The North London derby is arguably as close now as it has ever been during Arsène Wenger’s time at Arsenal. Last year, under ‘Magic’ Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham finished second in the league, eleven points ahead of the Gunners. This year, Spurs are still in front of their local rivals by four points. It shouldn’t be needed, but that certainly means there’s added incentive for Arsenal here.
In anticipation of Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off, I used statistics from www.whoscored.com to compile a combined starting XI from the two teams. The players must have featured in at least five league games, and the overall rating is based purely on performances in the Premier League.
The formation used is 3-4-2-1, which has been most commonly chosen by both teams this season.
GK: Hugo Lloris (6.76)
Minutes played: 900
Lloris looks set to return to the starting XI for Tottenham after a groin injury allowed Paulo Gazzaniga to impress against Crystal Palace. Spurs will be pleased, because the Frenchman has five clean sheets so far this season, on David de Gea has more. While opposite number, Petr Čech, has four and an average rating of 6.64.
"It's a massive game and it means more than three points."
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) November 17, 2017
DC: Shkodran Mustafi (7.47)
Minutes played: 450
Another potential return from injury is Mustafi, who trained earlier this week. He’s only managed five league games this season, but has the highest average rating of any defender between the two sides. In addition, he has also averaged the most tackles per game: 2.4.
DC: Jan Vertonghen (7.32)
Minutes played: 990
With Toby Alderweireld ruled out until after Christmas, Spurs will hope fellow Belgian, Jan Vertonghen, can remain consistent. He hasn’t missed a Premier League game yet, and has committed fewer fouls and made more blocks than his centre-back teammates Alderweireld and Davinson Sánchez.
DC: Nacho Monreal (7.23)
Minutes played: 990
Nacho Monreal has perhaps surprised many with his form as a part of Arsenal’s back three. You might be forgiven for thinking that if it wasn’t for injury problems with Mustafi, Mertesacker and Koscielny, he may not have featured much in the starting XI. However, after impressing in his role, I think it’s now his position to lose.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 17, 2017
RWB: Kieran Trippier (7.12)
Minutes played: 634
Trippier has really stepped up after the sale of Kyle Walker. Both have contributed an impressive four assist in the league this season, but Trippier has achieved this in 634 minutes, compared to the 854 needed by Walker in a free-scoring Man City team. Despite playing every league game for Arsenal, Héctor Bellerín is yet to make an assist.
LWB: Ben Davies (7.35)
Minutes played: 621
Sead Kolašinac has made a good start to life at Arsenal, playing predominantly in the same position as Ben Davies. He’s also scored once, and made three assists. Davies has made a similar contribution, scoring twice and making two assists, despite playing over 200 minutes less of league football.
MC: Eric Dier (6.99)
Minutes played: 887
Eric Dier’s was reportedly a target for Manchester United in the summer, and his strong performances earned him the captain’s armband for England’s recent friendlies against Germany and Brazil. While there isn’t much separating him and counterpart, Granit Xhaka (6.85) he does boast a slightly higher pass completion rate, 84.2% compared to Xhaka’s 83.3%. However, only Man City’s Fernandinho and Otamendi average more passes per game than Xhaka, 83.1.
MC: Aaron Ramsey (7.35)
Minutes played: 766
The Welshman is the highest rated midfielder between both sides, and his three goals and three assists go some way towards explaining that. Those stats place him joint top of Arsenal’s assist makers, and joint second goal scorer with Danny Welbeck. He’s easily one of Arsenal’s most important players, and will need to be on form this weekend.
AMC: Dele Alli (7.21)
Minutes played: 892
Dele Alli has the same average rating as Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez, but gets in the side by virtue of playing more games, showing he can sustain that performance. He could’ve been dropped deeper in place of Dier, with Sánchez in this spot, but Dele has only featured once in centre midfield. He has three goals and one assist, compared to the one goal and two assists of Sánchez. Hopefully both are at their brilliant best on Saturday.
AMC: Christian Eriksen (7.33)
Minutes played: 928
The Dane bagged a hat-trick earlier this week for his country, to end Republic of Ireland’s hopes of making next year’s World Cup. He has three goals and two assists for Spurs, the latter of which can be matched by Mesut Özil (6.93) but he only has one goal, in nearly 300 minutes less of game time. Much like Dele and Sánchez, it will be great to see both in form this weekend.
CF: Harry Kane (7.89)
Minutes played: 871
Despite missing England’s friendlies, the Premier League’s joint top scorer (eight with Agüero) is very likely to lead the line for Spurs. Arsenal’s top scorer, Alexandre Lacazette, also has a good record so far, six goals in 751 minutes. Interestingly, Kane averages 5.9 shots per game, compared to only two for Lacazette. If these two are on the pitch, goals are guaranteed.
Alexis Sánchez – 7.21
Laurent Koscielny – 7.14
Sead Kolašinac – 7.11
Alexandre Lacazette – 7.09
Davinson Sánchez – 7.02
Danny Welbeck – 7.02
Mesut Özil – 6.93