After playing out an entertaining 2-2 draw against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday (February 4), Tottenham Hotspur are set to feature in another high-octane clash this weekend as they will host arch-rivals Arsenal on Saturday at their home. It was Arsene Wenger’s Gunners who came out trumps in the season’s first North London derby, handing out a 2-0 loss to Spurs in November last year.
Much water has passed under the bridge since then with Arsenal losing star-man Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United and bringing in Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the winter transfer window, both of whom starred in their last weekend’s 5-1 win over Everton.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs have also been in good form of late, beating Manchester United and playing out a fortunate but credible draw with Liverpool in their last two outings in the league. Tottenham also brought in Brazilian winger Lucas Moura on the deadline day in January and might hand him a debut in this highly-anticipated clash.
Ahead of this clash of the North London titans, we chalk out the best playing eleven featuring players from both Tottenham and Arsenal, keeping the form and injury factors in mind of course.
GOALKEEPER – Hugo Lloris
Arsenal’s Petr Cech has been one of the finest goalkeepers that the Premier League has ever seen but his recent mistakes are proof that at 35, he is clearly past his best. Hugo Lloris, on the other hand, is one of the best goalkeepers going around the global football circuit today and the wiry Frenchman is far quicker and more decisive when sprinting off his line, excellent in one-on-ones and among the best sweeper-keepers around. Lloris takes his place in goal in our combined eleven.
DEFENDERS – Kieran Trippier, Laurent Koscielny, Jan Vertonghen, Nacho Monreal
Given Arsenal’s defensive record in recent weeks and injuries to Tottenham’s Aurier, Rose and Alderweireld, picking a four-man defence for this team is a head-scratching exercise.
In the absence of summer-signing Serge Aurier, Kieran Trippier has made the right-back his slot for Spurs this season and his defensive stability and work will be key to balance out our slightly attack-minded back four in this team. Trippier walks in ahead of Hector Bellerin in this team.
Arsenal have the worst defensive record among the Top 6 clubs in the Premier League right now but captain Laurent Koscielny is still a fine central defender and is always a threat from the set-pieces. In Toby Alderweireld’s absence, he will partner Jan Vertonghen in the heart of our combined lineup’s defence.
On current form, Belgian wall Jan Vertonghen is easily the best centre-half among all the central defenders plying their trade in not just North London but in the country and is an automatic pick for the second centre-back position in this team.
Spanish left-back Nacho Monreal has been in sensational goal-scoring form of late for the Gunners and is a reliable, experienced defender in the Premier League. With Danny Rose out with injury, Monreal is a natural pick in this side as he is a shade ahead of his competitors Sead Kolasinac and Ben Davies.
MIDFIELDERS – Mousa Dembele, Christian Eriksen, Heung-Min Son, Mesut Ozil
Another complicated selection but on current form, these are the best central midfielders going plying their trade in North London right now.
Moussa Dembele is a debatable selection but the Belgian deserves to be in this side given his current run of form. Dembele was the man who ran Manchester United ragged in the middle of the park in Spurs’ victory over the Red Devils and was also extremely influential in their 2-2 draw at Anfield on Sunday. He edges out Granit Xhaka and Eric Dier for this place.
The next midfield berth goes to Danish maestro Christian Eriksen. The diminutive virtuoso is certainly back to his best and has been pulling the strings in the middle of the pitch for Pochettino’s side. Eriksen also scored a goal inside the first 11 seconds against Manchester United. He has 8 goals and 8 assists in all competitions in the 17/18 season.
Next up his winger Heung-Min Son. The South Korean has finally cemented his place in Mauricio Pochettino’s starting eleven and has contributed 11 goals and 7 goals in all competitions for Spurs in all competitions this season. Son edges out new Arsenal recruit Henrikh Mkhitaryan and weekend’s hat-trick hero Aarson Ramsey for this spot in our combined lineup.
The final midfield berth is reserved for the Mesut Ozil, Arsenal’s very own magician from Germany. Ozil has been in impeccable form over the past two months or so and has been the creative outlet in Gunners’ every game. Having signed a new contract recently and with Alexis Sanchez gone, Ozil is certainly the marquee player in Arsene Wenger’s side now.
FORWARDS – Harry Kane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
No prizes for guessing this and no bias intended, but Harry Kane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are two of the most lethal strikers in the world at present. While Harry Kane will walk into any team in world right now, deadline day signing Aubameyang is also an absolute must picks in this squad based on the sheer weight of goals scored by the Gabon-international in the last three seasons. He also marked his Arsenal debut with a goal against Everton and will be a threat in the derby this weekend.
Tottenham vs Arsenal Combined XI – Lloris, Bellerin, Koscielny, Vertonghen, Monreal, Dembele, Eriksen, Son, Ozil, Kane, Aubameyang