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Combined XI: Manchester United vs. Arsenal

Ahead of Arsene Wenger's final game against Manchester United as Arsenal boss, Sports Mole selects a combined XI from the two squads.

Arsene Wenger will visit Old Trafford for the final time as Arsenal manager this Sunday when the Gunners take on Manchester United in a fixture which has provided some of the most abiding memories of his 22-year reign.

Title tussles between the two are a thing of the past for now, and unusually Arsenal will enter the game with their minds elsewhere as they gear up for the second leg of their Europa League semi-final with Atletico Madrid.

Anything other than a win this weekend will ensure that the Europa League is mathematically Arsenal's only hope of playing Champions League football next season, but United have aims of their own as they look to stave off the challenge of Liverpool to finish second.

Here, Sports Mole selects a combined XI from both squads using players who will be available for this weekend as Wenger and Jose Mourinho do battle for potentially the final time.



Combined XI: Man Utd vs. Arsenal

Arsenal are expected to welcome Petr Cech back into the fold after missing last weekend's win over West Ham United, but while his place as one of the Premier League greats is already sealed, right now the dominant goalkeeping force in the division is David de Gea, and the PFA Team of the Year member is a simple choice to tend the goal again in this team.

The defensive positions are more difficult to decide upon, with Antonio Valencia just getting the nod over Hector Bellerin due to his superior form over the course of this season. On the other flank, Nacho Monreal beats Ashley Young to the left-back slot having scored five Premier League goals this term, despite spending much of the campaign in a more central position.

With doubts remaining over the fitness of Eric Bailly after missing the FA Cup semi-final through illness, Chris Smalling is the only United centre-back included having now established himself as one of Mourinho's first choices, and his tally of three goals from his last nine games means that he will be an attacking threat too. Alongside him, Shkodran Mustafi gets the second centre-back berth having largely outperformed Laurent Koscielny for long spells this season.

Nemanja Matic - whose arrival at Old Trafford has been one of the major reasons for their leap from sixth to second - is one of the easier selections in the squad ahead of Granit Xhaka, while Paul Pogba is now back in the United team and playing in a midfield trio which is more suited to him. Pogba has five goals and 10 assists to his name this season, and with Aaron Ramsey - producer of seven goals and seven assists - on the other side of the midfield three there should be no lack of attacking threat from the midfield area.

All eyes will be on Alexis Sanchez this weekend as he faces Arsenal for the first time since leaving the club in January, and while the Chilean has not produced his best form in the red of United yet, he continues to be selected and remains the best option for this combined XI too. On the opposite side of the forward three is Mesut Ozil, who returned to the team for the Europa League draw against Atletico on Thursday and beats off competition from the likes of Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard for a place in this team.

Arguably the most difficult choice in this team comes up front, where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pips Romelu Lukaku to the centre-forward spot. Aubameyang is facing stiff competition for a place in the Arsenal team from Alexandre Lacazette at the moment, but the Gabon international has directly contributed to nine goals in as many Premier League games since his arrival, scoring six and assisting three. Lukaku's numbers of 26 goals and seven assists across all competitions are not too shabby either, but question marks remain over his ability to perform in the big games.

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Who will win Sunday's Premier League clash between Manchester United and Arsenal?

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Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho share a tentative handshake during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Manchester United on December 2, 2017
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