Combined XI: Arsenal v Liverpool

Arsenal face the Liverpool in what promises to be one of the most entertaining fixtures in the opening weekend of the new Premier League season. The Gunners will welcome a much-changed Liverpool side looking for the best possible start in Jurgen Klopp’s first full season with the Reds.

Arsene Wenger’s side are struggling with injuries in central defence with Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista sidelined. Valencia defender, Shkodran Mustafi, has been targeted to ease the defensive crisis and the Gunners are boosted by the return of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. On the other hand, Liverpool may be without star striker Daniel Sturridge and Marko Grujic due to injuries sustained in pre-season.

But who would make a combined XI of the two fully-fit sides?

Goalkeeper – Petr Cech (Arsenal)

Veteran goalkeeper, Petr Cech, is the easy choice in between the sticks for our combined XI. The former Chelsea stopper was a fantastic signing by Wenger and will be crucial to any success that Arsenal have this season.

Right-Back – Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool)

Both Liverpool and Arsenal have fantastic options on the right of defence. We opted for Liverpool’s Nathaniel Clyne after a strong debut season at Anfield. Hector Bellerin is one of the most promising right-backs in the world but Clyne offers a more experienced and defensive-minded option at the back.

Centre Back – Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)

French international, Laurent Koscielny, is likely to miss the weekend game following his extended break after Euro 2016. Nevertheless, Koscielny remains an important part of Arsenal’s squad and has established himself as one of the top centre-backs in the Premier League.

Centre Back – Joel Matip (Liverpool)

Liverpool completed a free transfer for ex-Schalke defender, Joel Matip, back in January and the defender finally joined his new team-mates this summer. The Cameroon international was one of the best defenders in the Bundesliga and should prove to be a shrewd piece of business by the Reds.

Left-Back – Nacho Monreal (Arsenal)

Whilst Liverpool struggle for a top-class left-back, Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal has developed into one of the Premier League’s finest. The Spaniard has flourished following his move from Malaga and was rewarded with a new contract at the Emirates in January. Liverpool could still make a move for a left-back after being rejected by Leicester’s Ben Chilwell.

Centre Midfield – Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)

Aaron Ramsey was one of the stand-out performers at this summer’s European Championship as Wales reached the semi-final of the competition. The midfielder is one of Arsenal’s best players whose tireless running and ingenuity in the engine room helps the team tick. Ramsey will be hoping for another solid season in north London.

Centre Midfield – Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)

Arsenal’s one major transfer of the summer saw Swiss international, Granit Xhaka, swap Borussia Monchengladbach for the Premier League. The £34m midfielder is the perfect signing for the Gunners adding much needed tenacity and aggression to their midfield. Xhaka will be hoping to adapt to life in England quickly and enjoy a strong debut season.

Attacking Midfield – Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

Brazilian attacker, Roberto Firmino, was labelled a flop following his £29m move from Hoffenheim under the tutelage of Brendan Rodgers. However, under Klopp, Firmino has blossomed into one of Liverpool’s most important players. Able to play in a variety of positions, including the false nine role, Firmino ended his first season with ten league goals and seven assists.

Attacking Midfield – Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

Despite receiving intense criticism, Ozil was one of the best performers in the league last season, registering 19 assists for the Gunners. Many believe that Arsenal lack a world-class striker to fully utilise the world-class abilities of the former Real Madrid man. Yet Ozil remains arguably the best player at the club.

Attacking Midfield – Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)

Arguably Liverpool’s best player, Philippe Coutinho is world-class and will cause plenty of problems for Arsenal’s defence on Sunday. Coutinho has the skill to change a game and scored vital goals against Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United in Liverpool’s road to the Europa League final last season. The Brazilian is central to Liverpool’s quest to return to the Champions League.

Forward – Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)

Sanchez looks set to win a race for fitness ahead of this weekend’s Premier League opener. The Chilean is utilised as a striker for his national side to devastating effect and could be the answer to Arsenal’s striker dilemma. Sanchez is a defender’s nightmare with the trickery and pace to cause plenty of headaches.

Who do you think will come out on top when these two sides meet on Super Sunday?

Follow me on Twitter – @MarcusBanks7 | Visit my blog for more articles @ www.marcusbanks7.com

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