|Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa
London: The pupil is being reunited with his master at White Hart Lane, on Saturday, as Andre Villas-Boas faces Jose Mourinho for the first time as a manager. Villas-Boas was on Mourinho’s coaching team at Chelsea and Inter Milan before setting out on his own managerial path.
Facing Chelsea brings back bitter memories of Villas-Boas’ ill-fated eight-month reign at Chelsea in the 2011-12 season.
The Portuguese has rehabilitated his managerial reputation at Tottenham, which is two points above Mourinho’s Chelsea and only behind leader Arsenal on goal difference. And Tottenham can boast one of the stingiest defences in Europe, conceding just one goal in nine league and cup matches so far.
Villas-Boas would dearly love a first victory over his former side since they sacked him in March last year and believes Spurs have hit the ground running.
“I think the team is playing very well, we have great strength in the squad, but I think, above all, great team spirit and ambition to do well,” he said after Spurs strolled to a 4-0 League Cup third-round win at Aston Villa on Tuesday.
Tottenham midfielder Paulinho eager to put on a show for his fans in Sao Paulo. “Friendship goes to one side,” Paulinho says. “This is a real Clasico.” He will face fellow Brazilians, his teammates for the Selecao — Oscar, David Luiz and, possibly, Ramires — and also Willian in a match almost as eagerly-anticipated in Sao Paulo as it is along the Seven Sisters Road.
The dust had barely settled on the inquest into Manchester United’s loss to Manchester City when the apparent crisis ended. With critics circling after the 4-1 Derby setback, David Moyes’ side responded by beating Liverpool 1-0 in the League Cup.
Just five games out of 38 games have been played in United’s title defence, and the champions are only five points behind pacesetters Arsenal and Tottenham. In reality, it represents the best start by any new United manager since Matt Busby in 1946.
“That is one of the good stats,” Moyes said. “I have not had that many good ones. But that is one of the better ones. It is not frustrating. I will sort it. I will fix it. I will turn it round. I have no doubt about that.” United host West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Robin van Persie, meanwhile, has recovered from a groin strain and could feature in Saturday’s match, Moyes said.
“Robin will be back involved somewhere,” the manager told a news conference on Friday. “Whether we use him, whether we don’t, he’s trained today, so he’s match fit but we’ll see exactly where he is.”
Leaders Arsenal, who on Wednesday extended their away record in all competitions to 11 successive wins with a League Cup success at West Bromwich Albion on penalties, visit Wales to take on Swansea City.
Arsenal, who along with Spurs have 12 points from five games but with a slightly better goal difference, will be without sidelined winger Theo Walcott who has an abdominal injury.