Norwich City and Chelsea Disappoint in the FA Cup

Chelsea started their FA Cup campaign with a trip to Carrow Road for a 3rd round clash with Championship side Norwich City. Surely this was one of this weekend’s ties where the romance of the cup had the chance to excite all who were following.

The tie pitted a former Premier League side who are now languishing in mid table of the second tier hosting the current League Champions and beaten Finalists in last year’s competition. Add to that Antonio Conte’s desire to make 9 changes to his starting line up and Daniel Farke able to field as strong a side as he had available, the chances of an upset were surely increased.

Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images

However, Norwich had only won 4 of their last 15 competitive matches whilst Chelsea had only lost once in their last 15. So with the odds and form favouring the Premier League side, the ingredients were there for a potentially epic cup clash.

Unfortunately, the realism of a hugely disappointing match soon set in during the opening minutes. The hosts have struggled throughout this season to score goals - they have only registered 26 in 26 league matches so far, and the sacrifice Farke made was to drop the not fully fit top goal scorer Oliveira in favour of adding a third central defender to his line up. Despite Pritchard, Maddison and the lively Murphy all trying their best and applying themselves as best they could, the home side could not register a single shot on target.

Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images

It is Norwich’s defence where their strengths lie. And with Michy Batshuayi’s lack of movement the Canaries found marking him and stealing the ball from him very easy. Add to that a lack of forward support from Chelsea’s midfield and some poor passing the first half proved to be a dire affair.

The visitors managed to gain a slight upper hand in the second half with Zappacosta, Kenedy and Bakayoko all playing further forward but the overall play was still very disjointed.

It is exactly these scenarios where the odds on favourites are struggling to make a break through that the manager and the fans look towards players to take the match by the scruff of the neck and try to use their best talents to make the difference. Sadly it was only Willian who seemed to believe he could do this. Unfortunately for him Gunn was more than equal to all the Brazilian’s best efforts. Conte’s substitutions were left quite late to have a chance to make a real difference. However, Morata’s movement immediately created more concern for the home defenders, while youngsters Musonda and Sterling both tried their best to force an opening in injury time.

Although, the Norwich supporters will be generally disappointed with their side’s lack of attacking threat, the result will be seen as a great success for a club that hopes to be moving up their division and be challenging for play off places.

Conte will be concerned with the lack of cohesion between his fringe players and the lack of the big characters who wanted to play above the levels that were on display and try to force their teammates to greater performances. The main benefit of the result is that most of these players will get another opportunity to prove their worth to the squad in the replay back at Stamford Bridge.

Written by Jon Ellis, Chelsea FC home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on twitter: @ClitheroeBlue

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