Sitting atop the Premier League table and having seen off previously unbeaten Tottenham with ease last weekend, Arsenal now host misfiring Liverpool in another massive Premier League clash.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have won just twice so far this season, and four draws have left them sitting a lowly 9th, 11 points off the pace set by the Gunners at the head of the pack.
They can cut that to 8 with a victory at the Emirates, and have traditionally held a brilliant record over Arsenal both home and away in recent years, but that could all be set to change.
It is no secret that Jurgen Klopp is an admirer of the Arsenal side, having spoken at length about the likes of Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka in the past.
With that in mind, 101 took a look at just how a team made up of both squads would look.
*Note: this Combined XI is using players fit for the clash and is largely based on this season’s form
Liverpool have dropped a lot of points already this season, but it could have been several more if not for having a world-class shot-stopper between the posts in Alisson.
The Brazilian has come up big in key moments, including against Newcastle and Brighton, to turn potential draws into wins and losses into draws, and while he will not be happy at how often he is being tested, he is continuing to justify his hefty pricetag.
RB: Ben White
Trent Alexander-Arnold would be a shoo-in for this team if based on past achievements, but this season has not been kind to the Englishman so far.
Caught out far too often in the defensive third and lacking his usual precision and guile in the opposing third, his snub for the England team is beginning to seem justified despite his obvious world-class talent. He is well off it.
By contrast, Arsenal’s Ben White has been quietly excellent. Keeping the likes of Heung-Min Son and Wilfried Zaha quiet when up against them, his overlapping runs were a key reason that Arsenal dominated the north London derby. While he does not have the jaw-dropping creative ability of the Liverpool man, he has been far more solid than him this season.
CB: Virgil Van Dijk
Though not at his best, Van Dijk continues to make the difficult look effortless, especially with his passing this season. He has had some tougher moments than usual this season, with the performance against Napoli and Wilfried Zaha’s strike at Anfield particular standouts, but he remains a top defender.
CB: William Saliba
Compared across the media to Van Dijk, Saliba’s career remains in its infancy and he has a long way to go to live up to such claims. However, he has started brilliantly, taking to the Premier League effortlessly and has added a sense of calm and poise to Arsenal’s defence.
The real tests will come when on the biggest stage, starting against Jurgen Klopp’s side, but Saliba has given every indication that he can rise to the occasion despite his tender years.
LB: Kieran Tierney
With Andrew Robertson and Oleksandr Zinchenko both injury doubts for this clash, the choice was narrowed down significantly and it is Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney that ultimately claims it.
The Scot has suffered his fair share of injury issues but when fit is a rampaging force down the left-flank, while his leadership abilities speak to a future as a captain, either domestically or internationally.
Probably the closest position in the XI, there is no doubt that Thomas Partey is Arsenal’s heartbeat at the base of midfield, but the same can be said of Fabinho, whose presence in the Liverpool midfield instantly makes them a much more formidable side.
Much like Partey, the Brazilian’s ability to win the ball and progress it through the lines allows the midfielders either side of him to push on in attack, and he remains a key cornerstone of the Liverpool side.
CM: Granit Xhaka
One of the most remarkable redemption arcs the Premier League has seen, Granit Xhaka has gone from villain to hero and has become a player reborn in his more advanced midfield role this season.
The Swiss midfielder has become a viable threat in the opponent’s box rather than a liability in his own, with two goals and three assists to his name already, his most productive season since 2018/19.
CM: Martin Odegaard
The former Real Madrid starlet is finally starting to live up to the monumental expectations that saw him join Los Blancos as a 15-year-old.
Though it didn’t work for him at the Santiago Bernabeu, he has found a home in north London, and the Gunners captain has grabbed three goals already this season. A key player for his side, his absence is keenly felt both in and out of possession.
RW: Mohamed Salah
Included more because of his exploits before this season than his sluggish start, there is absolutely no doubting the talent of Mo Salah, whose wand of a left foot has sent the Liverpool faithful celebrating time and time again since he joined the club from Roma.
With ‘just’ three goals and two assists to his name in seven games, a poor return by his high standards, the 30 year old has likely already seen his golden boot slip away, and will be hoping to begin firing on all cylinders sooner rather than later to help propel his side up the Premier League.
ST: Roberto Firmino
One of few players actually playing at his best for Liverpool this season, Roberto Firmino has been back to his former self even amidst Liverpool’s struggles, the Brazilian grabbing five goals and three assists in just six Premier League appearances so far this campaign.
LW: Gabriel Jesus
Yes, Gabriel Jesus has been leading the line for the Gunners this season, but unable to leave him out and with that spot otherwise occupied he makes this team on the left flank.
The Brazilian has rejuvenated a stale no.9 spot in north London, with his infectious pressing a key asset for Mikel Arteta’s side, and he has chipped in with five goals and three assists too. Already looking like a £45m bargain, and with a great record against Liverpool, he will be a key man for the Gunners.