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Van Persie & Cazorla see off Walcott & Chicharito - the ultimate Manchester United & Arsenal combined XI

As the heavyweights prepare to clash in the Premier League this weekend, Goal.com debates which players would make it into an overall team from those available in both squads

DEBATE
By Chris Myson

The game of the weekend in the Premier League takes place at Old Trafford on Saturday, with Manchester United hosting old rivals Arsenal.

Second meets sixth in Manchester, with the Gunners desperate to avoid a repeat of the humiliating defeat they suffered in the early stages of last season, when they amazingly lost 8-2, a result that sparked boss Arsene Wenger into a frenzy of late transfer window activity.

The new season is not even a quarter complete, but already both clubs are looking set for strong campaigns and this fixture should be a good indicator of how strong each of their chances are looking.

Ahead of the clash, Goal.com analyses each area of the United and Arsenal squads and attempts to come up with what would be the best combined team, lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

GOALKEEPER


Wojciech Szczesny’s fitness worries for Arsenal have meant Vito Mannone has been filling in between the sticks, with fellow Pole Lukasz Fabianski also out through injury.

Even before his injury concerns though, Szczesny had a poor Euro 2012 and has generally tailed off from the impressive form he showed after breaking into the first team.

That means David de Gea gets the nod for our team in goal. The Spaniard appears to finally be edging out Anders Lindegaard in the topsy-turvy battle for the Old Trafford No.1 spot.

The ex-Atletico Madrid keeper does still have plenty to work on, but is undeniably making progress as he continues to adapt to the English game and has always been a high-class shot stopper.

DEFENCE


The Gunners will be delighted to have Bacary Sagna fit again following his long-term injury absence. The France defender is one of the most consistent players in Europe in his position and narrowly edges out United’s Rafael for the spot on that basis.

In the centre of defence we go for a formidable-looking pairing of Nemanja Vidic and Thomas Vermaelen, two of the Premier Leagues best stoppers. United are missing the Serbian badly at present, while the Belgian is an inspiration at the back for Arsenal.

Per Mertesacker, Rio Ferdinand, Laurent Koscielny and Jonny Evans are amongst a number of centre-backs to miss out on this occasion.

At left-back, Patrice Evra may appear the obvious choice given his experience and achievements in the game, but in truth he has been short of his best form for quite some time. For that reason, Kieran Gibbs swoops in at left-back. If the Englishman can rid himself of his regular fitness worries, he looks to have a very bright future.

MIDFIELD


Our central midfield duo represents England’s past and arguably its future. In Paul Scholes, Manchester United still have a player capable of taking charge of matches at the highest level with his passing ability.

For Arsenal, Jack Wilshere is finally back from injury and takes his place alongside Scholes to make up a hugely creative double-act, where the Gunners man’s youth and energy will be required to cover ground and get himself up and down the pitch.

Mikel Arteta is a key man for Arsene Wenger’s side and is unfortunate to miss out, while Michael Carrick has been part of the furniture in United’s midfield for numerous successful seasons.

Darren Fletcher is now back from illness but he also misses out along with the likes of Anderson, Tom Cleverley, Aaron Ramsey and Abou Diaby. Perhaps most unlucky of those not to gain selection, though, is new United signing Shinji Kagawa, who looks more than capable of filling the creative void when Scholes does eventually step aside.

ATTACK


We have significant options to choose from in the business end of the pitch. The wide roles are the first we need to fill and we have a tough choice with a number of options including Antonio Valencia, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho, Lukas Podolski, Ashley Young and Nani.

Valencia gets the nod on the right-hand side because his pace, consistency and fantastic delivery from out wide offers a traditional wing option for our XI.

The versatility of Santi Cazorla allows us to place him out on the left wing, although he would be comfortable playing in any of the three positions behind the striker. The Spaniard has been a joy to watch in his early Premier League appearances, mainly in a central-based role.

Wayne Rooney has been used in a more withdrawn position at times this season as Sir Alex continues to shuffle his attacking options. The England man remains a key figure for club and country and our team would look incomplete without his talents in a pivotal position.

That leaves our final place for the man of the moment, Robin van Persie. The Dutchman will be the focus of attention at the weekend as he faces Arsenal – the club he spent eight years with and later captained – for the first time since joining United for £24 million in the summer.

He has made an electric start to life at Old Trafford, scoring nine goals in 12 games, and comfortably fends off the challenges from the other strikers in each squad. Olivier Giroud is Arsenal’s main striker and is showing signs of improvement in front of goal, but has a long way to go before he is at the level of the club's ex-frontman.

For United, Chicharito is enjoying a strong goalscoring spree and Danny Welbeck is always in contention, but the young strikers know their place in the pecking order is below Rooney and Van Persie.

Suggested combined Manchester United & Arsenal XI

GOALKEEPER

David de Gea


RIGHT-BACK
CENTRE-BACK
CENTRE-BACK
LEFT-BACK

Bacary Sagna

Nemanja Vidic

Thomas Vermaelen

Kieran Gibbs
CENTRE MIDFIELD
CENTRE MIDFIELD

Paul Scholes

Jack Wilshere
RIGHT WINGER
ATTACKING MIDFIELD
LEFT WINGER

Antonio Valencia

Wayne Rooney

Santi Cazorla

CENTRE FORWARD

Robin van Persie

HAVE YOUR SAY

Do you agree with our suggested best combined Manchester United and Arsenal starting XI? If not, who should be there instead and which players should get the chop? Which way is this weekend's crunch match going to go?

Let us know your views on the debate by posting a comment below or by engaging with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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