Three months is a long time in football.
Back in November, Daily Mail journalist Adam Crafton released an Arsenal and Tottenham combined XI for the first meeting between the two clubs in the Premier League season.
Moreso than previous combined XIs, Crafton's offering caused a new level of public vitriol. Why? Because it only included Tottenham players.
When the Arsenal Twitter account replied to his tweet with a Mesut Ozil gif after Arsenal ended up winning the fixture, questions were raised about the responsibility of football clubs within the social media sphere.
Fast forward to today, though, and a funny thing has happened: against all the odds, Arsenal have managed to garner together a better team in the January window than they started the season with.
The question now is: have Arsenal caught up with Spurs in the last three months?
With that in mind, here’s RealSport’s combined Arsenal and Tottenham XI.
GK – Michel Vorm
Spurs fans should enjoy Michel Vorm while they can.
The Dutchman has made less than 100 appearances for the club he joined back in 2011, a permanent understudy to Hugo Lloris.
With the latter’s injury, however, Vorm has stepped up admirably with some decent performances. David Ospina might get more regular game time but he is an inferior player.
RB – Hector Bellerin
Kieran Trippier might consider himself unlucky. The Spurs man is one of the best attacking wing backs in the league, with an impressive delivery from the flanks.
When he’s on form, however, Hector Bellerin makes Arsenal look like a different team. Pacy and direct, the Spaniard offers width and enterprise, even if he is a liability defensively.
In reality, though, there’s precious little between the two players.
CB – Jan Vertonghen
He might have the turning circle of an ocean tanker but Jan Vertonghen rarely finds himself needing it.
The Belgian’s astute positioning and underrated technique mean he is the ideal foil for Davinson Sánchez, whose brusque pace and uncompromising tackling have impressed observers this season. Solid.
CB – Laurent Koscielny
When Koscielny suffers, Arsenal suffer too.
The Frenchman has survived awful partners during his time in North London (read Sebastien Squillaci or Johan Djourou) and ignored interest from Bayern Munich to stay and become one of the best centre-backs league.
He is a leader at the back; whilst not being as vocal as some Arsenal fans would like, his performances are an example to his often-shambolic teammates
LB – Nacho Monreal
An adequate if uninspiring fullback on his arrival from Malaga in 2013, Nacho Monreal took time to develop in an Arsenal shirt.
His versatility has been a real asset to Arsene Wenger, whose erratic recruitment policy has seen the Spaniard cover admirably on the flanks and at centreback in the years since. He might be small and wiry, but Monreal provides a solidity that Danny Rose can’t match.
CM – Christian Eriksen
Only Kevin de Bruyne made more assists last year. Christian Eriksen, perhaps more so even than Harry Kane, is the man that makes this Spurs side tick.
A superb passer who is deadly from set pieces, he is head and shoulders above every one of Arsene Wenger’s midfield options.
CM – Mousa Dembélé
“The best player I’ve played with.” That’s according to former Fulham centre back Brede Hangeland.
The Premier League has been slow to appreciate Moussa Dembélé, and it is only now – when his influence in the team appears to be waning – that his virtues are being praised.
Dembélé can do everything – tackle accurately, pass simply, and escape markers with his dribbling and acceleration. He is a manager’s dream.
CM – Dele Alli
He might have had a shocking season so far but Dele Alli is a player tailor-made for the Premier League.
Physically robust with a snarling challenge, the Englishman combines a love of yellow cards with an unerring ability to arrive late into the box. He is a calculating finisher too.
In essence, he offers more than Jack Wilshere in attack and more than Granit Xhaka in defence.
RF – Son Heung-Min
Park Ji-Sung might have been a trailblazer but his versatility and work rate fed an easy stereotype that Korean players were dedicated but unspectacular.
Son-Heung Min smashes the preconceptions. He scored fourteen goals and nabbed six assists in the last campaign, relieving some of the mammoth goal-scoring burden placed on Harry Kane’s shoulders.
In a recent interview with FourFourTwo, Son admitted that he dreamed of winning the Ballon d’Or. It is an increasingly believable claim.
CF – Harry Kane
“The best striker in the world,” according to Arsene Wenger.
His inclusion in this team, then, is a no-brainer. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang might feel aggrieved given his ridiculous record in the Bundesliga but the Gabonese must build on the early promise of his Everton display.
Kane, who has scored 35 goals in 36 games so far, just nudges out in front.
LF – Mesut Ozil
Mesut Ozil’s new contract is good news for Arsenal fans, particularly with the arrival of Aubameyang in January.
Finally, the German has the kind of player ahead of him who will make the right runs at the right time, consistently. Expect him to flourish with the new arrivals.
Disagree with our selections? Let us know by commenting below.