Norwich City - Chelsea Preview: Canaries looking to end 18-year wait for victory over Blues
Chris Hughton's men suffered defeat for the first time in 11 games and will hope to avenge a 4-1 loss earlier in the season against the rampant west London club
By Ewan Roberts
Martin, Turner, Bassong, Garrido
Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington
Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Cole
Moses, Mata, Hazard
Talismanic striker Grant Holt (hamstring) missed Norwich’s defeat against West Brom, but manager Chris Hughton hopes to have him available for Wednesday’s game.
Steven Whittaker (thigh) was withdrawn before the hour mark against the Baggies, so Russell Martin is likely to fill in at right-back.
Norwich are also without Andrew Surman (knee) and John Ruddy (thigh), with Mark Bunn continuing in goal in the latter’s absence. Ryan Bennett (knee) and Harry Kane (ankle) are both doubtful.
Rafa Benitez’s squad is largely injury-free, though he will likely reshuffle his starting XI to combat a busy festive programme.
Liverpool-bound striker Daniel Sturridge (hamstring) is a doubt, but John Obi Mikel has returned from a three-match suspension though may be benched in favour of the impressive David Luiz.
John Terry and Oriol Romeu (both knee) remain sidelined, while Ryan Betrand picked up a knock against Leeds in the Capital One Cup and is therefore a doubt for the Boxing Day clash.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Norwich lost their first match in 11 games against West Brom on Saturday, ending their longest sequence without defeat in the top-flight since March 1987.
- Only the two Manchester clubs, United (11) and City (10), have scored more goal from set-pieces than Norwich (9).
- Grant Holt has committed 44 fouls this season, the joint most in the league, while only one player, Everton’s Nikica Jelavic (29), has been caught offside more times than Holt (24).
- The Canaries have scored three goals from direct free-kicks, the joint-most in the league alongside Chelsea.
- Norwich have not beaten the Blues since 10 December 1994; in the five meetings between the two sides since then, the Blues have averaged 2.8 goals per game.
- Chelsea’s 8-0 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday, which equalled their highest ever league win, was only their second victory in their last nine league games.
- The west London club became the first side to have seven different scorers in one match in the Premier League era when they hammered the Villans. Chelsea are 11/1 to win 3-0 with William Hill.
- Branislav Ivanovic (pictured right) is the Premier League’s topscoring defender, with four goals this season (making him the Blues’ joint-third highest scorer in the league).
- Chelsea have received more yellow cards for diving (4) than any other team in the Premier League.
- The Blues have scored from the penalty spot five times this season, the most in the league, while Norwich are yet to be awarded a spot-kick.
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Top 3 Predictions
Norwich City 1-3 Chelsea FC
- 14.14 %
Norwich City 0-3 Chelsea FC
- 12.07 %
Norwich City 0-8 Chelsea FC
- 10.56 %
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Oct 6, 2013||Norwich City 1 - Chelsea FC 3|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Dec 26, 2012||Norwich City 0 - Chelsea FC 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Oct 6, 2012||Chelsea FC 4 - Norwich City 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Jan 21, 2012||Norwich City 0 - Chelsea FC 0|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Aug 27, 2011||Chelsea FC 3 - Norwich City 1|
|Dec 7, 2013||West Bromwich Albion 0 - Norwich City 2||EPL|
|Dec 4, 2013||Liverpool 5 - Norwich City 1||EPL|
|Nov 30, 2013||Norwich City 1 - Crystal Palace 0||EPL|
|Nov 23, 2013||Newcastle 2 - Norwich City 1||EPL|
|Nov 9, 2013||Norwich City 3 - West Ham 1||EPL|
|12||John Obi Mikel||Midfielder|
The Scottish winger-cum-striker contributed massively to Norwich’s recent unbeaten run, and has been in sparkling form in the last few weeks. The 25-year-old has scored or assisted in five goals in his last five league appearances. The former Leeds attacker is pacey, direct, an accurate crosser and a major goal threat. His sweet left foot also provides consistently dangerous set-pieces which the Canaries have exploited to good effect this season.
The Brazilian has been a revelation since moving into midfield, breaking up play and tenaciously battling with opposition players. Unshackled from his defensive duties, he’s also proven to be a more progressive and cultured user of the ball than both John Obi Mikel and Ramires. He played a delicious pass for Eden Hazard to score against Leeds, and thundered a Cristiano Ronaldo-style free-kick past Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan on Sunday.
Chelsea travel to Carrow Road full of confidence after their eight-goal mauling of Aston Villa. But Norwich offer a far sterner test than the Villans, having recorded just one loss in 11 games. The home team will pose a major threat on set-plays, though looked tame and impotent up front without Grant Holt against West Brom. The Blues are beginning to find more structured fluidity in attack under Rafa Benitez, which is playing to the strengths of the much-maligned Fernando Torres, and should have too much firepower for the Canaries.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed