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Jul 18, 2020 at 7.45pm UK
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Combined XI: Arsenal vs. Manchester City

:Headline: Combined XI: Arsenal vs. Manchester City:
Ahead of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Manchester City, Sports Mole picks a combined XI from both squads.

Arsenal and Manchester City will lock horns in the semi-finals of the FA Cup on Saturday night with a spot in the final of England's most famous competition up for grabs.

City are the holders, having thrashed Watford 6-0 in last year's final, but Arsenal are the most successful team in the history of the tournament, lifting the trophy on 13 occasions to City's six.

The Gunners have overcome Leeds United, Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Sheffield United to reach the final four, while City have beaten Port Vale, Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United.

The winner of the first semi-final will take on either Chelsea or Manchester United in the final, with those two teams set to lock horns in another mouthwatering contest on Sunday night.

Both teams will enter the match off the back of wins, with Arsenal beating Liverpool 2-1 in the Premier League on Wednesday, while City overcame Bournemouth by the same score on the same night.

There will be a lot of quality on display at Wembley and with that in mind, Sports Mole picks a combined XI from both squads, using only players available for the contest.

Even if Bernd Leno had been available, there is a strong chance that Emiliano Martinez would have been between the sticks for Arsenal in this match, with the Argentine playing in all four of the team's FA Cup matches this term. Leno's injury has allowed Martinez to also become the club's number one stopper in the league, though, and the 27-year-old has taken his chance by putting in a string of excellent performances.

Claudio Bravo is expected to start for City, meanwhile, with Ederson not involved in the competition this season. Ederson would have been the obvious choice if this were a Premier League match, but Martinez gets the nod due to the competition, and the fact that he has been in excellent form since Leno's injury.

At the back, Aymeric Laporte is the best central defender in both squads by some distance, and he therefore sails into the first XI. City teammate Fernandinho is also included at the back, with the 35-year-old likely to be handed a spot in defence in Saturday's contest. There were a number of options for the third and final position, but we have gone for Kieran Tierney, who has been in impressive form since the restart.

Although primarily a left-back, Tierney was used as a centre-back against Liverpool on Wednesday night and put in an impressive performance, while he operated in that area of the field against Southampton towards the end of last month. The Scotland international has been key to Arsenal winning four of their last six Premier League matches, and it was difficult to leave him out of this combined XI.

Kyle Walker has been selected over Hector Bellerin as the right-sided wing-back, while Bukayo Saka has been given the nod on the opposite side. Saka has played in a number of different positions this season, but he started as a wing-back against Liverpool and could again be deployed in that area against City as the 18-year-old has the personality and temperament to play his part both defensively and offensively this weekend.

Kevin De Bruyne is a no-brainer in the middle of the park, with the Belgium international enjoying another wonderful campaign, scoring 13 times and providing 21 assists in 43 appearances in all competitions. Meanwhile, Rodri gets the nod alongside him due to his defensive qualities, with the Spaniard edging out the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka to make this particular XI.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the fourth and final Arsenal player in the side, and it is very difficult to leave the forward out considering that he has scored 23 times in 40 appearances in all competitions this term. The Gabon international has actually not played a minute in the FA Cup this season, but the fact that he was named on the bench against Liverpool suggests that he will be in from the start on Saturday night.

Raheem Sterling is also a certainty, with the 25-year-old managing 27 goals and eight assists in 47 appearances in all competitions, including four goals in his last three Premier League appearances. Aubameyang's presence means that Sterling has been moved to the right, but there is no question that the England international is capable of thriving in that area of the field.

The final position in the first XI goes to City's Gabriel Jesus. Sergio Aguero could have been in but for a knee problem, but Jesus gets the nod over Alexandre Lacazette despite the former's recent impressive form. Jesus has actually scored 21 goals and provided 13 assists in 48 appearances this season, which is an excellent record for a player who has not always been in the first XI. body check tags ::

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