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Our writers choose their London team of 2020

I

t has been a mixed year for London’s football clubs, who have, of course, faced a unique set of circumstances, with a global football shutdown and now months of playing behind-closed-doors.

Arsenal were the only one of the capital’s top-flight sides to lift a trophy as they won the FA Cup, beating Chelsea in the final.

The two sides’ fortunes have contrasted since, however, with the Blues’ summer spending pushing them into title contention while the Gunners could face a relegation scrap.

Jose Mourinho and David Moyes have worked wonders at Tottenham and West Ham, respectively, driving revolutions that have raised the bar in terms of what their sides may be able to achieve.

Under Roy Hodgson, Crystal Palace look stable in the Premier League again, while Scott Parker led Fulham back into the top flight at the expense of Championship rivals Brentford.

Our writers have chosen their best London-based XIs of 2020…

(4-3-3): Białkowski; James, Ogbonna, Thiago, Saka; Rice, Mount, Kante; Son, Aubameyang, Kane.

None of the top-flight goalkeepers have made a compelling case for inclusion but Millwall’s Bartosz Białkowski has consistently been one of the best stoppers in the Championship and repeatedly saved the Lions.

Picking the defenders was tough, given how poor Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal have been at times, but Reece James and Angelo Ogbonna have been consistently good, while Thiago Silva wins a spot for his transformative impact on the Blues. Bukayo Saka is shoehorned in at left-back but deserves a spot for a breakthrough year.

( Getty Images )

In midfield, best friends Declan Rice and Mason Mount have progressed to England regulars, while N’Golo Kante looks back to his best for Chelsea.

Harry Kane and Heung-min Son have been remarkable despite missing long spells through injury and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang deserves a spot for leading Arsenal to the FA Cup, despite his form this season.

(4-3-3): Guaita; James, Ogbonna, Alderweireld, Saka; Rice, Soucek, Mount; Antonio, Kane, Son

With this being a team of 2020, I’ve tried to avoid those players who, despite making a fine start to life with their new clubs, moved to London halfway through the year. That means no room for players like Ben Chilwell, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg or Sergio Reguilion.

The defence was perhaps the trickiest to choose, none of the capital’s sides having had the most assured 2020 at the back, but Reece James has been a revelation for Frank Lampard at Chelsea while Angelo Ogbonna has been at the heart of David Moyes’s transformation at West Ham.

The Hammers are represented well again in midfield, with their duo of Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek staying together having been outstanding since the Czech’s arrival in January. They are joined by Mason Mount who has become one of Lampard’s most trusted players in west London.

( Tess Derry/PA Wire )

In the end there was only one spot in the front three which was really up for grabs, given the form of Harry Kane and Heung-min Son under Jose Mourinho. Honourable mentions go to Eberechi Eze for his displays with QPR and Crystal Palace, as well as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang before his form fell off a cliff, but Michail Antonio has had the best year of his career in 2020.

(3-4-3): Fabianksi; Alderweireld, Zouma, Tierney; James, Rice, Mount, Saka; Son, Kane, Aubameyang.

Picking the goalkeeper was a difficult task and Hugo Lloris was a serious contender. Edouard Mendy and Emi Martinez were also options, but Lukasz Fabianski edged it due to his performances over the whole 12 months.

In defence, Kurt Zouma gets the nod as he has been excellent since July. Toby Alderweireld has thrived under Jose Mourinho and Kieran Tierney has been consistent for Arsenal – even with the team’s drop in form recently. 

( Getty Images )

Bukayo Saka and Reece James are the wing-backs having risen through the ranks to make their England debuts. Best friends Declan Rice and Mason Mount are the central midfielders, but Pierre-Emile Højbjerg almost got picked given his transformative effect at Tottenham. The fact the Dane has only been in London since September meant he was overlooked in the end, though. 

In attack, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min were no brainers and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in there for his form last season and during Arsenal’s run to FA Cup glory. Christian Pulisic and Michail Antonio are unlucky to miss out.

(4-3-3): Mendy; James, Zouma, Thiago, Chilwell; Ndombele, Kante, Mount; Ziyech, Kane, Son

This is a very Chelsea-heavy side, but I fully expect Lampard’s team to be the leading London club by the end of the season.

Defensively they have looked very good in the main, with the additions of Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva making a big difference, while Kurt Zouma has been an unsung hero, with a real goal threat, too.

Up front, Tottenham’s duo of Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min have to be included. Perhaps Timo Werner would have made a push to be included if he’d not run into his current barren spell.

Admittedly, Hakim Ziyech has spent much of the season injured, but when he’s played, he’s looked outstanding and could be the biggest factor in whether Chelsea make a genuine tilt for the title.


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