Zzzz… Oh, is it over? Thank heavens for that. A second string Chelsea side took on Norwich City at Carrow Road in the FA Cup, as they attempted to find a cure for insomnia. A game that should have been a straightforward win turned into an exercise in futility as both sides, somehow, cancelled each other out. They’ll get another chance to have a go, in a replay 10 days or so down the line.
Here are some of the “talking points” from a dreary 0-0 borefest. Notice the quotes around talking points? That’s because there was hardly any insight you could gain from this game. Still, let’s see what we’ve got.
#1 Distinctly Second Best
The side put out by Antonio Conte should have been capable enough to win the match, but as it tends to happen most of the time, they clearly were not. The lineup had a distinct second-string smell to it, with Kante, Hazard, and Christensen et al nowhere to be seen. Alvaro Morata only made the bench alongside youngsters such as Dujon Sterling and Charly Musonda. Still, this was a lineup chock-full of internationals and they proceeded to produce the most uninspiring and soulless football you could have the misfortune of witnessing. The second half brought an improvement, presumably because Conte made them all cry at half-time in the dressing room. But there seemed to be a general acceptance that this was not going to be Chelsea’s day.
#2 Michy May Not
I’m all for giving time and patience to Michy Batshuayi, but if he cannot put in at least a solid 8/10 performance against Norwich City, there is no other option but to let him go. Preferably on loan, with no option to sell. Because he still might come good. And that’s where we are – waiting for a clearly talented player to start showing us what the fuss was all about when he was bought from Marseille. He was as bad as everyone else on the night, struggling to do the basics right. I’ve been going on and on about him taking his chances whenever he gets them, but after a season and a half, we’re still right where we started.
#3 Sideshow Returns
David Luiz made his comeback after a knee injury (or having been thrust upon the manager by Mr. Abramovich, if you believe the red tops) against Norwich City. And he then showed the world why Antonio Conte no longer trusts him in the heart of the Chelsea defence. Two mistakes in quick succession created two goal-scoring opportunities for the hosts which, if Norwich had been clinical enough, would have made life very difficult for the Brazilian. Thankfully, we only have to endure his classic Sideshow Bob antics in lower profile games such as this one.
#4 What Else?
Right, so Charly Musonda also returned from injury and played the last 15 minutes or so. He looked fresh and his direct running was a welcome change from the tedium of sideways passing. Dujon Sterling also came on for the final few minutes and won a corner. We ought to use him more. He is strong, fast and could be moulded into an excellent wingback for the long term.
#5 Really Struggling Now
Yeah, and that’s about it. I really feel for the travelling fans who endured this “spectacle” without dozing off, then tumbling down the rows of seats and onto the pitch. Davide Zappacosta could have put this tie out of its misery in the dying seconds, but as luck would have it, we’re going to have a replay. That’s another game we could have done without, in an already congested schedule. Still, could be worse. We could be Arsenal and get knocked out in the third round by Nottingham Forest.
Speaking of Arsenal, Chelsea play the Gunners in the Carabao Cup in midweek. Let’s hope it provides more in terms of entertainment than this game. I’m off to sleep again.