Chelsea host Norwich City as they attempt to maintain their position at the top of the Premier League table. They have a great opportunity to solidify that position during the next few weeks, as they face the three teams yet to win in the Premier League this season. Thomas Tuchel will know that this is a crucial period and his team can’t afford to be complacent. For Norwich, they have little to lose this weekend and their fate won’t be determined by this result. It is an opportunity to play well and build some momentum.
The mid week Champions League victory was good for some of the fringe players, but Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner both picked up injuries. This has left Tuchel with a problem in attack, with no recognised striker available for the weekend. Kai Havertz is likely to play as a false nine, with Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi in support. It is an opportunity for the trio, as none of them have had a great start to the campaign. There are doubts about the Blues goal-scoring ability without Lukaku and that will be tested over the coming weeks. It is an obstacle that they must overcome if they are to be a serious title challenger.
Norwich have been heavily criticised by some sections of the media, as they look set for another season of struggle in the Premier League. However, there was a greater investment in the team during the summer and they do have a lot more talent than they did in their previous top flight season. The issue is creating clear-cut chances. Emi Buendia was the talisman of this team for Daniel Farke. His departure was always going to require an adjustment period.
- If N’Golo Kante features on Saturday, it will be his 200th Premier League appearance.
- Norwich City have scored just three goals in their last 18 Premier League matches.
This is a great opportunity for Kai Havertz to start his season and prove why he needs to be more important to Tuchel’s side. When he signed for Chelsea, it was believed that he had the potential to be a superstar. Last season, it was difficult for him as he adapted to English football. He ended the campaign by scoring the winner in the Champions League final. Havertz has already proven that he can deliver in the biggest games. He now needs to show consistency on a weekly basis to emerge as one of the best players in Europe. That is the next step for him. If he does take the next step, he could be an excellent partner for Lukaku in attack. At the age of 22, he is still in the formative years of his career, but he will have ambitions to be one of the best in the world. In the 2020/21 campaign, he contributed four goals and three assists. These aren’t great numbers for a player with his ability. This next period is a chance for him to contribute in a huge way.
It has been an excellent few seasons for Teemu Pukki at Norwich City. The striker showed in his previous season at this level that he can be a threat. He scored 11 goals during that campaign and he will be hoping to do even better this year. So far, he has scored both of Norwich’s goals, which underlines the pressure on him to perform. There isn’t another reliable goal scorer in the squad. Chelsea have an excellent defensive record, but they will be aware that the Finland international can cause them problems. His movement is his biggest weapon. Although he doesn’t have electric pace, he is intelligent in the attacking half and often manages to get in behind opposition defences. Chelsea will dominate possession on Saturday, which could leave space for Pukki to target. It will be a tough afternoon for the visitors. They will get few chances, so will need to take the ones that they do produce.
Lukaku and Werner will both be unavailable, with Havertz expected to play as a striker. Christian Pulisic is nearing a return, but he is unlikely to feature.
Billy Gilmour will be unavailable to face his parent club. Meanwhile, Sam Byram and Todd Cantwell remain on the treatment table.
It is difficult to see anything other than a Chelsea win. They have been excellent this season. Their defence has been near impossible to penetrate and they are facing a side that struggles to score goals. Even without Lukaku and Werner, this should be a routine home victory.
Chelsea 2-0 Norwich City