Andre Villas-Boas has warned his old club Chelsea that Tottenham are desperate to end the Blues’ unbeaten start to the Premier League season.
Spurs boss Villas-Boas will face Chelsea on Saturday for the first time since being sacked by Roman Abramovich in March following a miserable nine-month reign at Stamford Bridge.
The former Porto coach has a chance to get his own back this weekend when league leaders Chelsea visit White Hart Lane and, while Villas-Boas insists he isn’t motivated by thoughts of revenge, he admits his players are relishing the chance to inflict some pain on their London rivals.
Not only did Chelsea, by then managed by Villas-Boas’s former assistant Roberto Di Matteo, beat Spurs in last season’s FA Cup semi-final, but they also denied the north London club a place in the Champions League.
Spurs finished fourth, which should have guaranteed a Champions League spot, but Chelsea, who came sixth, took the last English berth after winning the competition.
Now a win would move fifth-placed Tottenham within two points of Chelsea and Villas-Boas said: “In the end there is one thing which has been to a certain extent blown out of proportion – this is certainly not a personal matter.
“But it is the team who took this club out of the Champions League, this is the team who prevented this team from playing in the FA Cup final last year.”
Although Chelsea have won six of their seven league matches this term, the European champions could be vulnerable on Saturday as they will be without suspended captain John Terry.
The defender starts his four-match ban for racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.
England midfielder Frank Lampard is also in doubt with a knee problem.
If Chelsea slip up, then second-placed Manchester United, currently four points off the top, will hope to take advantage at home to Stoke.
However, Alex Ferguson’s team have already lost twice this season and Portugal winger Nani admits they face another tricky test against physical Stoke.
“It is always hard to play against Stoke because they play a different kind of football to most teams in the Premier League,” Nani said.
Defending champions Manchester City are one place behind United going into Saturday’s trip to in-form West Bromwich Albion.
Roberto Mancini’s men have struggled to hit peak form at the start of their title defence and they can’t afford to underestimate sixth placed Albion, who have been the season’s surprise package.
Arsenal travel to struggling Norwich hoping France striker Olivier Giroud can fire them back into the top four.
The Gunners are seventh at present but that should change if Giroud maintains his good form.
On Sunday, Sunderland host Newcastle in the Tyne-Wear derby, looking for their first win over their bitter rivals since 2008.