Chelsea’s title hopes look very much dashed after a disappointing goalless draw at home to relegation-threatened Norwich on Sunday afternoon. The Blues had the chance to jump to the top of the Premier League table with a win, but their limp performance means that they stay third, and will be officially out of the title race if Liverpool beat Palace on Monday evening.
In truth they’re out of the running anyway, as they trail favourites Manchester City by a point and have played a game more than the 2012 Champions. The Blues can’t have any complaints, as they didn’t do enough for the win and the creative problems that have plagued their season were in evident for most of the game.
The Blues started the game without Eden Hazard. Depending on who you listen to, the Belgian was either omitted because of his lack of match fitness, having just recovered from injury, or due to his performance and outbursts from midweek.
Either way, Hazard was sorely missed in the first half as Chelsea gave a tepid and lifeless performance. They failed to threaten Norwich and could have found themselves behind, with John Terry lucky not to given away a penalty for his tackle on Martin Olsson.
The first half was quite a dull affair, and that saw the introduction of Hazard and David Luiz after the break, with the latter coming closest to breaking the deadlock. Luiz’s shot from 25 yards curled beyond John Ruddy, but cannoned off the crossbar.
Chelsea pressured Norwich but failed to create a real chance of note, with the blame for this game falling on all their so-called creative players and not just the oft-blamed strikers. Norwich could have stolen it at the end, with Gary Cahill’s tackle stopping Robert Snodgrass who was through on goal.
In the end the draw suited neither side, with Norwich now on the verge of relegation. The game had shades of the defeat to Sunderland in the last home game, and it showed that Chelsea just haven’t been good enough against the smaller sides.
In the end, Mourinho blamed the midweek Champions League exit for the result. “I think when you lose a Champions League semi-final and you know that you are not realistically in the title race, I think especially the mental energy disappears, the focus disappears,” he said.
“You start thinking more about what next than on what you have to do now and that was reflected in the first half. The first half was the consequence of that state of mind. It was a lazy first half. Slow, no pressure, with the midfield never arriving to press an opponent. The passing was very slow.”
“In the second half, we were much, much better – enough to win, but we didn’t.”
The Chelsea boss added: “The second half was a bit of a contradiction. They needed a win to survive and they didn’t try and we needed one point to finish third and we risked everything.”
“We know we needed one point but at the same time, we wanted to finish by winning at home. We wanted to give the fans a better feeling by finishing the season winning and in the second half, we deserved that.”
LCN Man of the Match: Gary Cahill