Saturday’s early kick-off plots the unbeaten league leaders Chelsea against the rejuvenated Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Chelsea is currently on a high after their summer arrivals Eden Hazard and co. have taken them to the level of European Champions. The flexibility and movement behind Fernando Torres is difficult to track and the oppositions had found it very difficult to handle thus far. Can Tottenham halt the unbeaten run?
Villas-Boas will be eagerly waiting for this opportunity to announce his team as one of the contenders after a run of 4 wins in the league. Tottenham are on a high after their upset win over Manchester United and a victory against Chelsea will be the icing on the cake Spurs faithful are eagerly waiting for, after their unlucky exit from Champions League this year. Tottenham and Villas-Boas does not require anymore motivating factors ahead of their clash against Chelsea as they have their own reasons while fighting against their London Counterparts.
Tottenham doesn’t lack the motivation but they have their own reasons to worry about while challenging Chelsea. The international break has taken away most of the players away from the club, a situation familiar to their opponents as well. Some of the players will be exhausted and tired from their journey and it is going to affect the team’s match preparations as well.
The return to fitness of Benoit Assou Ekotto presents a tactical dilemma to the manager as well. Jan Vertonghen has already become a fan favourite at Spurs and his performance at left-back was equally assuring as at center-back, if not better. Currently the starting line-up, especially the back four is smoothly functioning as a well oiled machine and one wouldn’t take the risk to tinker it unless you are Villas-Boas. If Benny makes a return to the starting line-up then who will make the way for him?
Jan Vertonghen is a sure starter and he will move back to his preferred position at center. Then Spurs are left with the stand-in captain William Gallas and young sensation Steven Caulker. Steven Caulker has made a rapid progress so far and he is going to be the future for Spurs. Caulker is brimming with confidence at the moment after his training performance was rewarded with a starting spot in the team and dropping him will have disastrous effects to his confidence and morale. That is something the manager has to be careful with an upcoming player as he needs to make sure that his career is on the right path. William Gallas is the other option for Villas-Boas, he is someone who can cause all sorts of problems in the dressing room and to the team if he is not satisfied. Age is on Steven Caulker’s side while experience favours William Gallas. This situation is an intriguing one as Villas Boas needs to play his cards right to keep everyone happy in the club.
Villas-Boas has already dealt with a similar scenario on the goal-keeper front and the way he managed it has invited plaudits from all the quarters. That puzzle is still unsolved since who among Hugo Lloris or Brad Friedel is going to play against Chelsea is a major question running across the minds of all Tottenham fans. Friedel is still defying his age with some exceptional performances whereas in Lloris Tottenham possess one of the world’s best goal-keepers challenging for his job.
Villas-Boas is playing his cards neat by giving both the players chances without breaking the dressing room. With age on his side, Lloris might take over the reins from Friedel, but still he has to earn his place in the practise sessions. Villas-Boas and his system of no favourites are winning the minds of Tottenham faithful. Hugo Lloris will be keen to establish as the No. 1 by showcasing his superior reflexes, acrobatic shot-stopping skills, command in the penalty box and his leadership skills which argues well with Tottenham’s future plans. Tottenham fans will be investing their money on Lloris to start against the league leaders Chelsea even for the upcoming clash after his impressive debut against Aston Villa.
When it comes to striking department, Jermain Defoe is at an advantage against Emmanuel Adebayor, who just regained the fitness and he is expected to continue the duties for Lillywhites after an impressive start to the season. Gylfi Sigurdsson hasn’t utilized his chances so far and with the winner against Manchester United under Dempsey’s belt, he will be the one to fill Vander Vaart’s void in this crucial fixture. Walker, Lennon, Bale, Dembele and Sandro are expected to continue their roles as Tottenham receives Chelsea at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham-Chelsea fixture comes at a crucial juncture in the EPL and both teams will be giving their all to gain the upper hand. After earning a meagre 2 draws from their opening 3 matches, Spurs under Villas-Boas has steadied the ship and this fixture provides them an opportunity to state their ambitions clear. There are a few headaches for Villas Boas in the form of Friedel and Benny but there is nothing severe and Tottenham are expected to give the league leaders a tough time. A win will put Tottenham among the trendsetters in the league while any other result offers mid-table mediocrity. Can Tottenham stand up and deliver an eye-catching performance to continue the good work done so far?