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May 17, 2013

AVB: Chelsea will be title favourites

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas believes his former club Chelsea will be the team to beat in the Premier League next season.

• Premier League Spotlight
• Rose returns to Tottenham
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With Jose Mourinho expected to return as Blues boss in the summer and both Manchester clubs facing managerial changes, 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," Villas-Boas, who was sacked as Chelsea manager in March 2012, said.

"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' transfer plans are certain to be affected by the events of this weekend, when his side aim to clinch a Champions League return with what could be a record Premier League points haul for Tottenham.

The Portuguese had set his side a target of 70 points to secure a top-four finish this season, but although victory against Sunderland on Sunday would take them two clear of that target, it may not be enough to book a return to the Champions League.

But Villas-Boas remains convinced the chips could fall in his side's favour on what is certain to be a tense final 90 minutes for both Tottenham and Arsenal, who are currently fourth, a point ahead of Spurs, and travel to Newcastle.

"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.

"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."

Benoit Assou-Ekotto is back in contention for thes game against Sunderland after a spell on the sidelines, with midfielder Mousa Dembele also fit after some fitness concerns in recent weeks.

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