Match Preview : Norwich City v Chelsea.
Chelsea travel to Norwich City (Carrow Road) for their Boxing Day fixture. The Canaries will be looking to avenge their 4-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge, while the Blues will want to repeat the performance which saw them demolish Aston Villa 8-0 in their last match and Norwich City look to continue their form after slipping up against West Bromwich Albion last week in a 2-1 defeat at the Hawthorns.
Norwich have recorded five important wins at Carrow Road this season, including beating both Manchester United,and Arsenal 1-0. However, Chelsea have recently refound the form that saw them being courted as early title favourites, and Norwich will have to be at the top of their game to give their fans three points as a late Christmas present. Chris Hughton’s side, meanwhile, have enjoyed an encouraging first half of the season which sees them tenth on the Premier League table after 18 games. But a 2-1 loss to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday ended their 11-game undefeated run in the Premier League, with their last loss before that result ironically coming at the hands of Chelsea who beat them 4-1 at Stamford Bridge in October. Grant Holt will make a welcome return for the home side, who are likely to field a strong team in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Chelsea will need to mark him closely, as he scored at Stamford Bridge. The other danger men for the East Anglian side include Hoolahan,Garrido, and Pilkington. The Canaries have already defeated Arsenal, Manchester United,and Tottenham this year,and despite their previous loss to the Blues their form against the league’s top sides should at the very least make the Blue’s wary.The Canaries are not without attacking talents of their own with former Leeds United winger Robert Snodgrass enjoying a rich vein of form. The Scot has scored three goals in the past month with his free-kick effort against West Brom on the weekend underlining his talent with the dead-ball. Defender Sebastien Bassong is also no stranger to scoring recently, with the 26-year-old defender getting three goals in the past month and is proving to be particularly effective from set pieces.
Chelsea will be hoping to continue their recent run of good form when they travel to Norwich on Boxing Day. The Blues responded to their shock 1-0 loss to Corinthians in the Club World Cup Final with a 5-1 thumping of Leeds in the Capital One Cup last week before blasting eight goals past a hapless Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Chelsea will be without John Terry, whose knee injury is taking longer than expected to heal, and Daniel Sturridge who looks to be on his way to Liverpool when the transfer window opens. After scoring two goals in just over half an hour against Aston Villa, it would be a surprise if Ramires doesn’t get a place in the starting 11. This could be a great chance for Chelsea to keep up with the Manchester Clubs in the Title Race, and keep distance between Arsenal, Tottenham, WBA,and Everton who are 2 points below (Chelsea with a game in hand). Here’s what Rafael Benitez had to say on the recent form of Chelsea :
“The main thing is to win our games; you can do it if you see the team improving. With this kind of performance you can normally win games,” he said.
“You could see the mentality of the players, even at 6-0 we were pushing and trying to score more. The team are attacking as a whole, and not just depending on one or two players, which is good news.
“Hopefully we can keep this momentum. We have to sustain this run, keep winning some games and then it will be easier for me to send a message out that we can compete.”
Projected Lineups :
Martin, Turner, Bassong, Garrido
Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington
Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Cole
Moses, Mata, Hazard
Key Stats :
- Norwich’s 10-game unbeaten run came to an end away at West Brom.
- In their 18 Premier League matches so far, Norwich have only scored more than one goal on four occasions.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their last seven Boxing Day matches.
- The Blues have only won one of their last four away games in the Premier League.
- Only the two Manchester clubs, United (11), and City (10), have scored more goal from set-pieces than Norwich (9).
- Fernando Torres has scored 7 goals in his last 6 matches.
Chelsea’s scintillating display against Aston Villa will see them head into the match as deserved favourites, and while an upset is not out of the question anything less than all three points will still leave a sour taste in Chelsea supporter’s mouths, and heap the pressure back on manager Rafael Benitez. Chelsea have been in tremendous goal-scoring, as of late, scoring 16 goals in their last 3 matches in England. With Norwich’s recent high-flying form coming to an end thanks to a Lukaku header last weekend, Chelsea could make things even worse for the Canaries – 2-1 to Chelsea.