Man City v Arsenal combined XI ahead of crucial clash between Premier League title contenders

Arsenal v Man City combined XI

Who has been better in the Arsenal and City lineups this season?

With a huge clash between two of the three title challengers this weekend, it could be a massive opportunity for either Manchester City or Arsenal to make a statement.

For Man City, they’ve been good this year but many times both Arsenal and Liverpool have looked better than them so now is their chance to show they’re better than Arsenal. They’ve lost to Arsenal twice this season so it’s just as important for City to get a win as it is for Arsenal.

For Arsenal, they’re a young ambitious team full of players who haven’t won the league before, so now is a big mental hurdle they have to get over to go on to win a title. A win on Sunday against Man City would show that Arsenal have really improved since last season and they’re ready to go the whole way.

But the question is, who gets in the combined XI between Manchester City and Arsenal based on this season?

Goalkeeper – Ederson vs David Raya

Winner = David Raya

This is a close one, there’s definitely an argument for either player. But David Raya has certainly been the more influential of the two players. Raya’s MOTM performance vs Porto saving two penalties and throughout this season the level of composure he’s shown on the ball under pressure has been huge for Arsenal. Playing further out of goal than Aaron Ramsdale has allowed him to play as a situational centre-back and overload the pressers so there’s always a spare man to pass to, making build up play easier. Raya’s cross claiming has also allowed Arsenal to start so many more attacks, he’s statistically the best in the top five leagues by quite a margin. Ederson has achieved so much for Man City, but this season hasn’t been his best while Raya has been a transformative signing.

Right-Back – Kyle Walker vs Ben White

Winner = Ben White

The two English right-backs up against each other. Whilst Kyle Walker is in the conversation of being the best right-back in Premier League history, he’s not been at his peak level of performance. Whereas, Ben White has reached another level in the second half of the season. At the start White wasn’t as good and Walker would’ve edged it but White was actually playing with an injury. Since that’s healed, he’s been putting in some great performances, inverting into midfield creating from a defensive midfielder position similar to his Leeds United days. White has been all over the pitch influencing the game, his final ball has improved a lot helping his creativity and assist numbers go up.

Right Centre-Back – John Stones vs William Saliba

Winner = William Saliba

This is a really tough one but you’ve got to look at the players holistically. Yes Stones is exceptional on the ball and basically playing in midfield carrying the ball into the final third and passing through the lines, but this is all down to his role. If Guardiola had Saliba, Saliba could do that role too. The difference is, Saliba defensively has been much better and he’s been available all season whilst Stones has had injuries. Arsenal have the best defence in the league so it’s natural for there to be more of their defenders. Saliba is in the argument for being the best right-sided centre-back in the world right now and considering he’s only 23, it’s scary what he could become for Arsenal and France.

Left Centre-Back – Ruben Dias vs Gabriel

Winner = Gabriel

This one might not be popular, but it’s based on this season. This season alone, it’s hard for Dias to get in ahead of Gabriel. The Brazilian defender has at times been the best defender for Arsenal. He keeps the strikers quiet and locks them up all game, which then dominating in both boxes aerially even contributing in goals. Whereas Dias has often been dropped this season and has been poor defending transitions.

Gabriel Magalhaes and Ruben Dias stats

Left-Back – Nathan Ake vs Jakub Kiwior

Winner = Nathan Ake

Nathan Ake has transformed into one of the most defensively solid left-backs in the world. Last season in particular he went up levels at Man City. In fact, his turn of form is a big reason why City’s defence improved so much and they ended up winning the treble. Kiwior has been phenomenal in recent games but he’s only recent solidified his place in the team. Kiwior offers more going forward due to the way he inverts and whips in quality half space crosses. But Ake has been more consistent this year.

Defensive Midfielder – Rodri vs Jorginho

Winner = Rodri

Yes, the obvious comparison is to put Rodri vs Declan Rice, but Rice has been playing further forward for Arsenal this year and honestly, they both need to be in the team. Rodri has been one of if not the best defensive midfielders over the past few seasons. The technical security, the line breaking passes, Rodri is the best progressive passer in Europe. But not only that, he comes up with huge match winning moments for Man City so often. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he managed to score on the weekend vs Arsenal. Jorginho, since coming into the team, has also been great at progressing the ball from deep and allowing Rice to play further forward, but he’s not on the same level as Rodri.

Right Centre-Midfielder – Kevin De Bruyne vs Martin Odegaard

Winner = Martin Odegaard

Another tough one here due to the amount of gametime both have played this season. De Bruyne has been injured for most of the season so it would be unfair to put him in ahead of Martin Odegaard who has been arguably Arsenal’s best player. When fit, KDB is one of the best ever midfielders/second strikers to play in the Premier League. But this season he’s barely played. Odegaard on the other hand, just keeps getting better and better. With the way he can pass through the lines, collect the ball from deep and play a killer final pass, Odegaard has been running games for Arsenal this season.

Left Centre-Midfielder – Julian Alvarez vs Declan Rice

Winner = Declan Rice

Strange that these two have met at the same position. Alvarez has been playing much deeper in midfield, whilst Rice has been playing much higher as a more box-to-box midfielder. Alvarez has been good in this role but he’s much better in the front line, he just can’t get in ahead of who’s there. Rice though, he’s been one of the signings of the season and one of the best players in the league in general. Rice’s tenacity off the ball is a huge part of what’s turned Arsenal’s defence from joint third best last season, quite a way off the top spot, to the best this season. They’re not just getting clean sheets but in many games they’re limiting teams to minimal shots on target and Rice’s defensive prowess has helped this drastically. Not only that but having someone who can carry the ball from deep the way Rice has done is a new threat for Arsenal.

Right Winger – Bernardo Silva vs Bukayo Saka

Winner = Bukayo Saka

Bernardo Silva is one of the league’s best versatile midfielders. Last season especially he played LB, DM, CM, AM, RW, LW – all over the place – but did so to a high level no matter what. However, how he’s viewed is somewhat ‘damaged’ by the fact he plays all over. If as purely a CM, Bernardo is one of the best in the world. Whereas at RW, Saka is better. Saka is Arsenal’s poster boy, their main man. Saka has taken on so much responsibility at Arsenal from such a young age and blossomed into a difference maker, creating from wide with excellent delivery, able to take on his man either way with the additional threat of ambipedal ball-striking.

Striker – Erling Haaland vs Kai Havertz

Winner = Erling Haaland

Although Haaland hasn’t been as deadly this season, he’s still been the best striker in the league this season. That just shows how good he was last season! With his presence up top and how deadly he is running in behind, that threat in behind combined with De Bruyne’s through balls was a deadly combination for City and so it’s not a surprise that since KDB has been injured Haaland has fallen off. Havertz has done really well in recent games for Arsenal as a target man to press from the front and knock down long balls to link other attackers. But Haaland’s goal scoring prowess puts him on top of the two.

Left Winger – Phil Foden vs Gabriel Martinelli

Winner = Phil Foden

Last season Martinelli had a great season but this year he’s struggled with form and consistency. The dynamics on the left hand side haven’t been as effective in allowing Martinelli to receive the ball higher up the pitch closer to the penalty area, hence a lower shot volume and a lower goal output. Meanwhile, Phil Foden has been a revelation for City this season and arguably their best player. Foden has stepped up since KDB has been out. Playing on either wing or even centrally, Foden’s output has improved a lot. Taking more shots, taking on players, drifting into spaces, creating for those around him. If City win this game or any trophies this season, Foden will be a big reason why.

READ MOREMan City v Arsenal combined XI ahead of crucial clash between Premier League title contenders