After the midweek excursion in Scandinavia, the European Champions now return to the domestic campaign looking to build on the momentum sustained at the Emirates last weekend. It has been a successful seven days for Roberto di Matteo’s team, the win away at Arsenal last Saturday was vastly important in shaping habit for the rest of the season. Last year we only managed one win against the eventual top 4, and so it was good to set a tone in what many will see as our first domestic test this season. With the disintegration of the traditional ‘top four’ in English football, Chelsea are going to have to get results both home and away against the top teams to make last season’s 7th place finish an anomaly.
This Saturday, Norwich City visit West London on a poor run of form. Last weekend, an ailing Liverpool team battered the Canaries’ at Carrow Road, leaving pundits and writers galore to slap a sticky note on Chris Hughtons’ forehead reading; ‘second season syndrome’. Sitting on top of only Reading and Queens Park Rangers’ in the lower echelons of the table. Hughton spoke of “bouncing back” after the defeat to Liverpool, meaning a result at the Bridge on Saturday would be a massive relief to the East Anglian club. The Norwich squad is much developed from the stalemate churned out when the last time the teams met. Hughton chose to bring in Leeds midfielder Robert Snodgrass as well as snaring Spanish full back Javier Garrido on loan during the summer. On loan Spurs’ youngster Harry Kane is a long-term injury doubt, and Sebastien Bassong, Anthony Pilkington and Steven Whittaker are all carrying knocks.
Chelsea was able to rest John Terry, Ryan Bertrand as well as Mikel and Eden Hazard before their cameo appearances in Denmark. A Juan Mata inspired win against Nordsjaelland puts us in good stead ahead of the game with Norwich on Saturday. Daniel Sturridge could return, and with Marko Marin fit, Chelsea could boast a fully fit squad. At the time of writing this, it is unbeknown whether or not John Terry will appeal the four-match ban imposed on him by the Football Association, despite being cleared in a court of law, and be available for the clash at the Bridge. I am sure I am not alone in believing Gary Cahill is more than capable in coming in for John Terry if the skipper chooses not to appeal his ban. With Mata in good form, Oscar starting and finishing matches, Hazard classy as per and both Marin and Moses available, the contention for the three men in and around Fernando Torres would appear to be a topic that will be talked and talked about this season at the Bridge. I feel that with Oscar playing the full 90 minutes in the Parken Stadium, either Hazard or Bertrand will come in, and Mikel will regain his place in front of the back four. Much is made in the press every time Frank Lampard is dropped to the bench. Before his start against Nordsjaelland, he had been dropped for the last three matches; the man is no fool, and I’m sure can see and feel the benefits of being rested in order to enhance his ability when he is on the pitch. There are many examples of great players ‘slowing down’ to prolong careers and avoid the danger of being deemed surplus whilst on the pitch.
At the time of writing this, it is unbeknown whether or not John Terry will appeal the four-match ban imposed on him by the Football Association, and be available for the clash at the Bridge. Many high profile names in and around football have had their say over the saga. Yet, it appears clear to any rational man that it is a farce an association can discipline a man after they have been tried and cleared in a court of law. Whatever you think of the legal structure in this country, the high court should be seen as the embodiment of legal action and the Football Association stepping in afterwards surely brings that institution into distribute. Terry cannot win; he is proved innocent in court, therefore the FA decides to punish him. He does not appeal his ban, and the general public deems him guilty. He does appeal, and he is accused by PM’s and racial protesters of dragging the whole thing on. England have lost a fine centre back and leader, and it is too Chelsea’s gain.
Skies appear to be blue in SW6 right now. Sitting pretty at the summit of the Premier league, with Arsenal and Manchester United both losing last weekend and Manchester City stuttering in fourth, a win against the Canaries’ will turn the heat right up on our rivals, despite only being seven games into the season. It is a game that we should win, and I expect us too. Petr Cech is in fine form, Fernando Torres is finding the net, amongst others, and with players such as Moses, Marin and Azpilicueta coming into the squad, it is exciting times at the Bridge.
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