It's an early start in Norfolk for Frank Lampard and his team this weekend. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton are ready for the journey east...
The Chelsea cat is among the Canaries for Saturday’s early kick-off, and let us hope the record of seven league and cup trips to Norwich without defeat remains intact.
Home and away, the Blues are unbeaten in 15 matches in all competitions against the Canaries, 10 of them wins and five draws. In the Premier League we have won eight and drawn two since our last defeat at Carrow Road in December 1994 when Glenn Hoddle was player-manager.
Hoddle’s present successor, Frank Lampard, always enjoyed himself against the Norfolk club in his Chelsea playing days, scoring four goals in eight wins and three draws across all competitions.
Frank Lampard was the last coach to clinch all three points at Carrow Road when his then Derby side won 4-3 on 29 December 2018.
— Key stat
Chelsea form away from home
Blues legend Lampard will be determined to put a first away league win under his belt and reverse a trend that precedes his tenure. The Londoners have drawn two and lost two of the previous four games on the road, and lost six of the last 10 in the league, failing to score in seven of those.
It has been a demanding start to the season generally for the Europa League champions, traveling to play Manchester United and Liverpool, then facing an improving Leicester looking to repeat last season’s victory at the Bridge. Now come the Canaries with their tails up after a morale-boosting win last weekend
Chelsea’s Super Cup exertions on the banks of the Bosporus clearly took the wind out of the Blues’ sails in the second half of Sunday’s game. Eleven of the Foxes’ 12 shots on goal came in the second half.
There was of course a magnificent welcome back for head coach Frank Lampard and other true Blue members of the staff, and the positivity at the end despite two dropped points suggests there is not likely to be any shortage of optimism - and realism - any time soon.
As far as the league goes, the sum total of points from the same two matches at Old Trafford and home to Leicester in 2019/20 remains the same as 2018/19: one.
Chelsea against newly-promoted clubs
The winding river Wensum beckons on Saturday and, with Sheffield United to come next weekend, hosts Norwich comprise the first of two adversaries who have recently returned to the Premier League.
Chelsea have lost just two of our past 22 Premier League encounters with teams promoted the previous spring, comprising 15 wins and five draws. However, both defeats came against clubs who had won the Championship the previous season: 0-3 v Newcastle in 2017/18, and 1-2 v Wolves last season.
The Londoners’ most recent visit to Carrow Road came in January 2018 for round three of the FA Cup. The game was a dull affair and ended 0-0, with Willian – who returned to action last weekend in his new no.10 shirt – and Pedro coming close to the breakthrough. The 10-man Blues were taken to penalties in the replay, but went on to beat Arsenal in the final.
Grant Hanley, Jamal Lewis (since injured), and Tom Trybull are the only players to have started that game and Saturday’s 3-1 home victory over Newcastle. James Maddison has since moved to Leicester, and was the Foxes’ best player at the Bridge on Sunday.
The 12.30 kick-off slot
Being involved in the first game of the weekend is a double-edged shored. Win, and it feels like the rest of the league is playing catch-up; lose and the misery seems to heap on in dollops over two or three days.
Chelsea are not usually caught cold by the premature start. In fact, this is the first lunchtime kick-off since chilly December 2018 at Selhurst Park, and that finished in a 1-0 win against potentially tricky Crystal Palace. Earlier the same month we managed a 2-0 home victory against Fulham, and a 2-2 draw at the Bridge against Manchester United came in October.
Carabao Cup and Champions League catch-up
- The draw for round three of the Carabao Cup will take place on Wednesday following the conclusion of the televised Lincoln v Everton fixture. Second round ties will be played to a conclusion on Tuesday and Wednesday.
- The Champions League group stage draw will take place in Monaco from 5pm on Thursday 29 Aug. As Europa League champions, Chelsea will be in in Pot 1 alongside Champions League winners Liverpool and the six title-holders of Europe’s top six leagues.
Norwich under Daniel Farke
Norwich’s medieval cathedral (pictured top) had a 55-foot helter-skelter erected in its nave this summer, but the 15-second descent was not conceived as a divine vision of the home club’s fortunes this season.
Against Liverpool on day one Daniel Farke’s side played very positively and fluently going forward, but indecision in both boxes cost them all three points, the Reds finding routes to goal down their flanks, an issue potentially exacerbated by Jamal Lewis’s cramp injury.
The Canaries were equally open against an anaemic-looking Newcastle last weekend, their 4-2-3-1 dominating possession and finding a cutting edge. They were constantly looking to play Teemu Pukki in behind, and the centre-forward duly netted his first hat-trick in the English top-flight. One of the three was an untypical long-range stinger, the others more typically derived from smart runs behind the defenders.
Sheffield Utd are at home to last weekend’s visitors Leicester at 3pm on Saturday. The Blades are currently in eighth place and undefeated since their return to the top flight.
Chelsea Women’s season kicks off on 8 September and season tickets for all home Super League matches are available for just £49 – less than £5 per match.
Following a rousing 3-0 victory over Liverpool that featured senior players Michy Batshuayi and Toni Rudiger, Andy Myers’ high-flying Under-23 team are away at Manchester City today, with a 7pm kick-off.
Champions League group stage takes shape
Several seeds were scattered in the Champions League’s third qualifying round last week. Basel, Celtic, Copenhagen, and Dynamo Kiev all tumbled out, and competition grandees Porto surprisingly lost at home to Russia’s ever-improving Krasnodar.
Next week’s play-off round second legs will decide the final entrants to the 32 in the group stage and the Russians, who reached last season’s Europa League quarter-finals, will do well to overcome a 0-4 first leg deficit to seeded side Olympiacos.
Chelsea’s other potential group stage adversaries are looming into view (and remember, no club can be drawn against another from the same association.)
Possible Champions League group stage opponents
Pot 2 – Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica.
Pot 2 or 3 – Lyon.
Pot 2, 3 or 4 – Ajax or APOEL.
Pot 3 – Bayer Leverkusen, Red Bull Salzburg, Valencia, Inter, Krasnodar or Olympiacos.
Pot 3 or 4 – Lokomotiv Moscow, Genk, Bruges or Linz, Rosenborg or Dinamo Zagreb, Red Star Belgrade or Young Boys.
Pot 4 – Galatasaray, Leipzig, Atalanta, Lille, Slavia Prague or Cluj.
How is the Premier League VAR trial doing?
A technical debate is raging about whether the frame rate used in video reviews provides sufficient precision for the Video Assistant Referees to make an accurate call.
It is one thing to freeze the action and determine whether a foot or shoulder is offside by a few millimetres; it is another to capture the exact moment the teammate has made contact, and the gaps between each frame can equate to a few decisive centimetres. It is issues such as this that should be ironed out during this first season.
However, warnings that Stockley Park interventions matches could stretch matches beyond the tolerance of supporters appear unfounded up to now. With a high threshold for what constitutes a ‘clear and obvious error’, there have been just five interventions in the 20 Premier League matches to date, all for factual issues.
Each of Chelsea’s top-flight outings has accrued five minutes for stoppages – entirely in keeping with recent seasons. Where the Blues could have issue with VAR was in the UEFA Super Cup penalty shoot-out, during which Liverpool’s Adrian regularly broke the new law ordering goalkeepers to keep one foot on the line when the kick is taken. Laws should surely be enforced no matter the circumstances, and especially in decisive moments.
There remains a lingering fear that VAR will rob players and supporters of collective, climactic moment when the ball hits the net – though few seemed inhibited when Mason Mount pounced and finished brilliantly against Leicester last weekend.
The midfielder became the first English player to score on his home league debut for Chelsea since Paul Hughes against Derby in January 1997 under Ruud Gullit.
Norwich vs Chelsea: when, where, team news
Referee: Martin Atkinson
VAR: Andre Marriner
Suspensions: Norwich – none; Chelsea – none
Injuries: Norwich - Amadou, Drmic, Hernandez, Idah, Klose, Lewis, Zimmermann; Chelsea – Hudson-Odoi, James, Loftus-Cheek
Other Premier League fixtures
Aston Villa v Everton - 8pm (Sky)
Brighton v Southampton - 3pm
Manchester United v Crystal Palace - 3pm
Sheffield United v Leicester - 3pm
Watford v West Ham - 3pm
Liverpool v Arsenal - 5.30pm (Sky)
Bournemouth v Manchester City - 2pm (Sky)
Tottenham v Newcastle - 4.30pm (Sky)
Wolves v Burnley - 4.30pm