Mauricio Pochettino's skills as a coach have turned formerly second-string players into crucial figures at Spurs, and while Arsenal can still dazzle on their day, their slip out of the top four last season is indicative of regression in Islington.
But as Arsenal fans will be keen to point out, Spurs still haven’t won anything since 2008. So with the first north London derby of the season almost upon us, do Arsenal deserve to have more representation in our combined XI than you might assume?
GK: Hugo Lloris (Spurs)
Aside from some costly miscommunication when the game was already won at Everton, Petr Cech hasn’t done a lot wrong this season – but he’s still narrowly pipped to the gloves by Hugo Lloris.
The Frenchman might not be fit to face Arsenal on Saturday, but Lloris is a crucial part of Tottenham’s game plan, operating as a fourth defender in his team’s energetic system.
Cech might be a great shot-stopper but he doesn’t influence the way his team plays to such an extent, and that’s why Lloris gets the nod.
CB: Jan Vertonghen (Spurs)
Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld formed a formidable partnership at the back for Spurs last season, but the latter hasn’t performed as well as his compatriot in this season’s back three.
Vertonghen has played every minute of every game for Tottenham this season and is the team’s top-performing defender. Calm and collected in and out of possession, he’s not afraid to clear danger when he senses it, but his experience of playing as a full-back has helped immensely in his transition to regularly playing as part of a three-man defence.
CB: Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)
A controversial call. Koscielny has seen many defensive team-mates come and go in his seven seasons at Arsenal, but his ability to detect dangerous situations as they develop has allowed him to cement a regular place where others have failed to.
The 32-year-old reads the game expertly and often leads the charts when it comes to interceptions, making him a vital contributor in turning defence into attack.
With Per Mertesacker a little one-dimensional, Shkodran Mustafi failing to live up to expectations, and Rob Holding and Tottenham’s Davinson Sanchez still lacking experience, the Frenchman would slot in just fine.
CB: Nacho Monreal (Arsenal)
The surprise success of the season so far, Monreal’s move into the centre has even helped him discover some goalscoring form, netting twice to triple his tally for the club he’s been at since 2013.
The popular Spaniard has taken to his new position on the left of Arsenal’s back three with an impressive level of comfort, registering high numbers for clearances, tackles and interceptions, plus passing stats that you’d expect from someone playing much higher up the park.
He might not be the most fashionable choice, but Monreal has played himself into this combined XI with consummate ease.
RWB: Kieran Trippier (Spurs)
Kevin De Bruyne aside, is there a better crosser of the ball in the Premier League than Trippier? The former Burnley man took a while to make an impression at Tottenham, but his performances so far this season have surely had Daniel Levy asking “Kyle who?” while patting an enormous pile of £20 notes.
With four assists to his name already, Trippier is part of the reason Spurs lead the league for crosses. Hector Bellerin might beat him in a foot race, but not into our starting XI.
LWB: Ben Davies (Spurs)
Arsenal’s Sead Kolasinac might rightfully feel hard done by to miss out on a position in this combined XI, but the only left-sided wing-back who’s had a better season than the marauding Bosnian is Ben Davies.
The 24-year-old Welshman has become a key player in Pochettino’s team, making vital contributions both with and without the ball, and showing exactly the kind of tactical awareness and athleticism needed to play out wide in front of a back three.
The two goals and two assists he’s bagged already this season are just reward for his consistency.
CM: Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
Ramsey has struggled to recreate the sparkling form of 2013/14 in which he scored 16 goals in all competitions, but with two net-ripplers and a couple of assists in his last three games, the Welshman is showing signs that a renaissance might be on the way.
He’s been at the centre of most good things Arsenal have done so far this season, often given more freedom to get forward by Arsene Wenger. His incisive passing is exactly what’s needed to feed the players ahead of him and exploit the space that this team's widemen would be running into.
CM: Eric Dier (Spurs)
With Alderweireld out injured, Eric Dier is likely to be deployed as part of Tottenham’s back three – but with some steel required in the midfield, the former Sporting man is our choice to partner Aaron Ramsey.
Harry Winks is too lightweight, Granit Xhaka and Moussa Sissoko aren’t reliable enough, and while Mousa Dembele might offer more in possession he is lacking in minutes, so Dier’s presence will allow Ramsey to roam forward.
Good in the air and adept at recycling possession, his leadership skills would also be crucial.
LF: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
Alexis’s days as a Gooner might be numbered but his importance to Arsene Wenger’s side hasn’t waned. He’s only scored once in the league this season, with just two assists as well, but he’s the one man who can drag a misfiring Arsenal side up off the floor when they’re struggling to break a team down.
The Chilean is a player with the kind of tenacity that’d be welcome in any side (although he can leave the tantrums at home), and while Son Heung-min offers something similar for Tottenham, you’d pick Sanchez ahead of him every day of the week.
RF: Christian Eriksen (Spurs)
Dele Alli has so far failed to perform at quite the same level as he did last season, so we’ve decided to drop him in favour of Eriksen.
Coming off the back of his midweek hat-trick in Denmark’s World Cup qualifier against Ireland, the 25-year-old will be itching to make his mark in Spurs’ biggest game of the season so far.
Eriksen’s composure on the ball and pinpoint passing make him the ideal choice to supply Harry Kane, and the perfect foil alongside Sanchez’s more full-throttle style.
ST: Harry Kane (Spurs)
Alexandre Lacazette has adapted to the Premier League quicker than many had assumed he would, but he’s still some distance off matching Kane.
A recent brace against Real Madrid is indicative of the strong season England’s leading man is having, but it’s the striker’s remarkable consistency that sets him apart from the rest.
After his customarily quiet August, Spurs’ No.10 has eight goals so far and is on course for another 25+ goal season. Even if Olivier Giroud continues his habit of scoring almost every time he comes off the bench, there’s nobody in either squad this deadly in front of goal.
Final score: Arsenal 4-7 Spurs
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