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    Chelsea v Norwich City


    Alex Neil would have been relishing the prospect of the international break up until two weeks ago. With four defeats in a row and just two points from their last six matches, the Canaries were ready for a chance to gather their thoughts and recharge the batteries. However a first clean sheet of the season against Swansea City helped them to a much needed three points to give them breathing space away from the relegation zone. Meanwhile Chelsea's nightmare continued as they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at Stoke City, leaving them with four defeats from their last five matches and languishing in 16th place in the Premier League. If there was ever a good time to play the Champions, it would have been last weekend. Yet two weeks away from club football could prevent Norwich from gathering momentum and building on their latest victory, whilst Jose Mourinho and his coaching staff had plenty of time to unpick their problems.

    It is not very often that you can say Chelsea's players might be more refreshed than the Norwich side after a set of international fixtures. Robbie Brady, Wes Hoolahan, Alex Tettey and Martin Olsson all found themselves playing in crucial Euro 2016 qualifying fixtures. Whilst the likes of Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Cesar Azpilicueta, Pedro and Even Hazard played less matches than they were expecting due to the unfortunate global events that took place last weekend.



    Chelsea and Jose Mourinho's problems have been well documented this season. The London club have won just three and lost seven of their opening twelve fixtures. Perhaps Mourinho's credentials are keeping him in the job, but a defeat on Saturday could force the hand of Roman Abramovic. Norwich City, like fellow promoted side Bournemouth, have learnt the hard way that neat, fluid football does not always get you results in the Premier League. Alex Neil has worked hard to strengthen the defence as they became the last club to record a clean sheet this season. They find themselves just one point and one place above Chelsea going into this crucial match.

    History would suggest that Chelsea will turn around their bad run of form this weekend, yet the record book has been thrown out of the window on many occasions already this season. Norwich have not beaten Chelsea for 21 years, losing eight of their last eleven meetings. However Norwich did hold out for a 0-0 draw in their last Premier League meeting at Stamford Bridge, back in May 2014.



    Chelsea's strength has been from direct free-kicks, with Brazilian Willian proving to be a key player in this aspect of their game. They have scored three of the seven Premier League goals from direct free-kicks so far this season. Yet their weakness has most definitely been defending leads. Jose Mourinho used to be famous for his Chelsea team taking the lead and holding out for a 1-0 or 2-0 victory. However they have dropped eight points from winning positions this season, the most in the league with bottom club Aston Villa. They have also allowed a staggering 49 shots on target from inside the box, a league high. Norwich have posed a threat in front of goal during most of their opening twelve games, with Dieumerci Mbokani playing a part in three of their last five goals. Yet they have looked weak defensively, especially when Newcastle United hit them for six.

    Thibaut Courtois and Radamel Falcao remained sidelined for Chelsea whilst Kurt Zouma and Eden Hazard face late fitness tests. Norwich are without winger Matt Jarvis who has a knee injury but England Under-21 international Nathan Redmond could return after missing the Swansea City match.



    Key Players:
    Willian- the Chelsea midfielder has been their most consistent player so far this season, scoring two and setting up one goal for his team.

    Robbie Brady- fresh from helping his country reach Euro 2016, the adaptable Irishman has been excellent for Norwich both going forward and defensively, with 69 crosses and 33 clearances. 

    Chris Lincoln's Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Norwich City
    Chelsea's season surely cannot keep spiralling out of control and they should have enough strength in their squad to see off Norwich on Saturday afternoon. 



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    Item Reviewed: Chelsea v Norwich City Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Chris Lincoln
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