LONDON: Andre Villas-Boas has warned his old club Chelsea that Tottenham are desperate to end the Blues' unbeaten start to the Premier League season.
Spurs boss Villas-Boas will face Chelsea on Saturday for the first time since being sacked by Roman Abramovich in March following a miserable nine-month reign at Stamford Bridge.
The former Porto coach has a chance to get his own back this weekend when league leaders Chelsea visit White Hart Lane and, while Villas-Boas insists he isn't motivated by thoughts of revenge, he admits his players are relishing the chance to inflict some pain on their London rivals.
Not only did Chelsea, by then managed by Villas-Boas's former assistant Roberto Di Matteo, beat Spurs in last season's FA Cup semi-final, but they also denied the north London club a place in the Champions League.
Spurs finished fourth, which should have guaranted a Champions League spot, but Chelsea, who came sixth, took the last English berth after winning the competition.
Now a win would move fifth-placed Tottenham within two points of Chelsea and Villas-Boas said: “In the end there is one thing which has been to a certain extent blown out of proportion - this is certainly not a personal matter.
“But it is the team who took this club out of the Champions League, this is the team who prevented this team from playing in the FA Cup final last year.
“We never know how the game can develop. But certainly, a good game might hopefully give us a chance to go nearer the top, which is what we want.”
Although Chelsea have won six of their seven league matches this term, the European champions could be vulnerable on Saturday as they will be without suspended captain John Terry.
The defender starts his four-match ban for racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand after deciding not to appeal against the Football Association's punishment, while England midfielder Frank Lampard is a doubt with the knee problem that forced him to miss both of his country's recent World Cup qualifiers.
If Chelsea slip up, then second placed Manchester United, currently four points off the top, will hope to take advantage at home to Stoke.
However, Alex Ferguson's team have already lost twice this season and Portugal winger Nani admits they face another tricky test against physical Stoke.
“It is always hard to play against Stoke because they play a different kind of football to most teams in the Premier League,” Nani said.
“They are very physical and have very strong players. It is also difficult because most of the game is in the air.
“But it is very important because when you play at home, you have a good chance to win these games.”
Defending champions Manchester City are one place behind United going into Saturday's trip to in-form West Bromwich Albion.
Roberto Mancini's men have struggled to hit peak form at the start of their title defence and they can't afford to underestimate sixth placed Albion, who have been the season's surprise package.
Albion would go above City with a win and boss Steve Clarke said: “It's a great game for us. “I think our home form has been excellent, in fact our form in general has been excellent, and we look forward to probably the biggest challenge so far.”
Arsenal travel to struggling Norwich hoping France striker Olivier Giroud can fire them back into the top four.
The Gunners are seventh at present but that should change if Giroud maintains his good form.
After a slow start, Giroud scored his first Premier League goal in Arsenal's last match - a 3-1 win at West Ham - and also netted in France's midweek draw against Spain.
“After the West Ham game I felt a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
I am convinced this last goal will also do me a lot of good,” Giroud said.
On Sunday, Sunderland host Newcastle in the Tyne-Wear derby, looking for their first win over their bitter rivals since 2008.
Fixtures (1400GMT unless stated)
Saturday Fulham v Aston Villa, Liverpool v Reading, Man Utd v Stoke, Norwich v Arsenal (1630GMT), Swansea v Wigan, Tottenham v Chelsea (1145GMT), West Brom v Man City, West Ham v Southampton
Sunday QPR v Everton (1500GMT), Sunderland v Newcastle (1230GMT)