Arsenal vs Liverpool: a combined XI
Premier League football is one of the many joys during the festive period. Other European leagues have winter breaks, yet English football keeps on producing spectacular matches. One such encounter is Arsenal against Liverpool, which kicks off the Christmas weekend on Friday night.
Leading up to all big clashes, there is much buzz regarding the best players on each side. So, here is our Arsenal and Liverpool combined XI in a 4-3-3 formation.
GK: Petr Cech
The Czech keeper is arguably past his prime, but he still gets the nod ahead of Liverpool's Simon Mignolet. The Belgian is still inconsistent, with weak reflexes and shot stopping abilities. Cech, meanwhile, continues to pull off good saves, particularly in the Premier League. Arsenal's number one has a commanding presence, along with valuable experience. Therefore, he makes the combined team.
RB: Joe Gomez
The Englishman has blossomed in the past few months. He continues to improve every game, meaning he is selected ahead of the unreliable, inconsistent Hector Bellerin. Gomez is a more solid defender, making more tackles, interceptions as well as clearances. Even though Bellerin is better going forward, his uncertainty means he drops out.
CB: Laurent Koscielny
The Arsenal captain is the most important centre-back on this team. He is a steady defender who reads the game well. Koscielny's leadership, aerial prowess, determination and solidity make him a better choice than Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan. The Liverpool trio is too inconsistent and prone to errors.
CB: Shkodran Mustafi
Due to Liverpool's frailties in central defence, Mustafi is the second best option. Despite not finding peak form this season, the German's distribution skills have been impressive. His defensive ability is also superior to that of Matip, Lovren and Klavan.
LB: Sead Kolasinac
The Bosnian is an absolute tank. He is physical and fast; traits of a quality modern full back. Kolasinac can attack and defend in equal measure. Even though Alberto Moreno and Andrew Robertson have delivered good performances for Jurgen Klopp's side, the Arsenal man edges it based on sheer athleticism.
CM: Emre Can
The German will shield the defence. He is a composed central midfielder who is favoured to this position. Although Granit Xhaka has an impressive range of passing, he is not a competent number six. Emre Can is better suited to winning the ball through his tackling.
RCM: Mesut Ozil
The first 'roaming number eight' on this team is Ozil, who has been in tremendous form lately. He averages 3.6 key passes per game in the Premier League. He also has five goals and three assists this season. His vision, passing, dribbling, and crossing skills can match the very best. Aaron Ramsey has been good too, but he is no match for the 'German Zidane'.
LCM: Philippe Coutinho
Liverpool's creative Brazilian lines up alongside Ozil. Coutinho has been in scintillating form this campaign, scoring five goals and providing five assists in 11 league appearances. Either hitting a screamer or threading the perfect through ball, he is capable of producing magic at any moment. He edges out Jack Wilshere due to his limited playing time.
RF: Mohamed Salah
Arguably the signing of the season, Salah has taken the Premier League by storm. The Egyptian is the league's top scorer with 14 goals. He also has three assists. The former Roma man's blistering pace and dribbling is a nightmare for any defender. The misfiring Alexis Sanchez is no match.
LF: Roberto Firmino
Another Brazilian makes the team. He is currently playing the role of a false number nine to its fullest. The 26-year-old has six goals and three assists in the Premier League this season. His creativity and defensive contribution earn him a place ahead of teammate Sadio Mane. Firmino is also more suited to play behind the main striker.
ST: Alexandre Lacazette
The striker to lead this absolutely devastating midfield had to be Lacazette. He has eight Premier League goals this season, which is four more than his compatriot Olivier Giroud. The former Lyon forward has adapted well to English football. His clinical finishing earns him a spot in this combined XI.