Chelsea got back to winning ways as they saw off Norwich at Stamford Bridge. Despite a strong display from the Canaries, it was the champions who took the points here, thanks to Diego Costa’s winner. After such a poor run, returning back to action with a win was a huge boost, especially with a massive week to come for the team.
Mourinho sprung a surprise at the back, as he brought Branislav Ivanovic back into the fold, moving Kurt Zouma into the middle in place of Gary Cahill. On top of that, Cesar Azpilicueta dropped down to the bench, with youngster Kenedy coming in to replace him at left back. Abdul Baba Rahman wasn’t even included in the squad. The manager included both Willian and Pedro, allowing Eden Hazard to take on a central role.
But, despite all the attacking talent on the pitch, Norwich put up a big fight. They started the game brightly, with Robbie Brady looking sharp. As time passed they moved deeper and deeper, as they tried to hold out for a draw. The attacking trio in midfield all worked well, possibly the first time all three have played well at the same time this term, but Chelsea just weren’t clinical enough. They went in 0-0 at the break, with Alex Neil’s side halfway to earning a huge point.
The second period gave us more of the same, as Norwich put men behind the ball, occasionally breaking rank to launch counter attacks. Asmir Begovic was big enough to fend those off, putting the Blues back in control, as they tried to crack through the determined resistance of the visitors.
Eventually they found a breakthrough, after pressing for over an hour. The goal was an incredibly simple one, and it came from a familiar route. Cesc Fabregas took a quick free kick from the middle of the park, which Costa picked up on, and he cut through the Norwich defence to score the opener.
The most promising thing following the goal was that the team didn’t attempt to close up and defend the lead. The team, inspired by a much improved Hazard, pushed forward, and they almost had a second when an effort from Zouma hit the crossbar. In the end, they didn’t manage to find a second goal, but they held on to take the points.
Hazard came off the pitch in the 90th minute for Azpilicueta, and the Belgian was given a standing ovation by the Stamford Bridge faithful. While he played well, it certainly wasn’t his best Blues display. The support from the fans was meant to back the talented playmaker, as rumours circulate that Mourinho could let him leave.
Next up for Chelsea is a game away to Maccabi Tel-Aviv on Tuesday night, before a trip to Spurs on Sunday. It’s going to be a massive week for the Blues, so their return to winning ways was well timed.
LCN Man of the Match: Eden Hazard