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Di Matteo chooses to focus on Tottenham rather than AVB rivalry

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White Hart Lane will be a cauldron of pure footballing rivalry later today as Tottenham Hotspur welcome Chelsea in the early kick-off. The local London rivalry aside the game represents the first chance for Andre Villas-Boas to rub shoulders with his former employers, who unceremoniously booted him out of Stamford Bridge earlier this year. AVB’s former assistant Roberto Di Matteo has since performed a miraculous turnaround at Chelsea, but the Italian insists that there is no bad blood between the two men ahead of today’s clash.

Initially reluctant to delve into the personal rivalry, Di Matteo said this during the pre-match press-conference: “We are more focused playing against Tottenham, a team in very good form with four consecutive wins,” before adding that he intended to end Chelsea’s long winless streak at Tottenham, which stretches back to 2005. Chelsea are the early pace-setters in the Premier League, enjoying a four point lead over their Manchester rivals with Spurs a further point behind.

He did drop a few sound bites to Chelsea’s website though: “He's a bright man, a talented coach and was very successful at Porto so I'm not surprised. It's the first time we play against each other and I think my mind is more focused on the team, their players, the way they play and it's probably the same for him. Apart from Saturday we have a very good relationship, but tomorrow we will both want to beat each other.”

Both young coaches already have the valuable experience of being sacked, with Di Matteo suffering AVB’s fate at West Brom in 2011. But they find themselves leading expensively-assembled teams at the upper echelons of the Premier League now, which is a growing trend among the clubs in the division. Villas-Boas will no doubt be keen to prove that the debacle at Chelsea was a flash in the pan, as opposed to the momentous victory at Manchester United a few weeks back, which he will hope isn’t a one-off.