All the latest news and views from Stamford Bridge…
Tensions have been simmering all week as two of the main protagonists in a highly-anticipated battle of London have been exchanging comments via the mainstream press.
Chelsea travel to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday lunch-time knowing a victory will see them sit atop of the Premier League table piling all the pressure on Manchester City and Arsenal who compete in separate matches later in the day.
The contest puts together two of the sharpest minds in the modern game as two-time Champions League winning manager Jose Mourinho takes his Blues to White Hart Lane where, in the next dugout, one-time Europa League winning boss Andre Villas-Boas orchestrates the opposition's tactics.
Villas-Boas recently came out to claim he was never Mourinho's assistant, merely a member of staff as Jose did not do number twos, as earlier reported by Here Is The City. However, 50-year-old Mou distanced himself from making any comments on any past association the pair shared as he instead said: 'I am not a kid who discusses relationships with the press,' as quoted by Mirror Football.
A pre-match handshake or not? Will the cameras be sure to pick up on whether the two will smile and greet each other or will both men be business-as-usual as each attempts to collect the valuable three points?
What Mourinho did share with the media was his assertion that Spurs are title contenders this season. The timing of his sentiment is surely intriguing as it leads the mind to wonder whether this is simply the Portuguese's crafty mind games emerging…
The provisional squads are as follows:
Spurs - Lloris, Friedel, Gomes, Walker, Naughton, Dawson, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Chiriches, Fryers, Rose, Sandro, Dembele, Eriksen, Paulinho, Holtby, Townsend, Lennon, Chadli, Sigurdsson, Lamela, Soldado, Defoe, Kane.
Chelsea - Cech, Schwarzer, Ivanovic, Cole, Luiz, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Bertrand, Ramires, Essien, Lampard, Oscar, Mikel, De Bruyne, Hazard, Willian, Mata, Schurrle, Torres, Ba, Eto'o.
And, here are some stats courtesy of Opta:
- The last three competitive meetings between Tottenham and Chelsea have produced a total of 16 goals in total (an average of 5.3 per game)
- Chelsea have only conceded 22 goals in 21 Premier League outings at White Hart Lane
- None of Chelsea’s strikers have scored a Barclays Premier League goal yet this season
- If this game is a draw then Chelsea will have made the same start as they did in 2007-08 when Jose Mourinho departed after six Premier League matches
- Chelsea haven’t scored more than two goals in any of their last 11 Premier League games
And finally, the bizarre omissions of Juan Mata from a Chelsea selection may be a thing of the past as Mourinho has acknowledged that the player has proved a point.
He is quoted by West London Sport to have said: 'I liked the way Juan Mata played against Swindon. His attitude was very good and his effort was good. If he keeps working that way and adapting to my way of thinking I think the natural tendency is [for Mata] to be in the team. I can imagine from now him working into my way of thinking and I think the natural tendency will for him to be in the team.'
image: © Tom Cuppens