Arsenal are set to play host to defending champions Manchester City in what promises to be a cracking Premier League encounter at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday evening.
Both teams are under immense pressure as a series of dismal results continue to haunt them on their way to an even busier Christmas period.
The Gunners put an end to their recent winless run with a league victory over West Ham United on Monday and followed it up with qualification into the knockout stage of the Europa League after a draw against Standard Liege on Thursday. However, much of the usual apprehensions remain as Freddie Ljungberg's reign as their interim coach has not been as convincing as expected so far.
Meanwhile, Manchester City appear to have squandered their chances of a Premier League three-peat as they find themselves a massive 14 points behind leaders, Liverpool. Pep Guardiola's men have faced defeat four times this season and any chances of retaining the title now seem incredibly bleak.
As we prepare for the much-awaited game this weekend, we take a look at what an all-time combined XI of the two sides could look like:
Goalkeeper: Jens Lehmann
Before the arrival of the sweeper-keeper in the football scene, Jens Lehmann served as the maverick shot-stopper between the Arsenal sticks with an eccentricity and agility that was as entertaining as his superb reflexes. While many could argue that David Seaman was the epitome of goalkeeping excellence at the north London club, the German deservedly makes this list for a host of other reasons.
The former Borussia Dortmund keeper emerged as a worthy replacement for Seaman and immediately became Arsene Wenger's first-choice during the Gunners' spectacular Invincibles season of 2003-04 during which he played every single game.
The notorious 'Mad Jens' helped Arsenal break the record for the most consecutive clean sheets in the Champions League (10) during the 2005-06 campaign that saw his side qualify for the European final for the first time ever. The run, which broke Milan's clean sheet run (7), saw him play 853 minutes without conceding a goal, a number that helped him surpass Edwin van der Sar's individual Champions League record.
Lehmann won a Premier League title, an FA Cup and the Community Shield with the Gunners and was also named UEFA's Club Goalkeeper of the Year during the 2005–06 season. Internationally, he faced tough competition from Oliver Kahn within the Germany national team but made a name for himself after making phenomenal saves during their penalty shoot-out against Argentina during the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Right-back: Pablo Zabaleta
Pablo Zabaleta’s playing style is not exactly pleasing to the eyes, but the Argentine still puts in a shift every time he steps onto the pitch.
Arriving at Manchester City from Espanyol in 2008, Zabaleta very quickly made the right-back position his own at the Etihad. During his nine-year spell at the club, the 34-year-old turned out 333 times in all competitions for the Citizens and besides stabilising his side’s defence, he also chipped in with 11 goals and 28 assists.
The present West Ham United player, who helped the Manchester outfit lift two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and two League Cups, was a part of PFA Team of the Year for the 2012-13 Premier League season. His industrious displays certainly helped the Citizens add some much-needed steel to transform them into a title-winning unit.
Centre-back: Vincent Kompany
A true Manchester City and Premier League legend, Vincent Kompany joined the club from German outfit Hamburger SV in 2008 and went on to make 360 appearances in all competitions for the Citizens, skippering the team to four league titles, two FA Cups and four League Cups.
The Belgian, who was a mainstay in Manchester City’s backline throughout his eleven-year stay at the Etihad, also netted 20 times for the club, with his most important goal probably coming in the form of a thunderbolt in their 1-0 win over Leicester City towards the end of last season, an effort that played a vital role in the Citizens' narrowly pipping Liverpool to the Premier League title.
Confidence on the ball, aerial prowess and an ability to pick out a pass made Kompany a standout performer in the Manchester City shirt and his contribution to the evolution of the club can never be doubted.
Centre-back: Tony Adams
There's a reason why Tony Adams has been immortalised in bronze within the Emirates Stadium grounds in North London. The Englishman spent his entire playing career of 22 years at the heart of the Gunners defence during which he unquestionably captained them to an array of titles.
The Englishman, who was named captain of the team at the tender age of 21, not only possessed supreme intelligence as well as unrivalled technical and aerial ability but could also boast of an immense set of leadership skills, overcoming personal battles of his own to guide the club to numerous titles.
Fondly dubbed as 'Mr. Arsenal', Adams kept 115 clean sheets in 255 Premier League games for the club and helped them to four top division titles, three FA Cups, two Football League Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, and two FA Community Shields. He also remains the only player to have captained a title-winning team in three different decades.
Left-back: Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole may have left Arsenal for their London rivals Chelsea in unceremonious circumstances in the summer of 2006 but he still finds his way into this team in what could be a testament of his importance for the Gunners.
Having progressed through Arsenal’s youth system, the former left-back made his first-team debut for the north London giants in 1999. He went on to make 227 appearances for his boyhood club in the course of which he won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups.
Cole, who was also a vital member of 'The Invincibles', is still considered one of the best left-backs of the Premier League era, with Arsenal yet to fully fill the void created by the former England international’s departure.
Central Defensive Midfielder: Patrick Vieira
No Arsenal player was perhaps more important to Wenger's title-winning exploits than Patrick Vieira, a player who was considered to be the most complete central midfielder in the modern game. The Frenchman spent nine years with the north London giants and helped their manager win all three of his career's Premier League titles.
Vieira captained the Gunners' famous Invincibles squad and led them on their spectacular 49-game unbeaten run in 2003-04. Besides three league crowns, he also lifted four FA Cups and three Community Shields during his time with the club.
The former Inter Milan star's stature, technique, and combative nature made him one of the best defensive midfielders of the EPL and any team would've been lucky to have him in his prime.
Central midfielder: Robert Pires
Robert Pires is definitely one of the most stylish players ever to ply their trade in the Premier League, with the 1998 World Cup winner being a key member of Wenger's Arsenal team between 2000 and 2006.
Much like many players on the list, the former midfielder was a part of the famed 'Invincibles' squad and played his fair bit in helping the Gunners to two Premier League titles and two FA Cups.
The Frenchman, who also turned out for the likes of Marseille, Villarreal and Aston Villa, spent the best part of his career at Arsenal, for whom he scored 85 goals and provided 40 assists in 283 appearances in all competitions. Often considered an underrated player, Pires was a hugely influential figure for the Gunners and is still adored by the fans to this day.
Central midfielder: David Silva
David Silva is undoubtedly one of the best Spanish players to have ever graced the Premier League and the Manchester City fans will be eager to lap up his magic before he leaves the club at the end of the current season.
The 33-year-old was roped in by the Manchester giants from Valencia in 2010 and has since enjoyed a trophy-laden career in England – four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and four League Cups.
Silva, who was a part of the PFA Team of the Year for the 2011-12 and 2017-18 Premier League seasons, has thus far turned out 415 times in all competitions for the Premier League champions, scoring 74 times and setting up 136 goals. The former Valencia man also won a World Cup and two European Championships while playing for Spain, and it’s safe to say that the Premier League will definitely lose some its shine when Silva leaves Manchester City.
Attacking midfielder: Dennis Bergkamp
Words, and in this case, numbers cannot do justice to the brilliance of Dennis 'The Iceman' Bergkamp. The Dutchman remains one of the best creators the Gunners have ever seen, with his intelligence and sheer technical quality providing the squad with an entirely new purpose on the pitch. The midfielder redefined what it meant to be an artist on the field and produced moments of graceful perfection that will be remembered in football for years to come.
Bergkamp was a pivotal figure during the Gunners' 1997-98 Double-winning season as well as their 2003-04 Invincibles campaign. He registered 120 goals from 423 appearances and won ten major honours during his stint at the club. His efforts were also rewarded with a series of individual prizes such as the Football Writers' Association and Professional Footballers Association Player of the Year awards as well as Premier League Goal of the Season awards.
Striker: Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry was undoubtedly one of the most feared strikers in the Premier League era and the greatest goal-scorer in Arsenal's history.
The Frenchman enjoyed two separate spells with the Gunners and went on to define the north London club at their very best. He initially joined the Gunners from Juventus in 1999 and established himself as a pioneer centre-forward not just in England but in world football under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger.
A World Cup winner with France in 1998, the unbeatable Henry terrorised defences across the country, scoring a staggering 176 goals in 258 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, besides providing 76 assists. He won two league titles and two FA Cups with the club before departing for Barcelona in 2007.
The former France international was an integral part of 'The Invincibles' and won four Premier League Golden Boot awards in addition to being named the division's Player of the Season twice.
Henry returned to Arsenal for a brief loan spell from New York Red Bulls in January 2012 and while he has since retired from professional football, he is still considered a cult hero at the Emirates.
Striker: Sergio Aguero
It’s safe to say that Sergio Aguero will be fondly remembered by the Manchester City faithful for generations to come. The Argentine arrived at the Etihad from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2011 and helped the Citizens to win the Premier League title in his very first season in England, thereby breaking the club’s 44-year long wait to get their hands on the coveted trophy.
The 31-year-old scored an injury-time winner against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the season as Manchester City narrowly edged out their fierce local rivals Manchester United to the league title – the striker wildly celebrating the crucial goal by waving his jersey over his head is definitely one of the best moments of the Premier League era.
Aguero, who is still going strong, has thus far scored 244 goals in 354 appearances in all competitions for Manchester City and has helped the club to four Premier League titles, one FA Cup and four League Cups. However, the 2014-15 Premier League Golden Boot winner will be desperate to help the Citizens win the elusive Champions League before calling time on his successful career in England.