Tottenham Hotspur face a tough trip away to Manchester United this week in the Premier League, as the top flight table starts to take shape.
The Qatar World Cup is moving sharply onto the horizon, with five league games scheduled across the next 23 days for both Antonio Conte and Erik ten Hag’s sides.
As the table stands, Spurs head into this meeting in a healthier position – third in the division and seven points ahead of their fifth-placed opponents, although the latter have played one game less.
However, United have won the last three meetings and completed a league double last season, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer bettering Nuno Espirito Santo in October and Ralf Rangnick prevailing versus Conte’s outfit back in March.
But much has changed since then, with ten Hag now roaming the Old Trafford dugout as he prepares to face Spurs for the first time since that iconic Champions League night in Amsterdam in May 2019.
So it begs the question; what would it look like if the Lilywhites and Red Devils joined forces?
In his latest column, we’ve put Seb Jenkins to the test and asked him to put together his combined Spurs and Man Utd XI…
FORMATION – 3-5-2
Goalkeeper – Hugo Lloris
Honestly, this one is a complete flip of a coin.
Both Lloris and David De Gea are quality options between the sticks for their respective clubs and either is worthy of a place in the XI.
I have opted for Hugo (probably mainly due to Tottenham bias) but also because he has aged like a fine wine for Spurs over the last few seasons, arguably playing his best football now, even if he did make that mistake against Arsenal.
Right centre-back – Cristian Romero
There is only one answer for this really, and that is Cristian Romero.
He has been one of the best central defenders in the league since joining Spurs from Atalanta and has made the RCB position his own.
I think in a back three you need at least one defender who is willing to get stuck into the challenge no matter what.
Romero is also quality on the ball which is handy when playing out from the back and pushing defenders forward.
Central sweeper – Eric Dier
This one may raise a few eyebrows, as Eric is beating the likes of Varane to the central sweeper spot, but I think it is deserved.
The Spurs man has barely put a foot wrong since Conte took charge and put him in the middle of a back three, and there is a reason he has been a favourite under every single manager he has had at Spurs.
People may scoff at a name like Dier beating a giant of the game like Varane, but if we are talking about form over the past year or two, Eric takes it.
Left centre-back – Lisandro Martinez
The left centre-back role is made for him. Left-footed, not as much pressure to win his aerial battles, and gives him a chance to step out with the ball at his feet.
I would argue that his attributes lend far more to a back three than a back four.
Right-wing-back – Marcus Rashford
Okay… I’m going rogue. Tottenham and Man United are both pretty weak in the right-back areas, so I’m opting for a Conte/Moses moment and making a brand-new right-wing-back of my own.
I already know that Rashford isn’t making it into the front two, and his form has been patchy for the best part of three seasons.
So let’s turn him into an attacking threat down the right-wing. Because, why not? It’s a bit of fun.
Centre-mid – Casemiro
In terms of picking a midfielder to sit in and control the tempo of a game, there are few better than Casemiro.
Yes, he isn’t fully up to speed in a United shirt yet, but if the Red Devils can get him anything close to his Real Madrid form, then he walks into this team.
Centre-mid – Christian Eriksen
In a midfield three, I think you need a creator.
And while many people would put Bruno Fernandes in there, who better to bridge the gap between the Spurs players and the Man United players than someone who has played for both?
Eriksen has been so impressive for United already and has a great relationship with Kane and Son.
Centre-mid – Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
This was a tough battle between Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur.
Both deserve a place and they usually come as a pair, but Hojbjerg edges it for his recent form and consistency.
It just feels impossible to leave him out at the moment, as he gives you so much all-round play.
Forward – Harry Kane
I mean, yeah…
Forward – Heung-min Son
The Kane and Son partnership up top is tried and tested, and it would be silly to break it up for the likes of Rashford, Sancho, Anthony, Martial, or even Ronaldo.
Everyone knows that if you play Kane and Son in a two together, you get a whole lot of goals.
Manager – Antonio Conte
I like the look of Erik ten Hag and even wanted him for the Spurs job before Nuno, but Conte just comes with so much more experience and trophies to back it up.
The team in full…
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