- Premier League
AVB: Chelsea the team to beat next season
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas believes Chelsea will be the team to beat when the Premier League resumes next season.
With Jose Mourinho expected to return as Blues boss this summer and both Manchester clubs set for managerial changes in the next few weeks, Villas-Boas is backing his old mentor to take advantage of the changing landscape in England's top division to put the Stamford Bridge club back on top.
"I think Chelsea will be absolutely the team to beat next year, bearing in mind the manager we expect to come in and the strengthening of a very good squad," stated Villas-Boas of the club that sacked him as their manager in March 2012.
"Next year could be a good year to throw yourself into the race for the title, bearing in mind the changes at the top and we are confident that we can add to our squad and compete as well.
"Our step at the moment is to be into the Champions League, not title contenders, but we hope to be competitive next season if we manage to do things properly in the summer."
Villas-Boas's transfer plans this summer are certain to be affected by the events of this coming weekend, as his side aim to clinch a Champions League return with what could be a record Premier League points haul for a Tottenham side.
The Portuguese tactician had set his side a target of 70 points to secure a top four finish this season, yet even though victory against Sunderland on Sunday will take them two clear of that target, it may not be enough to book a return to the Champions League if Arsenal win at Newcastle.
While the Spurs boss may have under-estimated the standard required to snare a lucrative top-four finish this time around, he remains convinced the chips could fall in his side's favour on what is certain to be a tension-filled final 90 minutes of the campaign for Tottenham and Arsenal.
"We have to do our job, which will not be so straightforward," he added. "We have to win and then wait on something from the other side happening. Anyway, independent of the result elsewhere, we want to reach the 72-point barrier, which will be important for us. Let's try and get these points that could prove to be so vital.
"The game against Stoke was good because it took patience and being intelligent to win that game and it will be the same against Sunderland. What I would like is to have another great environment at White Hart Lane as that can be a great help for the team.
"In the last game of the season anything can happen. I would expect Newcastle to do their job properly. Their objectives have been achieved, but everybody wants to finish the season on a high."
Beniot Assou-Ekotto is back in contention for Sunday's game against Sunderland after a spell on the sidelines, with midfielder Mousa Dembele available after some fitness concerns in recent weeks.