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Combined XI: Chelsea vs. Arsenal

By , Senior Reporter | 8mo
Sports Mole selects a combined XI from those expected to be available for Saturday's Premier League meeting between Chelsea and Arsenal.

Chelsea and Arsenal lock horns for the 53rd time in the Premier League this weekend in what is set up to be a thrilling contest.

The Gunners have won a little over half of those previous fixtures, but their London rivals have dominated in more recent times thanks to five wins in the last six played at Stamford Bridge.

Both teams have added players to their squad over the summer following a disappointing league campaign last time out, many of whom will be on show on Saturday evening.

Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, Sports Mole selects the strongest combined XI from both teams using those expected to be available this weekend.

One of the toughest calls to make comes in goal, where Arsenal can choose between Petr Cech and Bernd Leno, while Chelsea are now relying on Kepa Arrizabalaga. Cech still remains a fine shot-stopper and has plenty of redeeming qualities, but he has been on the wane for a couple of years now and also looked shaky when asked to pass out from the back against Manchester City last weekend. Leno is still adapting to life in England, meanwhile, whereas Kepa - the world's most expensive keeper at £72m - kept a clean sheet on an admittedly quiet debut against Huddersfield Town, seeing him get the nod here.

Chelsea have reverted to a back four under Maurizio Sarri, meaning a more reserved role for Marcos Alonso at left-back and a return to right-back for the reliable and versatile Cesar Azpilicueta. Alonso has his weaknesses, and he is not expected to be as much as a goal threat this term as he was during Antonio Conte's time at the club, but both players arguably offer more than opposite numbers Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin when combining attack with defence.

One of Emery's first pieces of business upon arriving in North London was to snap up Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund, adding a no-nonsense defender to his backline in the process. Sokratis may well be made to look a bargain for his £16m fee, and alongside him in this hybrid side is Antonio Rudiger, who has pushed on since being left out by Conte at one point last season.

Both teams boast a number of central-midfield options, with Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira all being added during the off-season. Jorginho is the perfect player for this Chelsea side thanks to his ability to start attacks from deep, while the destructive N'Golo Kante complements the Italy international's game perfectly. That leaves one space up for grabs and, despite the aforementioned new arrivals, Aaron Ramsey remains a key player for Arsenal and is starting to get more recognition. Seven goals and eight assists in the top flight last term explains his place in this side.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the ground running following his arrival in English football at the turn of the year, scoring 10 times in 12 starts, and offers far more of a threat through the middle than Chelsea's former number nine Alvaro Morata. Willian and Pedro would no doubt help to get the best out of Aubameyang, but there is no leaving out Eden Hazard - who is slowly working his way back to full fitness - and Mesut Ozil is also too talented to miss out. Ozil's inclusion also means that the 4-3-3 can easily become a 4-2-3-1, with Kante and Jorginho sitting behind a three-man attacking midfield of Ramsey, Ozil and Hazard.

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