Andre Villas-Boas, Jose Mourinho

All-square between the master and his apprentice after Chelsea fight back for draw at Tottenham

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LONDON — There was a slightly forced, if not warm handshake between Andre Villas-Boas and Jose Mourinho before Tottenham’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

But with over 30 photographers ready for that moment pregame, AVB duly obliged by walking over to the Chelsea bench and offering his hand to his countrymen, as the two Portuguese coaches embraced.

And in Saturday’s blood and thunder clash in North London, both managers shared the spoils with the home side dominating the first period before Chelsea came roaring back into the game in the second half.

(MORE: Jose Mourinho fuming at Jan Vertonghen after Fernando Torres sent off)

Spurs manager Villas-Boas believes the draw was a fair result, but had Paulinho’s shot that hit the post just before half time gone in, Tottenham’s boss could’ve got one over his old boss in their first ever encounter.

“I think the moment of the game came when Paulinho hit the post just before half time,” Villas-Boas said. “Had that gone in, it could have put us in a very good position, I think we deserved that for the first half that we played, the second half wasn’t really played by both teams but I think Chelsea had the upper hand on the counter-attack. They looked very, very strong and deserved to get the equalizer in the end from a set play.”

(MORE: Juan Mata Chelsea’s hero, as Spaniard sparks second half comeback)

Many may argue that Chelsea’s strong second half showing came courtesy of Jose Mourinho’s shrewd tactical substitutions at half time. Mourinho brought on Juan Mata for John Obi Mikel at the break, and the brave decision from the 50-year-old manager changed the entire complex of the game.

Mourinho believed his side deserved to win.

“I think they were better than us in the first half but not much better,” Mourinho said. “They were better but they didn’t create so many chances but enough to be deserving of the advantage of one nil. In the second half, only one team. One team. And that team was very, very strong until the moment the referee made the mistake. A big mistake. But a mistake that has a big influence in the result. And at that moment, we were much better. They were in big trouble, they were really in big trouble.”

And the “Special One” is right.

source: ReutersThe introduction of Juan Mata sparked Chelsea into life, with the Spanish attacker creating plenty from a central area and allowing Oscar, Ramires and Frank Lampard to roam forward in support. Oscar looked better on the left and Fernando Torres burst into life. But the controversial decision from Mike Dean to send off Torres with 10 minutes left to play halted Chelsea’s momentum, and if it wasn’t for that, Mourinho could have pulled of a spectacular comeback win against his old understudy.

(MORE: Tottenham 1-1 Chelsea: Lively derby ends in a draw)

After the game, Villas-Boas spoke about his relationship with Jose and revealed what they spoke about post-game.

“We had a brief chat just now, because I explained to him that I would invite him up but I have to leave [AVB was attending a celebration dinner in Porto],” Villas-Boas said. “But I think the attention should not be drawn to the managers. It should be drawn to the game. It was a difficult hard battle, between two teams who wanted to win this game. We had a very good first half, not a good second. I think it’s a fair result. The league won’t be decided by games like this, it will be against other teams where you can’t drop points. Great, great battle.”

Yet Mourinho, as is often the case, had the last word on his relationship with AVB.

“I’m 50-years-old, I’m not a child,” Mourinho said. “I think when I was 15 or 20, I was not a child. I was very mature. And if you have a problem with somebody, you don’t go to your mom or your dad or the press. If you have a problem with somebody you go face to face to resolve your situation. So for me, this story is a book without pages. I don’t care of it. I think what people want is a very good game of football. Tottenham did that, we did that and the ref tried to do that.”

Watch Live: Sunderland vs. Manchester United (Lineups, Stream)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26:  Anthony Martial of Manchester United and John O'Shea of Sunderland compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Sunderland at Old Trafford on September 26, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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Struggling Sunderland host top-four chasing Manchester United on Saturday (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online goal Live Extra) at the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats haven’t won in their last four games and are four points of safety. Desperation sums up the mood for Sam Allardyce‘s side.

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The same could be said for United as Louis Van Gaal‘s side continue to leak goals and they’re now six points off the top four with just 13 games to go. Speculation linking Jose Mourinho with a summer arrival at Old Trafford continues with LVG’s job seemingly on the line.

Sunderland’s survival hopes took an unexpected hit this week, as winger Adam Johnson had his contract terminated after he surprisingly pleading guilty to a child sex charge in court.

In team news Sunderland bring in DeAndre Yedlin for Billy Jones, while United bring in Morgan Schneiderlin for Marouane Fellaini.  

LINEUPS

Sunderland: Mannone, Yedlin, O’Shea, Kone, van Aanholt, Kirchhoff, Cattermole, M’Vila, Khazri, N’Doye, Defoe. Subs: Brown, Rodwell, Borini, Matthews, Pickford, Toivonen, Honeyman

Manchester United: De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Borthwick-Jackson, Schneiderlin, Carrick, Lingard, Mata, Martial, Rooney. Subs: Romero, Love, Weir, Pereira, Herrera, Memphis, Keane.

Xavi backs Dybala, Verratti to succeed at Barcelona over Pogba

TURIN, ITALY - JANUARY 24:  Paulo Dybala (R) of Juventus FC celebrates after scoring the opening goal with team mate Paul Pogba during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and AS Roma at Juventus Arena on January 24, 2016 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
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With Paul Pogba linked with a possible summer move to Barcelona worth more than $100 million, one legend at Camp Nou believes Pogba may not be the right signing.

[ MORE: Top 5 PL storylines ]

After making more than 700 appearances for Barcelona, Xavi knows the club as well as anyone, and he prefers Pogba’s Juventus teammate Paulo Dybala for a move to the Catalan giants.

Xavi also praised the play of Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti, saying that while Pogba is a star player, Dybala and Verratti have “Barca DNA.”

There’s two players I really like, both of whom I think have Barca’s DNA. They are Marco Verratti and Paulo Dybala.

They are amazing and, thanks to their quality and style of play, would easily integrate into the [Barca] machine. I see them as future stars at the club.

[Pogba] is a great player. He’ll be a star for France as he is for Juve, but I see him with a different game to ours.

Both Pogba and Dybala are 22-years-old, while Verratti is 23. All three players have been among the elite young talents in the world, with Pogba earning the most praise of the group and always linked with a big-money move to Europe’s top clubs.

[ RELATED: Messi named La Liga Player of the Month for first time in career ]

Dybala is enjoying a breakout season at Juventus, currently with 13 goals and eight assists in Serie A play. In Paris, Verratti is part of a PSG side that hasn’t lost in 25 matches and holds a 24-point lead at the top of the table.

Vincent Kompany set to make Manchester City return this weekend

during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Etihad Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Manchester, England.
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Vincent Kompany is set to make his first appearance for Manchester City since Boxing Day as the defender has returned from injury.

City’s captain and center-back missed more than six weeks with a calf injury before Christmas, and then reaggravated the injury just minutes into his return at the end of December.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

However, Kompany has been back in training and manager Manuel Pellegrini said he is fit to play this weekend when City host Tottenham in a huge top-four matchup.

We’ll see what the starting XI is tomorrow – we’re not just thinking about one player and one game, we’re involved in a lot of competitions. Maybe we have a lot of criticism when we don’t play well but I’m happy with the squad over the whole season.

Every player must play a game when they’re 100%. Vincent has worked for three weeks with no problems. He played 45 minutes in a friendly game against the under-21s and I think he’s ready to play.

Kompany’s presence in the City back-line has been pivotal this season. In the eight Premier League games Kompany has started, City have kept seven clean sheets. In the 18 matches without the big Belgian in the starting lineup, City have kept just five.

[ RELATED: Diego Costa suffers broken nose in Chelsea training ]

With City just a point behind Tottenham, Kompany returns from injury just in time for one of the biggest matches of the season. Tasked with slowing down Harry Kane and Spurs’ high-flying attack, Kompany’s play could prove crucial to the Citizens getting a result.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Newcastle United

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  • CFC unbeaten under Hiddink (W5, D6)
  • Newcastle have just 6 away goals all season
  • Diego Costa: 6 goals in his last 7 PL matches

Chelsea look to extend their unbeaten streak under Guus Hiddink to 12 matches on Saturday when the Blues host relegation-threatened Newcastle (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

The Blues’ last loss came under Jose Mourinho in December.

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra ]

Chelsea are up to 13th on the table, currently riding a run of 11 matches unbeaten in all competitions. Guus Hiddink is yet to suffer a loss after taking over for his second stint at Stamford Bridge in December, although draws have kept Chelsea from climbing further up the table. Diego Costa has had the hot-hand with six goals in his last seven appearances, but the Spanish striker will be forced to play with a mask after suffering a broken nose in training.

[ MORE: Hiddink has “no fear” of playing youngsters in Zouma’s absence ]

For Newcastle, the Magpies sit 17th on the table just one point above the drop. Their away form has hurt the club all season, as Steve McClaren‘s men have scored a league-low six goals on the road this year. The Magpies are coming off of a win over West Brom, and supporters will be hoping the club’s new January signings continue to produce. Seydou Doumbia could make his Premier League debut on Saturday, which would be a massive boost to the attack.

What they’re saying

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink: “The status of being unbeaten sounds good but realistically we would have wished to have more victories, especially at home. And we have an opportunity to do so against Newcastle. They improved their squad with substance, some good signings, and they are more competitive now.”

Newcastle boss Steve McClaren: “In our home games we are starting to get a consistency in our performance and the way we play. We need to start transferring that to our away games and picking up points away from home – we owe it to the fans.”

Prediction

Newcastle have just two wins in their last 18 league matches away from home, and I don’t see that trend changing this weekend. Chelsea have looked a new team with Guus Hiddink in charge, and they stay unbeaten under the Dutchman. Chelsea 2-1 Newcastle United.