Fired by Chelsea eight months ago, Andre Villas-Boas gets his first shot at revenge on his former club when his Tottenham side hosts the unbeaten leaders in the English Premier League tomorrow.
Since the Portuguese coach's dismissal, a revitalized Chelsea under Roberto Di Matteo has won the Champions League, the FA Cup and returned to the summit of England's top division. They've since added some quality players, and were able to take a win away from their visit to Tottenham's fierce rival Arsenal in late September.
Villas-Boas is rebuilding his reputation, and victory in the early kickoff at White Hart Lane would crown a successful start to his reign at Spurs, who started slowly but are fifth in the league after four straight wins.
Spurs will be buoyed by the absence of Chelsea captain John Terry, who will miss this and the next three games in accordance with his FA ban for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand almost exactly one year ago.
Both managers feel momentum is with them.
Di Matteo, who has won his last five matches, feels that "every win brings that positive mood into the camp, and helps build momentum." Villas-Boas said, "They have a lot of very young, dynamic players but so do we, and we are playing very well right now. This is a very good moment for us to play them."
Manchester City and Manchester United will be looking to pounce later tomorrow if Chelsea drops points for only the second time this season.
United entertains Stoke at Old Trafford, and can expect a physical encounter from the Potters, who earned a hard-fought draw at the Etihad in September. United's strikers had a mixed international week; Robin van Persie scored last in the Netherland's 4-1 victory over Romania, and Wayne Rooney scored for England against Poland, but was substituted after a tired performance.
They will be going up against former United player Ryan Shawcross, for whom Alex Ferguson has expressed regret at allowing to leave.
"It always grieves me when I have to release a young player of great potential and Shawcross certainly fell into that category," Ferguson wrote in his program notes.
City travel to West Bromwich Albion. City will be missing David Silva, who injured his hamstring in Spain's 1-1 draw with France, as well as new signings Javi Garcia and Maicon, who have failed to recover fully from their thigh and foot injuries.
The Baggies start the day in sixth, manager Steve Clark lifting the team to higher than expected. But this will be the toughest test of his burgeoning managerial career. Hoping to leapfrog over them if they do lose is Arsenal, which travels to Norwich. The Gunners will be missing their super-sub striker Theo Walcott, who was clattered by San Marino's Aldo Simonici while playing for England.
Fulham hosts Aston Villa which has won only one league game this season, and Swansea is at home to Wigan. Newly promoted sides West Ham and Southampton play at Upton Park. Reading will be the first team to play at Anfield since Liverpool officially announced its planned renovation, and will hope for a win that can take it out of the bottom three.
Sunday features the first north-east derby of the season as Sunderland host an in-form Newcastle. The game will be the climax to an eventful week for the Sunderland left back Danny Rose, who was sent off after being racially abused in England Under 21's game against Serbia. Rose has said that he "can't wait for the Newcastle game to see what that's like." Also, QPR is at home to Everton.
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