Sportsmail's combined XI from Arsenal and Manchester United

Bukayo Saka stars in attack with Bruno Fernandes and Granit Xhaka providing midfield quality and Raphael Varane slotting into the defence… but who has the edge in our combined Arsenal and Manchester United XI as the title challengers go head-to-head?

  • Manchester United and Arsenal will go head-to-head in the league on Sunday
  • United will be hoping to put a dent into the Gunner’s Premier League title hopes 
  • Here, Sportsmail puts together a combined XI from both teams ahead of the tie 

On Sunday afternoon, Manchester United and Arsenal will go head-to-head in a crucial Premier League tie that could have huge ramifications on the title race.

Erik ten Hag’s side will travel to the Emirates in hopes of denting the Gunners’ title charge and closing the gap on the league leaders – who currently have an eight point lead.

With so much discussion surrounding both teams ahead of the clash, here at Sportsmail we’ve produced a combined XI featuring Arsenal and Man United players – and there were some tough calls to make!

Arsenal have enjoyed a tremendous season that has led them to the summit of the league table

Manchester United will be hoping to take points from the league leaders in the weekend clash

GOALKEEPER: AARON RAMSDALE (ARSENAL)

Perhaps the toughest decision out of all the positions on the pitch. Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale and Man United’s David De Gea have both been in good form this year.

There’s hardly anything to separate the two shotstoppers – with the Spaniard having eight clean sheets compared to Ramsdale nine this year.

Despite De Gea’s heroics in recent games – such as a tremendous stop against Crystal Palace – his blunder against Everton in the FA Cup is still fresh in the memory and, for that reason, Ramsdale is preferred. 

Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale has been in fine form for the Gunners this campaign

DEFENDERS: BEN WHITE (ARSENAL)

It’s hard to look past the Englishman for the right-back spot of the team. And that’s not slight on Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

White has been tremendous this season and has arguably been the best player in his position in the entire Premier League.

The England international has been a regular feature for the league leaders, contributing two assists and helping them secure five clean sheets this year. 

England defender Ben White has thrived in an unfamiliar right-back role this season

WILLIAM SALIBA (ARSENAL)

The best defender in the Premier League this year. Saliba’s return to Arsenal – after his loan spells in France – has provided a timely boost in defence for the Gunners.

The 21-year-old centre-back picked up the Young Player of the Year award in Ligue 1 last season and has continued that form into the current campaign. 

He has eight clean sheets to his name already and has also chipped in at the other end of the pitch with two goals and one assist thus far. 

In reality, it’d be a crime to exclude the French international from this team. Even for World Cup winner Lisandro Martinez. 

French defender William Saliba has been one of the standout players in the league this year

RAPHAEL VARANE (MANCHESTER UNITED)

Perhaps some would have been slightly underwhelmed with Raphael Varane’s performances for Man United, but the Frenchman retains a spot in this team.

With four Champions League titles under his belt, there are few defenders across Europe who provide more experience than the former Real Madrid star.

His introduction to United was shaky at first but the 29-year-old has quickly formed a reliable defence with Argentine Lisandro Martinez at the heart of United’s back-line. 

Raphael Varane has helped bring stability to Man United’s shaky defence since joining

LUKE SHAW (MANCHESTER UNITED)

Again, another very tough decision. Arsenal’s Oleksandr Zinchenko has been tremendous for the Gunners this year but he’s pipped by United’s Luke Shaw.

The England international has been an inspiration for Erik ten Hag’s side in recent weeks after filling in at centre-back for a number of matches.

There was shock from United fans when Ten Hag opted for the full-back over options like Harry Maguire, but Shaw’s performances proved the Dutchman right.

Shaw has more clean sheets, more goals and the same number of assists as his Ukrainian counterpart in the Premier League this year. 

Luke Shaw has played as a both a centre-back and a full-back in recent weeks for United

MIDFIELDERS: THOMAS PARTEY (ARSENAL)

This had the potential to be a very difficult decision but was made far simpler after Casemiro’s yellow card against Crystal Palace.

After a chopping challenge on Eagles winger Wilfried Zaha, the Brazilian midfielder was given a yellow card – meaning that he’s unavailable for the weekend’s clash. 

Comparisons between the two midfielders had been rife in the build-up to the match and it’s a mighty shame that we won’t see the two go head-to-head on Sunday.

Thomas Partey had been set for a clash with Casemiro but the latter is now suspended

BRUNO FERNANDES (MANCHESTER UNITED)

It’d be hard to overlook Man United’s main man. If anything, his biggest competition in this squad was with his own team-mate, Christian Eriksen. 

The Portuguese international actually has one goal contribution fewer than his Danish team-mate but his performances on the pitch speak volumes for his form.

On Wednesday night, Fernandes scored a thumping effort against Crystal Palace after rifling the ball past Vicente Guiata and into the back of the net.  

Bruno Fernandes pictured during Manchester United’s recent 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace

GRANIT XHAKA (ARSENAL)

The redemption story of Granit Xhaka at Arsenal has been nothing short of a miracle. 

From being boo’d off the pitch at the Emirates to being the unofficial leader of the side, it’s been a wild few years for the Switzerland international.

The midfielder has become an integral aspect of Mikel Arteta’s table-topping Gunners and has started every single game in the league so far this year. 

Granit Xhaka has managed to become a main feature in Arsenal’s team under Mikel Arteta

ATTACKERS: MARTIN ODEGAARD (ARSENAL)

This player, arguably, has been the best player in the Premier League this year and that’s including Erling Haaland.

Haaland’s compatriot, Martin Odegaard, has been a revelation for the Gunners this year, epitomised by his recent long-range strike in their 2-0 win over Tottenham.

His eight goals and five assists in the top-flight struggle to tell the full story that Odegaard’s performances that have lifted Arsenal to the summit of the league. 

In their trip to Brighton in December, the 24-year-old pulled off a ridiculous piece of skill to nutmeg a defender and set-up Gabriel Martinelli in the match.

Norwegian playmaker Martin Odegaard has been one of the league’s best players this year

Norwegian playmaker Martin Odegaard has been one of the league’s best players this year

MARCUS RASHFORD (MANCHESTER UNITED)

At the moment, I don’t think Man United’s Marcus Rashford could stop scoring even if he tried! 

Since returning from the World Cup last month, the England international has scored eight goals in eight games as he continues his rich vain of firm this year. 

The forward looks to have had a career refresh since the arrival of Erik ten Hag in the summer and will be hoping to maintain his form until the end of the season.

With Arsenal’s first-choice striker Gabriel Jesus still on the sidelines after picking up a knock for Brazil during the World Cup, there can be no overlooking the United star. 

Marcus Rashford has been in a rich vein of form for Manchester United in recent weeks 

BUKAYO SAKA (ARSENAL)

The final slot in our Arsenal and Man United combined XI goes to England winger Bukayo Saka.

Compared to Man United winger Antony – who secured an £82 million move from Ajax in the summer – Saka’s output completely dwarfs his Brazilian rival.

The Gunners star has six goals and seven assists in the Premier League this year while United’s Antony has just three goals and is yet to register an assist.

Saka, 21, has been a crucial element to Arsenal’s success not just this year but throughout Mikel Arteta’s tenure as first-team coach. 

Bukayo Saka has registered six goals and seven assists in the league campaign for Arsenal




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