Chelsea play host to Norwich City in third-round replay of FA Cup, after both teams played out a stalemate at Carrow Road earlier this month.
A desperate Antonio Conte’s side would do whatever it takes to extract a win out of Wednesday night’s clash at the Bridge. Chelsea have drawn last 4 of their games, having failed to score in 3 of them. Chelsea were fortunate to draw 0-0 against a 10-man Leicester City with Conte’s men seemingly on the back foot throughout the match.
Chelsea would be desperate to end their barren patch in front of goal however pose a stern test against Norwich’s defense. Norwich have conceded just once in their last 5 league outings and would be looking to upset the Premier League defending champions. Norwich are meanwhile goal-shy too as they have scored just 13 times in last 14 games.
Chelsea have slipped to 4th position in the league rankings after Liverpool edged Manchester City 4-3 in a weekend clash at Anfield. With Premier League title seemingly out of grasp, Conte would be looking towards all other fronts.
Team News & Tactics
Chelsea have had a hectic schedule going into the match and it seems like it’s taking a toll on the players. Conte confirmed in press conference that Gary Cahill is out with a hamstring injury suffered against Leicester City last weekend. Cesc Fabregas is also out with hamstring injury.
Michy Batshuayi has yet to see minutes on the field this year and could be handed a start in place of Alvaro Morata, who’s undergoing a poor run of form. Eden Hazard could be rested while Pedro and Willian could be thrust into the starting lineup as Conte might opt for a front-three.
Ross Barkley is ineligible to play as he was not registered in time as a Chelsea player. Barkley didn’t meet the deadline for the original clash vs Norwich and would consequently miss the return fixture too. It comes as a surprise after Antonio Conte earlier said that Barkley could be in contention for match against Norwich.
Chelsea’s back-line would be significantly different from what they put against Leicester. Antonio Rudiger could be given a start in place of an injured Cahill, while David Luiz could also be handed a start too. Courtois could be given a well-deserved rest with Willy Caballero lined up as his substitution.
Probable Starting Lineup (3-4-3): Caballero, Rudiger, David Luiz, Azpilicueta, Kenedy, Drinkwater, Bakayoko, Zappacosta, Pedro, Batshuayi, Willian
Daniel Farke’s men would be looking to create an upset and rub salt on Chelsea’s wounds. Though history runs against them when it comes to facing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, yet Norwich will take inspiration from the fact that they have stretched Chelsea to the maximum and a solitary goal could prove to be the difference, considering Chelsea’s recent goal-scoring woes.
Tom Trybull has a back injury that will keep him out of contention for the match. Norwich’s new signing, Marcus Edwards, is not available as he was not registered before the first match against Chelsea. Alex Pritchard isn’t available after he joined Huddersfield Town earlier in the transfer window.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-2): Gunn, Klose, Zimmermann, Hanley, Lewis, Trybull, Tettey, Pinto, Murphy, Maddison, Vrancic
- Chelsea have played out 3 successive goalless draws entering into this match.
- Chelsea have won seven of the last eight home matches against Norwich.
- Chelsea has kept seven clean sheets in the previous nine games.
- Norwich have scored just six times in previous seven matches.
- Norwich have failed to score in six of their last eight visits to Chelsea.
Player to Watch
The Belgian hasn’t played a single minute on the field in 2018 and would be looking to shut his critics down with some goals to his name. With Alvaro Morata looking out-of-sorts, it would be a perfect time for Batshuayi to make his case in Conte’s and Roberto Martinez’s books!
With Conte likely to put in a 3-4-3 formation, Batshuayi would get enough services from either wings and could break the deadlock strangling Chelsea since quite some time.
Chelsea 1-0 Norwich City
Chelsea have conceded just twice in past 7 matches and one could expect Chelsea back-line to hold firm against a poor Norwich strike-force.
Though we cannot expect Chelsea to plunder goals, we can expect Chelsea to be dominant throughout the match and squeeze a goal or two.