This Sunday, Arsene Wenger will be making his final visit to Old Trafford as Arsenal manager. In his 22 years long spell at the club, he will finally leaving the place where he made great success. However, this last match could be an indicator of how much things have gone stale at Arsenal, after a glorious first decade of his helm.
After the years when, by the words of Gary Neville, Sir Alex Ferguson had to change things in order to keep up with such a powerful Arsenal side, in recent years that team has been on a downward trajectory and this combined XI is a proof of that. It is because you will find only three players from the Arsenal side making their way into our team. Simply enough, they are in situation when many things will need to change for them next summer, but at Manchester United as well.
It is easy seeing Arsenal staying behind for a couple more years.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
Whenever we made a combined XI this season, this was the easiest part every single time. David De Gea is the best Premier League goalkeeper by some distance and therefore there is no need to talk too much about it. However, Petr Cech is an interesting figure. The Czech is obviously not at the Spaniards level, but his decline in recent years has been noticeable. He is far from a goalkeeper he was at Chelsea and at 35, he does not look like someone having a career last until he is 40.
Defence: Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling/Laurent Koscielny, Sead Kolasinac
Even some things here are a stretch. First of all, it was hard putting either of Smalling or Koscielny on their own and they had to share this spot. Both the Englishman and the Frenchman had some poor moments this season, but Smalling’s recent form and Koscielny’s leadership at Arsenal gave some reason to put them in. Also, Sead Kolasinac has not been a better left-back this season that Ashley Young, but he got his place because of his bursting runs and raw strength that he offers.
Midfield: Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Jack Wilshere
Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic had their places safe here, as there is no obvious choice from Arsenal that could challenge them in the centre of the park. Pogba’s qualities are known and Matic’s defensive skills are far better than those of Granit Xhaka. The only thing that was not obvious was putting one of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey. The former got the nod as he had some terrible periods in his career, troubled by serious injuries and now he is back, fit and doing his best to earn a spot at World Cup.
Attack: Mesut Ozil, Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez
Technically, we could say both Manchester United and Arsenal got a player and a half each in attacking line. Alexis Sanchez played for both teams and he earned his place by pure quality he possesses, but also his recent performances at United, most significantly against Manchester City and Tottenham. Mesut Ozil’s creativity mixed with Pogba’s runs, Sanchez’s diligence and Lukaku’s goalscoring abilities would slot in nicely.