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Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal : A Combined XI

Saturday 10th February 2018

The North London Derby is a legendary fixture in English football. Goals. Drama. Entertainment. Thrills. You name it, this fixture delivers. Tottenham Hotspur host Arsenal in an expanded version at Wembley Stadium. Arsenal is in revived spirits after its January business. Spurs are also in good form following a solid win against Manchester United, a draw at Anfield, and a 2-0 FA Cup replay triumph over stubborn Newport County.

Both Mauricio Pochettino and Arsene Wenger possess quality across the pitch, but let's see who gets into our combined XI :

GK: Hugo Lloris

FIFA gave Gigi Buffon a trophy that looked suspiciously like a Ballon d'Or when he won the award for 2017's best keeper. Shouldn't it have been a Moufle d'Or? I don't know. The point here is Hugo Lloris deserved consideration. Like David de Gea, the French captain is known for his excellent reflexes and unbelievable stops. The 31-year-old easily gets to put on the North London moufles. The Czech keeper is past his prime and committing too many errors.

RB: Kieran Trippier

Kieran Trippier has worked extremely hard to overtake Serge Aurier as first choice right back for Spurs. The Englishman is a fine crosser, hard worker, stable and disciplined defender. Trippier gets in the lineup before Hector Bellerin. Arsenal is down table partially because the Spaniard can be relied upon to make a mistake or two.

CBs: Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen

Alderweireld has been a top Premier League defender for three years now. Recovered from his hamstring injury, he played the full 90 against Newport County in the midweek FA Cup Fourth Round replay. He is difficult to beat. Davinson Sanchez was stellar filling in for old Toby, but, in the immortal words of Sir Elton John, the Belgian is back.

Non-Belgians need not apply. Vertonghen has arguably been the league's best centre-half in 2017/18. A ball-playing defender, the 30-year-old is enjoying yet another stellar season. His passing, vision, and tackling are unparalleled. Vertonghen easily trumps Shkodran Mustafi for this spot.

LB : Nacho Monreal

Let's be real, mon. Nacho has been Arsenal's Mr Consistent in defence. In fact, he's been the only candidate. The Spaniard is versatile, can score or stop goals, and always gives 100%. Ben Davies is also enjoying a fine season at left back but it would be a crime to leave Monreal out of this team. He reads the game like few others.

DMs: Moussa Dembele, Aaron Ramsey

At the base of midfield, Dembele does the dirty work. The third Belgian on the list, Moussa is strong winning the ball. Ask Paul Pogba. He gives the creative forces in front of him the freedom to wreak havoc. It's a packed field, but the bruiser beats Granit Xhaka and Eric Dier on recent form.

The Welsh hattrick hero is an easy pick to partner him. Ramsey has been Arsenal's midfield hub. His late runs into the box have overloaded already busy defenders. Combine that with his astute passing range and work rate, you've got a quality midfielder. He ably links defence to attack.

AM : Mesut Ozil, Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-min

Some people call Ozil the German Messi. Others the German Zidane. He's nothing like either, of course. People who don't rate his work rate might mention Dimitar Berbatov but, to be honest, he's unique. One of a kind. he's also back to his creative best this season, the fulcrum in Arsenal's attack. Rare is the player, in the Premier League or elsewhere, who can match Ozil's eye for a pass, his service, and intelligence. Four goals and seven assists in 21 appearances put him on track for his best season in a Gunners strip yet.

Christian Eriksen is another powerful creative wizard, creating 63 chances in 25 Premier League appearances. The Dane is the metronome keeping time for Spurs.  With more options than Ozil's surrounding him this campaign, Eriksen has seven goals and six assists. The 25-year-old is a joy to watch all day, even if Manchester United was already sick of him after 11 seconds.

Son Heung-min is not your typical offensive player. He adds another dimension to Spurs' attack, different to Eriksen, Dele Alli, and Harry Kane. The South Korean has become increasingly direct in the last 19 months. A fast winger ready to put in a shift, like retired compatriot Park Ji-sung, but more technically sound, Son already has eight league goals and four assists.

Arsenal's new signings, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubamenyang need some games under their belts before warranting consideration here. Even so, defenders don't want this trio coming at them anymore than the man who will lead them.

F: Harry Kane

Who else? Despite needing a bit of time to finally reach his Premier League century, Kane has been the most clinical scorer in recent years. The Englishman is just the complete striker. Right foot? Check. Left foot?  Check. Headers, tap-ins, long range volleys? Checkarooni. Free kicks and penalties? Did I not say complete? Kane was 2017's top European scorer with 56 and is this season's Premier League trailblazer with 22.

Oh, and he loves a North London Derby. Strap in.

Vedansh Nathani

Manchester United fan from India. Follows almost all sports - football and pro-wrestling in particular. Wayne Rooney, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho are some of his favourites.


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