Arsenal vs Liverpool
Only Manchester United have won more league titles than Arsenal and Liverpool, but neither side has been able to get their hands on the trophy in recent years.
Their respective droughts look set to continue for at least another season given Manchester City's present dominance of the division, but the Gunners and Reds still have plenty to play for in 2017/18. Ahead of their clash at the Emirates Stadium, we select our joint XI in a 4-3-3 formation...
GK: Petr Cech (Arsenal)
Probably the easiest decision in the team. Simon Mignolet is capable of inspired performances on his day, but he’s too inconsistent to get the nod ahead of the Arsenal veteran.
Now 35, Cech has been an ever-present between the sticks so far this season and continues to impress with his shot-stopping ability and command of his penalty area. The former Chelsea man is undoubtedly one of the greatest goalkeepers in Premier League history.
RB: Joe Gomez (Liverpool)
Gomez returned from an ACL injury earlier this year and has gone from strength to strength since then. The former Charlton man has demonstrated maturity and intelligence beyond his tender years, shining at both right-back and centre-half for Liverpool and England.
Hector Bellerin is one of the best attacking full-backs in the Premier League, but Gomez’s performances in 2017/18 have been strong enough for him to take the No.2 shirt in our side. He may not have the Spaniard’s pace, but the 20-year-old is a hugely gifted all-round prospect.
CB: Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal)
Liverpool and Arsenal have conceded the same amount of goals (20) after 18 Premier League games, but the latter’s defence is still more convincing than the former’s. Part of the reason for that is the presence of Mustafi in the Gunners’ backline; despite being heavily linked with a move away in the summer, the ex-Inter defender has re-established himself as a key cog in Arsene Wenger’s rearguard so far this term.
Dejan Lovren is too error-prone to be considered for selection, while Mustafi’s positional play and aggression also give him the edge over Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip.
CB: Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)
One of the Premier League’s best centre-backs, Koscielny walks into the heart of this backline. A brilliant reader of the game who’s adept at organising his team’s defensive line, the Frenchman is also strong in the tackle and fairly quick across ground.
Koscielny’s leadership qualities make him the most natural choice for captain, too. Now 32 and into his eighth season as an Arsenal player, the former Lorient stopper shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
LB: Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal)
Arsenal have been criticised for their recruitment in recent years, but they pulled off one of the bargain deals of the summer by snapping up Kolasinac on a free transfer.
The former Schalke man has thrived at the Emirates Stadium in 2017/18, proving solid at the back and a threat going forward – he’s already provided four assists this season, as well as scoring once. Alberto Moreno is also dangerous in the final third but cannot match his Arsenal counterpart’s defensive aptitude, which is why Kolasinac is selected ahead of him at left-back.
CM: Emre Can (Liverpool)
A technically gifted midfielder, Can provides composure and a fine range of passing in the engine room. The German is capable of dropping deep and splitting the centre-halves to form a back three, skilled at progressing the ball upfield and can set the tempo of his team’s play.
He’s also not afraid to stick his foot in and, standing at 6ft tall, is a threat in the air from set-pieces. Best of all, Can has been known to pop up with a spectacular goal from time to time – his stunning strike against Watford was one of the best of the 2016/17 Premier League season.
CM: Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)
Temperamental Xhaka isn't the world’s greatest tackler, while his lack of mobility has proved problematic when Arsenal are forced to defend counter-attacks. The Switzerland international deserves his spot in the side, though, largely for his passing range and ability to set the Gunners on the attack.
Aaron Ramsey and Adam Lallana are talented footballers who, after playing in different positions throughout their careers, are now mostly deployed in the centre of the park. Yet in terms of forming a solid base behind four attackers, Xhaka is the obvious choice.
RW: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Salah has made a blistering start to his Liverpool career, netting 14 times in the Premier League to sit proudly atop the division’s scoring charts – ahead of Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku.
The Egyptian forward packs searing speed and tricky feet, and it’s extremely difficult to prevent him cutting inside onto his left foot and shooting at goal. The former Chelsea man is only a few months into his Liverpool career, but he’s already repaid a large chunk of the £37m that the Reds spent on him in summer 2017.
AM: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
Mesut Ozil is a fabulous footballer who oozes creativity and is comfortably one of the most naturally gifted players in the Premier League. It’s Coutinho who gets the nod as this team’s No.10, however, with the Brazilian’s ability to turn a game in an instant making him worthy of inclusion.
The Liverpool schemer provides more of a goal threat than Ozil too, and is also a superior dribbler. Coutinho continues to improve year on year; it’s no surprise Barcelona are prepared to spend big to bring him to the Camp Nou.
LW: Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Perhaps the toughest choice in the whole team concerns the left wing, where Alexis Sanchez has a strong case for inclusion. The Chile international scored 30 goals in all competitions in 2016/17 and has proved a bargain for Arsenal after joining the club for just over £30m in 2014.
Sanchez has been far from his best in recent months, however, which is why Mane is chosen here. The Senegal forward’s raw pace and dribbling ability make him a major threat to opposition defences, while his finishing and passing are underrated. Few Premier League players are as thrilling to watch as the ex-Southampton man.
ST: Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal)
Roberto Firmino’s ability to link play and press from the front is vital to Jurgen Klopp’s side, but he doesn’t provide the same goal threat in and around the penalty area as Lacazette.
The Frenchman arrived in the Premier League with a big reputation, but it took him just 94 seconds to open his account for the Gunners against Leicester. Lacazette is quick and sharp when running in behind, possesses a fine touch and is more than happy to drop deep and connect midfield and attack.
Players per club: Arsenal 6, Liverpool 5
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