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Combined XI: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal

Sports Mole picks a combined XI from Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal's squads ahead of Sunday's North London derby.

Since this article was published, the derby has been called off due to a lack of players in the Arsenal squad. A new date for the game will be confirmed in due course.

With the threat of postponement still looming, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal continue their preparations for Sunday's North London derby in the Premier League.

The Lilywhites enter the contest having been dumped out of the EFL Cup semi-finals by Chelsea, who won 1-0 on Spurs' turf in midweek to secure a 3-0 aggregate win.

Meanwhile, the Gunners kept their hopes of reaching the final alive against Liverpool, as Mikel Arteta's 10 men held the Reds to a goalless stalemate at Anfield ahead of next week's second leg.

Arsenal currently find themselves one place and two points clear of Spurs in the rankings, but the fifth-placed Gunners have played two games more than Antonio Conte's side.

The hosts will be out for revenge this week after their deserved 3-1 loss at the Emirates back in September, and they have won four of their last five at home to Arsenal in the Premier League.

With numerous players absent on both sides, Sports Mole picks a combined XI from both squads, using only players expected to be available for the derby.

Combined XI: TOT vs. ARS

If Aaron Ramsdale continues performing in the same vein, a spot in the Team of the Season beckons for the Arsenal man and his nine clean sheets. Hugo Lloris is only one behind with eight as he continues to prove his worth to Tottenham, and the World Cup winner just edges this call given his greater experience in between the sticks.

Spurs fans will certainly feel aggrieved that Takehiro Tomiyasu chose the red side of North London, with the Japan international excelling under Arteta. By contrast, Emerson Royal has not enjoyed the strongest of starts in the Premier League - banking just one assist - but he gets the nod with Tomiyasu, Cedric Soares and Calum Chambers all doubtful for the derby. There was no real debate on the left-hand side amid Sergio Reguilon's fitness woes, with Kieran Tierney already chipping in with a goal and three assists in the league season amid frequent calls for the Scot to be handed the captaincy.

Cristian Romero and Eric Dier would have been candidates to occupy the centre-back spots in this XI, but the Spurs pair will not be available for the contest due to injury. As a result, there can be no argument not to include Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes, with the Arsenal duo putting in strong shifts week after week in the heart of the Gunners' defence, and keeping Liverpool at bay for 70 minutes with 10 men is no mean feat either.

It remains to be seen if Bukayo Saka will shake off a knock in time to feature, but the England international will expect to play and build on his goal from September's North London derby win - one of 10 goal contributions he boasts in the 2021-22 Premier League - six goals and four assists to be exact. The 20-year-old has also averaged 2.1 shots per game and 1.6 key passes for the game for the Gunners and was a simple inclusion over Lucas Moura and Dele Alli.

On the opposite side of the midfield, Emile Smith Rowe would have been a shoo-in if not for his tight groin, but even he is struggling to force his way back into the Arsenal team due to the return of Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazilian starlet has had to be patient for opportunities under Arteta but has now chipped in with four goals and two assists in Premier League action - seeing him nominated for December's Player of the Month - and he gets the nod over fellow prospect Bryan Gil.

Given the fact that Albert Sambi Lokonga is Arsenal's only fit and available senior midfielder at present, the base of the engine room picked itself here. Ever-present Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg continues to stand firm for the Lilywhites with 2.2 tackles per game, as well as an 89% pass accuracy to take his spot in the middle. Alongside the Danish lynchpin is a man enjoying his breakthrough year in Tottenham colours in Oliver Skipp, whom Conte has expressed his admiration for as he comes in with a 90.4% pass accuracy. Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard would have been contenders for spots had they been available.

Harry Kane is already well behind the Golden Boot-chasing pack this season, but the England captain sure does have an affinity for North London derby goals - racking up 11 in 16 against Arsenal - and he was one of the first names in our XI. Stand-in Arsenal skipper Alexandre Lacazette can remarkably boast more goal contributions than Kane in the current Premier League season and is also no stranger to strikes against Tottenham with four in eight Premier League meetings, and the soon-to-be free agent completes the lineup with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang away at the Africa Cup of Nations and still in Arteta's naughty books.

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