Jurrien Timber returns, Thomas Partey starts – Arsenal dream North London Derby line-up vs Spurs

Jurrien Timber and Thomas Partey both feature in's dream Arsenal XI for the North London Derby against Tottenham
Jurrien Timber and Thomas Partey both feature in's dream Arsenal XI for the North London Derby against Tottenham -Credit:Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

The North London Derby offers emotions of anxiousness, excitement and wonder as the bragging rights of the season are decided. But this derby in particular creates far more nerves than Arsenal and Tottenham supporters have perhaps ever experienced.

From the Gunners' side, a win would see them have reach the end of a three-game run which rewards them with a merciless week off having not dropped a single point whilst title rivals Liverpool fell to Everton. It leaves them with a prime position to make a run for the Premier League trophy by winning their three remaining games.

Meanwhile for Tottenham, the top four is slipping away as Aston Villa continue their fine form - Spurs will need to win their two games in hand to be level with Unai Emery's side. The UEFA coefficient means that they would need some miraculous outcomes in the European matches for it to fall their way if they were to finish fifth and seal Champions League qualification.

It creates a dynamic where Mikel Arteta needs to pick the best side available with no thought of fitness or rotation in mind from midweek. However, thankfully the side which beat Chelsea might indeed be the best positioned to continue the goalscoring flare.

Tottenham are without Destiny Udogie and there remains doubt surrounding Pedro Porro. Meanwhile, Arsenal having both Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu offers plenty of defensive and offensive coverage; the pair have surprised fans with how competent they can be going forward.

That said, in a dream world, following his return to the competitive scene, Jurrien Timber started and scored a wonder goal for the Under-21s on Monday night. If indeed he was deemed ready and fit to enter the fray, what a sight that would be – but to make it abundantly clear: this is purely in a hypothetical dream scenario where he was deemed ready.

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Thomas Partey was the big talking point of midweek as he started his first game for the club in midfield since the Community Shield last August. Arsenal are getting their best players back at a good time, but it does come with the frustration that it wasn’t sooner.

Martin Odegaard scored in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last time out and will hope his goal-creation form translates into goalscoring form on Sunday. Declan Rice, meanwhile, came off at half-time in the first game and his absence was certainly felt, so having him for the entire match could be a difference-maker.

Up top, the front-three picks itself. Bukayo Saka has to start with no option to replace him, whilst Kai Havertz and Leandro Trossard's goalscoring run means that Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli simply do not get a look in at the moment.

Dream Arsenal XI vs Chelsea – Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Timber; Partey, Rice, Odegaard; Saka, Havertz, Trossard.