As the season slowly draws to its conclusion, Arsenal will make the short trip to White Hart Lane to face bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur in a game that is a ‘must-win’ for both sides. Arsenal are fighting for a top-four finish and Spurs are chasing the title, and a loss for either side is likely to be a fatal blow in their respective aspirations, which means that the winner on Sunday will not only move in the right direction but also dent the opposition’s ambitions. With the stakes so high, it will interesting to see how Arsene Wenger sets up his team. Here is how I would go about it.
Starting from the back, the obvious man between the sticks will be Petr Cech, no questions there. In front of the former Chelsea man, I would have a back-three of Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and Rob Holding, with Wenger confirming that the Frenchman is likely to be fit in time for the all-important clash. Holding was rested in the victory against Leicester City and I would bring him straight back into the team. These three players have excelled under the new system and should be solid enough to deal with the Spurs frontline, with lots of help of course!
Moving on to the midfield, I would have Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey start at the middle of the park. While it would make sense to start with an out-and-out defensive midfielder in Francis Coquelin away from home, the Frenchman has not quite been at it this season so I would revert to the Xhaka-Ramsey pivot. Apart from their unquestionable work-rate, the duo’s respective long-range efforts and late runs into the box also represent chances of getting on the scoreboard. At wing-back, I would have Oxlade-Chamberlain and Nacho Monreal. While the Spaniard has been a little shaky, both players have adapted very well to the new system and could once again make the difference for an Arsenal side currently grinding out results.
And finally, in regards to the forwards, I would have Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil playing behind Olivier Giroud. Considering that Arsenal are likely to sit deep at White Hart Lane, it would make sense to start with a targetman who can hold the ball up and bring others into play. Sanchez and Ozil will be the creative chiefs who will be playing behind the Frenchman and the duo certainly have the ability to unlock the Spurs defence, as solid as it may be. Personally, I think this is the best team that Arsene Wenger can put out at the moment and one can only hope that the team will be strong enough to grind out yet another result, this time in the most important North London derby in recent history.
My Arsenal XI: Cech; Gabriel, Koscielny, Holding; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka, Ramsey, Monreal; Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud.
What team would like to see face Tottenham?