ESPN FC: "Pupil vs. Master" at the Lane
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas believes he has a squad capable of challenging for the Premier League title, but has suggested they are still outsiders to claim the biggest prize in English football.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho ramped up the pressure on his old friend and now foe Andre Villas-Boas by insisting Spurs are "big, big contenders" for the Premier League crown after spending more than £100m recruiting new players in the summer transfer window.
Now Villas-Boas appears to have agreed with his former friend as the duo found common ground at last after 48 hours of sniping at each other ahead of their first touchline clash at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
"It's a sign of the evolution of Tottenham that we are considered to be challengers for teams like Chelsea now," says Villas-Boas. "It shows our ambition and we were also fighting for the same objective as them last season -- Champions League qualification.
"I still say we have a different type of squad here. Chelsea have players who have experience of challenging for titles every year and we are striving to have that experience. They are still one step ahead of us on that.
"What we have now is the solutions in depth that we probably never had in previous seasons. So it is a question of continuing to be constant with the results, wins and clean sheets, and the motivation will increase.
"I think we could have the tightest Premier League in years. No team is on maximum points so it means this year it will be very tight at the top. We have Manchester United struggling for points but on the other hand they have played all of the top teams.
"Manchester City lost points at Cardiff and drew at Stoke so some surprising results as well. After Saturday we can end up being with two defeats and Chelsea the same plus one draw. So it looks like it is going to have that pattern for the rest of the season."
Villas-Boas went on to admit he "didn’t know what motivated Chelsea" to scupper Tottenham's bid to sign Willian in the summer transfer window, as he suggested the Brazilian midfielder plays in a position that did not appear to be a priority for Mourinho to strengthen.
"Willian has strengthened an already very, very good squad, but we all know they are already very strong in that area of the pitch," added the Spurs boss. "They have signed a great young talent with huge potential and he can help them.
"From our point of view, it was not a big issue in the end. The competition for top players is very aggressive, but in the end we moved onto different players and did that very successfully. We were very effective in the market."