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 CHELSEA

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NORWICH CITY

Stamford Bridge, London

Sunday, 4th May 2014; 1600 GMT

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Norwich City will make the 124 mile journey south west down the A11 into London to take on their rivals for the weekend, Chelsea. The home side, having just been knocked out of the Champions League by a brilliant Atletico Madrid side will come into this one looking for revenge. While their opponents possibly in their worst form of the season, coming on the back of five consecutive losses – two of them under current caretaker manager Neil Adams.

Having met each other on 40 previous occasions in all competitions, Chelsea have the upper hand at Stamford Bridge having one 11 of the 20 matches played, Norwich winning only 4 of them. Chelsea, on the back of their first defeat at home under Jose Mourinho in the Premier League, will be looking at their last game against Liverpool to draw confidence. Having suffered crucial defeats to teams in the lower half of the table viz Crystal Palace and Sunderland, the Blues faithful will surely be expecting a performance and a good result from their players. The Canaries on the other hand are in the worst form possible having suffered 5 defeats in their last 5, their last victory coming against fellow strugglers Sunderland back in March.

Team news and tactics

Chelsea

As the season draws to a close, a few players have picked up niggles here and there, but all players except Ramires who is suspended should be available for Chelsea. Marco van Ginkel – who was a long term absentee- also featured on the bench against Liverpool last Sunday. Eden Hazard also freshly back from an injury played the full 90 minutes against Atletico. Petr Cech trained this week, although he is not expected to start this game.

Having come into some fierce criticism on his team’s style of play against Liverpool and Atletico in the first leg, Jose Mourinho will line his team up in the usual 4-2-3-1 formation with two holding midfielders protecting the back four. Having played the entire 90 against Atletico, Luiz and Ramires will most likely drop to the bench with Matic and Lampard expected to fill in for them in the holding role. Having played a bit-part role on Wednesday, Schurrle can be expected to replace either Hazard or Willian in the starting eleven. Oscar did not feature at all in the last game and can be expected to start this time around. Eto’o will be expected to lead the line for the Blues. Torres, fresh from a goal against his first club, is also expected to feature in some capacity.

Azpilicueta, who played in the midfield against Atletico Madrid will also be expected to start in his preferred role of left back. Ashley Cole’s rise in form will also provide Mourinho with the good headache of which player he should be picking to start.

Expected line up (4-2-3-1)Schwarzer (GK), Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic; Matic, Lampard; Schurrle, Oscar, Hazard; Eto’o

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Norwich City

Caretaker manager Neil Adams is sweating on the fitness Anthony Pilkington who picked up a hip injury and will most likely miss this trip. Joseph Yobo, the on-loan Nigerian international, is available for selection after a lengthy absence due to injury. Apart from that, Adams has a full squad to choose from.

The Canaries will be expected to line up in the 4-5-1 formation with Howson, Fer and Johnson expected to protect the back four in a holding role. Howson, however, can join in the attack as and when required ably assisted by Snodgrass. The Norwich City attacking line is expected to be led by Nathan Redmond and Ricky van Wolfswinkel. With this being the most important match of the Canaries season so far, they will be pushed on by the travelling fans to attack and possibly get all three points given Chelsea’s latest vulnerability at home.

Neil Adams will rely on Snodgrass to have a good game along with his experienced line up of defenders. Hoping to catch Chelsea 0n the break, Snodgrass will play a pivotal role while attacking. The Canaries are tied with Crystal Palace at 28 goals scored this season – the lowest in the league. With a defence as mean as Chelsea’s, the Norwich attackers will be expected to have a tough afternoon.

Expected line up (4-5-1): Ruddy(GK), Olsson, Martin, Turner, Whittaker; Fer, Johnson, Howson, Redmond, Snodgrass; van Wolfswinkel

norwich

Key facts

  • Had Chelsea won the three games which they were expected to against Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Sunderland, the title would already have been won.
  • Norwich City have scored just 11 away goals – the same number that Chelsea have conceded at Stamford Bridge this season.
  • The Canaries are on the back of 8 straight away defeats.

Player to watch out for

Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

The ever-improving Spanish full back has impressed one and all this season. He also showed his versatility by playing in midfield against Atletico Madrid and putting in a solid performance. It is both his attacking and defensive play which has endeared him to the the Blues faithful. With the world cup squad announcements just a few days away, ‘Dave’ (as he is called by the Chelsea fans) will be hoping for a ticket to Brazil on the back of this brilliant season.

Prediction

Chelsea 3-0 Norwich

All said and done, Chelsea should be able to make light work of  Norwich and pick up crucial three points which could see them go top – albeit for 24 hours depending on Liverpool’s result against Palace.

Blast from the past