Manchester City v Arsenal: Combined XI

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The Premier League is heating up and the match at the Etihad Stadium between Manchester City and Arsenal could prove to be critical for both teams involved.

A win for Arsenal would give them a clear-cut lead the top of the table, while a victory for the home side would propel them to within three points of their opponents.

Arsenal have already lost once in Manchester this season and United's rival club will be a much bigger challenge for Arsene Wenger's men. 

Both these teams have not been dominating in the past season, but each have world-class talent to boast about. 

Here, I pick a combined XI best on the best players from each team...

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: Wojciech Szczesny

The No.1 position has been a big question for Manuel Pellegrini since his options between the posts are anything but solid. England international Joe Hart has had a dip of form and his replacement, Costel Pantilimon, has the same number of clean sheets from fewer games.

With Manchester City likely to buy a new goalkeeper, it is no doubt that the Polish international takes his place as no.1 for this combined XI. Arsenal have been credited for their impressive play up-front this season, but they have also the least number of goals conceded.

Szczesny has had an impressive season so far, having made 48 saves from 15 games and has collected six clean sheets so far this season.

LB: Gael Clichy

A player who has played for both teams, - though Arsenal's left back Kieran Gibbs has played more games this season - it is Clichy's ability to maintain his stamina and speed for the entire game that sees him cement his place. 

Quick in the tackle and willing to drive forward, he is a dynamic full-back and performs to a consistently impressive level. Gibbs is slowly maturing into a quality left-back, but Clichy is a big-match player and mindset is everything when it comes to games like these.

CB: Laurent Koscielny

The man at the heart of Arsenal's defence this season, he is a quick-thinking defender who positions himself well and shows good anticipation and pace to snuffle out danger. He has formed a solid partnership at the back with Per Mertesacker and that is one of the reasons why Arsenal are at the top this season.

City, on the other hand, are weak at the back with their captain Vincent Kompany being injured. Koscielny is another France import who has been nurtured into a complete player by Wenger.

CB: Per Mertesacker

Matija Nastasic, the 20-year-old Serbian defender has been good for Manchester City, but on comparing with the German International, he isn't at the same level. Mertesacker may not have the speed of Nastasic, but still his partnership with Koscielny and his aerial presence are the factors that sees him over the line.

Mertesacker was seriously missed by the team on their trip to the red half of Manchester, but he is highly likely to start at the Etihad and his dominating presence will be helpful if Arsenal wish to get the three points.

RB: Bacary Sagna

The French international has had an impressive season so far. He probably produced the cross of the season against Manchester United, but unfortunately no-one could capitalise on the opportunity. 

Sagna is a strong defender who has good positional awareness and his aerial prowess makes him a threat from corners. His ability to stride down the wings gives Arsenal that extra wing play that was lacking last season. Though Pablo Zabaleta is a true workhorse for his team, Sagna pips him for the spot because the Manchester City left back shows defensive frailties.

CM: Yaya Toure

One of the biggest assets to the 2011/12 champions, a true game-changer. Although he plays much deeper than the likes of Samir Nasri, he is as efficient as the rest when he his on the attack.

Regarded as one of the best box-to-box midfielders in Europe, let alone England, Toure cements his place ahead of ex-Everton man Mikel Arteta. Toure has made 15 appearances this season, scoring seven and assisting three.

CM: Aaron Ramsey

He has matured to become one of the best players at Arsenal. With the squad being rejuvenated with the signing of Mesut Ozil and many claiming that the German is the biggest difference between this season and past seasons at Arsenal, Ramsey makes them think again.

Ramsey plays much deeper than the likes of Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla but gets himself into key positions. This has resulted in eight goals from as many as 15 games. He has also set-up five goals for his team. His vision is the biggest asset to the team, he can find space and move the game forward.

LCAM: Jesus Navas

One of the key arrivals in the summer transfer window, Navas' tireless efforts should not be overlooked. He has made 13 appearances so far, scoring two goals and assisting three. He cements his place ahead of Spanish team-mate Cazorla, who has made 11 appearances but has only made one assist and scored only one goal so far this season.

CAM: Mesut Ozil

His move to Arsenal on the last day of the transfer window was quite simply shocking. He left one of the best clubs in Europe to a comparatively inferior club who haven't won a trophy in years for regular first-team football.

His transfer has instilled a belief in the squad and fans that this could be the "it" season for them. His arrival and impact has propelled Arsenal to top of the league. He has played in 12 games so far this season, scoring four goals and setting up six so far. There is no better attacking midfielder in the Premier League at the moment and his biggest asset is that he has the ability to unlock any defense. 

RCAM: Samir Nasri

The French international had fallen out of favour with Roberto Mancini, but has flourished under Pellegrini. His work-rate has tremendously improved. He has started 15 games so far, scoring four goals and assisting twice so far.

Another ex-Arsenal player who left the club for greener pastures, he had found his initial season difficult to cope but has cemented his place on the team since. His formidable technique, vision and imagination makes him an unpredictable opponent.

CF: Sergio Aguero 

Probably the most competed spot on the list, picking one forward from a list of Negredo, Aguero and Olivier Giroud is quite simply difficult. All three strikers have been phenomenal this season.

Aguero gets the nod ahead of the other two strikers simply because of the amount of goals he has scored. He has scored 12 while Giroud has managed only seven and Negredo has managed only six from the same number of games. Aguero also has the ability to score from the most difficult opportunities. His power and impact sees him across the line.

Substitutes: Theo Walcott; Santi Cazorla; James Milner; Oliver Giroud; Alvaro Negredo; Matjia Nastasic; Pablo Zabaleta.

This is truly a dream team, that both manager would be more than willing to manage. As we head towards a blockbuster match-up at the Etihad, it will be the key battles that decide this title decider.

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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