Paul Merson has risked incurring the wrath of the Gunners’ faithful after naming just three Arsenal players in his combined XI with Manchester United ahead of Sunday’s crunch Premier League clash at the Emirates Stadium.
The Sky Sports pundit, who spent 12 years at Arsenal during his playing career, found room for Laurent Koscielny, Francis Coquelin and Alexis Sanchez - but the other eight players are all from Louis van Gaal’s squad.
Merson has David de Gea in goal; Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling and Daley Blind alongside Koscielny in defence; a midfield two comprised of Morgan Schneiderlin and Coquelin; followed by Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Sanchez in attacking midfield, behind lone-striker Anthony Martial.
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Explaining his decision to leave out several of Arsenal’s high-profile stars, Merson commented: “Would I have Mesut Ozil in there? I don't think so. Aaron Ramsey has gone too long without a goal. Santi Cazorla is unlucky to miss out but his form has also tailed off a bit.”
The retired midfielder also admits he selected Coquelin, despite not being his “biggest fan”, because “he’s so important to Arsenal” - and fears where the Gunners would be this season without Koscielny in defence.
Merson fearful of Rooney and Martial
As well as the eight Manchester United players he selected, Merson also gave honourable mentions to Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick, who he admitted were “unlucky to miss out” on his combined XI.
In worrying news for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, Merson believes Rooney will produce a big performance at the Emirates Stadium this weekend, and is also fearful about the impact man of the moment Martial could have.
“Manchester United fans might even question my decision to have Wayne Rooney in behind the striker but he's a big-time player and you just watch how influential he is on Sunday,” Merson continued. “Rooney's best role is in behind the striker, touching the ball the ball 40-50 times and getting on the ball not 10-15, even if he has to come and get it.
“Then up front I'm going with the boy that has settled quicker than snow - Anthony Martial.
“To come in at 19 with a big, big price tag at a big club and play that sort of football - what his done there is very underestimated. He's got world class potential, there's no doubt about it.”
What do you think of Paul Merson’s combined XI? Is he too harsh on Arsenal? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!