Chelsea could well see the FA Cup as their best chance at silverware this season as they prepare to face Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday.
6 January 2018
Kick-off 17:30 local time
Venue: Carrow Road
Referee: S. Attwell
Assistants: S. Beck, C Hatzidakis
Fourth official: D. Whitestone
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Norwich 37 10 12 15
Chelsea 37 15 12 10
Norwich 1-2 Chelsea 1/2/2016 (Premier League)
Norwich City goalscorers: N. Redmond (68’)
Chelsea goalscorers: Kenedy (1’), D. Costa (45+1’)
Players to watch
When Chelsea signed Marcos Alonso from Fiorentina, it seemed that he was joining as a squad player. But the former Sunderland and Bolton Wanderers full-back has been superb for the Blues in both defence and offense. His free kicks have been incredible and his contribution of goals, such as in the recent 2-2 draw with Arsenal, has exceeded expectations.
Former Benfica striker Nelson Oliveira has had quite a journeyman career, with spells all across England and Portugal before washing up at Carrow Road. The No.9 has scored seven goals from 19 Championship appearances, and seems like the kind of players with something special up his sleeve.
Team form and quotes
The Blues have gone undefeated in their last six Premier League matches, most recently being held to a 2-2 draw with Arsenal on Wednesday, but have long given up hopes of retaining their title from Manchester City. A top-four finish will be the priority, while success in the cup looks like the most realistic way of adding to their trophy cabinet.
Over in the Championship, the Canaries have been the definition of mediocrity, and sit 13th in the standings. They have, however, won two of their last three matches, drawing the other one, and seem to have recovered their bearings after an eight-match streak without a win back in October and November of 2017.
Ahead of the match, Norwich defender Jamal Lewis said he’s eager to face the Blues, saying that these big games are “why we play football”.
“They are the reigning Premier League champions,” he told his club’s official website. “They have quality throughout their squad.
“It doesn’t matter whether they play their first team or rotate, they will always be strong no matter what. You see them play week-in and week-out and absolutely outplay teams.
“It will be a great game for me to be involved in and hopefully we can come out with a result.”
Blues boss Conte, meanwhile, responded to comments by Jose Mourinho labelling him as a ‘clown’ for his enthusiasm on the touchlines.
“I think maybe he was talking about himself in the past,” Conte said. Sometimes people can forget what they did in the past.
“It’s strange because I don’t like to speak about other coaches or players. This is a form of respect that you must have.”
In team news, Chelsea will be without star playmaker Eden Hazard due to a calf injury, but the match could see the return of Brazilian defender David Luiz, who has been out with a knee injury. Also returning from injury is youngster Charly Musonda.
For Norwich, Harrison Reed and Marco Stiepermann will miss the match, as will centre-back Sean Raggett.