Date: Saturday 23rd October, 2021
Time: 12:30 pm
Stadium: Stamford Bridge
Referee: Andrew Madley (England)
Chelsea Team News
The big win over Malmo earlier this week came at a cost, as Thomas Tuchel has been handed a double blow on the team news front ahead of the visit of Norwich City. On Saturday, the Chelsea manager will be bereft of the services of three first-team players.
While Christian Pulisic remains unavailable due to his continued battle against an ankle injury, the USMNT international has been joined on the sidelines by fellow attackers Romelu Lukaku (ankle) and Timo Werner (hamstring), with the two strikers sustaining their injuries in the aforementioned game against Malmo.
With Tuchel left without a natural striker at his disposal, Kai Havertz becomes an automatic pick, with the German international set to lead the line for Chelsea against Norwich. The 22-year-old showed promising signs in his partnership with Callum Hudson-Odoi in the second half of the midweek fixture, meaning Hudson-Odoi ought to earn a recall as well.
The selection of Havertz and Hudson-Odoi should prompt Tuchel to shuffle his formation around a little, with Mason Mount playing higher up the pitch alongside the two recalled forwards. As far as the midfield double pivot is concerned, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mateo Kovacic should return, with the duo providing a solid presence in the middle of the park.
Out wide, the fit again Reece James should start as one of the two wing-backs, with Ben Chilwell lining up as the left wing-back once again. At the back, Andreas Christensen could be due a rest after playing a lot of games already this season. With that in mind, the three-man central defensive unit will likely comprise of Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger, with Edouard Mendy taking his place in goal.
robable Lineup (3-4-3): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, Chilwell; Mount, Havertz, Hudson-Odoi
Norwich City Team News
Like his counterpart in the Chelsea dugout, Daniel Farke has a fresh roster issue hampering his preparations ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge. On Saturday, the Norwich City manager will have to make do without five first-team players, with Billy Gilmour being the fresh absentee, as he is ineligible to take on parent club Chelsea.
The likes of Sam Byram (thigh), Christoph Zimmermann (ankle) and Todd Cantwell (achilles) all remain out while Przemyslaw Placheta is lacking match fitness, meaning the visit to Chelsea will have come too soon for him for the Polish winger.
Norwich should line up in a similar formation, on paper, as Chelsea, with a 3-5-2 setup expected, with the subtle difference being that they will primarily remain pinned in a back five, with the wing-backs dropping deep to snuff out the space for Mason Mount & co. to work around.
In goal, there is no looking past Tim Krul and in front of the veteran goalkeeper, Ozan Kabak, Ben Gibson and captain Grant Hanley will form the three-man central defensive unit. As for the two wing-backs, Max Aarons and Dimitris Giannoulis pick themselves.
In the middle of the park, the onus will be on Kenny McLean to keep things tight, with the Scottish international receiving defensive support from Pierre Lees-Melou and Mathias Normann, who is fit to return to action this weekend.
The midfield trio will largely remain compact so as to create overloads in the middle of the park when off the ball. Finally, the strike partnership ought to be formed by Teemu Pukki and Josh Sargent, both of whom will largely feed off scraps against Chelsea on Saturday.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Krul; Hanley, Kabak, Gibson; Aarons, Lees-Melou, McLean, Normann, Giannoulis; Pukki, Sargent
Chelsea have not faced a defeat in 17 meetings with Norwich City dating back to 1994 (W12 D5). The Canaries could, in fact, equal their longest losing streak in the Premier League against a particular opponent – matching the five defeats in a row against Wimbledon and Liverpool.
Chelsea are vying to win six of their first nine league matches for the first time since 2014, when Jose Mourinho was at the helm at Stamford Bridge. The Blues went on to win the title that season.
Norwich have not won in 18 Premier League matches, scoring just three goals in this sordid run (D2 L16). The Canaries are also without a win in their last 16 top-flight away fixtures (D3 L13).
Norwich have two points after eight games. Only two teams have fared as badly after nine Premier League matches and gone on to avoid relegation. The Canaries are the only team in the Premier League yet to take the lead in a game this season.
Chelsea have the joint-best defence in the division this season, conceding just three goals. On the other hand, Norwich’s most recent away goal in the Premier League was scored by Emiliano Buendia against Watford in July 2020.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Norwich City