Few could have predicted gameweek nine would hand Tottenham a chance to go eight points clear of Manchester City when the Premier League fixtures were released in the summer.
Nonetheless, 2020/21 has proven to be a pretty crazy season all-round, and now Jose Mourinho has the chance to go top of the table - at least until Leicester face Liverpool on Sunday - by getting one over perhaps his greatest managerial rival in Pep Guardiola.
But does superiority in the Premier League table truly mean Spurs are the better side? And should they be considered the favourites to take all three points on Saturday?
Perhaps a combined XI comparing the key personnel amongst both teams can point us in the right direction when attempting to answer both of those questions…
Goalkeeper - Ederson
With both clubs boasting two truly elite goalkeepers, one of which has won a World Cup, choosing our glovesman was a bit of a toss-up.
Even their form this season has been virtually identical; they’ve kept the same number of clean sheets, conceded the same amount of goals and less than 3% splits them when it comes to percentage of saves from shots faced.
But with a number of years on Hugo Lloris and having taken the Frenchman’s sweeper-keeper style to a whole new level at Man City, Ederson gets the nod.
Right-Back - Kyle Walker
Roy Keane may disagree but we rate Kyle Walker as one of the top right-backs of the Premier League era and in lieu of an undisputed No.2 at Spurs this season, he quite easily seals a place in our combined XI.
Indeed, while summer signing Matt Doherty will feel he’s proved himself more than capable since joining from Wolves, the Irishman was overlooked for Serge Aurier when Spurs travelled to Old Trafford and scored six against United.
And with Doherty out of Saturday’s game, who knows if he’ll return to the fold or end up on Europa League duty.
Right Centre-Back - Toby Alderweireld
Is Toby Alderweireld at the level he was a few years ago, when he and fellow Belgian Jan Vertonghen helped form a virtually impenetrable Spurs defence?
Maybe not, but the 31-year-old is an incredibly experienced, incredibly reliable and incredibly capable presence at the back - not only a resolute defender but in typical Ajax style, pretty handy on the ball as well.
At this stage in his career, Alderweireld is a real leader for Spurs and we want that kind of authority at the base of our combined XI.
Left Centre-Back - Aymeric Laporte
As solid as Ruben Dias has looked in his opening few games for Manchester City, on paper Aymeric Laporte is still probably the best centre-back in either squad - even if injuries have limited him to just three Premier League outings so far this season.
And top-quality left-footed centre-backs are a rare breed, so our combined XI really can’t afford to pass up the chance to land one of the best in the world in that respect.
It gives a unique balance to the team, especially when playing out from the back - something Laporte is pretty fantastic at with a pass completion rate exceeding 92% from each of his last two top flight campaigns.
Left-Back - Sergio Reguilon
Let’s face it - the left side of Manchester City’s defence is a complete mess. Joao Cancelo has done a job there this season but he’s not naturally left footed, while Ben Mendy is nowhere to be seen and Oleksandr Zinchenko has played just 12 minutes of Premier League action.
That paves the way for Sergio Reguilon to emerge as this combined XI’s undisputed No.3.
It’s still early days in his Spurs career but the former Real Madrid man has added real energy to a defensive flank that Ben Davies was making noticeable lethargic, and he’s already popped up with two assists in the Premier League.
Right Defensive Midfield - Rodri
That’s right, we’re going for a double-pivot - and the first pillar at the base of our midfield is Manchester City’s next-Fernandinho-or-Busquets-in-waiting, Rodri.
The Spaniard hasn’t quite lived up to that billing just yet but he’s a very tidy player and considering how much of the role hinges on experience, a few more seasons under his belt could well see him emerge as yet another deep-lying great of Guardiola’s.
Tottenham duo Moussa Sissoko and Tanguy Ndombele, albeit the latter showing much better form this season than during his debut campaign, just don’t quite excite us enough to claim a spot in this XI.
Left Defensive Midfield - Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
Once an acolyte of Guardiola at Bayern Munich, it’s taken Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg some time to truly unleash his full potential, but a strong start to his Spurs career suggests he’s certainly heading in the right direction.
Indeed, the Danish international has given Spurs a real platform in the engine room, having proved himself incredibly adept at mopping up in midfield and moving the ball on with precise distribution.
Attacking Midfield - Kevin De Bruyne
Who else but Kevin?
It’s actually been an underwhelming start to the season for De Bruyne by his usual standards but he still ranks first throughout the Premier League for key passes per game and is without doubt one of the most relentless creative forces in world football.
A delayed start to 2020/21 appears to have taken it out of him a little bit, despite already registering one goal and three assists, however City’s midfield lynchpin is still just warming up.
As we approach the hectic winter period when games will come even thicker and faster than they are now, we’ll hopefully see the world-class best of him once again.
Right Wing - Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling hasn’t quite been at the races this season either but three goal involvements in seven games certainly isn’t bad for an attacking player still yet to hit top gear.
His inclusion means there’s no room for Riyad Mahrez or Gareth Bale, but neither have made much of a mark in the Premier League this term and the latter has managed just a single start.
Also several years younger than both, Sterling rightfully claims a place in our combined XI.
Left Wing - Heung-min Son
We’d be foolish to leave out the Premier League’s joint-top goalscorer and while he’s always been one of the Premier League’s top attacking threats since moving to Spurs, this season in particular feels like a career-defining one for the South Korean.
The last few have been disrupted by injuries, suspension and playing in the Asian games but he’s been privy to starting week-in, week-out for Tottenham so far and that consistency can only bring out the best in him.
He’s also developed an exceptionally lethal partnership with one of his Spurs accomplices, which brings us onto…
Striker - Harry Kane
Harry Kane is such a talent that even when he’s not at his best, he can still produce a strike-rate superior to one-in-two in the Premier League. That’s exactly what’s happened over the last two seasons but this term, Spurs’ talismanic striker is well and truly back to performing at the top of his game.
Kane’s notched up a simply staggering 15 goal involvements in just eight games, having apparently added another string to his bow in assisting even more frequently than finding him the next himself.
Of course, Manchester City boast two fabulous strikers in Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, but their 2020/21 campaigns thus far just don’t compare.
While Kane’s been the standout performer in the Premier League, injuries have limited City’s strike duo to just two Premier League goals combined - both scored by Jesus.News Now - Sport News