Yes, every north London derby is argued as the most important but Sunday’s clash with the Tottenham really is the biggest in recent memory. Both sides have plenty to fight for this year; Arsenal are still in the hunt for the top four, while Spurs need to keep pace with Chelsea. Moreover, this will be the last time the two teams play each other at White Hart Lane before Spurs move to their new state of the art sports arena.
The “enemy” have become an ever-growing threat to Arsenal’s supremacy over the last few years and at the moment, have their best squad since the Redknapp era, if not better. Arsenal, on the other hand, arguably have one of the best squads on paper but in terms of performance, have underachieved.
So let’s take a look at a combined XI of the two teams in a 3-4-2-1 formation…
GK: Hugo Lloris
Not a tough one really. Cech’s form has dropped somewhat this season, while Lloris has continued to play at a high level and is one of the reasons as to why Spurs have the best defensive record in the league. The Frenchman gets the nod ahead of Cech here.
RWB: Kyle Walker
If Arsenal had been playing in a three at the back for as long as Spurs, Oxlade-Chamberlain may have competed with Walker for the spot but as it is, the Spurs man gets the spot here, as for Bellerin, he’s been poor this season.
While Walker’s defensive ability is still questioned at times, as a wing-back, his attacking mindset is perfect. He has great energy getting up and down the flanks which is essential to Spurs’ style of play.
RCB: Toby Alderweireld
Unlucky not to get into the ‘Team of the Year’, the Belgian has been Tottenham’s best defender this season and with Mustafi out, he has no real competition for this place.
CB: Laurent Koscielny
If the Frenchman is fit, he easily beats out Dier, Mustafi or Gabriel. He has the technical ability and pace to master this position, especially with two solid defenders next to him.
LCB: Jan Vertonghen
Ideal on the left side of defence due to his reading of the game and ability to pass from the back. Just imagine a back three of Adlerweireld, Koscielny and Vertonghen – impenetrable.
LWB: Nacho Monreal
Danny Rose is still a doubt for tomorrow, so with that in mind, Nacho Monreal gets the spot. The Spaniard doesn’t have the attacking prowess Danny Rose has but his defensive awareness and positioning has been brilliant since the switch in formation. Monreal has been a constant in Arsenal’s team this year and although he has struggled against pace, with Vertonghen behind him, the pair would be solid.
CM: Moussa Dembele
Absolutely solid as a rock, is there a player harder to muscle out of position in midfield, well, maybe one other. The Belgian has changed his game over the last few years from a number 10 to a solid central midfielder and what a transition it’s been.
Dembele and Wanyama have formed a solid midfield presence which allows Spurs’ more attacking talents to flourish, between the two, they can just about do it all.
CM: Victor Wanyama
Much the same as Dembele, an absolute goliath in midfield. Beats out Xhaka and Ramsey even amidst their respective resurgence in a 3-4-2-1. The Swiss international may have more to his game but Wanyama’s season has been much more consistent from start to finish.
RF: Alexis Sanchez
Just impossible to leave him out of the team. Some may argue that Alli and Eriksen should get the place ahead of him but with 19 goals and nine assists it would be lunacy to leave him out, like his omission from the ‘Team of the Year’.
LF: Christian Eriksen
Probably the toughest choice of the lot, so let’s address the omission of Dele Alli. The Englishman is one of the best young talents to come through the Premier League in the last few years, no one is doubting that, but in a front three which includes Sanchez and Kane – both of whom will push forward – there needs to be one man to link them all together and Eriksen is that man as seen by his 12 assists last year.
CF: Harry Kane
How good can Harry Kane be? We’ll find out but it certainly looks promising so far. Three consecutive seasons with 20 goals or more speaks for itself really. The English striker is lethal in front of goal and is the ideal man to lead the line of this team. Sanchez may need to learn to pass the ball a bit more but with Kane through the middle, the front three just looks devastating.
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