Two months into the season and ‘The Blues’ are sailing smoothly and they will be confident of extended their undefeated streak to 7 in the league. Norwich City, still winless under their new manager Hughton visit Stamford Bridge today. This fixture ended up in a 3-1 victory for Chelsea last season under the reign of a certain ‘Agent AVB’. It might not be any different this time around.
Di Matteo’s ‘blues’ had a good outing in the midweek in Denmark, cruising to a 4-0 victory and earning their first victory in the defense of their Champions League crown. The win though, was a hard fought one, all credit to Norsjaelland’s theory of football. Juan Mata was again impressive, scoring twice and a special mention to Torres for his tireless performance.
John Terry was rested in midweek and will be leading the side from the back, even though he has a four match ban looming large. Daniel Sturridge is still recovering from his mystery injury which means Fernando Torres will get his 12th start of the season already. Marko Marin has shown signs of improvement in his fitness after his sub appearance in last week’s 6-0 win against Wolves in the League Cup.
Eden Hazard started on bench in Denmark and came on with 25 minutes left. So the trio of Oscar, Mata and Hazard will most likely start behind the lone striker Torres. Mikel and Ramires proved to be a good combination at the Emirates last week. Lampard, though, is being restricted to the bench a lot this season. A start for him today would be a good confidence booster. Ashley Cole, Ivanovic and David Luiz are sure starters after their solid performances, lead to 4 clean sheets and only 3 goals shipped.
Norwich are facing injury concerns to Sebastian Bassong and Anthony Pilkington, though both of them might start. Full-back Whittaker is out with ankle injury and Spurs loanie Harry Kane has suffered a broken Metatarsal. Last week’s performance against Liverpool would surely be a forgettable memory for the Canaries and now they have a bitter rival in Luis Suarez. It has been a rough start for Chris Hughton so far but their performances at White Hart Lane and Sports Direct Arena will help them gain some confidence coming into this match.
Chelsea(4-2-3-1): Cech – Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole – Mikel, Ramires – Mata, Oscar, Hazard – Torres
Norwich City(4-4-2): Ruddy – Garrido, Turner, Barnett, Martin – Surman, Johnson, Howson, Snodgrass – Holt, Jackson
With their play evolving in each match, Chelsea will be looking to dominate the possession and launching attacks through Mata, Hazard and Oscar. Torres has been sharp lately and his runs into channels will frustrate the Norwich backline. Mikel will be holding the fortress with Ramires cutting down any attack from the flanks with his energetic presence.
But there is a downside to this. Norwich are very good on their flanks, especially Snodgrass. And Simeon Jackson pops up in the box from nowhere, so his runs should be tracked. Hughton will be starting Holt ahead of Morison, as Holt is much more physical and will be helpful in disrupting the mean defensive duo of Terry and Luiz.
- Norwich have not managed a clean sheet in any of their last 36 top-flight away games – a Premier League record.
- Chelsea have won 12 of our last 14 games at Stamford Bridge.
- A win today would be a fifth straight win in as many games for the Blues.
The PIE Prediction
Chelsea 3-0 Norwich City
Telecast: ESPN(India) Kickoff: 7:25 PM IST Twitter: #CHENOR
Published with permission from The Rational Pie.