As the London derby approaches this weekend, it is always important to get a look at both teams and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. Both clubs boast strong rosters with world class players. Therefore, I am going to take a look at what a combined starting XI would look like between both teams.
GK: Thibaut Courtois
This is choice is a no brainer. The Belgian is a candidate for PFA Young Player of the Year and is easily in the top 2 goalkeepers in the world. Meanwhile the goal for Arsenal has been unstable. While Ospina remains the better GK in my opinion, Courtois is better than both.
RB: Branislav Ivanovic
The Serbian gets the nod for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because Arsenal’s backline has been moved around all season, with no right back holding down a consistent spot. Furthermore, Ivanovic has been the undisputed right back at Chelsea all season. The 31- year old boasts a goal scoring threat on the wing, and battles defensively.
CB: John Terry
It seems that John Terry just gets better with age. He has been England’s best center back this season. His knowledge of the game has allowed him to flourish at 34 years of age. He gets the nod over both Arsenal CBs, as they have just not been as strong as the Chelsea stalwart.
CB: Per Mertesacker
This choice was more difficult. I believe that Gary Cahill is a world class center back. However, his fall in form in early winter is what sees the German replace him on this list. Furthermore, not many players have a higher soccer IQ than Mertesacker. The German also presents a large figure, and is impeccable in the air.
LB: Cesar Azpilicueta
The Spaniard wins this position with ease. This goes back to Arsenal’s inconsistency at the fullback position. Additionally, Azpilicueta has been brilliant defensively, keeping world class LB Filipe Luis out of the side. The 25 year old is quite possibly the best 1-on-1 defender in the BPL or even in Europe.
CM: Nemanja Matic
If it wasn’t for the fact that soccer fans prefer flair over figure, Matic would be the PFA player of the Year. However, his role is one that goes unrewarded and unnoticed. The Serbian has been the main reason why Chelsea are winning the title this season. His ability to shadow opponents and shield Chelsea’s backline is second to none. He is the best center defensive midfielder in the world, no questions asked.
CM: Francis Coquelin
The Frenchman has emerged this season for the Gunners. They are a team that have longed for a center defensive midfielder, and the 23-year old has answered their call. Coquelin has allowed Arsenal that ability to commit men forward, knowing that the Frenchman is their to protect their backline. If he continues his form, he could be a player to be reckoned with in the future.
RW: Alexis Sanchez
The Chilean has been Arsenal’s best player this season. He adds pace, a goalscoring threat, and leadership to this Gunner side. Sanchez is a PFA Player of the Year nominee and he is deserving of that honor. He is Arsenal’s best chance of beating the Blues.
CAM: Cesc Fabregas
The Spaniard has been second to none when it comes to distributing the ball this season. As the league leader in assists, the Chelsea man is unfortunate not to be nominated for PFA Player of the Year. He has been integral to Chelsea’s title challenge and the Blues are fortunate to have him in their midfield. Just ask Diego Costa how good Fabregas is.
LW: Eden Hazard
Quite possibly the easiest choice in this entire piece. Hazard is the best player in the Premier League this season. He is the third best player in the world. The Belgian has been exceptional, and is only going to get better. He has carried Chelsea this season at times, and they are about to win a title. How much more valuable could you be to a team?
ST: Diego Costa
This choice was the most confusing. This is because we are not sure which striker Chelsea will start this weekend. There have been rumors that he will return, same with Remy. Arsenal boast Giroud and Welbeck. However, in my opinion, a 30% chance of having Costa still rates higher than both Gunners’ strikers. When the Spaniard is on the field, there is always a chance that he will score, and I don’t think there is any player that battles as hard as Costa.
Contribution from Tyler Strauss