Mix ‘n’ Match: Hart out as Arsenal shade Man City combined XI
Top-of-the-table Arsenal, the proud owners of the best defensive record in the Premier League, face perhaps their most formidable domestic assignment so far, as they travel to the Etihad Stadium to face the free-scoring Manchester City.
But, if this concoction of the best XI from the sides’ two squads is anything to go by then perhaps Arsene Wenger’s men will shade a close one, as they do here with six players to City’s five. If you agree with this side and that view then why not take the 11/1 on Arsenal winning 1-0?
In the back five the Gunners’ defensive might sees them claim three of the spots, with Wojciech Szczesny, who is growing in stature each week, ousting the Joe Hart, who is sliding in the opposite direction.
Per Mertesacker, the only centre-back on either side to register a Premier League goal, gets the nod over teammate Laurent Koscielny due to his aerial prowess and partners the formidable Vincent Kompany in the heart of defence. Meanwhile Pablo “Mr Consistent” Zabaleta and England’s second-best left-back Kieran Gibbs provide attacking verve from full-back.
Mathieu Flamini, who’s only been on the losing side once since arriving back in north London, importantly anchors a midfield trio that contains the division’s top scoring midfielders. Seven-strike Yaya Toure and Aaron Ramsey, who’s managed one more than that, will flood forward in support of the lone-striker.
The lack of a natural creator in the centre of the pitch isn’t a worry, as all the guile comes from the flanks. Able to play from a narrower, tucked in position thanks to the presence of the rampaging full-backs, assist-happy Mesut Ozil and David Silva can thread balls through to Toure, Ramsey or Sergio Aguero, who rivals Luis Suarez as the most deadly striker in the league, to feed off.
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