Arsenal and Tottenham meet on Saturday lunchtime for the biggest north London derby in a long, long time.
This isn’t like any derby of recent years, where the two clubs met on their way to finishing behind Manchester City, Chelsea, and Manchester United.
Arsenal and Tottenham are in the thick of the Premier League title race and Saturday’s result could go a long way to determining the winner of the division come May.
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Both teams are coming off a loss and three points is slightly more of a necessity for Arsenal. They have lost their last two league games and can probably wave goodbye to any dreams they had of ending their 12-year wait for a title if Tottenham emerge victorious.
Ahead of the game, we’ve picked our Arsenal-Tottenham combined XI, using only fit players. So there’s no room for Petr Cech or Laurent Koscielny, both of whom are injured.
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Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris
Even if Petr Cech was healthy, this would be a tough choice. Hugo Lloris proved his world-class ability in the 2-1 win against Swansea in midweek with two superb saves from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Alberto Paloschi.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, David Ospina, Cech’s replacement, doesn’t hold a torch to Lloris.
Right-back: Hector Bellerin
Mauricio Pochettino’s idea to rotate full backs has proved effective this season but neither Kyle Walker or Kieran Trippier are at the level of the rapidly-improving Hector Bellerin.
Centre-backs: Toby Alderweireld and Gabriel Paulista
Tottenham’s defence has been the best in the league this season, conceding only 22 goals. The only reason Gabriel Paulista gets in ahead of Jan Vertonghen is due to the Belgian’s injury.
Left-back: Nacho Monreal
Just like Bellerin, Nacho Monreal gets in ahead of Tottenham’s dual options. The Spaniard has been a bright spark for Arsenal this season and has erased thoughts Arsene Wenger might have had of splashing the cash for a new left-back this summer.
Defensive-midfield: Mousa Dembele and Francis Coquelin
Eric Dier has been a revelation for Tottenham this season but a midfield pairing of Mousa Dembele and Francis Coquelin provides a perfect blend of skill, tough-tackling and dynamism.
Centre-midfield: Dele Alli
Another Tottenham rising star. Dele Alli is only 19-years-old but he’s established himself as one of the finest midfielders in England in his first season at the club.
The goal against Crystal Palace in February will surely be considered for goal of the season.
Attacking-midfielders: Mesut Ozil and Christian Eriksen
Arsenal fans might wonder where Alexis Sanchez’s name is but the Chilean has been off the boil since returning from a hamstring injury in January.
Mesut Ozil and Christian Eriksen make the task of playing in the middle look incredibly easy and the creative pair have a combined 27 assists this season.
Striker: Harry Kane
Olivier Giroud has lost his form when Arsenal needed him the most, failing to score in each of his past 10 games.
Only Jamie Vardy and Romelu Lukaku have scored more goals than Harry Kane’s 16 in the league, and he will fancy his chances of adding to that total with Cech and Koscielny out of Saturday’s game.
Who will win the derby - Arsenal or Tottenham? Let us know in the comments section below!
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