Norwich City v Chelsea – Match Preview

Norwich and Chelsea chase a hat trick of victories in 2012 when the two meet at Carrow Road on Saturday.

The Canaries left it late to beat West Brom last week with Steve Morison continuing his impressive season heading home the winner at the Hawthorns to move his side into ninth. That win put them 11 points clear of the relegation zone in what has been a stunning campaign to date. Paul Lambert’s men have performed way above expectations and certainly proved their top-flight credentials in the Midlands last Saturday. Despite losing their lead late in the second half they continued plugging a way and Morison put the finishing touches to a devastating counterattack to take his goals tally to nine. The former Millwall striker was predicted to struggle with the rigours of Premier League life but his strength and determination have become one of the hallmarks of Norwich’s play. The Welshman has been that good he’s kept club captain Grant Holt on the bench for much of the season although when the two have been paired together they’ve been unplayable. Concerns still remain for Lambert over the strength of his back four with the Canaries yet to keep a clean sheet this season. However if they keep winning games in the manner they have done their chances of beating Chelsea are high.

Andre Villas-Boas knows his side need to keep winning if they are to stay ahead of London rivals Arsenal in the race for a top four place. The Blues struggled to beat Sunderland at Stamford Bridge last week with Frank Lampard scoring an early winner. Their inability to add to that lead will have concerned The young Portuguese tactician who saw £50 million strike Fernando Torres draw another blank. The Spaniard was lively for much of the game and it was his brilliant acrobatic effort that rattled the crossbar leading to Lampard’s goal. More of the same will be expected in East Anglia as Torres attempts to reignite his career a year after moving to West London. Villas-Boas will also be able to call upon the services of Gary Cahill after he completed his long drawn out move from Bolton. The England defender was in the crowd last week to watch his new teammates and won’t have been too impressed by David Luiz’s display. It’s probable that Cahill will come in to make his debut at the expense of the Brazilian as Chelsea aim to nullify the physical presence of Norwich in the final third and chalk up a third straight win that will keep them in pole position for a Champions League finish.

Norwich City 9th : 28 points

Last six: W W D L D D

Team news: Reserve keeper Declan Rudd is out until March whilst Paul Lambert has terminated Richie De Laet’s loan deal with immediate effect. Marc Tierney and James Vaughan remain out.

Key Player: Steve Morison

Once again the Welshman was the match winner for Norwich scoring his ninth goal of a very impressive season. Morison’s tenacious style can rattle any back four and he’ll pose a huge threat to Chelsea’s fragile rearguard.

Chelsea 4th : 40 points

Last six: W W L D D D

Team news: Jon Obi Mikel and Branislav Ivanovic are still sidelined but Michael Essien could return to the starting line up following his recovery from a serious knee injury.

Key Player: Frank Lampard

Despite not being guaranteed a first team slot this season Lampard has proved his importance to Chelsea on numerous occasions. The midfielder was the match winner once again for Andre Villas-Boas’ side last week and will surely be amongst the goals again at Norwich.

PREDICTION 

Norwich are flying high and will be full of confidence going into one of their toughest matches of the season. If they tighten up in defence and play their usual game Chelsea will find it very tough in East Anglia.

Score 1-1