PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: NORWICH CITY V CHELSEA - PART ONE
The run of four away games in a row comes to an end this weekend. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton turn their attention from Europe to East Anglia…
Another lunchtime kick-off followed by another two-week break is not what textbooks might suggest to get the football juices flowing. The possibility of putting pressure on leaders Arsenal, who face Man United's conquerors West Brom later on Sunday, very much is.
Norwich are pleasant and challenging hosts but the Blues have departed with all the points on five of our last six visits. Incrementally the Mourinho master plan is falling back into place but still no centre-forward has scored a league goal this season (and they have not quite flowed in from other departments till Tuesday).
The defence is looking mean and well drilled and creativity is abundant in midfield. Yet a team aiming for win top honours needs someone up among the golden boot contenders and the team's confidence would be hugely enhanced by a spree from the strikers.
Sadly, in-form Fernando Torres injured his knee in Romania and has been ruled out for approximately three weeks and was, in any case, suspended from this match after his red card at Tottenham.
The FA's new review procedure ignored the media lynch mob pursuing the Spaniard over the clash with Jan Vertonghen, for which he was punished with a yellow. The panel's remit was published before the start of the season: if any official has seen the incident in question it is considered dealt with and cannot be reassessed.
Tuesday's performance and the result in response to the Basel setback had Mourinho saying his team is making good progress towards qualifying for the Champions League knockout phase.
The Portuguese also reserved a special hug for Andre Schurrle during the game and hailed him as 'the man' afterwards. The German looked delighted - another example of how the manager gets inside his players' heads.
With Samuel Eto'o looking more embedded game-by-game and involved in two of the goals in Bucharest, the new boys are beginning to have a big impact on the season. With injuries mounting that will have to continue apace.
The Steaua match brought our first away Champions League victory since the same 4-0 scoreline against Nordsjaelland a year ago. It is also the highest margin of victory for Mourinho's Blues since we won 4-0 in the FA Cup in February 2007 - against Norwich City. It is hopefully a sign the ruthlessness is returning to the Blues.
Julian Draxler's winner for Schalke in Switzerland has given them maximum points and group leadership. Our back-to-back matches with the Germans will go a long way to deciding the final standings, especially if Steaua can take points off Basel in their encounters.
This season Chelsea's U19s are mirroring the senior team's Champions League fixtures in the inaugural UEFA Youth League, which helps fill a void left by the suspension of the NextGen Series.
So far the youngsters have beaten both Basel and Steaua 4-0 and have looked superior to the opposition in terms of physical and technical development. If the games are yet to provide a truly stiff challenge, the travelling and organisation involved have offered the youngsters a valuable glimpse at what is demanded of the top modern footballer.
Domestically the first team have stumbled a few rungs down the Premier League table to fifth with Everton's Lukaku-led victory over a poor Newcastle side (and perhaps further before the kick-off at Norwich).
Several other sides in the top five face a difficult weekend and the Chelsea players will be keen to notch up our first away league win ahead of another international break - the third of the four scheduled between August and December.
The Blues have not been as impressive as usual on the road, though the trips have been to Old Trafford, White Hart Lane and Goodison Park.
In the summer Norwich City confronted the difficult third season issue head-on by helping manager Chris Hughton refresh every department of his squad. Having finished successively 12th and 11th they currently lie 14th having lost half of their six games to date.
Statistics show around 70% of promoted clubs who successfully navigate the first year in the Premier League go on to survive the second. The Canaries have already bettered their brief top-flight fling of 2004/05 - the year of Let's Be 'Avin' You - and recent transfer expenditure suggests the 1992-1995 experience is not lost on them either.
Twenty-two months after a highly creditable third-place finish in the inaugural Premier League of 1992/93, the new boys sent their fans home delirious with a 3-0 win over bitter rivals Ipswich Town.
Sadly they then endured a fatal slew of injuries, player sales, defeats and just four goals in eight games that saw them tumble from 11th to 20th and through the trapdoor. Memories of that drought may have guided the hand signing the cheques for Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Gary Hooper and Nathan Redmond et al in 2013.
Everton have lost once in four visits to Man City. West Brom have not beaten Arsenal at home since October 2005. The Hammers have not won at Spurs in over 14 years - Frank Lampard played for the victors.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Manchester City v Everton 12.45pm - BT Sport
Cardiff v Newcastle 3pm
Fulham v Stoke 3pm
Hull v Aston Villa 3pm
Liverpool v Crystal Palace 3pm
Sunderland v Manchester United 5.30pm - Sky Sports
Norwich v Chelsea 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Southampton v Swansea 1.30pm
Tottenham v West Ham 4pm
West Brom v Arsenal 4pm - Sky Sports
|Barclays Premier League top six|
Chelsea have won 31 points from the last 42 since the beginning of April.
The defeat at Everton is our only reverse in 14 Barclays Premier League matches.
We have won three, drawn three and lost one of our last seven away top-flight league games.
Chelsea have won all three league games when we have opened the scoring.
|Last six results|
|Sep 14||Everton (a)||L 0-1|
|Sep 18||Basel (Champions League h)||L 1-2|
|Sep 21||Fulham (h)||W 2-0|
|Sep 24||Swindon (Capital One Cup a)||W 2-0|
|Sat 28||Tottenham (a)||D 1-1|
|Oct 1||Steaua Bucharest (Champions League a)||W 4-0|
League games since
An away win: 3
An away draw: 0
An away defeat: 1
|Chelsea's next three games|