With much coveted Champions League places up for grabs, this Sundays North London derby is set to be one of the most fiercely contested of modern times.
But who out of these two rivals would make it into a ‘North London XI’
GK – Hugo Lloris – French international captain Lloris has cemented his position as first choice keeper at White Hart Lane after an initial period playing second fiddle to Brad Friedel. A string of commanding performances have led to Lloris being labelled by some as currently the best goalkeeper in the Premier League.
DEF – Kyle Walker – Last season’s PFA Young Player of the Year Walker continues to maraud up the Spurs right, developing a strong understanding with Aaron Lennon. Walker may still need to develop the defensive side of his game although his pace currently more than makes up for any frailties but bombs forward with a confidence that put his Arsenal compatriot Bacary Sagna to shame.
DEF – Michael Dawson – Deemed surplus to requirements by Villas Boas in the summer and on the verge of a moon to QPR. Dawson has been brought in from the cold and has turned in a string of committed performances which have led to being re-instated as captain. A no nonsense old fashioned defender, something Spurs’ North London neighbours are crying out for.
DEF – Thomas Vermaelen – The Arsenal skipper is experiencing an indifferent time of late but is still the most dependable option in the Arsenal back line. Strong both in the air and in the tackle, Belgian Vermaelen also has an eye for goal and can chip in at vital times in the opposition penalty area.
DEF – Jan Vertonghen – An international teammate of Vermaelen, Vertonghen is enjoying an excellent debut season in the Premier League. The big Belgian has been deployed both as a centre back and at left back this season and is another defender who has shown an eye for goal, most notably breaking his Spurs duck in the 3-2 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford in September.
MID – Jack Wilshere – Without doubt Arsenal’s most consistent performer following his return from a long injury lay off. Wilshere provides everything a box to box midfield player should, tenacity, a good engine and an eye for a pass. The only question mark over Wilshere is his goal return from midfield, but this will surely develop with age.
MID – Moussa Dembele – Another Belgian, Dembele burst onto the scene at Fulham last season, leading to Spurs tabling a bid in the summer. An excellent passer of the ball with excellent control in tight situations, Dembele is equally able to provide a physical presence in midfield and has shown he can handle the hustle and bustle of the Premier League.
MID – Santi Cazorla – Cazorla enjoyed an excellent start to his Arsenal career, providing the link between midfield and attack and showing all of the technical ability typical of a Spanish international. Despite his form tailing off in recent months, Cazorla did net twice in last weekend’s 2-1 victory at home to Aston Villa, possibly signalling a return to form.
ATT – Theo Walcott – Is a wide man? Is he a striker? Whatever he is, Walcott gets in this team because of his blistering pace and the goals that he has added to his game this year giving him the edge over wing rival Aaron Lennon. Walcott is currently enjoying his best scoring season for Arsenal, netting 11 times in the league to date.
ATT – Gareth Bale – First name on the team sheet, Bale is currently in the form of his life, scoring 9 of Tottenham’s last 10 goals. Following a quiet start to the season Bale is now a front runner for the PFA Player of the Year award and although comparisons with Messi and Ronaldo are still perhaps a little premature, the welsh wing wizard is certainly heading in the right direction.
ATT – Olivier Giroud – The most difficult and possibly most controversial choice. Neither side have had an outright front man who has set the league alight this season. Although Spurs Jermain Defoe has one more league goal to his name than Giroud, the Frenchman gets into the team on his superior ability to hold the ball up as a lone front man and 14 goals in all competitions in a debut season is certainly no failure.