performances are enough to earn him a place even though the Netherlands international looks to be badly out of sorts right now.
Arsenal are represented at the back by summer signing Zinchenko, who brings title-winning nous, as well as Saliba, who has taken to life in the Premier League like a duck to water. Saliba has also chipped in with a couple of goals in his eight league appearances so far with that extra threat in the opposition box helping to ensure he gets the nod in this combined XI.
Midfield: Thomas Partey, Fabinho, Martin Odegaard
Liverpool’s midfield has been a problem position for some time and it was a surprise the Reds did not make a significant move in the transfer window this year. Regardless, Fabinho remains a classy operator at the base of midfield, even if the Brazilian has not been at his best of late.
Arsenal’s strong start to the season owes much to the leadership of new captain Odegaard, who has provided three goals, ensuring he nudges out the similarly excellent Granit Xhaka. For the third spot, it is tough to look beyond Partey for his transformative impact on Arsenal’s form.
Attack: Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus
Tough calls have to be made in attack, with Liverpool struggling to adapt to life without Mane after he was given the green light to join Bayern Munich. Darwin Nunez has not started the season particularly well, with the resurgent Firmino actually Liverpool’s outstanding attacker. The Brazilian has scored five goals this season, netting braces against both Bournemouth and Brighton, while he has also contributed three assists. It is impossible to leave him out.
Jesus is also a must-pick. Firmino’s counterpart has also provided five goals and three assists in the Premier League, justifying in style Arsenal’s decision to sign him from Manchester City.
Wrapping up the attack is Salah. While the Egyptian’s returns of two goals and three assists in the Premier League are below what would be expected of him, Salah’s ability to turn a game with a moment of magic means he edges out the unlucky Bukayo Saka for the team’s last spot.
Substitutes: Aaron Ramsdale, Gabriel, Ben White, Harvey Elliott, Jordan Henderson, Granit Xhaka, Luis Diaz, Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka
While Liverpool have six players to Arsenal’s five in the XI, the bench sees the balance change. Saka and Martinelli can both consider themselves unfortunate to narrowly miss out on the team, while Xhaka’s incredible turnaround from pariah to hero could have also been recognised too.
What is for sure is putting together a combined XI for Arsenal and Liverpool helps demonstrate how the Gunners are clearly on the rise, while the Reds’ strong era could be coming to an end.