North London Derby: Worst XI of the last 10 years

Dave Tickner

We could all put together a combined XI from these two great rivals where we either put Kane and Aubameyang up top or provocatively leave one of them out, whichever is funnier at the time, but there’s no great skill to that. Above all, we must remember that both Spurs and Arsenal are banter clubs and it is therefore more fitting to select the worst XI. Simple eligibility rules: you just need to have started a Premier League north London derby since the start of the 2011/12 season.


GK: David Ospina
We were worried that this whole thing might be screwed before it had even begun. Only two goalkeepers have played for Spurs in NLDs over the last decade: Brad Friedel and Hugo Lloris. Neither really fit the bill. Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski had their problems at Arsenal, but look at them now. We could squeeze them in at a push, but it would be an unsatisfying start given what’s to follow. Bernd Leno is right out despite some recent rumblings, as is Petr Cech. Hurrah then for Ospina who played in two WHL NLDs and conceded two goals in each, most of them to Harry Kane obviously.


RB: Carl Jenkinson
One of the seemingly dozens of players to be awarded precisely one England cap in a move specifically designed to infuriate Mark Noble, Jenkinson actually played almost as many games for West Ham as he did for the Gunners during his eight-year Arsenal career. Currently finds himself unable to get a game for a Nottingham Forest side currently reinforcing their own years-long commitment to banter.


CB: Vlad Chiriches
SPOILER ALERT: An awful lot of the Gareth Bale money ends up in this team.


CB: Kevin Wimmer
Quite impressive really that for all the much-publicised and high-profile problems Arsenal have had at centre-back in recent years, they still don’t come particularly close to getting any of their assorted CB disasters into this XI. It’s a dreary cliche to talk of teams “Getting Levyed” since nobody has been more consistently played by Levy than Levy himself. But he does certainly have his moments and tripling his money on Wimmer is right up there with turning a profit on Mido in Levy’s book of transfer nonsense accomplishments. Improbably, five years on, Stoke have still not managed to get shot of their £17m man, currently to be found on loan at Karlsruhe in the German second division. Has still got a year left on his Stoke contract. Has still played more games for Spurs (31) than he has for Stoke (19).


LB: Kyle Naughton
Spurs greedily decided to sign not one but two right-backs called Kyle from Sheffield United in the summer of 2009. One of them turned out to be pretty bloody good in the end; the other is forced to play out of position at left-back in our fictitious team of shambling wastrels. On the flipside, as and when we ever do one of these XIs for a Cardiff-Swansea derby, Naughton definitely isn’t in that XI.


CM: Paulinho
Easy to forget now, but in many ways Paulinho was the most exciting of Spurs’ Magnificent Seven. He’d just had a spectacular Confederations Cup with Brazil and did look like precisely the sort of midfielder that should work in the Premier League and that Spurs so frequently lacked. Started okay. Scored a cheeky late winner at Cardiff. Then it all went to sh*t. Sent off in Andre Villas-Boas’ final game at the club and by the end of his Spurs career unable to complete even the simplest of tasks. Headed off to China where he rebuilt his reputation and continues to shine via that one really weird yet not disastrous year at Barcelona.


CM: Etienne Capoue
And another! Terrible at Spurs, decent at Watford. Joined Villarreal in January, at the precise moment their La Liga form went all to sh*t. His debut, a 4-0 win at Celta Vigo, was their last league win. That was eight matches ago now. Not saying it’s entirely his fault, but still.


CM: Granit Xhaka
It’s not so much that Xhaka is bad, although he quite often is, it’s just that he never ever seems to be more than two or three games from suffering some ridiculous catastrophe. He’s honestly one of the Spursiest footballers we’ve ever seen. Not really good, not really bad but seemingly so often to be found doing something unutterably embarrassing and unnecessary. So Spursy in fact is Xhaka that he didn’t even manage to end up at the right club when he turned up in north London. He’s so Spursy that he’s managed to end up in this team, even though this spot should clearly in fact have gone to Henrikh Mkhitaryan.


AM: Willian
Nearly a Spurs player once upon a time of course. One of those times Levy got Levyed. Currently an Arsenal player. He’s been rubbish and slow for the most part, his main accomplishment in his first six months at the Emirates being to keep assorted exciting, hungry, young players out of the side for extended periods of time.


CF: Roberto Soldado
Tried so hard, bless him, and having spent his pre-Spurs career scoring a load of goals in Spain has gone back to doing precisely that once again which is nice, isn’t it? Spurs fans, even while acknowledging how bad he was for them, still generally retain a soft spot for Soldado, whose seven goals in 50-odd league appearances included five from the penalty spot. That fondness is testament to both the obvious effort and care shown by Soldado during his time at the club, for all the good it did him, and the not insignificant fact that his floppage allowed Harry Kane to stake a claim as first-choice striker, which has gone quite well.


CF: Joel Campbell
The Costa Rican had twice as many loan spells as Premier League goals during his eight-year Arsenal career, but did manage to squeeze in a north London Derby start at the Emirates in 2015. With Arsenal chasing an equaliser, Campbell made way for left-back Kieran Gibbs 17 minutes from time. Four minutes later, Gibbs duly scored the equaliser. Funny old game.