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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
December 26, 2012
• Carrow Road, Norwich, Norfolk
Referee: J. Moss
• Attendance: 26831
Chelsea just about deserved the three points, testing Bunn far more than the Canaries tested Cech. Luiz was a busy, creative force in midfield, but the Blues' front four never really clicked. Mata showed his class to strike from range, but otherwise Chelsea had Ivanovic and Cahill to thank for the victory, who didn't give Norwich a sniff.
Norwich created very little in the match, but defended well, with Bassong and Turner particularly good. It was the centre-back pairing who spurned the Canaries' best chances, missing the target with stoppage time headers. Holt was ineffective for the hosts, regularly beaten in the air by Ivanovic.
FULL-TIME! It's all over at Carrow Road, where Mata's sublime finish secured all three points for the west London club. It was a rare moment of quality in an otherwise laboured and dull match.
90' + 2'
Snodgrass plays in a deep cross, which is flicked on by Turner. The ball is creeping towards goal, but Cole boots the ball away from under his own crossbar. Norwich have another corner, and this time Snodgrass finds Bassong at the far post, but he heads the ball into the ground and it bounces over the bar. Huge chance!
90' + 1'
90' + 1'
Yellow Card Eden Hazard
Torres escapes down the left and tries to find Oscar, but his pass is intercepted. Norwich break, but Howson is dragged back by Hazard.
Mata threads a pass through for Torres. Bassing expects Bunn to claim the pass, but he doesn't, forcing the centre-back to tidy up. The Cameroonian makes a meal of it though, and Chelsea win back possession and find Hazard. The Belgian fires a shot at goal but Bunn makes a good save.
Norwich are trying get forward, but remain unable to carve out any clear-cut chances.
Mata feeds Torres inside the box. Bassong pushes him wide and away from goal, denying him a chance to shoot. As a result, Torres is forced to cross, but there isn't a single Chelsea player inside the box.
Another deep free-kick from Norwich is easily cleared. Cech remains a spectator.
Yellow Card Bradley Johnson
The first yellow card of the match goes to Johnson. The Norwich midfielder went down very easily under the challenge of Luiz, and is adjudged to have dived. He's immediately replaced by Howson.
Lampard finds Oscar inside the box. The Brazilian, with his back to goal, decides to spread the ball wide to Azpilicueta. The right-back sends in another dangerous cross, which is met by Mata at the back post who heads just wide.
Oscar slips and is gobbled up by Johnson. The Midfielder tries a hugely ambitious cross from deep, which goes out for a goalkick. Norwich have been far too wasteful in promising positions today.
Norwich fail to breach Chelsea's solid back four again, and the Blues break with Oscar. The Brazilian squares the ball to Torres, who attempts to find Mata but his pass is wayward. Chelsea are beginning to find a lot of space on the counter.
Johnson plays a lovely pass behind Azpilicueta for Garrido to chase. The Spanish left-back floats the ball into the box towards Holt, but Ivanovic rises and heads clear.
John Obi Mikel
Mata whips in another dangerous corner which is missed by everyone, flicking off the boot of Bassong.
Lampard is being readied on the sidelines, much to the delight of the travelling support.
Norwich win a corner and it is whipped in by Snodgrass. Chelsea fail to clear the delivery, with the ball bouncing up in the air, but Cahill beats Holt to the ball and heads it behind for another corner, which is subsequently cleared by Mikel.
Huge chance for Chelsea to double their lead. Azpilicueta crosses towards the back post and Moses chests the ball down before volleying a shot towards goal, but the ball misses the near post by inches. So close! Brilliant technique and chest control from Moses.
Snodgrass bursts into the box and goes down very easily under the challenge of Ivanovic. The home side want a penalty, but the referee, rightly, ignores their protests.
Moses accelerates down the left, and Martin does brilliantly to stay with him and clear the ball for a corner. The first is headed behind for another corner, and the second is cleared by Turner. Norwich's centre-backs have been excellent.
The Canaries are playing much better now and are conceding less possession to Chelsea, though they look most dangerous on the break. A deep Snodgrass free-kick finds Bassong inside the box, but he is flagged for offside.
Norwich win possession on the edge of their own box and break with Hoolahan. The Irishman feeds Garrido, who finds Pilkington. The winger spins, drives into the box and then fires a shot towards goal, but the effort is half-scuffed-half-blocked and rolls into the arms of Cech.
Johnson tries to chip a ball behind the defence for Pilkington, but the pass is just overhit. Norwich are yet to test Cech in the second half.
Chelsea win a free-kick 30-yards out. While Bunn is arranging his wall, Mata tries a quick free-kick, but his cheeky dink towards the far post is easily collected by Bunn.
Norwich get forward with Snodgrass, whose dangerous cross is only just cleared by Ivanovic. Norwich recover possession, with Holt back-heeling the ball into the path of Hoolahan and storming forward, before receiving the return ball from his team-mate. Holt smashes the ball wide of the far post, but he was flagged for offside anyway.
Luiz finds Mata, who feeds Azpilicueta in space. The right-back hits a low, fizzing cross which whizzes straight across the face of goal, evading everyone. Moses collects the ball towards the back post, and tries an optimistic shot that is easily saved.
Azpilicueta gets forward down the right and finds Torres inside the box. The striker takes a touch, spins and shoots, but Bassong blocks the shot.
Oscar whips in a cross towards the near post. The ball takes a touch off Moses, flies past the boot of Holt and almost sneaks into the goal but Bunn makes a good low save.
Chelsea have made the better start to the half, dictating the tempo of the match and retaining possession with ease.
Torres robs Tettey and there's a chance for Chelsea to break. Oscar is running into the box, but Torres' pass is too heavy for the Brazilian to catch up to. Wasted opportunity.
Chelsea get the second half underway. No changes for either side at half-time.
Chelsea surrendered control of the ball to Norwich for much of the first half, but always looked a threat through Mata. Torres has largely been anonymous, and the Blues have been afforded few clear-cut chances. Luiz has performed well in midfield though, winning possession and playing imaginative passes.
For all Norwich's good work, especially off the ball, they never tested Cech. Holt has received little supply or support, and doesn't look fully fit, but the Canaries' defence had been brilliant for 37 minutes, swatting away crosses, blocking shots and pressing relentlessly.
HALF-TIME! Norwich had controlled the game for much of the first half, but Chelsea looked increasingly dangerous as the game approached half-time, and it was Mata who made the breakthrough, firing the Blues into the lead from 20-yards.
45' + 1'
Snodgrass cuts infield, shifts the ball onto his left foot and fires a shot towards goal, but Cahill blocks on the edge of the area.
Chelsea have regained control after a spirited response to going 1-0 down from the Canaries. The Blues are passing the ball around neatly in the middle of the pitch.
Norwich threaten again, this time with Hoolahan. The Canaries' playmaker tries to play a cute one-two with Snodgrass inside the box, but Mikel intercepts.
Pilkington dribbles into the box and crosses towards the back post, with Cole forced to clear for a corner. From the resulting set-piece, Johnson heads over.
Norwich try to respond straight away, as Snodgrass breaks forward down the right, but he drags his shot wide from 25-yards.
Goal Juan Mata
GOAL!! Moses drifts infield and finds Oscar. The Brazilian offloads to Mata, who is surrounded by yellow shirts. The Spaniard takes a touch, steadies himself, and then curls a shot into the top corner with his trusty left boot. A lovely finish.
Turner heads the resulting corner clear, but only as far as Mata on the edge of the box, whose goal-bound, curling effort is blocked by Johnson.
Norwich are struggling to get out of their own half now, and Chelsea's front four are beginning to find space. Moses embarks on a tricky run before pulling the ball back towards the penalty spot, but Bassong clears for a corner.
Chelsea break through Mata, who clips a ball towards Moses inside the box. The Nigerian shoots straight at Turner, but the ball breaks to Luiz. The Brazilian tees up the ball for Mikel, who blasts a ferocious effort towards goal that soars just over Bunn's crossbar.
Chelsea have controlled the last five minutes of the match, with Norwich retreating deeper and deeper when the Blues have the ball. Holt looks increasingly isolated.
Luiz wins possession and drives forward before reversing the ball for Mata inside the box. The Spaniard is forced to use his right foot, and pokes the ball into the side-netting from an accute angle. Best chance of the match so far!
Luiz plays a wonderful, defence-splitting pass for Cole, but the full-back's touch is heavy and Norwich are able to clear.
Mikel claims to have been elbowed by Johnson, but the referee ignores his protests. The ball finds Pilkington, but his cross is overhit and goes out for a goalkick.
This time Mata finds space on the edge of the box, he takes a touch and fires a shot towards goal, but Bassong rushes out to make a telling block.
Chelsea race the length of the pitch and find Luiz in space on the edge of the box. He tries to curl the ball into the top corner, but balloons it over the bar.
Garrido is found in space down the left flank by a lovely crossfield pass from Martin, but the Spaniard's pullback evades everyone.
Most of Chelsea's threat so far has come from crosses, but Bassong and Turner have met each delivery with a thumping header.
Norwich are playing with a huge amount of confidence, passing the ball out from the back. Johnson is robbed by Luiz in his own half though, and the Brazilian tries an ambitious 30-yard shot that is high, wide and not at all pretty.
Norwich concede another needless free-kick - this time the culprit is Tettey - but the Canaries' defence swats away the danger once more.
Garrido crosses into the box, and Cahill heads clear again, but only as far as Martin. The Scot thunders an effort towards goal, but it is blocked by Mikel.
Hoolahan buys a corner off Cole which Snodgrass floats towards the back post, but it is easily cleared by Cahill.
Chelsea have yet to click. A long, optimistic pass from Cole is easily claimed by Bunn, allowing Norwich to build another attack.
Snodgrass concedes a free-kick near the touchline which is whipped in by Oscar, but Bassong rises highest to head the ball clear.
Here's our man Ryan Benson again: "We've had a rather tame first ten minutes here, but Norwich are showing plenty of urgency. The hosts produced one promising attack a moment ago, but when then ball dropped kindly for Alex Tettey on the edge of the box, he sliced his half volley and it went out for a throw-in. Chelsea yet to do a great deal."
Norwich retain the ball much better, with Tettey finding Johnson in space. He spreads the ball out wide, allowing Pilkington to drive into the box. The winger topples over, and there are claims for a penalty, before Tettey scuffs a shot well wide from the edge of the area.
Tettey concedes possession sloppily to Mata, who races towards goal, but the Norwegian gets back and tackles the Spaniard.
Norwich have struggled to hold onto the ball, but are pressuring the Chelsea back four to good effect, forcing mistakes.
Oscar and Mata combine on the edge of the Norwich box, but the former's return pass is slightly behind the Spaniard and Norwich manage to clear. Luiz recovers possession but overhits his cross.
Hoolahan almost races onto a weak back-header, but Cahill manages to boot the ball away.
Brazilian summer signing Oscar has started on the left for Chelsea, with Mata continuing through the middle.
Norwich get the match underway.
The players are on the pitch, the customary handshakes have taken place, and we're now just minutes away from kick-off.
Here's an update from our man at Carrow Road, Ryan Benson: "The teams are about to come out on to the pitch here at Carrow Road, with a good crowd ready to greet them. Chelsea have a very large group of travelling supporters with them, by far the biggest I have seen here this season."
Only the two Manchester clubs, United (11) and City (10), have scored more goal from set-pieces than Norwich (9). The Canaries and Chelsea also lead the way on goals scored from direct free-kicks, having both netted three times.
Norwich have not beaten Chelsea in the league since 10 December 1994; in the five meetings between the two sides since then, the Blues have averaged 2.8 goals per game.
In a contrast of fortunes, Chelsea equalled their record highest ever league win when they hammered Aston Villa 8-0 in their last outing, though it was only their second victory in their last nine league games.
Norwich's ten-match unbeaten run, their longest sequence without defeat in the top-flight since March 1987, came to an end last week when they were beaten 2-1 by West Brom.
Rafa Benitez makes two changes to the side that hammered Aston Villa 8-0 on Sunday, with John Obi Mikel and Oscar replacing Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard respectively. Mikel has returned from a three-match suspension and partners David Luiz in midfield, while Oscar’s inclusion is likely to push Juan Mata, making his 50th Premier League appearance out to the right flank. The Blues’ back five remains unchanged.
Norwich’s captain fantastic Grant Holt has recovered from the hamstring injury that prevented him from playing in the Canaries 2-1 defeat against West Brom, so replaces Steve Morison in attack. Steven Whittaker picked up a thigh injury against the Baggies, so Russell Martin lines up at right-back. Norwich remain without long-term absentee John Ruddy, meaning Mark Bunn continues between the sticks.
Chelsea subs: Turnbull, Lampard, Hazard, Ferreira, Marin, Paizon, Ake.
Chelsea XI: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole; Mikel, Luiz; Moses, Oscar, Mata; Torres.
Norwich City subs: Rudd, Howson, Jackson, Morison, E Bennett, Barnett, R Bennett.
Norwich City XI: Bunn; Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido; Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington; Hoolahan; Holt.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's live play-by-play coverage of Norwich City v Chelsea! I'm Ewan Roberts and I will be guiding you through all the action from Carrow Road. First up, here are today’s line-ups…
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