Phil Foden & Bukayo Saka feature in our combined XI of Manchester City and Arsenal stars based on Dream Team points

WITH the international break effectively boxed off, focus switches to a mouthwatering weekend of Premier League action.

Sunday’s clash between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad is unquestionably the main event, a contest that will go a long way to deciding the tense title race.

It’s an industry obligation to construct a combined XI for a fixture of this magnitude but we’ve added a twist.

Rather than basing it on subjective opinion, this combined XI is purely determined by total Dream Team points this season and the results are rather interesting.


European heroics


European heroicsCredit: Getty

GOALKEEPER: David Raya (£3.2m)

The Gunners’ first-choice custodian ranks third in his position overall having amassed 134 points, whereas Ederson (£2.8m) is sixth a further 19 points back.

Raya leads the way for clean sheets among keepers with 13, evidence of the tight ship Mikel Arteta runs these days.

The 28-year-old looked somewhat shaky in his first few performances between the sticks for his new club but he’s settled since and recently played a huge role in Arsenal’s progression to the Champions League quarter-finals.

DEFENDERS: Ben White (£3.9m), Gabriel (£4.1m), William Saliba (£3.4m)

A solid partnership


A solid partnershipCredit: Getty

Arsenal boast the best defensive record among all Premier League clubs this season and so it’s no surprise to see total dominance along the back line.

In fact, Saliba has contributed to a whopping 15 clean sheets this campaign, the highest tally among all assets.

In addition to his side’s solidity at the back, Gabriel has scored three goals and been a persistent threat at set-pieces – only four defenders have registered more shots on target.

White has chipped in with five assists and he might count himself unlucky not to have more to his name as only four assets in his position have created more big chances.

In contrast, Man City have found clean sheets relatively hard to come by and Pep Guardiola’s rotation policy means their defence is nowhere near as settled as Arsenal’s.

Kyle Walker (£3m) has performed best but his tally of 146 points puts him just 18th among all defenders.

For comparison, Gabriel (185 pts), White (182 pts) and Saliba (171 pts) are second, third and joint-seventh respectively.

MIDFIELDERS: Phil Foden (£5.8m), Bukayo Saka (£5.8m), Martin Odegaard (£4.3m), Rodri (£3.9m), Declan Rice (£3.9m)

Two of the Premier League's very best players


Two of the Premier League’s very best playersCredit: Dream Team

City get on the board in midfield and in fine style as Foden is currently the second-best performer among all players having racked up 294 points via 17 goals and 11 assists.

It’s seemingly a two-horse race between him and Saka in regards to Dream Team’s outright best midfielder for 2023/24.

The Gunners’ No7 is just eight points further back but he has a comfortable 34-point cushion over third-placed Jarrod Bowen (£5m).

While Saka is playing catch-up to Foden, he actually boasts a superior tally of goal involvements having scored scored 16 and assisted 14 – he also averages more points-per-game.

Odegaard is also among the select group of a dozen midfielders to have reached a double century of points (202 to be precise) at this stage of the season.

Rice needs eight points to join his skipper at the same milestone.

The England international has scored six goal and provided the same number of assists but he’s very much an all-rounder in the middle of the park; he ranks highly for bonus points having also notched 75 tackles in all competitions.

Arsenal's heartbeat


Arsenal’s heartbeatCredit: Getty

Rodri completes the five-man midfield (formation determined by total points) with an overall tally of 181 points.

The imperious Spaniard is viewed as a defensive midfielder but he’s a masterful passer and decent shooter from the edge of the box.

As a result, he’s scored seven goals and provided ten assists already this campaign on top of his defensive duties.

We accept that the balance of this hypothetical XI probably wouldn’t work in real life but, in isolation, a midfield consisting of Odegaard as playmaker ahead of a Rice-Rodri double pivot with Saka and Foden out wide is a glorious thing to imagine.

STRIKERS: Erling Haaland (£7.7m), Julian Alvarez (£4.4m)

Serious firepower


Serious firepowerCredit: AP

It was all Arsenal in defence but City’s two premium forwards occupy the advanced positions.

Admittedly, Gabriel Jesus’ (£4.5m) progress has been hindered by injury but even if he had played every game this campaign he may not have caught Alvarez, who is 99 points ahead of his fellow South American on 234.

Having been an understudy at the Etihad for most of last season, the Argentine World Cup winner has been a key player for the treble winners this time around, as evidenced by his tally of 14 goals and 13 assists.

Naturally, Haaland leads the line as Dream Team’s overall top performer (again).

The irrepressible Norwegian poacher has missed more than his fair share of gilt-edged chances this season and he was also forced to miss a few fixtures with a foot injury; but still he’s plundered 29 goals in all competitions – the stuff of cheat codes.

Haaland needs just two points to become this season’s first triple centurion, a likely outcome this weekend so long as he’s available.

No doubt Pep Guardiola will feel confident of a positive result on Sunday given his side remain unbeaten at home this season but this exercise suggests the visitors have a great chance to improve their position in the title race.

Our XI contains seven Arsenal assets and just four City players.

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