Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal clash on Saturday lunchtime in what is being billed in the biggest North London derby of the Premier League era.
The capital rivals are both chasing leaders Leicester City in an unpredictable title race, and a win this weekend would give them huge momentum.
CaughtOffside has picked a composite XI of Tottenham and Arsenal’s best – only picking players who are AVAILABLE for the game at White Hart Lane…
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GK: Hugo Lloris
Choosing between North London’s two first-choice goalkeepers would have been a real dilemma had Petr Cech not pulled up with an injury in Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat to Swansea City, as Sky Sports reports.
Colombian David Ospina will deputise for the veteran, but he is no match for Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris, who is one of the most athletic shot stoppers in the division and absolutely rapid off his line.
RB: Kyle Walker
Hector Bellerin is fast becoming a favourite at Arsenal, but the youngster is not quite at Kyle Walker’s level yet. The Spaniard’s strengths are his pace and ability to bomb forward – but the Spurs defender can match him in both of those departments, and is stronger and has largely cut the errors out of his game. Tottenham also have Kieran Trippier who could push both of these talents for a place in our XI.
CB: Toby Alderweireld
Has probably been the best defender in the Premier League this season. Tottenham’s signing of the Belgian has proven to be fantastic business, and he has turned them into a rock-soild unit.
CB: Per Mertesacker
Wait, let me explain! Both Alderweireld’s regular partner Jan Vertonghen and Laurent Koscielny would be preferred to Mertesacker if they were available, but their injuries mean it is slim pickings!
Kevin Wimmer has done a steady job deputising for Vertonghen, but both he and Gabriel Paulista have a lot to learn. Mertesacker has his critics, but his big-game experience could be key on Saturday.
LB: Nacho Monreal
Tottenham have exceptional depth at left-back, with little to separate Ben Davies and Danny Rose. But Arsenal probably have the best of the bunch in Nacho Monreal. The Spaniard is very reliable defensively and offers good support going forward. He never lets Arsene Wenger or his teammates down.
CM: Eric Dier
The 22-year-old has been outstanding in his first season as a holding midfielder and plays a pivotal role protecting Tottenham’s defence and allowing the full-backs the freedom to push up the pitch.
Francis Coquelin is Arsenal’s best anchorman, but does not perform his role as effectively as Dier, as evidenced by the Gunners often being caught out on the break, especially against the top teams.
CM: Aaron Ramsey
The Welshman remains one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the Premier League despite a dip in form in 2016. He combines defensive industry with a smart passing range and goalscoring threat.
However, he is slightly lucky to make our side. Tottenham’s Mousa Dembele has enjoyed a much better season, but has missed their last three games with injury, while Santi Cazorla is also sidelined.
AMR: Mesut Ozil
He may be criticised for not showing up in the big games as often as he should, but Arsenal would be nowhere without the Premier League’s assist king, who has a division-high 18 in total this season.
We would have to shift him over to the right flank to fit him into our North London XI though!
AMC: Dele Alli
And that is because of the form of Tottenham’s teenage prodigy Dele Alli. He has scored seven goals and contributed five assists in his first Premier League season since making the step up from MK Dons.
AML: Alexis Sanchez
The Chilean is one of several Arsenal players who are struggling for form heading into this huge White Hart Lane showdown, but he is a world-class operator who might turn it on at any given time.
ST: Harry Kane
A lot has been made of Arsenal’s lack of a world-class striker, but Tottenham have one in the making in the form of Harry Kane, who has proven that he is not a one-season wonder with 16 more this campaign.
But he is not just a goalscorer – he is a complete forward who is absolutely imperative to Mauricio Pochettino’s side’s playing style and title fortunes. Spurs must hope that he doesn’t burn out.
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