Saka's in. Who else makes the cut?

The best combined XI from Liverpool, Arsenal & Man City – according to WhoScored

As the table shows, there’s barely been anything between Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City this season. But who would make it into a combined XI of the three title challengers this season?

To settle this pub debate, we’ve taken an in-depth look through football stats kings WhoScored and compiled this team using the highest average Premier League player rating for each position, arranged in a 4-3-3 formation that all three clubs tend to operate with.

There have been some outstanding individuals for the three exceptional title-chasers this season, but one or two names – and omissions – from this combined XI might surprise you.

GK: Alisson – 6.65

The Brazil international doesn’t have quite as an impressive record between the sticks as Arsenal’s David Raya this season. He’s conceded 19 goals and kept seven clean sheets in 21 appearances this season, while Raya has conceded 19 goals and kept 10 clean sheets in 23 appearances.

But Alisson isn’t quite as well-protected by his backline and tends to be called upon more often, averaging 2.7 saves per 90 minutes this season compared to 1.9 per 90 for Ederson and 1.5 per 90 for Raya.

Liverpool’s back-up ‘keeper Caoimhin Kelleher, who has started eight Premier League matches this season, actually has the best WhoScored rating of the lot (6.80). But he doesn’t quite reach our thousand minutes threshold.

RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7.18

Kyle Walker and Ben White have enjoyed excellent campaigns with Man City and Arsenal respectively, but it’s Alexander-Arnold’s creative exploits that – statistically speaking, at least – see him win that ongoing ‘best English right-back’ argument. He’s actually seldom featured in 2024, and Liverpool haven’t missed him a great deal, but his crossing ability ought to make him a tremendous asset when back for the final stretch.

Like Kelleher, young Conor Bradley also has a higher rating (7.66) than any other right-back at the three clubs, but he’s yet to reach a thousand minutes of Premier League action. Keeping the 20-year-old at right-back and moving Alexander-Arnold permanently into midfield might be an idea for Klopp in the run-in.

CB: Virgil van Dijk – 7.26

No centre-back across Europe’s five major leagues has a higher WhoScored rating than Liverpool’s colossus this season.

He’s made the odd mistake – notably in the defeat at Arsenal – but generally speaking he’s been back to his very best in 2023-24.

QUIZ: Can you name the top 30 goalscoring defenders in Premier League history?

CB: Gabriel Magalhaes – 7.02

It’s William Saliba that tends to get all the plaudits, talked up by many as the best centre-back in the league, but it’s his team-mate Gabriel who has the higher average WhoScored rating (7.02 to the Frenchman’s 6.80).

The Brazil international tends to offer more of a set-piece threat – four league goals this season – which might be why he edges it. But the pair of them have been colossal together, particularly in recent months. Arsenal have conceded just four goals in league outings in 2024.

LB: Andrew Robertson – 7.00

It’s interesting that Liverpool players make four of the five players in the defensive rearguard (including ‘keeper), when they’ve kept three fewer clean sheets and conceded three more goals than Arsenal, while their underlying defensive metrics – xG, shots faced – are miles behind Arteta’s Gunners.

But Liverpool’s full-backs famously offer a lot going forward, and Robertson continues to be involved in the final third, despite only registering one goal and one assist in the Premier League this season. The 30-year-old has endured a frustrating injury-ravaged campaign and made just 11 league starts, though he does meet our threshold for minutes and sneaks in.

With the Scotland captain fit and available, Liverpool tend to win. They’ve lost just one Premier League game (Tottenham in September) that Robertson has started in 2023-24.

DM: Rodri – 7.58

Widely regarded as the best player in his position in world football, and for good reason.

City haven’t been at their glittering best this season but Rodri remains as consistent as ever. It’s been well over a year since Rodri tasted defeat, and had he not been suspended for City’s losses to Arsenal and Aston Villa earlier in the season the title picture might look dramatically different.

READ: Arsenal, Man City or Liverpool? A detailed look at every remaining fixture in the Premier League title race

CM: Declan Rice – 7.37

You can make an argument for omitting Rice here, due to a lower score than Rodri, after playing a not inconsiderable portion of the campaign as a lone pivot at the base of Arsenal’s midfield.

But he’s also frequently featured in a more advanced role, with Jorginho or Thomas Partey sitting deeper. We couldn’t not include Rice here after his sensational debut season with the Gunners, in which he’s played pretty much every minute of their title charge. He’s only notched one fewer direct goal contribution than Odegaard (six goals, five assists) and has been key to Arteta’s side dictating the tempo against almost every side they’ve come up against.

The 25-year-old actually looks well worth his £100million transfer fee and will have a massive claim for the Player of the Season award if he can help Arsenal make it over the line.

CM: Martin Odegaard – 7.30

Kevin De Bruyne is the most noteworthy omission from our midfield here. He’s arguably the best player in the Premier League, a claim he’s underlined by notching 11 assists in 13 appearances in all competitions since returning to action in early January.

The Belgian playmaker is eligible for this XI, falling under our threshold of 1000 league minutes, but even if he were he’d just miss out on making this midfield with a WhoScored rating of 7.27.

Odegaard just edges that, which is a testament to quite how good the Arsenal captain has been this season. The 25-year-old Norway international has a respectable return of six goals and six assists this season, but more than that he’s integral to Arsenal’s creativity and final-third domination.

Only Bruno Fernandes (86) and Pascal Gross (78) have notched more key passes – the final pass before a team-mate shoots at goal – than Odegaard (75) in 2023-24.

FWR: Bukayo Saka – 7.64

The area in the team with the most fierce competition, Saka has the highest WhoScored rating of any player from the three title challengers, as well as the entire Premier League.

Mohamed Salah can probably feel a bit aggrieved to have his place in this XI taken by the England international, given he’s notched more goals (16 to Saka’s 13) and more assists (nine to Saka’s eight), having done so in fewer appearances (five) and minutes (450). WhoScored’s algorithm evidently favours Saka’s general play more, though.

Liverpool’s Egyptian King is actually the third highest-rated player (7.44) in the English top-flight behind Rodri and Saka. Phil Foden – the Premier League’s fifth highest-rated player (7.38) – can also feel hard done by.

Bukayo Saka celebrates for Arsenal against Burnley.

READ: Bukayo Saka joins list of 7 Premier League icons with 75 goals and assists before turning 23

ST: Erling Haaland – 7.34

The Norwegian striker has smashed all kinds of goalscoring records and was pivotal in Manchester City winning the treble in his debut season. Yet he’s also missed the most chances of any player in the Premier League this season and was likened to a League Two player by Roy Keane for his lack of link-up play in the 0-0 draw against Arsenal.

Five goals in the FA Cup against Luton aside, Haaland’s goalscoring return is actually quite ordinary of late, with just four goals in nine Premier League appearances in 2024.

Still, he tops the 2023-24 Premier League goalscoring charts with 18 goals and leads the line here over Darwin Nunez (WhoScored Rating: 7.06) and Arteta’s assortment of options. And that’s Haaland in a bad season.

FWL: Jeremy Doku – 7.19

Surely the most controversial and unexpected name in this XI, especially given some of the competition in the forward areas of all three title challengers, Doku has come under a lot of criticism for his decision-making in the final third and failed to notch a goal or assist in his last 14 appearances in all competitions for City.

But Doku’s dribbling ability presumably sees his score highly in WhoScored’s complex scoring algorithm. Only Mohammed Kudus has completed more successful dribbles in the Premier League this season and no player in Europe’s major leagues completes dribbles more frequently.

And when he’s on it, he’s unstoppable. The Belgian winger received a rare perfect 10 WhoScored rating for his display against Bournemouth back in November, in which he notched a goal and four(!) assists. That’ll bump up his average a fair bit, then.

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