Chelsea are facing a battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League following another defeat at the weekend. They were beaten by Sheffield United in what was a very poor performance. The outcome of Manchester City’s CAS appeal isn’t known at the time of writing, but it will be by the time of kick off on Tuesday night. If it is overturned, the pressure will be on the Blues to win against already relegated Norwich City. It should be an easy fixture for them, but Frank Lampard won’t be counting on that.
The loss to Sheffield United was damaging, as it brought up worries that some supporters have about Lampard. The rookie manager has had a good season to now, but it’s crucial that he finishes it off completing the objective of qualifying for next season’s Champions League. After spending the majority of the season in the top four, there will be speculation about his future. On Saturday, he was tactically outclassed by Chris Wilder. Lampard changed systems two or three times and couldn’t find one that worked. He needs to be more decisive over the coming weeks.
Norwich City have become the first team to be relegated from the Premier League this season. There have been some pleasing moments, with Daniel Farke praised for the style of play. However, they didn’t have the quality to compete over the 38 matches and they will return to the Championship at the first attempt. Since the resumption, they have lost all of their six Premier League matches. During this period, they have conceded 15 times and scored only once. Although the club do believe in their process, there may be some questions about how the team have folded in recent weeks. Farke will be hoping that his team can show some fight over the rest of the season, as he tries to prove he can be the man to lead them in the Championship.
Kepa Arrizabalaga has now conceded 42 Premier League goals this season. This is the most a Chelsea goalkeeper has conceded in a single season since the 1993-4 campaign.
Norwich City have lost 24 matches this league season. This is their most defeats in a single season.
The USA international was withdrawn early against Sheffield United, despite carrying the biggest threat in the first half. Lampard was criticised for this decision on social media, but the manager may have had one eye on the midweek fixture. Although they do have an FA Cup semi final ahead of them this weekend, the match against Norwich may be seen as the more important one. Christian Pulisic has been excellent since the restart and he is now a regular at the club. Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner will be joining the club in the summer, but the former Borussia Dortmund player will be expecting to line up next to them in the starting eleven. The 21-year-old has contributed eight goals and two assists to date, marking a good first season in England. He has been involved in a goal every 153.7 minutes, showing the threat that he carries. Since the restart, he has scored three times and he looks to be the key player for their battle for a top four finish. Norwich have been poor at the back since the restart, as they displayed at the weekend, conceding four times against West Ham. The Blues should carry a much bigger threat and the directness of Pulisic will cause them real problems.
Norwich City may have been relegated, but there will be some in their ranks that will still be motivated for the rest of the season. Although it is difficult to remain motivated, especially without fans in the stadiums, there will be some that believe they can perform well enough to earn a move away. Emi Buendia has impressed this season and there will be interest in him. This season, his creativity and ability to impact games has stood out. The Norwich midfielder has contributed a goal and seven assists. He averages 1.2 shots, 3 dribbles and 2.4 key passes per game. In a team that is rooted to the bottom of the table, they are impressive numbers. Chelsea are a very open team and the creativity of Buendia could cause them big problems.
N’Golo Kante and Billy Gilmour will be missing for the home side. Mateo Kovacic is expected to return to the starting eleven, as they lacked control in central areas. Olivier Giroud could also return to the team.
Cristoph Zimmermann is a doubt for the visiting team. Moritz Leitner and Grant Hanley are expected to miss the rest of the season.
Despite their struggles on the road, Chelsea should be able to get back to winning ways on Tuesday. Norwich have been terrible since the restart and they have nothing to play for following their relegation. Although it may provide them with freedom, their poor defence should mean that a home win is very likely. The Blues should win with comfort, but their top four hopes lie in the balance.
Chelsea 3-0 Norwich City