Arsenal and Tottenham combined XI: Defence evenly split, Xhaka surprise, no Son, Kulusevski or Martinelli…

Arsenal midfielder Martin Odegaard during the Premier League game against Fulham. Emirates, August 2022.

Arsenal and Tottenham are two of the strongest teams in the Premier League – but which players would make it into a combined XI?

The Gunners have enjoyed a brilliant start to 2022/23 and are currently top of the Premier League table, but Tottenham are just one point behind ahead of the north London derby.

We’ve compiled a combined Arsenal and Tottenham XI based on performances in the opening seven games of the 2022/23 Premier League season.

GK: Hugo Lloris

Tottenham are reportedly looking to sign Atlético Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak next year but Lloris has been delivering a reminder of his abilities this season.

The France international has made 16 saves, kept two clean sheets and conceded just seven goals in seven Premier League games this season. He recently produced an excellent display and made some crucial saves in their 6-2 win over Leicester City.

Meanwhile, Arsenal No.1 Aaron Ramsdale hasn’t been at his best this season and was arguably at fault for goals against Leicester City and Aston Villa.

RB: Ben White

Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu is yet a start a Premier League game this season and Emerson Royal has struggled to impress at Tottenham so there was only one option for the right-back spot.

Despite being a natural centre-back, White was moved to right-back at the start of the season due to the emerging partnership between William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes.

The 24-year-old has made a seamless transition to his new role and has produced impressive performances against the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Jadon Sancho.

CB: Eric Dier

While we haven’t ignored the merits of Gabriel Magalhaes, Dier hasn’t put a foot wrong at the centre of Tottenham’s back three.

The 28-year-old has has gone from strength to strength under Antonio Conte and has played every minute of Premier League football so far this season.

“What I can tell you is that Eric has improved a lot since I arrived,” Conte said earlier this month.

“We are talking about a reliable player, 100 per cent focused in every game. He is not a player who alternates with a big performance then a drop. He is providing great continuity in his role and playing every game.

“I can also tell you he is a really good guy, with great will, desire to work and improve. He knows he has space for improvement and I see every day in his eyes the desire to become stronger, to become a top defender.”

CB: William Saliba

Saliba finally made his long-anticipated Arsenal debut in their season opener against Crystal Palace and didn’t disappoint, producing a Man of the Match performance.

Despite scoring an unfortunate own goal against Leicester City in his second game for the club, the 21-year-old didn’t let it knock his confidence and has been one of Arsenal’s standout performers this season.

He’s also proven to be a threat at the other end, scoring against Bournemouth and Brentford while registering an assist against Fulham.

When asked if Mikel Arteta had any doubts about throwing Saliba into his first north London derby this weekend, the Spaniard delivered an emphatic response.

LB: Ivan Perisic

While Kieran Tierney and Oleksandr Zinchenko are two of the best left-backs in the Premier League, they have both struggled with injury problems this season so Perisic takes this spot.

The Croatia international, who joined Tottenham on a free transfer in the summer, is a left wing-back in Conte’s 3-4-3 formation but is filling in at left-back in this team.

He isn’t afraid to put in a shift defensively and has also set up three goals in the Premier League so far this season, including Harry Kane’s late equaliser in Tottenham’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea.

CM: Granit Xhaka

Xhaka has often been a divisive figure at the Emirates, but he’s turned things around and become an Arsenal fan favourite in recent weeks.

He’s been asked to play as a a box-to-box midfielder this season and is excelling in his new role, registering a goal and three assists in seven Premier League appearances.

“For me, Granit Xhaka is a player that we’re finally see play like he does for Switzerland,” Ian Wright said on Match of the Day.

“He’s playing in a position that suits him, playing more offensively. He’s playing with real authority and confidence.

“Lately he’s been able to find space and from there he can be really dangerous because, for me, he’s got easily one of the best left-foots in the Premier League.”

CM: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

Hojbjerg has been enjoying a great start to the new campaign and his performances have been keeping summer signing Yves Bissouma on the Tottenham bench.

The 27-year-old helps break up the play and win back possession for Conte’s side and has also showcased his attacking qualities this season, registering two goals and an assist in seven Premier League appearances.

Arsenal’s Thomas Partey misses out on a place in this team as his start to the season has been disrupted by a series of injury problems.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Ben Davies

CM: Martin Odegaard

After making an impressive start to his Arsenal career, Odegaard was given the captain’s armband ahead of the 2022/2023 season and his game has flourished with the added responsibility.

The Norway international sets the tone with his work ethic but has also scored three goals in six Premier League appearances and is also averaging 1.8 key passes per 90 minutes in 2022/23.

RW: Bukayo Saka

Saka had a rather quiet start to the 2022/23 season and failed to register a goal or assist in Arsenal’s opening three games.

But the winger is back to his best and has now made a direct goal contribution in each of their subsequent four league matches, registering a goal and four assists in that run.

Tottenham’s Dejan Kulusevski has also produced some great performances in recent weeks but just misses out on a place in this team.

ST: Harry Kane

Kane used to be regarded as a slow starter to Premier League seasons but has managed to buck that trend in 2022/23.

Despite missing a penalty against Nottingham Forest, he has still registered six goals and an assist in seven Premier League appearances and is averaging a direct goal contribution every 88.2 minutes.

Manchester City striker Erling Haaland, who has 11 goals and an assist, is the only player to have been involved in more Premier League goals so far this season.

LW: Gabriel Jesus

Admittedly, Jesus plays through the middle for Arsenal and isn’t a left-winger but we had to shoehorn him into this team.

The Brazil international joined Arsenal in the summer and has hit the ground running in north London, registering four goals and three assists in seven Premier League appearances. He’s also had positive impact on the rest of the squad and has helped raise standards.

“We now have a new confidence, a spark, and that winning mentality that he has,” Arteta said when asked about Jesus.

“He competes for every ball and transmits his energy and his quality to the rest of the team.”

Despite coming off the bench to score a hat-trick against Leicester City in Tottenham’s most recent game, Son Heung-min has endured a difficult start to the season and has been overlooked for Jesus.

READ MORE: Five midfielders that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta can turn to in the January transfer window: Danilo…