Top Eleven managers watching the football this weekend are likely to see two very technically astute yet different teams on Saturday, as Arsenal make the short trip to Tottenham for the north-London derby. This promises to be an intriguing contest between two teams that have settled on a chosen system and stick with it, Arsene Wenger’s free-flowing possession football and Mauricio Pochettino’s more structured, counter-attacking style.
It is hard to judge who will come out on top and earn bragging rights. Instead we’ve decided to have a think about which players from these two top English teams would make into a combined eleven based on ability, form and other tactical considerations. Here it is …
Firstly, we’ve decided that this team, which is full of technical ability, would benefit from a system that prizes possession of the ball. However, it is not without speed, and with a number of players very capable of executing a quick-pressing game, this opens up the possibility of counter-attacking football as another option. As both teams play with variations on the popular 4-5-1, we thought it would be sensible to keep the same formation.
Starting from the back, we’ve chosen Hugo Lloris in goal. It was difficult to leave out Arsenal’s Petr Cech, who is an excellent keeper and Premier League legend, but the Spurs man’s excellent agility and shot-stopping ability have established his reputation as one of the best keepers in the world, and Tottenham are having an excellent season defensively.
We’ve opted for a mix of balance, speed and experience in our defensive four. Our central defensive partnership would include French international Laurent Koscielny and Jan Vertonghen, a left-footed and technically proficient centre-back. The Belgian’s form was excellent this season, helping Spurs to the best defensive record in the league, before he was sidelined with injury.
Koscielny, a solid all-round defender, was once described by Arsenal’s Spanish international Santi Cazorla as one of three world class players at the club, along with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
For the two wing-backs, we have chosen Nacho Monreal, a very solid all-round left-back with great ability on the ball, and the speedy and experienced Kyle Walker.
Midfield is where the selection became slightly trickier. With a plethora of talented midfielders at both teams’ disposal, we’ve decided to weigh our selection heavily on form. Therefore players such as the injured Cazorla and Jack Wilshere have missed out. Instead we have Eric Dier, a revelation in defensive midfield this year, whose screening in front of the back four has surely helped Spurs to secure their excellent defensive record, and the Gunners’ Aaron Ramsey, who has continued his fine form since last year and has four goals and four assists in all competitions this term. In this formation, Ramsey, an excellent distributor of the ball with an eye for goal, would operate in a slightly more advanced position than the more defensively minded Dier.
Ahead of the two deeper lying midfielders we have the assist master Ozil, who has notched up an incredible five goals and, wait for it, 18 assists in the Premier League this year, which is seven more than the next best, Riyad Mahrez.
Alongside him, we have Christian Eriksen, who is enjoying a tremendous season under Pochettino, and proved himself as adept in the left midfield position. He has six goals and nine assists in all competitions. On the right ,we have Sanchez, who, while he prefers the left, can play on either flank. The former Barcelona man is enjoying another fine season this year, with nine goals and six assists in all competitions.
Up front we have none other than Harry Kane, who after a ‘slow’ start to the season has managed to notch up 21 goals in all competitions. He has also impressed with his work ethic and all-round game.Do you agree with our selection? Share your thoughts on this analysis on Twitter using #TopEleven.