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As the two sides prepare to meet in the Premier League, Goal.com debates which players would make it into an overall team from those available in both squads

DEBATE
By Chris Davie

The weekend's Premier League action kicks off with a bang as Arsenal host Tottenham in the first north London derby of the season.

Both sides head into the match having won just once in their last three outings. Tottenham sit seventh on 17 points while Arsenal are one place below their bitter rivals and trail by a single point.

In this fixture last season, Tottenham stormed into a two-goal lead before Bacary Sagna and Robin van Persie levelled the score before half time. After the break, Tomas Rosicky put the hosts ahead before Theo Walcott's double capped a stunning Arsenal revival.

Ahead of Saturday's derby, Goal.com analysed each area of the Arsenal and Tottenham sides and attempted to conjure the best combined team.

GOALKEEPER


Brad Friedel gets the goalkeeper's jersey in our combined XI, primarily because of his consistent selection this season. The 41-year-old has batted away competition from summer recruit Hugo Lloris and has made it a difficult introduction to the Premier League for France's first choice.

Wojciech Szczesny is likely to hand a boost to Arsene Wenger as the Poland international looks set to return from an ankle injury for the derby. Vito Mannone has deputised for the 22-year-old but has been prone to errors this term and lacks the experience Friedel possesses in spades.

DEFENCE


At right-back, Bacary Sagna pips Kyle Walker to a spot in our combined side. The France international made his return from a broken leg at the end of October and has been a solid performer following his reintroduction to first-team football.

Walker, meanwhile, is one of England's most promising full-backs but the 22-year-old has been caught out of position on occasions this season and his tactical awareness under Andre Villas-Boas is, for the time being, questionable. Having struggled to replicate the form he showed last term, Walker has not quite done enough to oust Sagna ahead of this derby.

At centre-back, we have opted to partner Steven Caulker with Per Mertesacker. The Tottenham defender has matured greatly following his loan spell at Swansea City and has outshone the seasoned William Gallas so far.

Mertesacker gets in ahead of Thomas Vermaelen on the grounds of consistency. The Belgian's error which allowed Robin van Persie to score against his former club earlier this month received public criticism from Wenger, and a shaky campaign for the Arsenal captain overall means the Germany international would be the safest choice in our side.

Jan Vertonghen walks into our left-back role as both Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Kieran Gibbs are sidelined, while Andre Santos still appears to be finding his feet in the Premier League, despite being over a year since his arrival.

MIDFIELD


Jack Wilshere returned to action at the end of October following a 14-month lay-off and was impressive against QPR. Despite being sent off against Manchester United at Old Trafford, the 20-year-old has served his suspension and will return for the derby on Saturday. Wilshere's inclusion will provide the energy and distribution required from our midfield duo, providing he keeps a cool head.

Sandro secured the second spot in our central midfield following a string of imperious performances this season for Tottenham. The Brazilian's industry and ability to stifle attacks has not gone unnoticed and we believe he and Wilshere would be able to forge an effective partnership in the middle.

Mikel Arteta is incredibly unlucky to miss out on a spot in our starting side. The Spaniard is the best passer of the ball in the Premier League having posted a success rate of 93.3 per cent this term and has a strong claim for a place.

Mousa Dembele would also be in a position to contend for a starting berth, but the Belgian is sidelined with a hip injury. Abou Diaby's impressive form at the start of the season would also be considered if the France international wasn't out with a thigh problem.

Further down the pecking order is Tom Huddlestone, who is likely to be handed a run in Villas-Boas' side following Dembele's injury, while Aaron Ramsey has struggled to hold down a regular role this term.

ATTACK


In our attacking third, competition for places is rife and some tough decisions have been made. On the right flank, Theo Walcott edges Aaron Lennon out of a spot as the Arsenal winger has scored two goals and provided three assists in just 326 minutes of Premier League football. Lennon, meanwhile, has one goal and two assists from 11 starts this term.

In a central position is Santi Cazorla following the Spaniard's impressive performances since his arrival from Malaga in the summer. Cazorla's main competition for his spot in our combined XI comes from Clint Dempsey, but the USA international has failed to ignite Tottenham's attack since signing from Fulham.

Out on the left side is Gareth Bale, who has scored three goals in 10 Premier League games this season. The Welshman's pace and guile means Lukas Podolski misses out on a place, despite the German returning with the same number of goals as Bale, as well as providing two more assists.

Spearheading our attack is Jermain Defoe as the Tottenham striker has netted five goals in 11 Premier League appearances this season. Emmanuel Adebayor put in a solid performance during Tottenham's 2-1 defeat at Manchester City last Sunday but that was the 28-year-old's first start in the Premier League this term mainly due to injury.

Olivier Giroud has three Premier League goals to his name so far this season but the Arsenal striker's performances have been inconsistent, which is the primary reason for his omission.

Suggested combined Arsenal & Tottenham XI

GOALKEEPER

Brad Friedel

RIGHT-BACK
CENTRE-BACK
CENTRE-BACK
LEFT-BACK

Bacary Sagna

Steven Caulker

Per Mertesacker

Jan Vertonghen
CENTRE MIDFIELD
CENTRE MIDFIELD

Sandro

Jack Wilshere
RIGHT WINGER
ATTACKING MIDFIELD
LEFT WINGER

Theo Walcott

Santi Cazorla

Gareth Bale

CENTRE FORWARD

Jermain Defoe

HAVE YOUR SAY

Do you agree with our suggested best combined Arsenal and Tottenham starting XI? If not, who should be there instead and which players should get the chop? Which way is Saturday's crunch match going to go?

Let us know your views on the debate by posting a comment below or by getting in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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