On March first, Norwich City play host to reigning Champions Chelsea at Carrow Road. The Canaries will be looking to take points off the Blues in their quest to stay in the Premier League. Currently only outside of the relegation zone by three points, Norwich need to pick up points, but they know it won’t be easy. The Blues are unbeaten in the Premier League since Guus Hiddink took over for Jose Mourinho. Their hopes of the title or even Champions League next year are gone, but their win against Southampton on Saturday has put them in contention for a Europa League spot. The fans will want some kind of European football next year, so they’ll be pushing for that spot hard, especially if they’re unable to overturn their 2-1 first leg deficit in the Champions League against PSG.
Both teams are looking pretty good on the fitness front heading in. Norwich will be without Andre Wisdom with a knee injury, but have a full squad to pick from other than that.
Chelsea are still without the services of Kurt Zouma and Radamel Falcao as they both have long term injuries. Captain John Terry is a doubt for this one as he continues to recover from his hamstring injury.
Chelsea have not lost to Norwich since October 1994. In that stretch the two teams have faced off 10 times with Chelsea picking up eight wins and two draws. Norwich have the league’s joint worst defense with 51 goals conceded in 27 games. If they’re to beat Chelsea, they’ll have to tighten up at the back. After letting up 26 goals in 16 games under Jose Mourinho, Chelsea have tightened up conceding only 11 times in their last 11 games. Adding to that, they’ve scored 22 goals in 11 games, an average of two goals a game, after averaging 1.125 goals per game in their first 16 games.
Norwich: Robbie Brady
Norwich have had trouble defending all season, so they’ll have to hope they score enough goals here that it doesn’t matter. Their left winger turned left back Robbie Brady has been one of their more effective offensive players this year. The Irishman has a fantastic delivery, averaging 1.55 key passes per game, behind only Nathan Redmond of Norwich players that have played at least 1000 minutes this season. Norwich will have to find those defensive weaknesses Chelsea showed earlier in the season and exploit them, probably multiple times if they want to win. Robbie Brady’s killer delivery both from open play and set pieces could be key.
Chelsea: Diego Costa
One of problems Chelsea had under Jose Mourinho was a lack of production from the striker. The Portuguese manager was just not getting enough out of his star striker. Since Guus Hiddink came in as manager, Costa has kicked into gear. He has nine goals in 13 league games since the Dutchman took over. He was one of the big reasons why Chelsea won the league last season, and a big reason why they struggled to start this season. Diego Costa gets bad press for his antics, but his ability means he has the chance to be a game changer for Chelsea.
In reality, Chelsea should win this. They have the talent and they have the form, so they should have the three points by the end of this.
Prediction: 3-1 Chelsea