Carrow Road, Norwich
October 6, 2013; 13;30 GMT
Norwich will welcome Chelsea tomorrow at Carrow Road in a fixture that both teams will look to win after recovering some form in the games leading up to this weekend. Chelsea bounced back from two back to back losses against Everton and Basel and a meek performance in the first half at White Hart Lane to put on an outstanding display in the second half, on the either side of victories against Fulham and Steaua Bucharest. On the other hand, Norwich eased some pressure on Chris Houghton by registering an important win away from home at Stoke City.
The attacking talent at their disposal notwithstanding, Chelsea have struggled for goals this season, with Torres, Eto’o and Ba not doing enough in front of goal. The midfielders and defenders have come to their aid but Jose Mourinho is still without an away win in the league. Before this gamesweek, Chelsea were fifth in the league, 4 points off the top of the table; they’d be eager to close the gap as much as possible before heading off into the international break.
Norwich, too, are also desperate for goals this season, with new signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel only managing to score once in 526 minutes of football, but the good part about them is that they are equally difficult to break down and concede fewer goals, even more so at home. Last season, they managed to defeat Manchester United and Arsenal at home, and wouldn’t be afraid to take on this inconsistent yet technically much superior Chelsea side.
Team News & Tactical Brief
Sebastien Bassong is close to regaining full fitness, but Chris Houghton will take a late call on his availability for the clash against Chelsea, while Nathan Redmond and Javier Garrido are both expected to be fit in time for the kickoff. Out of form striker, Ricky van Wolfswinkel also had a toe problem but as per the last reports, he appears to have shaken that off.
Houghton will deploy a 4-1-4-1 formation with Ruddy in goal, and the back-four comprising of Martin, Turner, Bennet and Olsson. Tettey is expected to retain his place in the starting line-up after an impressive show against Stoke, and will sit behind the four midfielders and shield the defence. Pilkington will start on the left flank with Snodgrass on the right, while Howson and Fer will marshal the central midfield. Although Hooper scored in the cup game and appears to be in way better form than Wolfswinkel, the new signing is expected to continue upfront for Norwich.
Robert Snodgrass will be the key player for the home team in all likelihood and Houghton will hope that his pace and technical skills can play a vital role on counter-attacks. He will be up against Ashley Cole and will have his work cut out for him. However, if Martin can keep Schurrle/Hazard quiet, Snodgrass will look to get the better off Cole and create a few chances for his team.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-1-4-1): Ruddy; Martin, Turner, Bennet, Olsson; Tettey; Pilkington, Howson, Fer, Snodgrass; Wolfswinkel
The away team will most definitely be without the services of Fernando Torres, who managed to injure himself in the Champions League, after receiving his marching orders against Tottenham last weekend. Edin Hazard, who has looked off color so far this season, missed the game against Bucharest because if a minor problem, but Mourinho has confirmed that the Belgian is back in training. His availability, however, still remains doubtful.
No changes are expected in the system that Jose will use on Sunday, with the 4-2-3-1 formation a clear favorite of the new, old boss. Chelsea will field the strongest possible line-up to win this game and thus Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry and Cole are all likely to start in front of Petr Cech in goal. The double pivot will comprise of Lampard and Ramires; the latter being a key player in the scheme of things this season. Schurrle was one of the best players for Chelsea in the Champions League and his performance may have earned him a place tomorrow, the availability of Hazard notwithstanding. Oscar and Mata will take the remaining positions on the third band and will look to combine their powers to carve out a win for Chelsea. With Torres out injured, Chelsea really don’t have many options at centre-forward, with Eto’o likely to start ahead of Demba Ba.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Lampard; Mata, Oscar, Schurrle; Eto’o
- Norwich have not beaten Chelsea in their past nine meetings in all competitions.
- The last Canaries win in this fixture was a 3-0 Premier League victory in December 1994.
- Chelsea won 1-0 at Carrow Road on Boxing Day last season, thanks to a fine winner from Juan Mata.
- Norwich have only lost two of their 12 Premier League home matches in 2013, both against Aston Villa.
- None of Chelsea’s strikers have scored a Premier League goal yet this season. In fact, of Chelsea’s last 26 league goals, only one has been scored by a recognised striker (Fernando Torres v Everton in May).
Statistics courtesy BBC Football.
Player To Watch Out For
Juan Mata (Chelsea)
After accepting and then prevailing over the challenge thrown his way by the manager, Juan Mata has now firmly reestablished himself in the Chelsea first team. He was at his influential best against Tottenham last weekend, while his creativity allowed Chelsea to bounce back in the Champions League during midweek, despite Oscar having an off day by his high standards. Mata is working harder, showing more positional discipline, tracking back and hopefully the only flaw in his game will slowly but surely be eliminated. One thing is certain; from here on, his influence on the proceeding will only increase. And, for someone who’d scored 12 goals in the league last season, goals are definitely long due in this campaign.
Norwich City 1-3 Chelsea
Chelsea would be eager to go into the break on a strong note and although Norwich will manage to get on the scoresheet, Jose Mourinho’s men are expected to return from Carrow Road with three points.
Blast From The Past