Arsenal vs Manchester United Combined XI

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After contrasting nights in Europe for both teams, Arsenal host Manchester United in such a huge game in the race for Top Four. Manchester United have once again, proved doubters wrong with a dramatic 3-1 victory away to PSG on Wednesday night to seal qualification to the next round of the Champions League and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has got United playing and performing the way they should be. Arsenal on the other hand, may have been unlucky not to beat Tottenham in the North London derby, but against Rennes on Thursday, they were awful. A 3-1 loss to a currently mid-table French team is a poor result given that the Gunners were 1-0 ahead and even when Sokratis was sent off, could have defended deep at 1-1 or even at 2-1 and countered with the pace of Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Iwobi but instead went all out attack and paid the price.

United will be glad to welcome Paul Pogba back into the side following his suspension against PSG and Ole has confirmed Martial, Matic, Herrera and Bailly are all available to play but Lingard, Mata, Alexis, Jones, Valencia and Darmian are all out. Arsenal have their own injuries with Bellerin, Welbeck, Lichtsteiner and Holding all unable to play as well as Lucas Torreira after being sent off against Spurs. This game is huge for both sides as the losing side’s chances for Champions League football will be seriously damaged. Both teams prefer to use a 4-3-3 formation and so that is the formation I’ll use:

The best goalkeeper in the world made some vital stops against PSG in both legs and will continue his good form into the Premier League clash. Leno has improved a lot over this season and his double save against Spurs was superb but De Gea is my choice and not a difficult one!
With Bellerin injured this was a fifty-fifty decision between Young and Dalot. At the moment, Mustafi is playing at right back and is doing awfully. He gave away the penalty against Spurs and looked wholly out of place against Rennes. Young did very well after Dalot came on for Eric Bailly because both players compliment eachother when defending and tracking back. Dalot challenges opposition wingers to track him back and is beginning to improve his defensive nous against the better wingers in the world and can be United’s right back for the next decade or so if he continues this way. He may be likely to play as the right winger against the Gunners on Sunday but he’s the right back in this combined XI. 
Sokratis was the closest to coming into the lineup but honestly, after Wednesday, neither United centre backs could be left out. Smalling and Lindelof have been consistent and composed since pairing up with eachother since the Chelsea clash in the FA Cup and demonstrated it again against PSG with some last minute blocks from the English international, composed ball-playing from the Swedish international and aerial domination from both. Sokratis is Arsenal’s best defender and their only real leader in the Arsenal side but highlighted his lack of pace against Rennes which led to his red card. 
A 100% United back four is completed with Luke Shaw. He almost single-handedly stopped the right wing of PSG’s attack and gave them no space to capitalise on. Kolasinac is a very good player and has improved a lot since the start of the season but Shaw has impressed everyone all season and should be in line for another England call-up at the end of March. 
Matic is back and while McTominay has been outstanding in his stead, Matic is a far superior player. Whether the Serbian anchor will start is another matter but it looks like he and Herrera will return for United in midfield alongside Pogba to complete the three that have shone so brightly under Solskjaer. Torreira has been a steal as far as Arsenal are concerned and could easily fit into Pep’s system at City as a long-term replacement for Fernandinho or even Ole’s system at United but the Uruguayan is suspended and will be sorely missed by the Gunners who will have to do with Xhaka at the centre of midfield – not his preferred position. 
The first Arsenal player to be included is one that is leaving in the summer! Ramsey made a huge impact in his final North London derby with the opening goal and will be a dangerous player that United need to watch carefully. His movement and positioning in attack is very similar to Frank Lampard and links up well with the likes of Lacazette, Mkhitaryan or Aubameyang. Paul Pogba was missed but retrospectively not needed against PSG on Wednesday and should return with a flourish at the Emirates. His goals may have dried up in recent weeks as he defended more in the absence of Herrera and Matic, but now they are back he should be causing havoc against Arsenal’s frigid defence. 
It is a close decision between the Gabonese international and his teammate, Alexandre Lacazette. Aubameyang is Arsenal’s top goalscorer in the league with 16 goals and Lacazette is close behind him with 12 to his name. While the Frenchman has the form, Aubameyang works better in a fluid front three as his pace and strength allows him to drift wide and track back with ease. He will be expected to have a better game than his last few and was unlucky not to be allowed to retake his penalty against Spurs with Vertonghen almost next to the striker by the time the penalty was taken!
The match-winning Manc in Paris! What calmness from the 20 year-old as he smashed the match winning penalty into the roof of Buffon’s net to seal qualification to the Quarter Finals of the Champions League. The forward has excelled since Solskjaer has come in and has won the Premier League player of the month for January for his efforts. His raw pace, trickery, strength and natural ability make him a nightmare for any defender.

The big Belgian has been in tremendous form recently, six goals in three games and crucial for all three wins. His brace against Palace put United 2-0 ahead, the brace against Southampton put United ahead twice with the second goal sealing the 3-2 win and finally his brace against PSG set United up for their grandstand finish in Paris. He has become more accustomed to being a fluid front three as demonstrated against Liverpool and Arsenal in which he created some very good chances down the right wing. His strength and improved sharpness and hunger make him a big threat on Sunday and reports of the Belgian being sold at the end of the season are surely quashed now.

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Author: TUD Author