Combined XI: Manchester United vs Arsenal
The upcoming Manchester United vs Arsenal game at Old Trafford is more than just a fight for a Champions League spot. The rivalry that has been raging since the 90’s has had its fair share of world class player and eye-catching results.
The recent years has seen a stern Manchester United dominance both at Old Trafford and the Emirates. However, since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and the unfortunate termination of David Moyes, the Red Half of Manchester has been in rebuilding mode. Under Louis van Gaal, Old Trafford has seen the extremes of football. Earlier this season, his Manchester United side crashed out of the FA Cup courtesy of a 1-2 loss with Danny Welbeck proving a major point to his former employers.
Now, the two cross-country rivals lock horns once more. This time, it is a fight for the third spot on the Premier League table. However, fans and pundits alike will be looking at who goes away with the bragging rights.
That said, here is the combined XI featuring the best players from these two heavyweights of the Premier League.
#1 Goalkeeper – David de Gea
When we talk about a combined XI between Manchester United and Arsenal, David de Gea is usually the first player on the team sheet. In Manchester United’s stop-start season, De Gea has been a class apart.
His recent performance against Crystal Palace once again ensured that the Red Devils walked away with all three points. His save preventing Glenn Murray from scoring has been deemed ‘World Class’ by many.
If United are attempting to secure all three points, they will need de Gea to be at his best once more.
#2 Right Back – Hector Bellerin
Injuries to Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers at the start of the season saw 20-year-old Hector Bellerin drafted into the first team. The Spaniard has so far repaid the manager’s faith in him with a string of impressive performances.
Unlike Antonio Valencia, Bellerin has a lot more to offer on the defensively. Given his pace and impressive ball control, it seems no surprise as Bellerin is picked ahead of Antonio Valencia. The 20-year-old Spaniard has also gone on to score 2 goals and provided an assist among his appearances this season.
#3 Centre Back – Chris Smalling
Among the terrible defensive unit put forth by Manchester United, Chris Smalling has been the lone shining light. Standing at 6 foot 4, Smalling has a clear height advantage over most forwards. Besides, his athleticism and strength is certainly an added bonus.
In addition, Smalling is a threat from set pieces as he has already scored 4 goals this season. The unavailability of Per Mertesacker and a better defensive efficiency over Phil Jones sees Smalling picked ahead of the two.
#4 Centre Back – Laurent Koscielny
Laurent Koscielny will be key for Arsenal as they face Manchester United. His lightning pace and aerial prowess make him a better contender ahead of the likes of Phil Jones. He is also a danger when it comes to set pieces.
Since August 2013, Koscienly has been a key member of the Arsenal squad. The Gunners have managed to keep 19 clean sheets when he has featured in their squad and have won 70% of their games as well.
#5 Left Back – Nacho Monreal
The unavailability of Luke Shaw means that Nacho Monreal is the best candidate to fill the slot at left full back. Apart from his blistering pace and crossing abilities down the left wing, the 29 year old Monreal brings an added experience to the side.
Given the fact that Kieran Gibbs has been either injured or benched for the most part this season, Monreal is the best if not the only logical candidate at left full back. Although they are defensively better off with Gibbs, the fitness of the England international will be a major issue, hence Monreal makes the cut for the playing XI.
#6 Wide Midfield – Ander Herrera
Ander Herrera has been the in-form player in midfield for Manchester United this season. An injury to Michael Carrick saw Herrara take his place in holding midfield for the Chelsea game. The move proved to be a masterstroke as Herrera is living up to his billing.
Ever since Herrera has been marshalling the midfield, the Red Devils have gone on to win a majority of their fixtures. With 7 goals and 4 assists in all competitions, Herrera is a key component in the rebuilding phase at Old Trafford.
#7 Midfield – Marouane Fellaini
Having been written off following last season’s debacle, Fellaini’s resurgence has been quite extraordinary. A clear target for crosses, the big Belgian still manages to get the important goals for his side.
Out of 36 shots on target, Fellaini has had 6 goals. Apart from the stunning left-footed strike against Tottenham Hotspurs, the other 5 have all been headed goals. The latest goal came against a stubborn Crystal Palace side in the 2-1 win at Selhurst Park.