Firstly, in case any stray Liverpuddlers happen to pass by, let me just say (in the immortal words of Harry Enfield’s Three Scousers): Calm down, calm down.
This article is not an attempt to disrespect your fine team which was performed so admirably in the last few seasons.
Rather it is a chance for an Arsenal fan (that’s me, by the way) to measure our new look team against one of the best two outfits in the Premier League.
And yes, there will be room for some of your lot in my final eleven – I’m not completely partisan.
One thing to remember: if I was doing this exercise at the end of last season a combined Liverpool-Arsenal eleven would have very few Gunners in it. But things feel different at The Arsenal right now, as I hope we will demonstrate at Anfield this weekend.
Our new signings have already shown promise, some of our young players are breaking into the first team in impressive style and we have started a league season with two wins for the first time in a decade.
I have based the comparison on line-ups that might actually play on Saturday, so long-term injuries are excluded.
Right, let’s get down to business (you Scousers pay attention at the back and don’t nick the pencils).
Goalkeeper: Adrián San Miguel del Castillo vs Bernd Leno
Neither custodian is in the de Gea class so this is a close call. I know Hammers fans who thought Adrian was OK but nothing to write home about (a good job really given that you’d run out of ink just writing his full name). Leno meanwhile has proved himself a first rate shot stopper but can look nervous with high balls into the box.
Full Back: Andy Robertson v Nacho Monreal.
This one goes to Robertson, who has been a consistent performer for Liverpool with plenty of attacking threat. Nacho has been a very solid defender but his best years may be behind him. It will be a closer call when the choice is between Robertson and our new left back Kieran Tierney.
Full Back: Trent Alexander-Arnold vs Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Two young men with double-barrelled names, impressing early in their careers. Given that TAA has played more Premier League games than AMN and that AMN is only a makeshift fullback, this has to go to Alexander-Arnold. A different story when Bellerin is returned to fitness of course – Hector would walk this one.
Centre Back: Virgil van Dijk vs Sokratis
Solid and consistent though our Hercules has been, this is a no-contest. VVD is one of the best centre backs in world footy.
Verdict: van Dijk.
Centre Back: Joel Matip vs David Luiz
Matip has been a low-key but steady performer at Liverpool for a few seasons now, but Luiz has the edge with experience, knowhow and his deep-lying playmaker ability.
Midfield: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain vs Joe Willock
We know and kinda love Oxo. He was always an ‘almost’ player for us and his time at Liverpool has been patchy and blighted by serious injury. Willock has already shown more of an up side in just a few starts for the Arse than Oxo ever did. I’m going Willock.
Midfield: James Milner vs Matteo Guendouzi
I love Gwen’s positive attitude and energy, although he is still a bit raw. Milner is one of those players who just keeps going and going, using a wise head and years of experience to make up for any decline in physicality and speed. A close one because these two are real opposites, but I’m shading Gwen.
Midfield: Georginio Wijnaldum vs Dani Ceballos
I know the Scousers will be outraged, but I have to go for Ceballos even based on just one performance for Arsenal. This guy has it all and will be at the Santi Cazorla, David Silva level this year if he keeps it up.
Wide Attacker: Mo Salah vs Pierre Emerick Aubameyang
You couldn’t get a Rizla between these two. Last season Salah bagged 22 Premier League goals in 38 appearances; Auba had 22 in 36. However, given that Salah was playing in a much better functioning team last year, I’m giving it to Auba. He got the same amount of goals in fewer games with worse service.
Wide Attacker: Sadio Mane vs Pepe
Mane scored 22 goal in 36 appearances in the Prem last season. Pepe got 22 in 38 for Lille in Ligue Un. I think (or at least hope) Pepe will turn out to be the better player this season but his lack of experience of the EPL counts against him, so it’s Mane for this one.
Forward: Roberto Firmino vs Alexandre Lacazette
This one’s a bit like Salah vs Aubameyang. Firmino netted 12 in 34 in the league last year, Laca got 13 in 35. However, the same point applies – Firmino was a striker in a high-performing team, Laca was doing the job in a semi-struggling team.
There you have it. My combined Liverpool-Arsenal starting line-up is this:
Alexander-Arnold – van Dijk – Luiz – Robertson
Willock – Ceballos – Guendouzi
Mane – Lacazette – Aubameyang
Seven Arsenal, four Liverpool. Seems pretty fair, don’t you think?