All eyes will be on Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon when Chelsea host Tottenham Hotspur in a colossal clash which could go a long way towards deciding the fate of the Premier League’s top four.
Last season’s champions Chelsea know anything less than a win could spell the end of their Champions League qualification hopes, while Spurs will be desperate to put an end to their dismal record at the Bridge.
With little to call between the two sets of players, let’s take a look at a fictional combined XI ahead of Sunday’s showdown.
1. GK: Thibaut Courtois
This one really could have gone either way.
Chelsea and Spurs boast two of the Premier League’s finest goalkeeping talents, with very little to call between which shot stopper you’d rather have in between the sticks.
The fact that the two are level on 13 clean sheets apiece this season says it all, with deciding between these two largely coming down to personal opinion.
We’ve narrowly leant towards the Belgian here.
2. RB: Kieran Trippier
Since the departure of Kyle Walker to Manchester City last summer, Spurs full back Kieran Trippier has stepped up incredibly well to fill the void left by his countryman.
The £23m acquisition of Serge Aurier could do little in the way of ousting Trippier from the team as – injury aside – Trippier has been an ever present in Spurs’ Premier League back four this campaign.
Defensively sound, Trippier has proven himself going forward as well, providing four assists so far this season.
3. CB: Cezar Azpilicueta
Cezar Azpilicueta has a strong case for being the Premier League’s biggest bargain signing of recent times.
Brought in as a right back from Marseille for a reported £7m in 2012, Azpilicueta has morphed into one of the league’s best centre backs as part of Antonio Conte’s back three.
The Spaniard’s leadership qualities have been noted too, as in the absence of club captain Gary Cahill, Azpilicueta resumes the role of skipper and is likely to do so again on Sunday.
4. CB: Davinson Sanchez
With Toby Alderweireld missing large periods of the season through injury, Colombian Davinson Sanchez has established himself as the main man at the heart of Tottenham’s defence.
Eyebrows were perhaps raised when Mauricio Pochettino splashed a reported club-record £42m on the former Ajax man, however his performances in the Premier League show him to be an impressive acquisition.
Rumours of Real Madrid’s interest say a lot about the young defender’s debut season in England.
5. LB: Marcos Alonso
Despite Ben Davies’ impressive performances for Spurs this campaign keeping Danny Rose out of the side, newly capped Spain international Marcos Alonso gets the nod at left back.
In a side with much attacking impetus, the Spaniard fits in well having played most of his Premier League football as a wing back.
No game exemplified Alonso’s qualities going forward better than when Spurs and Chelsea met at Wembley in August, with Alonso bagging a brace – including an outstanding finish direct from a free kick – in a man of the match performance to win the game for the Blues.
6. CDM: N’Golo Kante
Back-to-back Premier League winner and last season’s PFA Player of the Year N’Golo Kante needs no introduction.
A tireless workhorse who shields Chelsea’s back three expertly well, Kante is consistently at the top of the charts for distance covered with his individual accolades a pleasure to see considering players of his type are very often the unsung heroes.
Every top team needs a Kante-esque midfield engine room so his inclusion into this XI should come as no surprise.
7. CDM: Mousa Dembele
Despite an inconsistent start to the season, Mousa Dembele’s form since the turn of the year has proven the Belgian to be one of the Premier League’s outstanding individual players.
Deceptively strong, Dembele is equally sound in his defensive duties as he is going forward with his ability to seemingly glide past opposition players effortlessly with the ball at his feet.
A central midfield pairing of the Belgian alongside N’Golo Kante would rival any other in world football.
8. RM: Willian
Willian is enjoying his finest season in a Chelsea shirt to date in terms of goals and assists, having bagged 13 goals in all competitions and provided a further eight assists.
A regular for the Brazilian national side, Willian has been one of the Premier League’s most consistent performers since his move from Anzhi Makhachkala in 2013, even if his Chelsea side have been anything but consistent.
The winger’s brilliance was there for all to see during Chelsea’s Champions League first leg clash against Barcelona last month, as Willian produced an exceptional performance to outshine the likes of Eden Hazard and Lionel Messi.
9. CAM: Christian Eriksen
Like Willian, Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen has also been one of the league’s most consistent performers since arriving in the summer of 2013.
Eriksen has spent much of this campaign starting on the right hand side with the license to roam in-field, however his natural starting berth comes as a more central attacking midfielder – and that’s exactly where he would fit in in this XI.
Also deadly from set pieces, the great Dane would be an asset to any side.
10. LM: Eden Hazard
It would be impossible to leave Eden Hazard out of any Chelsea related combined XI.
One of the most naturally gifted players of his generation, the Belgian is often touted as a potential successor to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s throne as the world’s best.
Naturally a left sided player, Hazard is currently adapting to Antonio Conte’s request to play in the false nine position. Whilst he hasn’t set the league alight in that role, the Belgian has still contributed a healthy goal return of 15 throughout this season.
11. ST: Heung-Min Son
A fit Harry Kane would walk into this side, as well as probably any other side in world football.
Unfortunately, Kane’s injury ahead of Sunday’s fixture means we’re having to look for other options and – although not an out and out striker – Son Heung-min’s impressive form this campaign makes it difficult to look beyond the South Korean.
Mauricio Pochettino is likely to use Son as a central striker during Kane’s absence, having seen the former Bayer Leverkusen man bag 18 goals in all competition this season.
If Pochettino trusts Son as his main man up top, then we’re inclined to do the same.