English Premier League

Tottenham v Chelsea – Saturday 20th October – White Hart Lane (13:45)

Tottenham v Chelsea

Spurs host log leaders Chelsea this Saturday in a London derby with a lot at stake, especially for Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas who is desperate to become the first Premier League manager to beat the Blues this season. The former Porto boss was booted out of Stamford Bridge after only nine months in the job and AVB would love nothing less than to get one over Roman Abramovich.

Chelsea have made a near perfect start to the campaign while Spurs have climbed up to fifth following four wins on the trot, including a historic triumph at Old Trafford three weeks ago. Their only loss came on the opening day of the season away to Newcastle.

Things have really started to look bright for Tottenham after beating Manchester United 3-2 and going on to maintain that momentum with a 2-0 home win over Aston Villa. Andre Villas-Boas has stabilised the Tottenham squad and only now is the huge upheaval he has dealt with being fully appreciated. Game changers Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart were sold, Ledley King retired, Scott Parker, Younes Kaboul and, more recently, Benoit Assou-Ekotto are injured while Emmanuel Adebayor is lacking match fitness. An impressive £50 million has been spent – but £60 million recouped – while four of the six players signed arrived on or close to deadline day and with the season under way. That has all been shelved and the Spurs players have responded to Villas-Boas’ style of play, his eye for detail and his innovative training. There are clear signs of improvement in several players. Sandro is moving onto another level, Kyle Walker is better defensively, Aaron Lennon has developed his game to work inside and not simply be an out-and-out winger and defender Steven Caulker is coming through. Jermain Defoe, rewarded with a new contract and told by Villas-Boas that he was valued, has a fresh lease of life. Gareth Bale is at his marauding best and Dembele is, unsurprisingly, at his peak.

Premier League leaders Chelsea head to White Hart Lane with a four-point lead at the top of the table and on the back of a sequence of highly impressive results and performances. The Blues put their off-field troubles aside as they emphatically beat struggling Norwich in their last match to continue to set the Premier League pace.

The playmaking trio of Mata, Hazard and Oscar buzzed around with an incisiveness and invention that Norwich could not handle with the former particularly prominent. Mata has four goals and five assists in the last five games and the stylish Spaniard was the main orchestrator as his side secured a sixth top-flight win in seven. The victory for Chelsea was also a relief for the Stamford Bridge side after the previous day’s troubles. The club had first learned of the Football Association’s ruling that John Terry’s evidence was “improbable, implausible and contrived” in the hearing over whether the defender racially abused QPR’s Anton Ferdinand. A tweet from Blues left-back Cole criticising the FA over comments about his role in the case caused more turmoil.

Both of last season’s meetings between the two ended in stalemates as well as the last two meetings at White Hart Lane. Tottenham are unbeaten at home, while in Chelsea’s unbeaten run this season they have only conceded one goal in three away games. The trend is tipped to continue, back the draw.

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