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Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Arsenal

:Headline: Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Arsenal:ID:368866: from db_amp
Sports Mole picks a combined XI from the squads of Liverpool and Arsenal, including only players available for Saturday's Premier League clash.
By , European Football Editor | 23d

The only two teams with 100% records after two matches of the 2019-20 Premier League campaign will meet at Anfield on Saturday as Liverpool prepare to welcome Arsenal for what should be a cracking affair.

Liverpool started their season with a 4-1 win at Norwich City before recording a 2-1 victory over Southampton last weekend.

Arsenal, meanwhile, followed a 1-0 success away to Newcastle United with a 2-1 win over Burnley at the Emirates Stadium last weekend.

Liverpool thumped the Gunners 5-1 in the corresponding match during the 2018-19 campaign, while Arsenal have not actually beaten the Reds in the Premier League since April 2015.

The London club have won just two of the last 12 league meetings between the two teams, while they have not been victorious at Anfield in the top flight since September 2012.

Here, Sports Mole picks out a combined XI from both squads, using only players available for Saturday's late kickoff on Merseyside.

Alisson Becker would have been the clear choice between the sticks had the Brazil international been fit. The 26-year-old is out with a calf problem, though, and his replacement Adrian dropped a clanger against Southampton last weekend. Arsenal's Bernd Leno has been adequate rather than spectacular since arriving from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2018. However, the German gets the nod in this XI.

It is not too difficult to pick the back four, with the only big decision coming in central defence when selecting Virgil van Dijk's partner. In truth, that is also the dilemma that Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp faces, with Joel Matip and Joe Gomez both proving their worth. Gomez just gets the nod alongside the outstanding Van Dijk, though, with Arsenal not really having the centre-backs capable of pushing for a spot in the team despite David Luiz's arrival from Chelsea late in the summer transfer window.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson are also the clear choices in the full-back positions. Indeed, the duo managed 29 assists between them during a very impressive 2018-19 campaign. There remain question marks over Alexander-Arnold's defending at times, but it is difficult to leave the 20-year-old out when considering what he brings to the team going forward.

A 4-2-3-1 formation leaves space for just two central midfielders, and we have plumped for one from each team. Dani Ceballos was outstanding against Burnley last weekend – providing two assists on his home debut for Arsenal. The Spaniard gets the nod alongside Fabinho, who would provide balance and a defensive shield in this particular team. For all of Liverpool's brilliance, it is difficult to say that the Reds have an outstanding central midfielder, while Arsenal's options in that area of the field are still below the very best.

The desire to include Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the tip of the attack means that Liverpool's potent front three will have to start in the positions just behind the centre-forward. Roberto Firmino is more than capable of operating in the hole due to his intelligence and movement, while it is difficult to leave Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane out due to their quality.

Firmino has one goal and two assists in four appearances this season, Salah one goal and one assist in four appearances while Mane has three goals and one assist in three matches. There is arguably not a more complete front three in world football, and it is impossible to leave any of them out of this XI.

Nicolas Pepe has only been used off the bench for Arsenal this season, therefore it is difficult to include the Ivory Coast international in the side. The attacker is still very much an unknown quantity in English football, although he did show plenty of promise off the bench against Burnley last weekend.

As mentioned above, Aubameyang takes the spot at centre-forward. The 30-year-old has been outstanding for the Gunners since arriving from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018, scoring 43 goals in 67 appearances in all competitions. Meanwhile, the Gabon international has netted twice in two Premier League appearances this term. To be honest, it is not a difficult decision to name Aubameyang at the tip of the attack due to his huge skill set, which sees him edge out the likes of teammate Alexandre Lacazette.

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