The London derby between Tottenham and Chelsea is always a fixture to be savoured for both fans, but the addition of Andre Villas-Boas adds extra spice to the occasion. Just nine months into his Chelsea career, the Portuguese boss was fired at Stamford Bridge and now has returned to the Premier League with Tottenham.
Villas-Boas has guided Spurs to fifth in the table after a rocky start and a four match win streak has included an impressive 3-2 victory away at Old Trafford against Manchester United. Tottenham are the in-form side in the Premier League and with a great recent record against the Blues at White Hart Lane, Villas-Boas will be confident of victory over his former employers. Chelsea haven’t won at the North Londoners’ home since August 2005, when a 2-0 victory was enough for Jose Mourinho’s men.
Spurs have no fresh injury worries following the international break and can recall both Kyle Naughton and Jake Livermore. Naughton has been out for a month with an ankle problem, whereas Livermore’s groin injury has seen him on the treatment table for six weeks. Villas-Boas has a dilemma over whether to play Brad Friedel or Hugo Lloris in goal, but dropped a hint over his selection stating that the club have ‘made Brad no. 1 for the season’.
Chelsea are doing just fine without Villas-Boas and have picked up their first Champions League triumph and another FA Cup since his departure. Roberto di Matteo was given the permanent position at Stamford Bridge following those successes and has led the Blues to an unbeaten start with their only dropped points coming in the goalless draw at Loftus Road against QPR. The Blues have been scintillating going forward with Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar lighting up the Premier League, but they are still solid in defence and have only conceded four goals all season.
That backline has taken a hit with captain John Terry beginning his four game ban at White Hart Lane having been charged for racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand. Terry’s absence could be a huge loss with Gary Cahill and David Luiz expected to partner up in central defence. Di Matteo has Daniel Sturridge back available following a hamstring injury, but could still be without Frank Lampard and Ryan Bertrand. The duo picked up injuries on international duty with England and could be on the bench on Saturday, especially Lampard who is one appearance away from 500 games for the West Londoners.
This London derby has all the elements for a brilliant game with a manager facing his former side, a hostile atmosphere at White Hart Lane and two sides in great form looking to outdo their rivals. Villas-Boas will be emotionally charged against Chelsea, desperate to show Roman Abramovich that he is good enough to be successful in the Premier League, but Di Matteo’s side are a classy outfit and Spurs will have to break down a strong defence, even without the inspirational Terry.