With the league season approaching the completion of its first quarter, club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look forward to Canaries coming to the Bridge this weekend…
This weekend Chelsea take on Norwich, our second recently-promoted league opponent in a row. The Blues have seen off the team placed bottom on the day more often than any rival over the Premier League era, with 42 victories, but schedule is doing the Londoners no favours.
Stamford Bridge will stage the first of three early-start matches for the league leaders over the coming weeks, with Leicester on 20 November and West Ham on 4 December to come, both away from home.
Two of those fixtures will have come after Wednesday night action and minimal recovery time, and the other immediately follows the next round internationals. We all heard what Jurgen Klopp said about the same situation last week. The Blues lost our only previous 12.30 kick-off this term at home to Manchester City, whose midweek game had been a day earlier.
Chelsea are currently unbeaten in 17 matches across all competitions against Norwich. A win for the European champions would open a four-point breach with almost a quarter of the season done. Man City are at Brighton later on Saturday, while Manchester United host Liverpool on Sunday afternoon.
Chelsea team news
Wednesday’s vital Group H victory came with a troubling bill of health. Chelsea’s attacking options seem likely to be reduced for a while by the ankle twist for penalty-winner Romelu Lukaku and tweaked hamstring of Timo Werner, one or both of whom have started every match this season.
Thomas Tuchel had previously tried the two as an attacking pair but on Wednesday night Mason Mount joined on the right to form a front three. The England man remained there after Kai Havertz and Callum Hudson-Odoi replaced the injured, and the same trio could start against bottom club Norwich.
Their chemistry looked good in midweek, and Havertz coolly completed Hudson-Odoi’s direct run and pass for the third. That was the 22-year-old’s 11 goal in royal blue and sixth for Thomas Tuchel – the most along with Mason Mount, who is yet to find the net this season.
‘Everyone will join the race to be decisive for us,’ said Tuchel after the most emphatic win of his Chelsea tenure. Fifteen different players have now scored this term and our ratio of 23.2 per cent of shots becoming goals is the best in the top tier.
It was another good night for our defence in attack. Andreas Christensen opened his Chelsea account with a close-range volley, assisted by fellow centre-back Thiago Silva, and rampaging Toni Rudiger won the second spot-kick. Although Cesar Azpilicueta is now the only rearguard regular yet to score, no one has contributed more assists across all competitions.
The match brought a 31st clean sheet in 55 appearances for glaring Ballon d’Or omission Edou Mendy, meaning he and his defence have kept opponents off the scoresheet in 56 per cent of games (Petr Cech’s percentage was 46). In the league the Senegalese has an astonishing save rate of 96.2 per cent.
Three goals conceded in eight games (two of them penalties) from the start of a Premier League this season has only ever been bettered seven times, including by the Blues twice in 2004/05 (one goal conceded) and 2010/11 (two).
Past records win no points, though, and the Londoners will face a less porous Norwich than earlier in the season. The Bavarian has urged his squad to maintain their hunger and intensity over Saturday lunchtime despite the short turnaround and heavy schedule.
The likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Trevoh Chalobah and Hakim Ziyech sat out the midweek exertions and may return this weekend and it appears Tuchel will more likely set up in a 3-4-3 rather than the 3-5-2 with an extra central midfielder he sometimes prefers.
The Blues faced the toughest start of any club in the top eight of the table. The average points-per-game tally of our eight opponents is 1.31, compared to 1.28 for Manchester City, 1.03 Liverpool, and 0.94 Manchester United.
At the weekend Norwich secured their second point of the season with the successive back-to-back clean sheets under Daniel Farke. They have not managed a third in a row at this level since 2012 under Chris Hughton, and had shipped 16 in their previous six outings.
Part of the plan to stem the flow was the switch to a 3-5-2 formation, with a lower backline and less gung-ho philosophy. The passing of central midfielder Mathias Normann and willing runs of wing-backs Dimitris Giannoulis and Max Aarons have been key elements in a more conservative, counter-attacking approach.
Blues midfielder Billy Gilmour and fellow loanee Brandon Williams of Manchester United have not featured this month, though Daniel Farke added, ‘Billy is a fantastic player and we are all glad that we have him.’
Although Normann’s departure with cramp suggests he is still adapting to the intensity of England’s top flight, left wing-back Giannoulis and box-to-box midfielder Pierre Lees-Malou looked more settled in the new system.
Veteran goalie Tim Krul is also seeing fewer attempts on his goal, but issues remain at the other end of the field. Strike partners Teemu Pukki and Josh Sargent must still be rueing their missed opportunities, one an open goal, to convert a goalless draw with Brighton into three vital points. Finland’s all-time top scorer is solely responsible for City’s two league goals to date. Those both came in the opening 45 and the Canaries have an aggregate of no goals for, 10 against in the second half of matches.
Farke has just fielded a repeat XI in successive games and will again be without attacking midfielder Todd Cantwell and centre-back Christoph Zimmermann.
Norwich start the day in the relegation zone for a 38th consecutive top-flight match (excluding alphabetical order on the opening day). In the history of the Premier League only a dozen clubs, including the Canaries this season, have collected two points or fewer at this stage of the season. Five of the previous 11 recovered to escape the drop, though none of them were newly arrived from the Championship.
This is the Norfolk side’s sixth spell in the top flight since 1992/93, none of which has endured beyond a third season. The longest-surviving promoted club of the current crop is actually Manchester City, elevated in 2002 and ever-present since.
Fulham’s best effort lasted 13 seasons, Blackburn and Bolton 11, Stoke and Sunderland 10. Crystal Palace are in their ninth, Southampton and West Ham, both promoted in 2012, their 10th.
Bargain back three
At Brentford last Saturday Chelsea became the first London club ever to win seven consecutive away derbies. We did so with three young centre-backs who cost the club nothing in transfer fees: the magisterial Andreas Christensen, 25, and Trevoh Chalobah, 22, were developed by our Academy, while League debutant Malang Sarr, also 22, was signed as a free agent.
The good enough/old enough cliche sprang to mind when Chalobah instinctively sniffed danger and cleared off the line in a fashion reminiscent of William Gallas or Ashley Cole.
Club World Cup date
A FIFA Council meeting on Wednesday confirmed the venue for the new Club World Cup will be the United Arab Emirates with the tournament, scheduled for December, now delayed until early 2022, possibly February. Original hosts Japan withdrew over pandemic fears. The 2009, 2010, 2017 and 2018 tournaments were held in the Gulf state.
Champions League-winners Chelsea will now be joined in the competition by domestic title-holders Al Jazira of Abu Dhabi, as well as Oceania nominees Auckland City, African representatives Al Ahly, and the continental champions of Asia, and Central and South America.
All will be settled within five weeks. Next Thursday Monterrey host fellow Mexican side America in their continental final, then Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia and Korea’s Pohang Steelers meet on 23 November, four days before the all-Brazilian Copa Libertadores showdown between Palmeiras and David Luiz and Filipe Luis’s Flamengo in Montevideo.
In memoriam Matthew
He might not have appreciated the kick-off time but Matthew Harding would have settled down for today’s game in his usual seat full of admiration for what the club has become in the 25 years since his death in a helicopter crash on 22 October 1996.
Before kick-off against Norwich fans are asked to join a minute’s applause in appreciation of the multi-millionaire Blues fan and former director, who invested an estimated £26.5m of his fortune in the club and has a stand named in his honour.
We have history
Chelsea notched just two wins against Norwich City in the 11 league matches at Stamford Bridge between December 1977 and October 1993, the Canaries cockahoop at taking all the points on four occasions thanks to the likes of Robert Fleck, Mark Robins and, in 1985 … Steve Bruce. Since then the East Anglians have been beaten six times in their seven league visits to the Fulham Road, the other match being a draw.
Collection at Oswald Stoll
Prior to kick-off the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust will be ready to accept non-perishable food, drink and household items to stock the Hammersmith and Fulham Food Bank. This is a tough time of year those with the least and all donations, however small, are very welcome. The collection point is at the gates of Sir Oswald Stoll Mansions, adjacent to the Bridge.
Tackling bigotry, advancing equality
This weekend continues the Premier League’s ‘No Room For Racism’ campaign, reinforcing the game’s abhorrence of prejudice and encouraging supporters to report examples when they see them.
This complements Chelsea’s own work to tackle discrimination in all forms under the ‘No To Hate’ banner, and to create opportunities in football and the media for people from underrepresented backgrounds. Read about the ground-breaking projects here
Matchweek 9 Premier League fixtures
FridayArsenal v Aston Villa 8pm (Sky Sports)
SaturdayChelsea v Norwich 12.30pm (BT Sport)Crystal Palace v Newcastle 3pmEverton v Watford 3pmLeeds v Wolves 3pmSouthampton v Burnley 3pmBrighton v Man City 5.30pm (Sky Sports)
SundayBrentford v Leicester 2pmWest Ham v Tottenham 2pm (Sky Sports)Man Utd v Liverpool 4.30pm (Sky Sports)