London: Andre Villas-Boas is anticipating an "awkward" start in his first Premier League match as Chelsea manager when the Blues begin their title challenge away to Stoke.
But the 33-year-old Portuguese, now the youngest manager in English football's top-flight, is looking forward to the challenge.
Villas-Boas, appointed after London club Chelsea sacked experienced Italian boss Carlo Ancelotti after a trophy-less season last term, knows silverware, especially the Champions League, which the Blues have yet to win, will be the key to his survival at Stamford Bridge.
The former Porto manager has cancelled Chelsea'a first pre-season game away to Dutch side Vitesse Arnhmem in order to spend more time with his squad.
Chelsea will now travel to Portsmouth for their first official warm-up match on July 16 before heading to the Far East ahead of the Asia Trophy ahead of a clash with Scottish champions Rangers in Glasgow on August 6.
Villas-Boas is confident Chelsea will be ready for the physical challenge posed by Stoke, which will be followed by home games against West Brom and newly-promoted Norwich.
"It is an awkward start," Villas-Boas, who led hometown club Porto to a treble last season comprising the Portuguese league and cup and the Europa League, said on Friday.
"We go to Stoke, who had a successful year last year, and are an aggressive, straightforward and forward-thinking team."
"It is a big challenge in the first game, then we have two home games and we are happy to start in this way."
"We have to be confident enough from the start to be able to perform."
"We have two weeks in Cobham, then we move to Asia."
"It is important for the club to expand its brand in the Asian market, so that is important to show ourselves to them as well, then we are back for another two weeks before Rangers and Stoke."
"We have good enough preparation to be ready for Stoke, and we will progress from there."
"We don't treat pre-season different than we do in the season. Everything will be building up for the next game."