This Sunday will see the return of one of the biggest games in world football, the North London derby. This rivalry has blessed us with some of the most entertaining encounters in Premier League history. Tomorrow, we will receive another chapter in this fascinating rivalry as Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham will welcome Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal to the brand-new Tottenham Hotspur stadium for the first time.
With both teams experiencing poor campaigns, three points in this match could go a long way in either teams’ fight for a European place. Beyond qualifying for Europe, this match represents local bragging rights and would do a lot to enhance either manager’s standing with the fans.
Here’s a combined North London Derby XI.
GK: Hugo Lloris
As France’s number one keeper, there’s no denying that Hugo Lloris has in the past been considered a great GK. However, this season the Frenchman has not performed anywhere near his best. The 33-year-old has conceded 18 goals in 17 games, only keeping 5 clean sheets. If it weren’t for the fact that Bernd Leno is injured and Emiliano Martinez has only been in goal for 5 games, Lloris wouldn’t be in this XI.
RB: Serge Aurier
It’s fair to say that the Ivorian has been the best Spurs player under Jose Mourinho. The right-back has been given a free role to operate as high up the pitch as he wants, often playing as a wing-back/winger. Jose values his attacking attributes and many of Tottenham’s attacks have come from his flank.
CB: Shkodran Mustafi
Since the return of football, no player has improved as much as Shkodran Mustafi. Under Arteta, the German looks reborn, cutting out the lapses in concentration in his game. In a back three, alongside David Luiz and Sead Kolašinac, Mustafi has stood out as the most reliable defender in 1v1 situations.
CB: Toby Alderweireld
Although not a regular fixture under Jose Mourinho, Toby Alderweireld is still regarded as one of the most competent CBs in Europe. Before deciding to extend his contract, many a club were monitoring his situation.
LB: Kieran Tierney
Deployed both as an LCB and LWB, Kieran Tierney been in sparkling form for the Gunners. The Scotsman has hardly put a foot wrong, rarely getting dribbled past and winning most of his duels. He has been one of Arsenal’s most consistent performers since the lockdown and was even able to pass the Adama Traore test…
CDM: Granit Xhaka
Gone are the days where games are decided by a Xhaka mistake, instead he has become a new man under Arteta. Dare I say he’s been putting in captain-like performances. The Swiss international’s ability to hold onto possession and draw fouls when under pressure has helped the Gunners learn the art of in-game management.
LCM: Giovanni Lo Celso
In his debut season in England, Lo Celso has acclimatised to the pace and physicality of the Premier League in record time. Although he’s only registered 2 goals all season, he has been the main driving force behind Tottenham’s attack from midfield.
RCM: Dani Ceballos
Since the lockdown, Dani Ceballos has been in scintillating form. The Spaniard has taken his game up another level, by not only increasing his chance creation but his work rate off the ball too. Ceballos epitomises everything Arteta wants in a midfielder and more.
RW: Bukayo Saka
There are not enough words in the English dictionary that we could use to describe Bukayo Saka. The 18-year-old has been operating on a different planet this season, showing footballing maturity well beyond his age. Despite being asked to play in several positions, Saka has excelled constantly, racking up 12 assists in all comps. Because of how young he is people say he’s one for the future, but his performance shows he’s, in fact, one for the present.
LW: Son Heung-Min
As Tottenham’s most dangerous attacker, Son has often had to carry this Spurs team on his back when Harry Kane goes on his inevitable droughts. The 28-year-old has scored 16 goals in 36 games, whilst providing 10 assists.
ST: Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang
Harry Kane is a good striker but Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is a world-class striker. The Arsenal captain has continued to prove his worth this season, scoring 20 goals in 32 appearances. In a side that has struggled to create chances, Aubameyang’s strike rate has simply been amazing. Imagine what he’ll achieve when Arteta eventually develops an attacking philosophy that can be sustained over 90 minutes.