Villas-Boas to earn his spurs against former employers tomorrow

Bill Esdaile
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TOTTENHAM versus Chelsea is always a big game but tomorrow’s derby at White Hart Lane is laden with sub-plots. There’s the master, Jose Mourinho, up against his apprentice, Andre Villas-Boas, the fact Villas-Boas still has a point to prove against his old club, and then there’s the Willian deal.

With five games gone Tottenham are two points clear of their London rivals, having won four out of five so far. The only blip was a narrow 1-0 reverse to table-toppers Arsenal, the only goal they’ve conceded.

Overall, Spurs have let in just one goal in nine competitive outings and it’s that brilliant defence which I think gives them the edge against a Chelsea side yet to find their stride.

Granted, the hosts have had a fairly easy start, but they’ve been efficient and their new signings, notably Paulinho, have settled in well.

That’s in sharp contrast to Mourinho’s squad. It’s not often that second comings end well and the Special One’s new stint has started off in unspectacular fashion.

For a team that struggled with strikers last term it was bizarre to see Romelu Lukaku shipped straight back out on loan to Everton.

The addition of Samuel Eto’o, such a force over the years, looked shrewd but he has yet to deliver and the midfield is over-crowded with too many talented players fighting for space.

Signing Willian for £30m from under the noses of Spurs looked like a move to wind up their old foes as Chelsea didn’t need him. The result? A disjointed squad where successive Blues player of the year Juan Mata has been sidelined.

They’ve failed to score more than two goals in a league game so far and were kept out by both Manchester United (0-0) and Everton, who beat them 1-0 two games back. With Spurs’ back line in such excellent shape, and a midfield packed with energy and attacking flair, the 13/8 with Coral for the home win looks a good bet.

The “crisis” at the Emirates has abated slightly since the disappointing opening day defeat to Aston Villa. Arsenal have bounced back with seven straight wins in the Premier League and Champions League and are now sitting top of the table.

Aaron Ramsey has been in scintillating form, scoring eight times, which is five more than he managed during the whole of last season, while Mesut Ozil already looks to be an astute signing, playing a hand in all three goals against Stoke on Sunday.

The Gunners travel to Swansea for tomorrow’s evening kick-off and this should prove a tricky contest for Arsene Wenger’s men.

The Welsh club lost their opening two league fixtures against Man United and Spurs, but they have taken seven points from their last three in the league and recently gave Valencia a 3-0 thumping in their own backyard in the Europa League.

I think the visitors will just have too much for the Swans, but I’m not willing to back them at 5/4 with Coral. Instead take the 9/2 available with the same firm about the HT draw/FT Arsenal double result, as their class should tell in the closing stages.

■ Pointers…

Tottenham to beat Chelsea at 13/8 with Coral

HT draw/FT Arsenal double result versus Swansea at 9/2 with Coral