Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea Preview: Breaking news, Villas-Boas is managing against his old team

Shaun Botterill

Andre Villas-Boas used to manage Chelsea? No way! This should be fun, if you can get over that storyline being discussed ad nauseam.

Andre Villas-Boas managed Chelsea last season. He is managing Tottenham Hotspur this season. On Saturday, he will manage against his old team and you may or may not hear something about that. Villa-Boas had an ugly exit from Stamford Bridge, or so I hear. It was all very hush, hush.

What isn't a secret is that two actual clubs, which consist of more than a manager, will play each other actual points on Saturday. It's not some ego or pride thing. It's not a chance to make a point to some crazy Russian either. It's a chance to make a shout for fourth place, again, and this time actually qualify for the Champions League.

Speaking of which, it is a chance at revenge. SERIOUSLY, THAT CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PLACE WAS OURS.

Tottenham have won four straight league matches to jump into fifth place in the table, level on points with fourth place Everton, and much of that surge has been the result of fine play by the team's new signings. Jan Vertonghen and Clint Dempsey have each played key roles of late and Hugo Lloris has begun to come into the team as well.

But it is Moussa Dembele who has been the most influential new player so far this season and it is he who will be the most important against Chelsea. The summer signing has done an admirable job replacing Luka Modric and at times has been fantastic. His movement has caused havoc for opponents, his passing has been predictably excellent and his defensive positioning is improving.

Dembele is going to be especially important against Chelsea, because he is the man best equipped to cause problems for the Blues' double pivot. That central midfield pairing of John Obi Mikel and Frank Lampard is uneven and should be the downfall of the Chelsea side, although that certainly hasn't been the case this season. Dembele's passing will be key to stretching and exposing Mikel and Lampard, while Dempsey or Gylfi Sigurdsson, whoever starts, will have to pressure the pair and work quickly to turn their sometimes sloppy distribution into chances.

That isn't all in the center, though, for Dembele especially. Chelsea's attacking band of three is pee-your-pants scary and Dembele's defensive positioning will have to be at its best yet. Either that or Sandro will be asked to Claude Makelele for the day.

Even with the importance of winning the center of the pitch, and Dembele in particular, it is the flanks that will determine this match. Chelsea like to push Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole high, giving their attack some width, but can they afford to do so against Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon?

The Spurs pair can pin the Chelsea fullbacks back and change the match, but if they can't then the Tottenham fullbacks, especially Kyle Walker, can be exposed. Having Ramires on the right to counter Bale is a major plus for Chelsea, who can use the Brazilian's seemingly never-ended motor and incomparable range to help against the Welshman.

If Tottenham can ruin Chelsea's shape, which can be done on the flanks, then they have the chance to dominate, but the Blues haven't been pulled out much this year. And as dangerous as Spurs can be running at the Chelsea defense, the same is true of the Blues running at Tottenham's defense. This one should be open and fun, which will please both positive, attack-minded managers.

One of those managers is Villas-Boas, who is managing against his old team? Did you know that? Keep it on the down low.

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