Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea: Preview and TV schedule

Mike Hewitt

Forget about the Andre Villas-Boas storyline. This is an important match between two very good teams, independent of who's managing each club.

Tottenham Hotspur are managed by Andre Villas-Boas, who Chelsea sacked a little more than mid-way through last season. This point will be harped on by commentators in multiple languages and in multiple countries, as if it is the most important thing about this match.

Ignore it. Chelsea are reinvigorated and fighting for a title, thanks to their summer signings. Tottenham's summer transfer business and managerial change has transformed their team as well, and they're out to prove that they can fight for a Champions League place. Both teams have mismatches that they can exploit against the other, and both managers will feel like this is the kind of match they can't lose if they're going to achieve their goals this season. That's what this match is actually about.

Chelsea have lost their captain and leader, John Terry, to a suspension, but they haven't lost much in the way of tangible qualities. Terry is still a very good player, but he is not the world class defender he once was, and there is very little drop off to Gary Cahill, if any. It's not a stretch or the least bit disingenuous to say that Chelsea has a much more physically capable defense with Terry on the sidelines.

Whether those defenders are going to be chasing Jermain Defoe or Emmanuel Adebayor from the start remains to be seen, and the player that starts should indicate Villas-Boas' goals from the start. If Adebayor is in the lineup, expect Spurs to try to keep the ball and match Chelsea on the ground, as ill-advised as that may be against the likes of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar. If Defoe gets another start, expect to see the more direct and counter-attacking version of Tottenham.

Tottenham Hotspur injuries and suspensions

Out: Scott Parker (Achilles), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee), Younes Kaboul (knee). In doubt: Kyle Naughton (ankle), Jake Livermore (groin)

Chelsea injuries and suspensions

Out: John Terry (suspended)

Chelsea and Tottenham both sent a number of players on international duty, and they'll be thrilled that their players have returned fit. Tottenham's absences are all long-term, while Terry's absence is new to the Blues. He's serving the first game of a four-game suspension.

Match Date/Time: 12:45 p.m. local, 7:45 a.m. ET

Venue: White Hart Lane, London, England

TV: ESPN2 (U.S - English.), ESPN Deportes (U.S. - Spanish) Sky Sports 2 (U.K.), TSN (Canada)

Online: Watch ESPN (U.S.)

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