Arsenal vs Liverpool: Premier League Era Combined XI

Thierry Henry

Arsenal host Liverpool at the Emirates on Sunday ahead of what is set to be a telling clash between the two English giants in the Premier League. Today, we will be constructing an Arsenal – Liverpool combined XI of players to have represented the Clubs during the Premier League era. Let’s get into it!

Formation: 4-3-3

Since both teams currently deploy this system it only makes sense for us to do the same. Furthermore, the striker will play the ‘false 9’ role, dropping a bit deeper and facilitating the wide players.

Goalkeeper: Alisson

Goalkeeper: Alisson

It feels extremely disrespectful to leave Arsenal and England legend David Seaman out of this XI, but the levels Alisson has shown since moving to Liverpool have been world-class, with the Brazilian arguably exhibiting the greatest goalkeeping-peak since Manuel Neuer in the mid 2010s.

Alisson has been instrumental since joining from Roma in 2018, helping the club reach three UEFA Champions League finals since then, winning the 2019 edition. The Red’s shot-stopper also has a Premier League title to his name, as well as an FA Cup and Carabao Cup.

Alisson has kept 89 clean sheets in 194 appearances for Liverpool, and was also voted as FIFA’s best keeper in 2019. Despite not winning the league last season and conceding more goals than Man City, Alisson was also included in the 2021/2022 PFA Team of the Year.

Right-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold
Trent Alexander-Arnold

Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has had a tough start to the current campaign but is still considered a generational talent after revolutionizing the fullback role under Jürgen Klopp.

Despite only being 24-years-old, Trent has an argument of being the PL’s best ever right-back. The England international has won everything there is to win in club football, ranging from the UCL to the FIFA Club World Cup.

Known for his creativity, Trent has provided 45 assists and scored 11 goals in 168 appearances in the PL.

Trent has been included in the PFA Team of the Year on three separate occasions, as well as being in the UCL Team of the Year twice. Very impressive accolades in his fledgling career.

He will almost certainly go down as one of the best right-backs in football history.

Centre-back: Virgil Van Dijk

Virgil Van Dijk
Virgil Van Dijk

Virgil Van Dijk has arguably been the best defender in the world over the last 4 or 5 years. The Dutch International has been the catalyst for all Liverpool’s success since making the move to Merseyside from Southampton in 2018, for a then-world record fee for a defender of £75million.

Van Dijk oozes confidence and class, and often seems like he’s barely even trying, such is his stature and the way he elegantly engages with attackers.

Van Dijk finished 2nd in the Ballon D’or rankings in 2019, only behind the great Lionel Messi. Van Dijk was tipped to become the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 to win football’s most coveted individual award, but was unfortunate to lose out despite European success that campaign.

The Liverpool centre-back’s peak is among the best we’ve ever seen from a defender, with only his lack of longevity preventing Van Dijk from being considered the best defender of his generation.

Van Dijk too has won everything there is to win in club football, from the Premier League to the UCL in his first full campaign. The Dutchman will undoubtedly go down as one of the top five centre-backs in English-league history.

Centre-back: Tony Adams

Tony Adams
Tony Adams

Mr Arsenal himself, Tony Adams had to be in this combined XI. The former Arsenal captain led the Gunners to league success in three separate decades, namely the 80s, 90s and 2000s.

Adams was a stalwart in the middle for the Gunner’s defence, becoming captain at 21-years-old, the Club’s youngest ever skipper.

Adams was one of the first genuinely world-class leaders in Premier League history, aided by the respect he gained from being a one-club man. The former English international was rock solid at the back and also had the ball-playing ability that we see is more pertinent in the modern game. This is emphasized by the fact that Adams assisted Thierry Henry’s first ever goal for Arsenal, and we know what happened after.

Despite suffering from many off-field issues that we don’t see in football in the current day, Adams powered through it, winning the English top-flight four times, as well as being included in the PFA Team of the Season the same amount of times.

An English football icon, Mr Arsenal is the leader of this combined XI.

Left-back: Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole

Former England International Ashley Cole has a strong shout for being the best left-back in football history, ahead of the likes of Roberto Carlos and Paolo Maldini.

Cole came through the ranks of the Arsenal academy and filled the void left by Nigel Winterburn exquisitely. He caught the eye of the world during international tournaments, often walking away from the competitions as the only English player to have performed well, despite being part of a golden generation of English talent.

Cole was a crucial part of Arsenal’s invincible season as the defence only conceded 26 goals all campaign.

The former Chelsea player left the Gunners not on the best terms, but only enhanced his reputation further after his departure. Cole won the PL twice with Arsenal and once with the Blues. He also managed to get his hands on European silverware with Chelsea, winning both the UCL and Europa League.

A true great and one of a very few English players comfortably in a debate for the best-ever in their position.

Centre-midfielder: Patrick Vieira

Patrick Vieira
Patrick Vieira

Patrick Vieira is one of the greatest midfielders to have ever graced the Premier League. His technique and physical stature saw him dominate the league for almost a decade, during which he won 3 titles and captained Arsenal during the season they went unbeaten.

The Frenchman joined Arsenal as Arsene Wenger’s first signing and immediately epitomized what the manager was trying to instill into the team. His technical ability and hard-man attitude saw many opposing teams tremble at the prospect of coming up against him.

His infamous rivalry with Roy Keane is remembered as the main encounter during the Arsenal vs Man United derbies in the early 2000s.

Vieira also won the FIFA World Cup in 1998 and followed it up by winning the European Championship two years later. Furthermore, Vieira was included in the PFA Team of the Year for 6 consecutive seasons between 1998 and 2004.

A legend whose story at Arsenal may well have another chapter at some point in the future.

Centre-midfielder: Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard

Liverpool’s prodigal son, Steven Gerrard has an argument of being The Red’s best ever player.

The English midfielder carried Liverpool throughout the 2000s, before Klopp’s arrival sparked the start of a successful period for the club. Gerrard would single-handedly drive the team up on the pitch and in the league-standings.

Gerrard’s most famous moment undoubtedly came in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final against AC Milan in Istanbul. Liverpool came from 3-0 down to win the competition on penalties, inspired by captain Gerrard who took matters into his own hands, scoring the first goal that sparked the comeback.

Despite not winning a Premier League title, Gerrard has been included in the PFA Team of the Year more than any other player, appearing in the team an astonishing 8 times between 2000 and 2014.

Certainly, a rival to Vieira for being the best ever PL midfielder, Gerrard racked up 186 goals and 153 assists in 710 appearances for Liverpool. A true Premier League hero.

Centre-midfielder: Cesc Fabregas

Cesc Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas

Spanish midfield maestro Cesc Fabregas made his name at Arsenal after breaking into the first-team at the age of 16.

Like Tony Adams, Fabregas also became club captain at 21 proving his importance to the squad in the years since Vieira’s departure.

Fabregas was unbelievable for the Gunners, often being their main attacking threat once the team relocated to the Emirates.

The 2009/2010 campaign was when Fabregas really announced himself as one of the world’s best midfielders, racking up an astonishing 15 goals and 13 assists in 27 Premier League appearances, unheard of output from the middle of the park at the time.

The Spaniard has won the Premier League twice, albeit with Chelsea, and sits 2nd in the PL all-time top assister standings with 111.

Fabregas’ biggest moment was his assist to Andres Iniesta in the 2010 World Cup final, winning the 2nd piece of major international silverware after the 2008 Euros.

In our midfield, Fabregas would be perfect alongside Gerrard and Vieira.

Right-wing: Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah is a modern-day Premier League great. The Egyptian winger has taken the league by storm since his move from Roma in 2017, breaking the record for most goals scored in a single PL campaign in his first season in England, finding the back of the net 32 times.

Salah’s arrival at Anfield has coincided with Liverpool’s greatest period since the late 80s, with the Merseyside club reaching the UEFA Champions League final in his first season. Unfortunately, Salah was injured during the final as Liverpool lost to Real Madrid.

However, Salah got his hands on the trophy a year later as he fired the Reds to UCL success in 2019.

Salah has won the golden boot 3 times since 2017, netting 161 goals and providing 67 assists in 265 appearances for the Reds. A truly remarkable record that puts him among the all-time great attackers to play for the club, such as Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish.

Salah will go down as one of, if not the best right-winger in Premier League history, and thoroughly deserves a spot in this combined XI.

Centre-forward: Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp
Dennis Bergkamp

Netherlands and Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp is a true pioneer of the game. He signed for the Gunners in 1995 and subsequently changed the way English football was played. Bergkamp showed the coaches of other teams that there is another way of playing football: elegantly.

The arrival of Bergkamp sparked an influx of foreign talent into the Premier League as everyone saw the impact of a player deemed not physical enough for English football.

Bergkamp is probably the most elegant player to grace the Premier League, such was his touch, composure and silky skills. The Dutchman finished 2nd in the Ballon D’or rankings in 1992 and 3rd the year after, such is the acknowledgment of his skillset on a global scale.

Bergkamp was one of the first players to be deployed in a false 9, something we see commonly implemented in the league today.

Not only has the Dutchman scored one of the best goals in PL history against Newcastle in 2001/2002, Bergkamp is also the only player in English-league history to have the first, second and third ranked goals in the Goal of the Month competitions to come from the same game, after he bagged a majestic hat-trick against Leicester in 1997.

The Iceman definitely gets into this team and would be devastating in the false 9 role.

Left-wing: Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry

There can’t be an all-time Premier League XI involving Arsenal without Thierry Henry in it.

Arguably the greatest player in Premier League history, Henry made England his playground for 8 years. The World Cup and Euros winner is Arsenal’s all-time top scorer, netting 228 goals for the Gunners in 376 appearances.

But it’s not just the goal-scoring exploits that Henry was known for, which is why he’s starting on the left in this XI, the position he began his career in. The former Barcelona star had technical ability that was levels above everyone else in the league, often making it seem like the game was too easy for him.

Henry also jointly holds the record for most assists in a single Premier League season, grabbing 20 in 2002/2003. That same campaign, Henry also scored 24 goals, setting the record for most goal contributions by a player in a single, 38-game season.

The Frenchman, who is also currently the France National Team’s all-time top scorer, has won the golden boot more than any other player in PL history, picking up the award four times.

Henry has been named by many great PL defenders as the attacker they feared the most, including John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.

The Premier League recognized Henry’s greatness by inducting him into the Premier League Hall of Fame as one of the first two members, along with Alan Shearer.

The greatest player in Premier League history most certainly deserves a spot in this combined XI.

Let us know your thoughts and combined XIs below!