Chelsea v Norwich – Team News & Odds
Relegation-threatened Norwich take on a Chelsea side still harbouring slim hopes of another Premier League crown coming to Stamford Bridge. Here’s Ciaran Bonass with the team news, odds and best bets.
Atletico Madrid knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League in midweek with an impressive 3-1 win in London on Wednesday night to leave Jose Mourinho on the verge of a second successive season without winning a trophy. The Blues may have spoiled both the game and their opponents chances of a first Premier League title when they defeated Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield last weekend though.
Breakaway goals from Demba Ba and Willian at the end of each half kept Chelsea’s own chances of a league crown alive but that outcome still appears unlikely as they will be relying on both the Reds and Manchester City to lose games in order to finish above both of their title rivals. That victory on Merseyside was, however, their only win in their last four although they have kept five clean sheets in their past seven and 17 in the Premier League this season and should they ultimately prevail it will certainly be based around their defensive solidity.
Norwich have practically been in freefall since February, picking up only eight points of the past 39 available and losing their last five on the bounce. Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney both hit two in an easy 4-0 win for Manchester United over the Canaries in their last outing and although United’s vibrancy could be attributed to the impact of Ryan Giggs in the Old Trafford hotseat for the first time, the visitors made virtually no impact on the the home goal.
Norwich’s chronic lack of goals has been their biggest problem all season – they’ve scored the fewest in the division (28), along with Crystal Palace but conceded 17 more than the Eagles – and that looks likely to cost them dearly as they now occupy the last of the relegation spots with Arsenal to face in their final game.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech dislocated his shoulder in the first leg of Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final tie in Madrid and looks unlikely to figure again this season, although he did make a strange claim to have trained with the team last week. The Blues have no other injury worries but Ramires is suspended after picking up a four-game ban for viloent conduct in their recent loss to Sunderland.
Defender Joseph Yobo is a doubt for Norwich with a calf problem although boss Neil Adams has a full squad to select from otherwise.
The Blues came away from Carrow Road with all three points following a 3-1 win in the reverse fixture last October with substitutes Willian and Eden Hazard earning victory for Chelsea after both scored in the last five minutes after Oscar and Anthony Pilkington had exchanged goals earlier in the game. Norwich have lost eight and drawn two of their past ten games against these opponents with their last win in this fixture coming back in October 1994.
When the side with the best home record faces the team with the worst record on the road the result is generally a foregone conclusion and 1/5 on a Chelsea win would certainly suggest as much and although 6/10 on the handicap -1 seems a likely scenario it’s still quite a slight price.
Mourinho could select any combination as a front five so the goalscorer market is a tricky one to predict until the teams are announced, but he will strive for his side to keep up what pressure they can on their title rivals so despite being odds on, the Blues’ scoring in both halves is backable at 8/11 while a win with another clean sheet at 5/6 could also be worth a punt.