Andre Villas-Boas will publicly state that he is solely focused in winning the points for his side, but there is sure to be a large part of him that feels he has a point to prove as he leads his in-form Tottenham team out against former-employees Chelsea at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
It has, after all, been just a short time since the Portuguese boss was sacked in acrimonious circumstances after less than nine months in charge at Stamford Bridge, earlier this year.
With Villas-Boas arguably not being given a fair chance to implement the changes he was tasked with at Chelsea, he would surely like nothing better to demonstrate his managerial acumen with a victory over the Blues.
While it appeared that many of the British press had an agenda against Villas-Boas as results didn’t go Tottenham’s way in the early weeks of the season, the 35-year-old has now turned things round with four Premier League wins in a row. With one of those being a first victory at Old Trafford for Tottenham since 1989, optimism is returning after the disappointment of missing out on Champions League qualification due to Chelsea’s dramatic claiming of Europe’s premier trophy.
Chelsea’s buildup to a match has again been dominated by off the field issues. John Terry, this week, declined the chance to appeal his punishment from the Football Association for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand and will begin his four-match ban on Saturday.
There is better news for the Blues with Daniel Sturridge and Frank Lampard both fit to return, while Ryan Bertrand has recovered from an illness that kept him out of England’s World Cup qualifiers.
Chelsea will be looking to continue their impressive start to the season, but know that even a defeat will keep the top of the Premier League table.
On the injury front for Tottenham, both Kyle Naughton and Jake Livermore could be fit, although are unlikely to be selected from the start.
D: Walker, Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen
M: Sandro, Dembele
Lennon, Dempsey, Bale
D: Ivanovic, Luiz, Cahill, Cole
M: Ramires, Mikel
Mata, Oscar, Hazard
Prediction: This promises to be a real test to Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the Premier League season. Tottenham showed against Manchester United the threat that they can pose with the searing pace provided by the likes of Gareth Bale. That danger perhaps means that it is a blessing in disguise for Chelsea that they will be without Terry, who has shown an increasing tendency to be caught out on the turn.
The midfield battle will be key with Brazilians Sandro and Ramires going head-to-head, while Moussa Dembele will look to dominate through the middle.
Both sides have ample attacking talent to make this a game to savor, but it looks hard to separate the two.
Tottenham 2-2 Chelsea
Where to watch: The Premier League match kicks-off from White Hart Lane at 7.45 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN2, with a live stream available on ESPN3.