Date/Time: Saturday, October 6th, 15:00 (BST); 10:00 AM (EDT); 7:30 PM (IST)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
TV Information: none (UK); Fox Soccer (USA); ESPN (India)
Somewhere, alone in a dark corner, CRISIS is quietly whimpering. Just a couple weeks ago it looked like the wheels were ready to fall off. Mikel was a marked man; Lampard was turning 73; Di Matteo was wearing a cone of shame. Now, it's win after win, goal after goal. Four straight of the former, 12 in three of the latter. Booooo-ring*.
* Fortunately, there are plenty of "real" football stories to talk about...thanks to John Terry, the FA, and Ashley Cole's drive-by twitterings.
Chelsea have the league's best defense and are undefeated. They beat a London rival away and dominated inferior opposition in the appropriate cup & continental matches. John Obi Mikel is set for his 250th Chelsea appearance. Fernando Torres is the club's leading scorer. Am I not entertained?
Change is not looking likely with Norwich City coming to town. Whatever's left of Norwich City, that is, after its 5-2 destruction at the feet of the Real Housewives of Merseyside last week. It will be best goal differential vs. worst goal differential; undefeated in six vs. winless in six; top of the table vs. relegation zone. Might as well just hit snooze.
Norwich: Sebastien Bassong and Anthony Pilkington are the two major injury doubts, with the Frenchman proving to be City's only capable defender so far this season. His return could give the Canaries hope of walking away with some dignity, although to accomplish that, they probably will have to score: Norwich have not kept a clean sheet in their last 36 away fixtures in the top flight.
Unfortunately for them, scoring has not come easy either - the team combined has just one more goal than Fernando Torres. Local plumber Grant Holt did finally notch his first of the season last week.
Chelsea: Daniel Sturridge still has not taken off his Marko Marin costume, so Torres looks set for what will be his 12th start of the campaign already (he had to wait for that until the end of December last season). John Terry is available and will probably get the start in light of Roberto Di Matteo's comments regarding squad rotation and his decision to rest the club captain midweek.
This is the final contest in a run of 7 matches in 21 days. The schedule gets measurably tougher after the international break. Let's enjoy this and smash them suckers.
He-Men of the 4-2-3-1: Petr Cech; Ashley Cole, John Terry, David Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic; John Obi Mikel, Ramires; Eden Hazard, Oscar, Juan Mata; Fernando Torres