It’s a trip to Carrow Road next up for Chelsea as they begin their FA Cup campaign away to Norwich City. The Blues made it all the way to the final last year, beating Manchester United and Tottenham along the way, but lost out to Arsenal at Wembley. They’ll be hoping to go one better this year but will have to get past Norwich first in this Third Round tie.
Antonio Conte is expected to rotate his squad for the trip to East Anglia and also has no fresh injury worries after Chelsea’s draw with Arsenal on Wednesday. Charly Musonda and Kenedy face a race to be fit and, if they do pass their fitness tests, could make rare starts while David Luiz is a doubt. Baba Rahman could make his first appearance of the season after a knee injury he sustained last season while on loan at Schalke but the German club want him back in this January window. Norwich are likely to be without Matthew Jarvis, Harrison Reed, Louis Thompson and Marco Stiepermann, who are out with various injuries.
Probable Norwich XI: Gunn; Pinto, Hanley, Klose, Lewis; Tetty, Trybull, Maddison; Pritchard, Oliveira, Murphy.
Probable Chelsea XI: Caballero; Azpilicueta, Ampadu, Rudiger; Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Fabregas, Alonso; Pedro, Batshuayi, Willian.
If Norwich allow someone of Cesc Fabregas’s quality time and space, they’re going to be in trouble and could find themselves under a lot of pressure. You may see Alex Tettey keeping an eye on him and the Norwegian will look to use any way possible of stopping Chelsea’s creative players. Former Tottenham youngster Alex Pritchard has been on good form recently in the Championship and likes to drift in between the lines so Danny Drinkwater and the back three will have to be well aware of that. Michy Batshuayi is without a goal since his brace against Watford back in October and will be up against two powerful centre-halves in Grant Hanley and Timm Klose who have both played in the Premier League before. Batshuayi will have to work hard if he’s to get on the scoresheet,
Chelsea’s record against Norwich
The Blues have a very impressive record against the Canaries and you’ll have to go back to 1995 for the last time Norwich beat Chelsea. That was a 3-0 defeat at Carrow Road in the Premier League for Chelsea but things have changed a lot. They’ve won on each of their last three visits to Carrow Road with the latest one coming in 2016 where goals from Kenedy and Diego Costa saw Chelsea run out 2-1 winners as they struggled back up the Premier League table under Guus Hiddink. These two met in the FA Cup third round in 2002 when Norwich held Chelsea to a goalless draw at Carrow Road before the Blues smashed them 4-0 in the replay. Another 4-0 Chelsea win followed five years later when goals from Shaun Wright-Phillips, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and Andriy Shevchenko saw the Blues into the quarter-finals and they went on to win it in May.
With another game against Arsenal to come on Wednesday, Antonio Conte could switch his side around for this game against his Championship opponents but, as the records show, Conte and Chelsea are likely to come out on top.