Sunday, December 9, 2018

Prediction: Norwich vs Chelsea

Dan Steeden in FA Cup, Free Soccer Predictions 4 Jan 2018

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Verdict: Chelsea -1

Best Odds: 5/4

Bookmakers: Bet 365

Norwich host Premier League giants Chelsea in what promises to be an intriguing FA Cup third-round clash. The Canaries have been underwhelming in the Championship this season, and currently sit in 13th position, despite their recent spell of good form. The Blues meanwhile head into this game off the back of a 2-2 draw with Arsenal, and wholesale changes could make for a giant-killing opportunity.

Norwich

The Canaries have had a disappointing season, defined by a lack of goals and the inability to turn frustrating draws into wins and narrow losses into hard-fought draws. With just 26 goals scored in 26 Championship games this season, it is little surprise that Daniel Farke’s side are stagnating around mid-table. Striker Cameron Jerome has just one goal in 15 appearances, while Nelson Oliveira is doing marginally better with seven in 20. To their credit Norwich do have the second best defensive record in the bottom half of the Championship, and it is perhaps their back line that is keeping them from dropping too close to the drop zone.

Sadly Norwich historically don’t have a great success rate in the FA Cup either, and have failed to progress past the fourth round for the last five consecutive years. Drawing Chelsea this early could well signal the end of their cup run just as soon as it began, though the Canaries have been one a decent run of form recently. Farke’s men managed to end a two-game losing streak with two wins and a draw in their last three games. However, with such tough opposition and the lack of a reliable goal scorer, it is difficult to see the home side coming away with a positive result on Saturday.

Team News

Louis Thompson is the only Norwich player out for any real length of time, while Cameron Jerome has fully recovered from his back problem and could feature in this clash.

Chelsea

With the huge success of Manchester City and the big transfer stories surrounding Liverpool and Arsenal, Chelsea have flown somewhat under the radar this season. Despite rumblings of discontent from manager Antonio Conte about fixture congestion, the size of his squad, and various other things, the Blues sit third in the Premier League table, one point behind Manchester United, and with the second best defensive record in the league. You are however, as they say, only as good as your last game, and Conte’s men endured an agonising 2-2 draw with Arsenal this week. That result won’t fill the players with a huge amount of confidence heading into their clash with Norwich, but there will likely be big changes made to the starting XI anyway.

Fringe players such as Davide Zappacosta and Michy Batshuayi are expected to start, and that will at least give some of Chelsea’s bigger names a well-earned rest after a hectic Christmas schedule. While the likes of Batshuayi, who is yet to start a Premier League game for the Blues, are rotation players, there are still of a higher quality than Norwich are likely use to in the Championship. The Belgian forward has bagged two goals in 11 brief appearances this season, and has proved that he knows where the goal is during his time at Marseille. Chelsea have the quality to breeze past Norwich, and that is likely what will happen.

Team News

Antonio Conte does not have many injuries to deal with, and only David Luiz and Charly Musonda will likely be unavailable due to knee and groin injuries respectively.

The Italian coach will still likely make changes from the side that drew 2-2 with Arsenal, and the likes of Davide Zappacosta and Michy Batshuayi could come into the side.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Norwich have won just nine of their 26 league games this season.
  • The Canaries have also only scored 26 goals, which is an average of one per game.
  • Chelsea have lost just four times in the league this season, conceding just 16 goals.
  • The Blues have also scored 41 times in 22 games, which is 15 more than Norwich in four fewer games.
  • Chelsea won’t want a replay with their already busy schedule, so the Blues will likely look for a quick and easy win.

Conclusion

While Antonio Conte will likely make number of changes to his team, it is important to remember just how annoying a replay would be for Chelsea with everything else they have to compete for. It is difficult to see anything other than a routine victory for the Blues here against a mediocre Norwich team.

Verdict: Chelsea -1

Best Odds: 5/4

Bookmakers: Bet 365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Steeden


Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.

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