Chelsea and Tottenham’s Premier League encounter this Sunday has all the hallmarks of a top flight thriller.
Not only is it a London derby, not only will it involved two title chasers and not only will it see the Premier League’s highest goalscorers prior to this weekend face the side with the best defensive record, but it also carries the unique subplot of master versus apprentice as Frank Lampard comes up against the manager who pushed him to become one of the greatest midfielders of his era - Jose Mourinho.
It’s all very exciting stuff, only amplified by how little there is to choose between the two teams. Illustrating that point, here’s GIVEMESPORT’s combined XI, featuring the best players from either side…
Goalkeeper - Hugo Lloris
We certainly can’t fault Chelsea summer signing Edouard Mendy. Through his towering presence alone, he’s instantly brought a much-needed calmness to a Blues defence that continuously self-destructed throughout last season. He’s also conceded just one goal in five Premier League appearances so far, which is fantastic going.
But let’s face it, five games just isn’t enough to claim superiority over Hugo Lloris, who in contrast has been one of the best goalkeepers in English football since moving to Spurs in summer 2012.
This term he’s recorded the second-best saves to shots faced percentage of any Premier League goalkeeper and kept three clean sheets in nine games.
Right Back - Reece James
It takes a lot to keep a player of Cesar Azpilicueta’s experience and pedigree out of the starting XI but Reece James has more than justified Frank Lampard’s decision to make the youngster his first-choice right-back.
The 20-year-old combines monstrous strength and speed defensively with impressive attacking contributions. This season he’s created nine chances in seven starts and it speaks volumes that as well as being above Azpilicueta at club level, he’s giving Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker a run for their money in the England squad as well.
At Spurs, meanwhile, the lack of an undisputed No.2 has cost them here. Matt Doherty and Serge Aurier have both come in and out of the side this season and it’s not wholly clear who Mourinho will pick to start on Sunday.
Right Centre-Back - Toby Alderweireld
He’s set to miss this weekend’s action due to injury but Toby Alderweireld remains one of the classier centre-backs around in the Premier League, and at the age of 31 he brings vital experience to this Tottenham side.
The Belgium international is a resolute defender but has those searing long-range passes in his locker as well, and that ability to hit the forward line with one killer ball naturally suits a manager like Mourinho.
Credit where it’s due, Kurt Zouma has been fantastic this season, barring one costly error against Southampton, with three goals in eight appearances and averages of four successful aerials and 5.3 clearances per match.
But Alderweireld just gets the nod for us.
Left Centre-Back - Thiago Silva
Another golden oldie, albeit this one being five years older than Alderweireld.
Chelsea’s swoop for Thiago Silva already looks like a stroke of transfer genius and while there’s nothing particularly evident in the statistics to back that up - aside from a 93% pass accuracy - it’s the sheer class and authority he brings to the Blues’ backline that’s made him such a shrewd addition.
Eric Dier’s looked solid enough at centre-back for Spurs this season but let’s face it - Silva’s just a class above the England international.
Left-Back - Ben Chilwell
A trickier call than you might assume. Ben Chilwell’s numbers have been phenomenal for Chelsea - bagging two goals and two assists in six appearances while averaging 1.8 key passes per match - but Sergio Reguilon’s enjoyed a strong start to his Spurs career as well.
Indeed, the Spaniard has two assists of his own and a similar average for key passes, while overall he’s brought some much-needed modernity to an area of Spurs’ starting XI that was becoming a little archaic.
Nonetheless, Chilwell slightly edges out his Spurs counterpart and deserves an extra pat on the back for not struggling under the weight of such a heavy price-tag.
Right Defensive Midfield - N’Golo Kante
After a few seasons of looking solid if rather unspectacular in more forward-thinking midfield roles, N’Golo Kante has returned to his traditional base this term and routinely impressed.
His averages for tackles and interceptions are at their highest since Chelsea’s 2017/18 campaign and he’s even managed to pop up with an assist at the other end too.
Kante’s certainly not the type to complain about his role in the team but you have to feel he’s happier with the task at hand this season - doing the dirty work so that Chelsea’s more creative talents can thrive.
Left Defensive Midfield - Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
Tottenham’s £15m swoop for Hojbjerg now looks like an absolute snip.
To say the former Southampton man has transformed the Lilywhites would be overzealous but he has unquestionably brought far more control to their engine room and in turn improved the shape of the team.
Perhaps what’s most impressive about Hojbjerg though is his dual functionality. Against Man City he weighed in with a whopping five tackles and four fouls; when Spurs beat Burnley, meanwhile, he registered a staggering 109 passes.
Those two aspects of his game, and his ability to often find an equilibrium between both, has made him a real asset to this Spurs team already.
That does mean no room for Tanguy N’domblele, Moussa Sissoko or Mateo Kovacic who have all played well. Unfortunately though, there is a midfielder has outshone all of them this term.
Central Midfield - Mason Mount
There may be a bizarre public backlash against him, but there’s a reason Frank Lampard, Gareth Southgate and virtually every pundit who watches him are so spellbound by Mason Mount.
While his first season in Chelsea's senior squad was certainly productive, he didn’t quite look the right fit at times as the Blues boss jostled him around different positions within the starting XI.
This term though, Mount has made the deeper-lying role his own, converting his well-know ability to press high into engine room doggedness and complementing that with a simply sublime passing range.
His Champions League assist in midweek was nothing short of exquisite and the 21-year-old is looking more and more comfortable as a central midfielder every time he plays there.
Right Wing - Timo Werner
It’s probably his least preferred position in attack but we just had to find room for Timo Werner somewhere in our frontline.
While Hakim Ziyech has really impressed from the right with a flurry of goal involvements in his first few Premier League appearances, Werner is just one of those players who has a unique intensity about him.
There aren’t too many players in Europe who can rival the speed in which he travels with the ball and his output this season isn’t to be sniffed at either - four goals and two assists in nine games.
Werner’s inclusion means there’s no room for Gareth Bale, meanwhile. While arguably the highest profile player across both squads, even his Europa League performances this season have been a tad underwhelming.
Left Wing - Heung-min Son
Heung-min Son’s form this season has been nothing short of electric. With nine goals in nine games, Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin is the only Premier League player to have scored more than him.
With impressive averages for shots and key passes per game too, this could well be the season where Son finally nabs himself one of the individual accolades, having flirted with the idea throughout much of his spell in north London.
Of course, don’t rule out a Premier League crown either - while Spurs are still rank outsiders in the eyes of many, having Son in such ruthless scoring form definitely upweights their title credentials.
Striker - Harry Kane
Who else but Harry?
With seven goals and nine assists in nine Premier League outings, the Tottenham talisman has been nothing short of unplayable this season.
He frankly embarrassed Man City’s defence for large parts of last weekend’s 2-0 win and far from struggling for impact under Mourinho as many initially feared, the England skipper appears to be flourishing.
The addition of assists to his game this season has brought Kane back to the levels we saw a few years ago and while Tammy Abraham deserves a mention for four goal involvements despite not being an automatic starter, Kane is simply in a league of his own right now.News Now - Sport News