What a difference a single season makes.
The last time these two clubs – Tottenham and Chelsea – met in this fixture, on December 22nd 2011, Villas-Boas was around. It’s an entirely different matter altogether, that he was Chelsea’s manager then. The Portuguese tactician who had pledged his immediate future to Chelsea, through thick and thin, was skating on very thin ice at that point. He survived this encounter when Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge scored an early equalizer to cancel out the opener by Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor.
Villas-Boas did not survive his maiden season in charge of the Blues, and started this new 2012-13 season ironically as Tottenham Hotspur’s manager, replacing Harry Redknapp. The irony, of course, being the two parties that had the most to lose from Chelsea’s Champions League triumph – Villas-Boas and the Spurs – were joining hands. Harry Redknapp called the 1-1 draw a fair result, although Tottenham were the higher positioned team on the table, and White Hart Lane was no longer Chelsea’s “Three Point Lane” of yore.
It must therefore strike Harry as really unfair to be without a real job – no offense intended to AFC Bournemouth – while someone he consistently got the measure of, last season, now sits in his chair. Both scorers in the 1-1 draw have seen a massive change in their fortunes. Adebayor, who was at best a mercenary for the Spurs on loan from Madrid, ended last season as their highest scorer and has now signed a permanent deal with the Spurs for £5 million. Sturridge, on the other hand, whose career graph seemed destined for the stars soon hurtled to the ground, ending last season on the bench. The only bright spot for him is a rumor he’s on Liverpool’s radar as a must-buy striker in January.
John Terry, however, can be forgiven for feeliing like he’s woken up in December 2011 again. Jeered from the start of that tie, Terry had discovered just 24 hours prior that he was being charged for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand. In typical Terry fashion, the then English captain rescued the Blues with a last ditch block of an Adebayor shot on the line. Terry will not be playing a part in this season’s edition – having been banned for 4 games and fined heavily.
Chelsea can certainly do without the distractions, but will miss his uncanny ability to save the team from the jaws of defeat. He will certainly be traveling with the squad, though. And despite not taking to the field, he should still expect to get booed.
Some things never change.
Watch the highlights from last season’s encounter below.
TheHardTackle covers the riveting story of the toxic relationship between Lampard and Villa-Boas. We also preview the highly anticipated weekend clash between these two sides and take a look at the game from Villas-Boas’ vantage point.