Has the Rafa revolution well and truly begun at Chelsea or the result of sterner tests will determine the fate of Rafa Benitez's Chelsea. On evidence of the 8-0 mauling that Aston Villa found at the hands of Chelsea, the answer is a bit of both. While Chelsea have surely put paid to any rumours of fatigue after their club world cup travels, stiff challenges stilla await them in an extremely congested Premier League period. Norwich City is next for Chelsea and the Canaries have been in a decent run of form themselves. What does the match have in store for them ?
Last Meeting: Chelsea 4- 1 Norwich City
Norwich City current sit pretty in top half of the Premier League table with 18 points in their bag. Their unbeaten run in last ten matches came to an end against West Bromwich Albion and Chris Hughton's side would be interested in restoring their formidable record at home this season.
However, they have not beaten Chelsea in the last 18 years and that should weigh on their minds, especially considering the recent resurgence of the Blues.
Chelsea 8-0 Aston Villa
Much was made of Chelsea's trip to the far east, the club world cup being hailed as a distraction from the premier league. As it turned out, Chelsea lost to Corinthians 0-1 in the final and a seemingly easy chance to win a trophy was spurned.
Tired Chelsea legs were up against a youthful Aston Villa side that were unbeaten in last six matches, including a 3-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield. Chelsea had already fallen way behind the Manchester clubs, who played their matches in Chelsea's absence.
Chelsea managed to win the game 8-0 thanks to superb performances from every player. For once, every trick, every move came-off. Seven different players managed to get on the score-sheet for Chelsea, including a brace from Ramires. Fernando Torres began the match in an energised fashion, directing a perfect header from Azpillicueta's cross in the third minute itself. Villa fought back but after David Luiz dispatched a Drogba-esque free-kick into the net, Villa must have shuddered. An expertly taken free-kick from Luiz laid the terms of the contest in no unclear terms.
Chelsea fans still harbour animosity towards their Spanish manager, Rafa Benitez but the noises have become customary, the anger more subtle and results have improved for Rafa's men on the pitch. Chelsea beat Monterrey 3-1 in the Club World Cup semi-final and their performance suggested the return to the well-oiled machine that Chelsea were in the past albeit the win was against a significantly weaker opposition. But the old adage in football is that you can only beat the team put in front of you. Considering the fact that the Club World Cup is one such tournament where victory is expected and any less than routine execution of the same would cause furore, Chelsea went about their job in a ruthless manner.
Luiz in a holding midfield role
Celtic face Russian side Spartak Moscow at home in a crunch Champions League Group E encounter on Dec 05, 2012.
Here are the talking points:
1. What is at stake?
At stake for Celtic is the qualification to knock-out phases of the competition, which would underline their good performances in Europe this season.
Both Celtic and Benfica are tied on 7 points but Benfica face a daunting trip to Spain to face Barcelona, a match Benfica would find hard to win. Celtic know that if they better Benfica's performance at Barcelona, they will be through to the knock-out phases and they would be keen to build on their resolute displays in Europe.
2. Getting the job done for Celtic
Celtic goal keeper Fraser Forster has garned a lot of praise thanks to his shot stopping abilities and with the attacking foursome of Emeneke, Jurado, Ari and Kombarov having notched up 21 shots in Europe so far, he would have to bring his best game to stop Spartak from ruining their party.
3. Absence of Victor Wanyama
Chelsea have agreed to sign Brazilian Wallace Dos Santos from Fluminese and he would join the club in the January transfer window.
The club statement (www.chelseafc.com) reads thus:
"Chelsea Football Club is delighted to announce we have agreed terms with Fluminense for the transfer of Wallace in the January window.
As part of the deal, the 18-year-old defender will remain with Fluminense until the end of the season.
An attacking right-back, Wallace Oliveira dos Santos was born on May 1, 1994, and made his senior debut this year at the age of 17.
He has since gone on to appear 18 times in the league for the first team, helping them to the Brazilian league championship, the Rio State League and the Guanabara Cup.
Wallace, an Under-20 international, was part of the Brazil squad that won the South American Under-17 championship last year, and helped his country to a fourth-placed finish at the World Cup in Mexico at the same level, playing alongside Lucas Piazon.