Wednesday night brings us the big one. Will it decide who wins the title? Probably not. Is it important? Absolutely. Top of the table Arsenal travel to Man City after drawing three games in a row, and know they simply cannot lose at the Etihad.
Here is a combined XI consisting of players from the two best teams in the Premier League.
GK: Ederson (Man City)
Brazilian international Ederson has played every minute of Man City’s Premier League campaign and has once again shown why he is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the country.
In 30 games, the 29-year-old has conceded 39 goals and kept 10 clean sheets. Is he the best goalkeeper in England? Statistically, he is not. He is bloody good though. And better than Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale.
RB: Benjamin White (Arsenal)
The most debatable inclusions do tend to be at the beginning of these XIs. When did right-back become such a massive bone of contention?
Kyle Walker or Benjamin White is a difficult one. Unless you are Gareth Southgate, that is.
White has been one of the best right-backs in the Premier League this season, if not the best. Kieran Trippier might have something to say about that. Signed as a central defender – we thought, anyway – Mikel Arteta had bigger plans for White, shifting the England international over to full-back following the return of the brilliant William Saliba.
With Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard in front of him, White has been able to showcase his creativity as an attacking full-back.
It is worth mentioning that Walker is also an excellent player and is quite rightly known as one of the best right-backs in Premier League history. But even Pep admits he cannot play in the hybrid role he demands from his full-backs.
CB: Ruben Dias (Man City)
Ruben Dias is quietly having another monstrous season for the Citizens. He attempts a ludicrous number of passes per game (87 on average) and completes nearly every single one of them (98%). The Portuguese international is obviously very solid defensively and although he makes a lot fewer tackles, blocks and interceptions than others in the Premier League, it is because Man City have so much of the ball. But you knew that already.
CB: John Stones (Man City)
Arsenal’s Gabriel Magalhaes has probably been the best central defender in the Premier League this season. But John Stones is also enjoying a wonderful campaign and has done enough over the years to prove that he is a better player than the former Lille man. Not mentioned above, Saliba has also been brilliant, but is injured. Even if he was fit, he would struggle to get in this team ahead of Stones or Dias.
LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal)
Let go by City last summer, Alex Zinchenko is one of the reasons Arsenal are now title contenders. Another reason is former City and current Gunners teammate Gabriel Jesus who, spoiler alert, is not in this combined XI because of a certain Nordic robot.
The inverted left-back is a crucial part of Arteta’s system after being a benchwarmer under Pep Guardiola. One look at his fbref scouting report shows he is not your average left-back, but an important attacking player who plays a major part in how Arsenal start and finish their attacks. One fun statistic is that Zinchenko records an extremely low number of tackles in his defensive third (0.73) and middle third (0.66), in comparison to other left-backs, but is right up there for tackles in the attacking third (0.45).
DM: Rodri (Man City)
This guy is the best in the business in his position, there is no doubt about that. Rodri is not only incredible on the ball, but he is a right sh*thouse and can do the dirty work as well as anyone. The Spaniard gets in this side ahead of Thomas Partey, who has gone off the boil in recent weeks.
CM: Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)
The Arsenal captain is enjoying the best season of his career and is finally settled at a club having been shipped out on loan four times by Real Madrid after they signed the then-16-year-old from Stromsgodset in 2015.
Odegaard has scored 12 goals and assisted eight in 31 Premier League games this season and has been the heartbeat for the Gunners, just pipping Bernardo Silva to a place in this team.
CM: Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)
There isn’t much to say about Kevin De Bruyne that hasn’t already been said. He has been one of the best midfielders in world football for nearly a decade and is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, last summer, Guardiola gave the assist king a nice shiny toy in the form of a goal machine. It’s disgusting when you think about it.
RW: Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
We love Bukayo Saka here at Football365. He is not just a wonderful footballer, but a bloody good guy. So wholesome. That alone gets him in ahead of England teammate Phil Foden, FA Cup semi-final hat-trick hero Riyad Mahrez, the aforementioned Silva and World Cup hero Julian Alvarez.
They all might be great guys as well but the right-wing spot does actually come down to football ability, believe it or not. Saka has 13 goals and 11 assists in 32 Premier League appearances in 22-23 and is now worth a whopping €110million, according to Transfermarkt.
ST: Erling Haaland (Man City)
This guy knows where the back of the net is. Justifying his place here would be a waste of time. All you need to do is read this, really.
LW: Jack Grealish (Man City)
The combined XI of these two teams before February’s reverse fixture had Mahrez at right wing and Saka on the left. Jack Grealish actually scored in that game. Two months later, he is in the form of his City career and could not be left out here.
Grealish has four goal contributions in his last three Premier League games and is becoming a crucial part of Guardiola’s system after a year or so of settling into what is a very intense regime.