Chelsea’s misfortune this season has been enjoyable for many and their home form has been a significant factor in their low league position. Having won only twice in six attempts, Stamford Bridge is not the stronghold it once was. Norwich, after four defeats in a row, managed a victory and a clean sheet over Swansea just before the international break so they will be hoping to get into a good run of form before the Christmas pile up. Irish internationals Wes Hoolahan and Robbie Brady will be buzzing having helped their country qualify for Euro 2016 and their spirits could help lift the rest of the team.
On the other hand, Chelsea will have welcomed the break with open arms and Mourinho will have no doubt used that time to try and fix the issues that see the champions deep in the bottom half. Last time out the Blues lost away at Stoke for the second time this season, with Mourinho watching from home. The manager is back on the sideline this weekend and with Pedro and Ivanovic back in contention for selection, Chelsea will be hoping to put themselves back on track for Champions League qualification.
The fixture is to be played at 15:00 GMT at Stamford Bridge on Saturday November 21st.
Russell Martin is returning from the suspension he picked up at Manchester City and he could help lead the Canaries to a good result at the Bridge. Despite this defensive boost, there are still doubts over Nathan Redmond who risks missing the game with a thigh injury. Loanee Matt Jarvis is also out.
For Chelsea, Ivanovic and Pedro are fit for action whilst Zouma is carrying a knock. Eden Hazard has an illness but I would expect him to play. Falcao has been sidelined for an unconfirmed amount of time due to a muscular injury but this probably won’t break any hearts for the fans. Courtois is still out.
The last time these two teams met was on May 4th of 2014 at Stamford Bridge. The game ended in a 0-0 shock result that all but ended hopes of a title for Mourinho’s men. Chelsea’s head to head record with Norwich is more even than you would expect. Chelsea have won only 16 of the 41 total fixtures between the two sides in all competitions but have dominated the Canaries in recent memory. The few games that the teams have played since 2000 have usually ended in a win for the Blues. In fact, the last time that Norwich beat Chelsea was a 3-0 win back in December 1995, almost 20 years ago and you have to go back another year for their last win at Chelsea. Of the 21 home games played by Chelsea, 11 have ended in a victory for the hosts.
Willian – The Brazilian has been the one shining star for Chelsea so far this season, not only through his goals and assists but also his phenomenal work ethic. Even though Eden Hazard has been very quiet thus far and Pedro has been sidelined through injury, Willian has taken on the role as creator. However, his hard work has been undone by a number of poor defensive displays and the legs in midfield playing with a real lack of confidence. He is an archetypal Mourinho player, with his offensive flair and defensive endeavour, and a strong performance this time out could be the real difference between the two sides.
Wes Hoolahan – With top scorer Redmond potentially out of the game, the creative attacking midfielder will be expected to make something happen in the final third. He has already created five goals in the Premier League this season, only three players have more assists, and his link up play will be crucial if the Canaries are to come away with anything at all. His set pieces have been excellent and, with Russell Martin back in the team, these could prove to be Norwich’s best opportunity to find the back of the net.
The international break could not have come at a better time for Mourinho and his players. This game could be pivotal in whether Mourinho can turn it around or Abramovich looks for a different manager. As a result, I see nothing other than a Chelsea win. The players will be refreshed and ready to get back into league action and I think Pedro will create a spark on his return to Stamford Bridge. At the same time, I see Norwich putting up a good fight and Chelsea fans are likely to have some anxious moments.
A scrappy 2-1 home win is my prediction for this fixture.