Arsenal Greatest Xl v Sunderland Greatest Xl: Who Wins?

Even though you have took further back in Sunderland's case, both of these clubs have boasted incredible players over the years. But, ahead of the game this afternoon, who wins when the the greatest Xls go head-to-head?
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'You won't be in next year pal...'

Arsenal Greatest Xl v Sunderland Greatest Xl: Who Wins?

Arsenal Greatest XI

GK: David Seaman – Forget his leaden footed displays at the tail end of his career. During most of the 1990s, Spunky’s peerless displays between the sticks made him the ultimate big game stopper for the Gunners. 8

RB: Lee Dixon – Feisty, sharp in the tackle and unfussy in his approach, Dixon was just the man you wanted in your back line, especially back in the days when you could boot the opposition winger into the stand without punishment from the ref.7

CB: Tony Adams – His transition from George Graham’s hard drinking, blue collar lieutenant to Arsene Wenger’s poetry loving free thinking, roving skipper was remarkable. What didn’t change was his undimmed will to win. Fergie admitted he couldn’t wait for him to retire. 9

CB: Martin Keown – This grizzled warrior certainly came good during his second spell at the Gunners. Later combined an indomitable desire for combat with much improved distribution at the back. His clash with Van Nistelrooy in 2003 may not have been pretty, but you’d always want him in your team. 8

LB: Ashley Cole – Whatever Arsenal fans think of “Cashley” these days, it cannot be denied that during his six year first team career, he provided excellent service, with his surging runs down the left. His link play with Pires in the “Invincibles” season was a joy to behold. 8

LM: Liam Brady – Arguably the cleverest play maker of his generation in the 1970s, he would glide past opponents with unerring ease, and hit shots with minimal backlift. A genius. 10

CM: Patrick Vieira – A titan of Arsenal’s midfield for nearly a decade, the Frenchman appeared to relish clashed with United more than anyone, if his “fire and brimstone” clashes with rival skipper Roy Keane both on the pitch and in the tunnel are anything to go by. 9

CM: Cesc Fabregas – There is little that the Spanish diamond couldn’t do, and in the Premiership, there was no one who can match his artfulness, vision and creativity. 9

RW: Robert Pires – A goal scoring wide player, defences simply had no answer to the Frenchman’s direct running and setting up of chances for the likes of Henry and Bergkamp during the noughties. 8

CF: Ian Wright – Quite simply the most natural goal scorer seen at Highbury since Bastin in the 1930s. Aggressive and self centred on the pitch, the team’s reliance on his goal poaching under GG effectively made it “Ian Wright FC” for several years. 9

CF: Thierry Henry – “We’ve got the best player in the world” chanted Arsenal fans when Henry (more often than not) was on song. The Gunners’ record goal scorer was, on his day, quite simply unplayable. 10

Manager: Arsene Wenger - The boss would have to be Arsene, given the way he has revolutionised the club and the playing style. However, at the moment, I’d want George Graham in charge. He’d stifle United and go and hit them on the counter. 9

Arguably the cleverest play maker of his generation in the 1970s, Brady would glide past opponents with unerring ease, and hit shots with minimal backlift. A genius.

Total Score: 104

Sunderland Greatest XI

GK: Ned Doig

He cost Sunderland a two-point penalty on arrival from Arbroath in 1890 as he was still registered with Blackburn, and was said to be so sensitive about his lack of hair that if his cap fell off he’d retrieve it rather than follow the ball, but he was still worth it. He won four championships with Sunderland, was a Scotland international and for much of the 1890s was the best goalkeeper in the world. 10

RB: Alex Hall

There is a fine tradition of Sunderland right-backs who shun goals (Chris Makin and John Kay being modern incarnations; even Phil Bardsley moved to left-back before getting his first goal in 108 league games), but it was begun by Hall, who scored only once in 233 appearances. Capable of playing on either side, he was a regular in the 1935-36 Championship season and the FA Cup run a year later. 7

CB: Charlie Hurley

Hurley was voted Sunderland’s player of the 20th century (admittedly in 1979, but it’s hard to imagine he’d have lost the vote 21 years later) and stands as the embodiment of all that Wearside respects. He was brave and tough and gentlemanly, a towering presence in both boxes and, as Brian Clough noted after his first training session at Sunderland, he could pass a ball as well. 10

CB: Sandy McAllister

A former coal-miner, he wasn’t the tallest, but he was stocky and courageous, and an ever-present in the 1902 title-winning side. He was so popular with fans that when he scored his first goal for the club (he only got 5 in 225 games) they presented him with a gold watch and a piano. He died from foods poisoning while serving with the Northumberland Fusiliers during the First World War. 8

LB: Ernie England

A hard-as-nails full-back who played on the ‘wrong side’, England delighted in shepherding wingers inside and then sliding in with his stronger foot. He was an ever-present in the side that finished runners-up behind Liverpool in 1922-23. 7

DMC: Charlie Thomson

Thomson was an established Scotland international who had won two Cups with Hearts when he arrived on Wearside. He captained Sunderland for seven years during which time they never finished lower than eighth, and clinched the title in 1912-13. His reputation – and his bristling moustache – suggest he could look after himself, but he was also a fine ball-playing centre-half. 9

DMC: Hughie Wilson

Wilson was the classic old-style half-back, and aggressive tackler who could also pass a ball. He played in Sunderland’s first League game, in the first game at Roker Park, and was the first Sunderland player sent-off. He won three titles, the third of them as caption, and his one-handed long throws were so effective the FA outlawed them. 9

AMR: Charlie Buchan

Only Gurney has scored more goals for Sunderland than Buchan, but he was as much a creator as a finisher, a tricky inside-right of dazzlingly quick feet and brain. He joined Arsenal after leaving Sunderland and there devised the W-M formation in conjunction with Herbert Chapman. 10

AMC: Raich Carter

Calm and intelligent, Carter was a goalscoring inside-forward, the captain and inspiration of the 1935-36 title-winning side and the team that won the FA Cup a year later. A regular England international, he lost several years to the War, but inspired Derby to the FA Cup in 1946. 10

AML: Len Shackleton

Shackleton was a magician, an impish showman of such virtuosity that at half-time in one game he kicked a ball to a referee who had annoyed him, but loaded it with so much spin that as the official bent down to pick it up, it rolled back to him. An anti-authoritarian streak cost him the chance of more than five England caps, but technique and eye for a pass made him a huge favourite on Wearside. 9

CF: Bobby Gurney

In his first game for Sunderland reserves, Gurney scored nine, and the goals never really stopped. Tough and quick and a supreme finisher, he remains Sunderland’s highest scorer of all time, rattling in 12 hat-tricks (two of them fours) in his 22 years at the club. He was top-scorer in the title season of 1935-36, and got three equaliser in the AF Cup final win over Preston the following year. 9

Manager: Tom Watson

Only four managers in the history of the English game have ever won the league with two different sides; only one has ever won it twice with both his teams. Watson created the great Sunderland side that won three league titles in the early-mid 1890s, and then went a built a new team at Liverpool. A forgotten genius. 10

Final score Arsenal 104 - Sunderland 104

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