Just three days after a memorable 8-0 victory over Aston Villa, Chelsea return to action with a trip to Norwich on Wednesday.
After the disappointment of losing in the final of FIFA Club World Cup, Chelsea have responded in style. The destruction of Villa followed a 5-1 win over Leeds in the quarterfinals of the Capital One Cup and there are plenty of signs that manager Rafael Benitez is not limiting the attacking potential of the side despite making them more defensively solid.
While Chelsea remain 11 points behind leaders Manchester United in the Premier League standings, the Blues still have a game in hand and will be eager to maintain momentum.
“We showed what we are capable of and it is just a matter of consistency now,” said defender Gary Cahill. “We have a lot of young players but on a day like Sunday you can really see the quality in the squad.
“If we play like that we won't go far wrong. Norwich away is always a tough game and we found that when we went there last year. No doubt it will be similar but we go into the match with great confidence.”
It says much about Norwich’s recent form that, before Saturday’s defeat to West Brom, the last side to beat the Canaries were Chelsea when the sides met back at the beginning of October. A 4-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge, which followed on the heels of a 5-2 loss to Liverpool, demonstrated a leaky defense that appeared set to see Chris Hughton’s side mired deep in relegation trouble for the remainder of the campaign.
But the back line has been far tighter of late and Norwich now sit in a highly respectable 10th place in the table.
As they look to rebound from Saturday’s loss, Norwich will be hoping that leading striker Grant Holt passes a late fitness test on a hamstring injury after he missed out last time out. Steven Whittaker is definitely ruled out through injury, alongside John Ruddy, Andrew Surman and Ryan Bennett.
John Terry will continue to be absent for Chelsea, while Ryan Bertrand remains a doubt.
G: Martin, Turner, Bassong, Garrido
M: Snodgrass, Johnson, Tettey, Pilkington
D: Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Cole
M: Ramires, Luiz
Moses, Oscar, Mata
Prediction: Norwich should put up greater resistance against Chelsea than either they did in this season’s reverse fixture as or that put up by Aston Villa at the weekend. But Chelsea just look too good going forward right now and are likely to have enough to come away with the three points.
Norwich 1-2 Chelsea
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League clash kicks-off from Carrow Road at 10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Plus, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.