Rediscovering that winning formula will be crucial for Norwich after suffering their first defeat in 10 games. Doing so against Chelsea will provide a serious measure as to how far they’ve progressed under Chris Hughton. The 54-year-old has guided the Canaries into the top half on the back of that unbeaten run but faces a stern exam of his managerial talents. Hughton will hope his players aren’t lingering on the loss to West Brom and will urge them to approach Chelsesa with the positive attitude that saw them avoid losing for over two months.
Unfortunately they may have picked the wrong time to tackle the Blues who’ve been re-energised by interim boss Rafael Benitez in recent week with six wins from their last seven games in all competitions. An 8-0 drubbing of Aston Villa gave an indication as to the impact Benitez has had in his short time in West London under testing circumstances. The Spaniard has played a major role in focusing the players minds on the task in hand and another convincing win in east anglia will confirm their reintroduction to the Premier Leaguge title race.
Grant Holt (hamstring) is a major injury doubt for Norwich but defender Steven Whittaker is definitely out with a hip injury.
Chelsea have Jon Obi Mikel back after he completed a three match ban, while the game will come too soon for captain John Terry and Ryan Bertrand to make a return.
What the managers said…
“We will see after two or three more games. You could see the team had confidence in themselves, they believed, and that was there to the end. They had good movements, created chances. Now we have to sustain this run and it will be easier for me to say we can compete. The players were really focused from day one,’ Benitez said. They knew they had a new manager and they had to perform. The players, from day one, were trying to learn, to improve and they were keen to learn.” Rafa Benitez remained coy on Chelsea’s Premier League title hopes (Daily Mail)
“Yes, it is about how we react. To have been on such a long unbeaten run in this division is a testament to a group of lads that have seen us right in every game, as we were today. It is just those defining moments, but you have to put that behind you. At some stage we were going to lose and at some stage that run was going to come to an end and it always has to be about the next game. We’ve got two very tough games coming up but at the moment is just about that next one.” Chris Hughton is looking for the right reaction from his players after the extinction of their unbeaten run (Norwich Evening News)
The Blues are unbeaten against the Canaries in their last eight meetings, winning on six occasions. However, the hosts have won five Premier League games in a row at Carrow Road – all by a one goal margin.
Prediction: Norwich City 1-3 Chelsea
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