Chelsea host Norwich on Wednesday night as they look to book a spot in the next round of the FA Cup. They struggled to break down the Championship side in the first meeting at Carrow Road, but can the Blues fare any better in this clash? We’re probably set to see another weakened side from the Premier League champions, with Antonio Conte using the FA Cup as a chance to blood youngsters and hand out a few minutes to the fringe players. While that does hamper the chances of Chelsea winning the cup, the second string should have more than enough to see off Norwich.
The much-changed side which met the Canaries at Carrow Road included the likes of Willian and Michy Batshuayi, who are still expensive attacking options. The main stars were saved for the meeting with Arsenal in the EFL Cup, which was another 0-0 draw for the Blues. It does feel like the once unplayable 3-4-3 set-up is becoming a little stale, with the Blues’ attacks becoming too predictable regardless of who Conte picks to play up front. That has to be a worry, and we see the visitors coming here and aiming to make the most of that, as they’re likely to push for another stalemate.
Team News: Conte Likely to Rotate, While Barkley Could Feature
Conte’s strategy of resting players in the domestic cups isn’t likely to change here, as he looks to bring the Blues in to the fourth round. The English champions have enough depth in their squad to cope with a few changes, especially after adding Ross Barkley in midfield. The former Everton man looked like a great value buy at £15 million, and this seems like the perfect game in which to give him a start. The boyhood Everton fan has struggled with injury problems this term, but Antonio Conte seemed confident that he would be available for the Blues soon, meaning this could well be the stage on which to give Barkley minutes.
Norwich are likely to look to build on their 0-0 draw with the Blues, so expect a more defensive minded set-up from the visitors. They are probably going to come into this one setting up to deny space to the hosts, while aiming to play on the counter when they get the chance. They set up in a 3-4-3 similar to Chelsea’s in the first meeting, but they could follow Conte’s lead and switch that in to a 3-5-2 system, or even a 3-6-1 in order to restrict the champions.
The Canaries are still in mid-table in the Championship, but they’re still not quite out of the race for the play-offs. While making the top six is going to be a much bigger ambition for them than simply making it through the Third Round of the cup. Despite that, they should be out for a result when they head to the Bridge this week.
The visitors have a pretty average record in the league on their travels, losing six of their 13 games on the road. They’ve claimed five away wins, but given that they’ve lost at every top six side they’ve faced on the road this term there’s clearly some issues on the road for the visitors to fix if they’re to pull off a huge shock in this week’s replay.
Chelsea v Norwich Head to Head
The Blues have now taken a bit of a setback in their head to head record with Norwich, following that 0-0 draw at Carrow Road. The Blues also recorded a 0-0 at home to the Canaries back in 2014, which is a result they simply can’t afford to repeat in this replay. Even a repeat of the 1-0 win in 2015 wouldn’t be great, but it would at least send them through to the next round.
- Norwich 0-0 Chelsea, Jan 2018
- Norwich 1-2 Chelsea, Mar 2016
- Chelsea 1-0 Norwich, Nov 2015
- Chelsea 0-0 Norwich, May 2014
- Norwich 1-3 Chelsea, Oct 2013
- Chelsea and Under 3.5 Goals – Evens with Coral
- Under 2.5 Goals – 11/8 with Betfair
Chelsea are obviously heavy favourites to see off the lower league opposition this week, as they’re priced up at just 1/5 with Ladbrokes to secure progression in to the next round. Meanwhile, the Championship outfit can be backed at 16/1 with Betfred to cause a shock at Stamford Bridge. The draw comes in at 43/10 with Betfair, while the champions are incredibly short to qualify for the Fourth Round by any means on Wednesday night. We see the Blues securing a win within 90 minutes, but this might not be the easiest clash for Conte and his side.
Changing around the side entirely for this clash is likely to hamper the Blues, but it is certainly needed. With this clash sandwiched between league matches and just a week before a crucial EFL Cup semi-final second leg match, it’s obviously going to take a back seat in terms of priorities for the Blues. With a much-changed Chelsea side going up against a Norwich unit who are out to frustrate, we could see another big challenge for the hosts as they look to break down the Championship side. Could we see another low scoring meeting?
We’ve seen low scoring ties between these two at the Bridge in their recent league meetings, so we’re backing a match which is low on goals. We think the Blues have enough quality to make it through to the next round, while we like the look of a home win and under 3.5 total goals at evens with Ladbrokes. On top of that, there also seems to be value in backing under 2.5 goals in this match, which can be backed at 11/8 with Betfair. Given how the Blues are looking in attack at the moment, we think that’s a great price.