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Pre-Match Analysis – Combined Arsenal/Liverpool XI

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Midfielders & Forwards

CM: Santi Cazorla, Arsenal.

Santi Cazorla has proven time and time again that he’s an unbelievable player and last season he was one of Arsenal’s best. Cazorla’s technique has left football fans all-over in awe. Arsenal have been one of the most attractive teams to watch in their playing style and Cazorla is a huge factor for this as he adds that quality in his passing, dribbling and finishing. He made it very hard for defenders and midfielders to handle him and he was the star man against Man City at the Etihad last season. Liverpool will have their work cut-out to stop him.

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CM: Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal.

Since the leg-break, Ramsey has worked his way back into the Arsenal team and proven himself as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. Many people would have thought that an injury such as Ramsey’s would overall end his career or at least shatter his confidence and really affect his ability/potential. However, Ramsey’s done nothing but improve as a player since and in the past two seasons he’s scored 26 goals for the Gunners all from midfield which is a very impressive record considering he’s only 24 years old. Ramsey will want to add even more goals to his game this season. Milner and Henderson are both very good players also but Ramsey takes this spot over both of them just because of the impact he makes from midfield for Arsenal in terms of goalscoring, he contributes more in that regard.

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AM: Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool.

Philippe Coutinho is one of Brazil’s hottest prospects and a key player in Liverpool’s first team. Since joining from Inter Milan for £8.5m in 2013, Coutinho has displayed nothing but class for the Reds. However, at first whilst seeing the typical samba type player with great vision, dribbling and passing, it was Coutinho’s finishing that let him down. Constantly many shots would drag wide from long-range and the Brazilian’s consistency wasn’t good enough which resulted in him drifting in and out of the first-team on many occasions. But, since the turn of the new year Philippe has been superb for the Reds and his finishing has improved. Coutinho scored eight goals for the Reds’ last season including wonder strikes against Man City, Southampton and Bolton and even a goal against Arsenal – their opponents on Monday. Coutinho is already off the mark as well this season with a sublime 35-yard wonder strike against Stoke City that found the top corner.

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AM: Mesut Ozil, Arsenal.

Ozil is another player that has shown glimpses of his form at Real Madrid for Arsenal. This season could define Mesut Ozil’s true ability and now with him being fully fit and back in the first-team, he will no doubt display that for the Gunners. Ozil’s technical ability makes him a joy to watch and his vision allows him to make something out of nothing and pick out the perfect pass for his team-mates. For me though I believe Ozil would flourish even more if he had a quick striker in-front of him, someone that could run in behind and get on the end of his through-balls. There’s no denying that Ozil impressed us all when he came back from injury last season. An amazing game at Wembley against Aston Villa helped him a great deal in proving his critics wrong.

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AM: Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal.

Well, there was no doubt that Alexis would wind up in this squad. The best player out of both teams, one of the best players in the Premier League – if not the best, on his day – and an absolute star for his country, Chile, as he helped them win the Copa America. Alexis’ has been in England for one season and already wowed fans all over with his exceptional football talent. His work-rate, high pressing and teamwork has made him Arsenal’s stand-out player and probably the best player they have had since Thierry Henry. Sanchez has added flair to this Arsenal side and along with players like Cazorla, Ozil, Ramsey etc. He’s added class and he immediately settled-in and found his place. Liverpool will find it difficult to handle him and young Joe Gomez could have his real first test as a Reds’ player should Alexis be played on the right.

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ST: Christian Benteke, Liverpool.

Now, this one is up for debate really. However, for me Christian Benteke leads the line. Olivier Giroud has looked a lot more impressive in recent months and last season did score more than the Belgian striker however with age and consistency, Benteke has proved his class in the Premier League more than Giroud has despite playing in a relegation-threatened side. Now with better players around him, I fully expect Benteke to flourish even more. He’s already off the mark for the season with a goal against Bournemouth on his home debut, no doubt was it offside but he made sure that it was in the back of the net and that’s all that matters for the 24-year-old. Benteke could be a huge problem for the centre-backs and Mertesacker is the most likely to match him in an aerial battle but already Benteke is showing his power and ability in the air for the Reds with no other player winning more aerial duels than the Belgian international so far this season. He now has 50 goals in the Premier League in just over 100 games. Not a bad record for someone who is only 24.


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