Roberto Di Matteo has hailed the professionalism of his Chelsea side after they shrugged off a week of controversy to thump Norwich 4-1.
After going behind early on to a Grant Holt strike, goals from Fernando Torres, Frank Lampard, Eden Hazard and Branislav Ivanovic gave Chelsea their sixth win in seven games in all competitions to keep them four points clear at the top of the table.
Before the match there were questions over whether the release of the written judgment relating to John Terry’s FA punishment for using racist language towards QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, and the offensive tweet Ashley Cole directed at the governing body, had affected the team’s focus.
But Di Matteo believes the emphatic performance of his men put any such concerns to rest.
“I think the results are telling us that we are able to blank things out, that we can focus on our aim and target, which is winning football matches,” he told reporters. “It shows how professional the group is.
“We concentrate on our strength and try to win games with the players we have and the footballing philosophy we are aiming to play, and at the moment the team is in healthy form.
“We are creating lots of chances, scoring lots of goals and with different scorers – we don’t just rely on one player. It’s a team that is in good shape.”
Di Matteo expressed surprise that Juan Mata, who produced another stellar display and now has four goals and five assists in his last five matches, was omitted from Vicente Del Bosque’s Spain squad for their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.
“I’m surprised, and I’m very happy that he stays with me,” the Chelsea boss joked. “But I feel for him, because he’s in great form.
“I don’t know the reasons why, but we are happy he is going to be with us.”
Norwich manager Chris Hughton said he was pleased with the way his team began the match after their 5-2 mauling by Liverpool last weekend, but was disappointed in their defending.
“You look for a reaction and we certainly got that at the start of the game and we were really delighted to have gone 1-0 up, but we needed to hold onto that lead for longer,” Hughton told Sky Sports.
“The first goal was a disappointing one; we could have dealt with it better.
“Torres ends up getting a free header in the box and it is something we have got to deal with better, particularly at that stage.
“It was always going to be a tough ask coming here and getting a result with the players they have got and the form they are in, but we needed to hold onto that lead for longer.”