Combined XI: Manchester City vs. Arsenal

  • Alpine skiing combined
  • 03/11/2017
Arsenal will become the latest team to attempt to stop the Manchester City juggernaut on Sunday when they face the Premier League leaders at the Etihad Stadium.

Including penalty shootouts, Pep Guardiola's side have now won their last 14 matches in a row across all competitions and 15 of 16 this season - with the only exception being a draw.

Arsenal are in decent form themselves, though, having lost just one of their last 13 matches in all competitions, although they remain nine points adrift of Sunday's opponents in the Premier League.

Here, Sports Mole selects the strongest combined XI from the two squads in a 4-3-3 formation, using only the players available for Sunday's contest.

Petr Cech will justifiably go down as one of the greatest goalkeepers in Premier League history, if not the best of the lot, but a new breed of keepers have superseded him in recent years and Ederson is the latest of those.

There were plenty of eyebrows raised when Guardiola spent a world-record sum on an uncapped Brazilian during the summer, but Ederson has quickly begun to pay off his transfer fee with a string of commanding performances.

The 24-year-old has kept six clean sheets from 10 Premier League outings so far and appears to have a good mix of commanding aerial presence, bravery and ability on the ball to make him the perfect keeper for City.

Another player who became the world's most expensive in his position during the summer, Kyle Walker has also quickly settled down to life at the Etihad Stadium following his move from Arsenal's North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Guardiola spent big in replenishing his full-back positions and it has paid off so far, with Walker leading the way having missed just one Premier League game from City's opening 10 outings.

The England international has always been better going forward than he has at the back, and in this City side he has more opportunity to do that, already helping himself to five assists across all competitions this season.

There were plenty of questions raised about Man City's defence last season, and John Stones often bore the brunt of the criticism following his big-money move from Everton in the summer of 2016.

This season, though, the England international has made huge strides in his development as has been one of the Premier League's most impressive defenders so far, thriving in City's free-flowing style.

Stones has even posed a goal threat in the Champions League, helping himself to three goals in just four group games to weigh in with valuable contributions at both ends of the field.

Another City centre-back to have endured his fair share of criticism, Nicolas Otamendi could lay a claim to being the most improved player in the Premier League so far this season.

The Argentine averages more tackles and clearances per game than any other player in the Man City squad, and his form along Stones has been so impressive that captain Vincent Kompany may find it difficult to get back into the team once he returns to fitness.

Like Stones, Otamendi has also proven himself to be a menace from set pieces too, scoring three goals in all competitions - including two in the Premier League having started all of City's 10 outings so far.

The first and (spoiler alert) only Arsenal player to make this team, Sead Kolasinac has quickly settled into life at the Emirates Stadium and has been one of the Gunners' most impressive performers so far this season.

The summer signing has missed just one of Arsenal's 10 Premier League games since joining the club and has helped himself to one goal and three assists from a wing-back position, scoring one more goal in the Europa League too.

City, by contrast, have had some trouble at left-back with Benjamin Mendy's injury and, although Fabian Delph has adapted to the position better than many would have been expecting, Kolasinac comfortably earns his place in this team despite being a minor doubt for Sunday's match.

Kevin De Bruyne has established himself as one of the best playmakers in world football in recent seasons, and he has only enhanced that reputation so far this term with his creativity allowing the players around him to score so freely.

The Belgian has directly contributed to 11 goals in 14 appearances for City this season, helping himself to nine assists - including six in the Premier League - and two goals of his own.

Arsenal have plenty of depth in their own midfield, but neither Aaron Ramsey nor Mesut Ozil can quite match up to De Bruyne's sensational form so far this season.

Fernandinho may not make too many headlines, but his importance to the Man City side should not be underestimated, with the Brazilian providing the base from which the attacking players around him can build on.

The 32-year-old has started all 10 of City's Premier League matches so far this season, in addition to their four Champions League group games, helping himself to two goals and an assist along the way.

It is the unseen work which makes Fernandinho so important to the way Man City play, though, and he earns his place in the side ahead of Granit Xhaka fairly comfortably.

As tricky, creative and influential as ever, David Silva is not willing to let De Bruyne take the title of Man City's chief playmaker off his hands without a fight.

The Spaniard has also registered six Premier League assists this season - the joint-most in the division alongside De Bruyne - in addition to scoring once himself to help City move into a commanding lead at the top of the table.

Two more assists in the Champions League take his tally for the season up to eight, and with both him and De Bruyne pulling the strings it is no surprise that City have been so deadly going forward.

For all of the accolades rightly given to the likes of Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero so far this season, Raheem Sterling is the player to boast the best minutes-per-goal ratio of players to have scored five or more times in the Premier League this season.

Indeed, only Kane has scored more than Sterling's tally of seven so far, while in all competitions the England international is now in double figures for the season having added three more in the Champions League.

With two Premier League assists also to his name, Sterling is undoubtedly one of the division's form players at the moment and he finally appears to be developing into a consistently productive player in the final third.

There is no shortage of players who could fill this position in the team and probably score a hatful of goals considering those they have around them, with Gabriel Jesus having scored eight times this season and Alexandre Lacazette netting five times for Arsenal in the Premier League.

However, Aguero remains the main marksman, with the Argentine striker having directly contributed to 12 goals in just 10 appearances across all competitions this term - scoring nine and setting up three more.

Only Kane has scored more in the Premier League this season despite Aguero starting only six games, and having become City's leading all-time goalscorer in midweek he will head into Sunday's match full of confidence.

Perhaps a controversial choice considering Leroy Sane beats Alexis Sanchez into the team, but on this season's form it is impossible to leave the German youngster out of this side.

Sane has scored six goals and created five more in his 10 Premier League appearances this season, just six of which have come from the start to give him an average of directly contributing to a goal once every 53 minutes.

By contrast, Sanchez - who was a summer transfer target of City's - has only one goal and two assists to his name in the Premier League this season.

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