On a newly laid pitch at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea played hosts to premiership newcomers Norwich City. Mourinho had already stated that three points were a vital follow-up to the draw at Arsenal last week and his players didn’t let him down.
With goals from Damien Duff, Frank Lampard, Arjen Robben and late on, substitute Didier Drogba, Chelsea recorded their sixth 4-0 victory in nine matches to send them six points clear at the top of the table with Everton being held to a 0-0 away to Blackburn and Arsenal not playing until Sunday.
Chelsea lined up with a 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation with Gallas back in the centre of defence alongside Terry due to Carvalho’s toe injury. Bridge returned to the left side with the ever reliable Ferreira continuing on the right. Eidur Gudjohnsen started up front with Robben and Duff either side, Tiago retained his place in the mid-field three alongside Makalele and Lampard in what is now looking like Jose’s first choice trio.
In the Eighth minute, Norwich suffered a setback when Svensson got injured, landing awkwardly and damaging his medial ligaments after jumping with Terry. He was replaced by Leon McKenzie and will be out of action at least until January which is a big loss to Norwich’s survival hopes. Soon after, the Canaries gifted Chelsea an early Christmas present when a misplaced Helveg pass fell to Duff who dashed towards the Norwich penalty area and hit a left foot shot low and hard into the right hand corner to continue his rich vein of form – scoring his fifth goal in nine games. 1-0.
Chelsea should have had a penalty in the 19th minute when McKenzie appeared to handle the ball in the area however referee Mike Dean waved play-on with the players looking on in disbelief. Norwich, at the bottom end of the league, did not register a single effort on target, the only attempt an off-target shot by Bentley – on-loan from Arsenal – who tried a cheeky effort in the 26th minute, trying to chip Cech
Norwich were having a good period of possession when Doherty made a hospital pass out of defence that came straight to Robben. Arjen took control of the ball and played a clever pass to Frank Lampard in space who took aim and fired a beautiful shot into the top corner from around 30 yards out. 2-0.
Duff and Robben were enjoying plenty of space on the wings, switching at will throughout the game and causing endless problems for Norwich. The third goal came in the 43rd minute after excellent work by the seemingly unstoppable Robben who, in breaking clear and feeding Lampard, started a wonderful move that worked the ball through to Tiago and then back to him to finish off with a hard shot from the edge of the area. 3-0
The half time whistle signalled the end of a half with a score line that flattered Chelsea, in truth, Norwich were asking questions of them and holding their own in the midfield and did enjoy good periods of possession throughout the half, they we’re mostly outdone by their own defensive errors.
In the 60th minute, Mourinho swapped the ineffective Gudjohnsen for Drogba. Eidur having one of his quieter games could have no complaints.
Robben continued his personal torment of the Norwich defence in the 65th minute, running square inside two defenders and hitting a low 20 yard shot which Green needed two touches to gather. Then again, in the 66th minute, Robben raced wide after Drogba headed on Ferreira’s clearance into his path, he cut inside and then shot at Green’s far post which the keeper blocks for a corner. Ten minutes later, Parker came on for Tiago, then shortly after that, Robben left the pitch to a standing ovation to be replaced by Kezman.
As can be the way with Football, Chelsea played much better football in the second half and dominated possession yet only managed to register one further goal. Drogba showed signs of nearing form and fitness with some good passes and neat control, but despite not yet being 100% fit he is still scoring goals. His first, and Chelsea’s fourth, came with nine minutes left on the clock after a good Duff corner; Drogba leapt above everybody and headed an unstoppable effort into the Norwich goal leaving the keeper no chance. 4-0.
The home crowd, who had been in good voice throughout most of the game, sang out “4-0. We only win 4-0, we only win 4-0”.
“We have got three points which was the minimum we required from this game.” Mourinho said after the game. “The third goal was really beautiful. It was good vision from Tiago and Lamps and a good shot from Arjen”
“The system suits the players’ qualities and the way that Arjen and Duff are playing it is better for our game to play that formation at the moment.
“We can control games. It suits our players and we are getting results.”
Indeed we are.
Top of the league? We’re having a laugh!
Chelsea: Cech; Ferreira, Gallas, Terry (c), Bridge; Tiago (Parker 76), Makelele, Lampard; Duff, Gudjohnsen (Drogba 59), Robben (Kezman 77).
Norwich: Green; Edworthy, Fleming (c), Doherty, Charlton; Bentley, Helveg, Safri (McVeigh 69); Jonson, Svensson (McKenzie 7), Huckerby.
Referee Mike Dean.