7th of January 2018

Cup replay for Blues after away stalemate vs Canaries (0-0)

Chelsea face a replay after being held to a goalless draw at Norwich in the FA Cup third round on Saturday. In a game of few clear-cut chances, neither side was able to find a breakthrough on a cold Norfolk night. Pedro was on Antonio Conte line-up and played 89 minute of the game before being replaced by sub Sterling.

It is 20 years since Chelsea last lost in the FA Cup at this stage, when Ruud Gullit’s holders were beaten 5-3 at Stamford Bridge by Manchester United. There was to be no goalfest at Carrow Road though, and Blues will be in Monday’s fourth round draw but must first navigate our way past a Norwich side whose organised performance belied their position in mid-table in the Championship.

On the balance of play, Chelsea probably shaded it with Michy Batshuayi, Willian and Davide Zappacosta all troubling home goalkeeper Angus Gunn, while Willy Caballero in the Chelsea goal was relatively untroubled.

The replay will take place on Tuesday 16 January, subject to TV selections.

New signing Ross Barkley trained at Cobham today as he builds towards match fitness, and a number of senior players were left behind, but there was still plenty of pedigree in the Chelsea line-up.

David Luiz was back for his first appearance since the Champions League win at Qarabag on 22 November, with Caballero in for Thibaut Courtois in goal. There were rests for Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, N’Golo Kante, Cesc Fabregas, Victor Moses, Marcos Alonso Eden Hazard, while Alvaro Morata was among the subs, so Batshuayi spearheaded a three-man attack flanked by Pedro and Willian.

Bar Morata and sub goalkeeper Eduardo, it was a youthful bench with just 11 Chelsea first-team appearances among them. 18-year-old Dujon Sterling would replace Pedro late on to make his Chelsea debut.

Norwich made just one change from their win over Millwall on New Year’s Day – defender Christoph Zimmermann replacing forward Nelson Oliveira. That spelt a three-man backline for the first time under German coach Daniel Farke, with Josh Murphy moved central to lead the attacking line.

A low-key start to the game saw Canaries captain Ivo Pinto treated for a head injury after a collision with Kenedy, the Blues’ left wing-back for the day. A skewed Danny Drinkwater shot was all either side had to show for a first quarter of the game which had failed to ignite.

David Luiz showed signs of rustiness when his poor control almost let in former Spurs midfielder Alex Pritchard, and moments later the Norwich man almost had sight of goal after finding space but saw his shot blocked.

At the other end Chelsea were struggling to make inroads, not much was sticking and we were getting no luck in behind a Norwich defence that was keeping its shape well.

The home side’s main attacking threat had come through Murphy, who was doing a lot of his work out on the left before cutting inside onto his favoured right foot. One near-post cross was snatched by Caballero before a bending shot flew over the bar.

When Chelsea finally did trouble Gunn’s goal, just after the half-hour mark, it was Kenedy from a similar spot from where he opened the scoring back in 2016, just outside the area. His effort was deflected behind and the subsequent corner over-hit. It seemed a fitting summary of the game so far.

Before the break, Murphy got beyond Antonio Rudiger for the hosts but skewed his effort across goal and Jamses Maddison shot high from outside the box, shortly after being fouled by David Luiz, who was booked.

Chelsea made a better start to the second period with Norwich camped inside their own defensive third, and our two wing-backs combined for the first chance of the half. Kenedy did well to put the ball into a dangerous area and Davide Zappacosta got forward to head across goal, but the home side were able to clear before Batshuayi or Pedro could capitalise on the loose ball.

Batshuayi then saw two efforts saved by Gunn as he battled to find space around the Norwich area, and then Drinkwater sliced wide after good work from Willian. The Brazilian took things into his own hands on 55 minutes, feinting and shimmying before bringing a smart low save from the England Under-21 goalkeeper.

There was much improvement from the Blues, who looked sharper getting to loose balls and were playing with greater urgency and thrust in attack. A loose ball from Tom Trybull resulted in Willian having another crack and you sensed an opener may not be far away.

Just as the Blues were taking a hold though, Norwich came back onto the front foot. Pritchard had a shot deflected just over, and from the corner, Timm Klose nodded wide. Gary Cahill had been booked in the preceding minute.

A Norwich free-kick brought more danger as Caballero could only half-clear with his punch, the ball dropping to Murphy, whose left-footed volley was thankfully wayward with the goal unmanned.

With time beginning to fade, Morata and Charly Musonda were introduced in place of Batshuayi and Kenedy, Musonda joining Willian in support of Morata as Pedro moved to left wing-back, but still there was no way past a well-drilled Norwich side, who by now content to settle for a replay.

Late on, Zappacosta’s first half-volley was straight at the goalkeeper his second was inches wide as we looked to snatch a winner, and there was a moment to remember for Sterling, who replaced Pedro for his Chelsea debut.

A draw will frustrate Antonio Conte, whose side face another match in what is already a packed January schedule, but the manager will be confident we can progress back on home soil. It is in the Carabao Cup we are next in action, hosting Arsenal at the Bridge on Wednesday night as we look to gain an upper hand in the first leg of the semi-final. We will need to do more than tonight if that is to happen.

 


- Match stats:

Chelsea (3-4-3): Caballero; Rudiger, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Zappacosta, Bakayoko, Drinkwater, Kenedy (Musonda 78); Willian, Batshuayi (Morata 74), Pedro (Sterling 89).

Subs: Eduardo, Clarke-Salter, Ampadu, Hudson-Odoi.

Booked David Luiz 41, Cahill 62

Norwich (3-4-2-1): Gunn; Hanley, Zimmermann, Klose; Pinto (c), Tettey, Trybull Lewis; Pritchard (Wildschut 87), Maddison; Murphy (Oliveira 83).

Subs: McGovern, Husband, Vrancic, Hoolahan, Watkins.

Booked Hanley 76, Tettey 86

Referee Stuart Attwell

Crowd 23,598

- Match report by chelseafc.com


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