Tottenham Hotspur welcome Liverpool to Wembley this weekend, with both sides buoyed by strong results in the Champions League.
Spurs came away from the Bernabeu with a highly-respectable 1-1 draw against Real Madrid, while Jurgen Klopp’s side equalled an away-win record as the demolished Maribor 7-0 to top their group.
Both sides have aspirations of being in the title picture at the business end of the season, and so will be desperate to lay down a marker on Sunday and collect what would be a huge three points along with a rivals’ scalp.
But how do their respective squads compare? We’ve had a crack at merging the two into what we think would be a strongest eleven using players from both sides.
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham). Regardless of the improvements Simon Mignolet has made to his game in the past ten months, Lloris remains one of the best goalkeepers in European football. The French international gave a timely reminder of his ability in Madrid in midweek, making a number of fantastic saves to help earn his side a point.
Kieran Trippier (Tottenham). Despite an abundance of right-backs available to either team, it’s hard to pick one that stands out. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez are showing plenty of promise but are still raw, while Serge Aurier is yet to fully settle in North London. To that end, Trippier slots in ahead of the pack on the right hand side of defence.
Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham). The Belgian is one half of one the meanest defences in the league, with so much of Tottenham’s success based on the central defensive unit of Alderweireld and fellow Belgian Jan Vertonghen.
Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham). See Alderweireld, Toby.
Alberto Moreno (Liverpool). If someone had said that Moreno would be on anyone’s best XI even three months ago they would have been laughed out of the building. But, whether it has been through being told he’s on his last chance or the competition from Andrew Robertson, the Spaniard has been one of Liverpool’s most consistent players this season. Quite the turnaround for the much-ridiculed full-back.
Dele Alli (Totteham). One of the brightest prospects in European football, Dele might not be having as strong a season as last year, but that doesn’t negate his talent in the slightest. As soon as he clicks into gear, he’ll be every bit the devastatingly creative player that he has been so far in his Spurs career, if not more so.
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool). Keeping Coutinho was far and away Liverpool’s best bit of transfer business last summer – and rather than sulk over his failed move to Barcelona, the playmaker has kept his head down and worked his socks off for the team. Four goals and three assists in seven games is a very strong record to build on for the rest of the campaign.
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham). Eriksen has become one of the most creative players in the Premier League in the past couple of seasons, with remarkably strong assists records in both. The Dane is a constant threat in Spurs’ attacks and his delivery from set pieces, coupled with the aerial threat that the team possesses, is a strong source of goals.
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool). The £37m Liverpool paid for Salah looked more and more like a bargain as transfer fees spiralled out of control this summer. The former Chelsea man has hit the ground running on his return to England, scoring eight goals in 13 games to establish himself as a key player for Liverpool already.
Sadio Mane (Liverpool). His absence is being keenly felt by Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool (despite the win on Tuesday), as the Senegalese forward is such a vital cog in the Reds’ attack. On top form he is almost unplayable, with devastating speed and finishing.
Harry Kane (Tottenham). The debate as to whether or not Kane is world class will rage on, but he is certainly one of the best strikers in Europe right now. The England international has dusted himself down after his usual August sluggishness and has scored 15 goals in his last 12 games for club and country.
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast, we’re joined by ex-Cork City players Neal Horgan and Derek Coughlan to look back on the Leesiders’ title-winning season, as well as reaction Ireland’s World Cup play-off draw and the usual League of Ireland round-up.