Tottenham V Chelsea at White Hart Lane : Match Preview
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Villas-Boas: We'll be fine
Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas does not feel that his players will struggle for fitness against Chelsea following the international break.
Spurs host their London rivals in the day's early kick-off, meaning they trained together today for the first time since several members of the squad travelled around the world to represent their national teams.
Clint Dempsey scored two goals for the United States as they beat Guatemala in a World Cup qualifier held in Kansas City whilst Kyle Walker, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe were part of the England squad that was forced to play a day later in Poland due to a waterlogged pitch on Tuesday. But Villas-Boas does not anticipate any international hang-over from his squad ahead of the fixture against his former club.
"I certainly don't expect any problems," he said. "Lot of players have recovery sessions as normal.
"We have left them on very, very light sessions in the gym with the medical department. So we don't expect any kind of problems at the moment, everyone is feeling okay." "We are still at the beginning of the league, the players haven't accumulated so much fatigue throughout the season for that to happen.
"We have enough time to recover the players. We should be fresh and fine and powerful in the same way." Villas-Boas is targeting a victory that would see Spurs move to within two points of Chelsea at the top of the Barclays Premier League, although he is not expecting an easy ride.
He said: "At the moment I think it's important for us to go nearer the top. There are two teams unbeaten in the Premier League - Manchester City and Chelsea. "To a certain extent Chelsea are showing some form that Man City showed last year, not with the same points but certainly very, very efficient.
"It is never going be easy game for us. This kind of motivation, that we feel towards this game, the opposition will feel in exactly the same way. "Certainly we want to win, because it might give us a chance to go nearer those spots where we think we belong at end of season.
"But there will be many other games and we still have to continue to improve." Roberto Di Matteo believes the passionate atmosphere of a London derby is the perfect stage to ensure his Chelsea players are totally focused on football in the wake of the John Terry affair. Terry will be at White Hart Lane as a spectator for the lunch-time kick-off as he serves the first match of his four-game ban after being found guilty of racist language toward QPR's Anton Ferdinand almost a year ago.
But it is the first time the Chelsea players will have come up against Villas-Boas since the former Stamford Bridge manager was sacked in March after a tormented nine-month reign. Di Matteo worked under Villas-Boas at Stamford Bridge before replacing the 35-year-old former Porto manager as caretaker when he was sacked. Yet Di Matteo, whose side lead the Premier League by four points from Manchester United with Tottenham in fifth place, dismissed any notion that the Chelsea players, many of whom fell out with Villas-Boas and his training methods, have any old scores to settle.
Di Matteo said: "We will be very focused playing against Tottenham, a team that is in very good form. We haven't won in the league there since 2005, it is a very long time. They have always been very good games, difficult games. I don't think it is about revenge."
After Villas-Boas departed Stamford Bridge, Di Matteo led the club to FA Cup success and to their first Champions League trophy.
He got the job full-time in the summer and, while Di Matteo tried to play down the edge surrounding the game, it is certain the professional pride of Villas-Boas will be desperate to put one over on his former employees.
Di Matteo, however, refused to blame Villas-Boas for the early-season struggles last year which saw striker Fernando Torres, in particular, lose confidence. "We had a difficult season last season," said Di Matteo. "Everyone was responsible for that, from the management to the players. That is part of the past. We have to look for the future."
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