Chelsea return to FA Cup action this weekend as they look to make up for last season’s defeat to Arsenal in the final at Wembley. The Blues are coming off the back of another late blow from the Gunners, after an injury time equaliser saw them draw 2-2 at the Emirates on Wednesday night. Having been on the verge of a much-needed victory, that was certainly not what Antonio Conte wanted against Arsene Wenger’s men. Will the Italian be able to inspire his side into bouncing back against Championship opposition this weekend or will we be in for a giant killing?
The Premier League champions head for Norwich on Saturday evening for their Third Round game, which comes just before another meeting with Arsenal. This month is a big one in terms of domestic cups for the Blues, as they meet the Gunners in the two-legged EFL Cup semi-final. With the FA Cup kicking off and then returning at the end of January, we should have a much clearer idea of where this season is going for the Blues once the month draws to a close, especially with Man City already runaway leaders in the Premier League, ruling out any chance of Conte’s men retaining their title.
Team News: Conte Set For Cup Rotation
After consistent cup rotation across the last 18 months, it’s expected that Conte will shuffle his pack ahead of this clash. He’s not been one to go all out in the early rounds of the cup competitions, but that hasn’t done him too much harm with a final and semi-final under his belt already. That should strengthen his belief in the second string to get a result here, so expect to see plenty fringe and youth players taking to the field at Carrow Road.
The hosts were without Harrison Reed on New Year’s Day, and he’s expected to miss out this cup tie too. Norwich won’t have either of their long term absentees – Matt Jarvis and Louis Thompson – back in time to take on the champions. However, they’re more hopeful over forward Cameron Jerome, who is in contention to start for the Canaries, providing he passes a late fitness test ahead of this clash.
Norwich City were hoping to capture some of the quality which shot Huddersfield back into the Premier League this season, but their attempts have failed. Despite poaching staff from the Terriers and backing a young German coach, the Canaries are stuck in the bottom half of the Championship table. Of course, given how tight that division is they’re still only nine points shy of a play-off place.
Norwich have won just 35% of their Championship games this term, having won just four of their 13 home matches in the league. They’ve been beaten at Carrow Road by the Championship’s top two, while they drew 0-0 with promotion hopefuls Bristol City. All of that points to a Chelsea win on Saturday, as there’s little about the Canaries which suggests that they can trouble the champions’ rotated side. Having exited the Carabao Cup to Arsenal, it seems likely Daniel Farke’s men could be about to crash out to another London side in the FA Cup, based on their current form.
Norwich v Chelsea Head to Head
The Blues haven’t clashed with the Canaries since the Norfolk side were relegated from the Premier League in 2016. Chelsea did manage to do the double over the side from Carrow Road that term, which was a fine feat in a campaign littered with slip-ups. They last met in the cup back in 2007, when the Blues were 4-0 victors at Stamford Bridge. Could we see a similarly thumping win for the champions when they head for Carrow Road this week?
- Norwich 1-2 Chelsea, Mar 2016
- Chelsea 1-0 Norwich, Nov 2015
- Chelsea 0-0 Norwich, May 2014
- Norwich 1-3 Chelsea, Oct 2013
- Norwich 0-1 Chelsea, Dec 2012
- Michy Batshuayi to score anytime – 5/4 with Betfred
- Chelsea to win and Under 2.5 Goals – 16/5 with Coral
Chelsea come into this trip as odds-on favourites for progression. Given that Norwich have crashed out at this stage four years in a row, it’s little surprise that they’re out at 6/1 with Betfair to claim the home win. The draw can be backed at 18/5 with BetVictor, while the Blues are as short as 4/9 with Ladbrokes to progress to the next round. It’s hard to justify backing Conte’s side at that price, despite their good form coming into this one. This is likely to be another early exit for the Canaries, but will they be able to trouble the champions in Saturday’s clash?
The Blues have a fantastic record against Championship sides in the cup, winning 16 of their last 17 ties against sides from the second tier. That good form should continue in this clash, especially as Norwich have lost at home to the current top two in their own division. That should make this little problem for the champions’ second string side, which has taken them into the semis of the EFL Cup. We think one man to benefit from a start will be Michy Batshuayi, which will be welcome after Alvaro Morata’s poor display against Arsenal. The Belgian is priced at 5/4 with Betfred to score here, and we think that’s a great bet.
We can’t see the Blues racking up a big win in this one, they’ll probably look to do just enough to secure progression and get away. We can’t see this being a goal-packed affair, with Norwich looking poor going forward and the Blues now playing well at the back with plenty of options at centre-half. Expect a strong defence to take the field at Carrow Road, which means we the Blues should avoid conceding. We’re backing an away win and under 2.5 goals to be scored in the game at 16/5 with Coral.