Arsenal & Chelsea combined XI

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Football News

Premier League title contenders Arsenal and Chelsea collide this evening in arguably the biggest capital clash of the season so far, with a place at the top of the table at Christmas on offer for whoever leaves the Emirates with three precious points.

The Gunners are intense pressure to deliver against their London rivals tonight after slipped to a 6-3 defeat against Manchester United last time out, which has for the moment at least helped to knock them off the top of the tree.

Chelsea will also move within striking distance of top spot in tonight's colossal encounter, but which players would make it into a combined starting XI from London's two leading lights?

Goalkeeper | Petr Cech

Chelsea's Czech stalwart may have struggled for clean sheets this season but still probably represents the safest hands in the Premier League.

Arsenal stopper Wojciech Szczesny has undoubtedly been vastly improved this season, but must still show a more prolonged spell of stability to dispossess Cech as the capital's stopper.

Left-back | Kieran Gibbs

Arsenal's pacy full-back has managed to steer clear of persistent injury problems to be a model of consistency at the Emirates so far this term

Gibbs has also profited from the surprising snub handed to Ashley Cole by Jose Mourinho since he returned to the Bridge, moving forward as the stand-out candidate in that position.

Centre-back | Per Mertesacker

The Gunners have finally found a trusted defensive organiser in Mertesacker, an experienced, calming presence who makes up for a lack of pace or athleticism with intelligent positioning more often than not.

Mertesacker's partnership with Laurent Koscielny has been the driving force behind a sea change in defensive confidence and application at the Emirates, something that has been sorely lacking from the normally reliable Chelsea backline so far this term.

Centre-back | Laurent Koscielny

Arsenal have a nice balance of pace and strength in central these days with Koscielny next to the 'BFG', with the French international providing effective cover against the ball out over the top and effective distribution from deep.

Right-back | Branislav Ivanovic

In truth Ivanovic has not been close to his vintage best this season, but still gets the nod over Bacary Sagna at full-back because of his proven track record of producing barnstorming displays down the right for the past five seasons.

Central Midfield | Aaron Ramsey

Arsenal's Welsh playmaker supreme has been the most improved player in the Premier League by quite some distance this season, adding a new-found confidence in the final third to a ruthless streak in front of goal.

Ramsey continues to thrive and had to be included given his work ethic and final product early in the campaign, despite more experienced options elsewhere.

Central Midfield | Ramires

The Brazilian's boundless energy at both ends of the pitch see him sneak in just ahead of Mathieu Flamini, who has been a revelation since returning to North London in August.

Left-wing | Eden Hazard

Chelsea's bundle of Belgian brilliance has shown in small flashes the talent at his disposal this season, scoring six goals in 16 appearances to beat competition from the technically excellent Santi Cazorla.

Number-10 | Mesut Ozil

Both sides have an embarrassment of riches in advanced midfield positions but Mesut Ozil has to play in the hole in this team, already making a huge impact at the Emirates with five goals and seven assists since his £42.4m switch from Real Madrid.

Right-wing | Oscar

Juan Mata and Theo Walcott may feel aggrieved to miss out but Oscar has to command a place in this star-studded outfit, particularly given his exceptional form in the first few weeks of the campaign which helped towards a haul of five Premier League goals.

Striker | Olivier Giroud

In truth the two teams combined have probably got their weakest set of leading men for quite a few years this term, but Giroud deserves great credit for showing a marked improvement this season and has to lead the line ahead of Demba Ba, Samuel Eto'o and Fernando Torres.

Giroud not only provides seven goals in 15 Premier League appearances but a focal point in the penalty area, possessing the physical presence and strength to bring a trio of supporting playmakers into the game where it matters most.

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Per Mertesacker
Branislav Ivanovic
Laurent Koscielny
Aaron Ramsey
Premier League
Bacary Sagna
Eden Hazard
Kieran Gibbs

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