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Chelsea continue to be Chelsea with pathetic showing against Norwich

Clive Rose

I'm honestly not sure whether Chelsea were even trying to win this game. Jose Mourinho made some bizarre decisions in his starting lineup, playing the team that counterattacked at Anfield against Norwich. At home! And, surprise, it didn't work in a 0-0 draw.

My thinking here is that the manager, knowing Norwich needed a win to have any serious hope of avoiding relegation, expected them to desperately crash forward. And with both Eden Hazard and David Luiz exhausted from Wednesday, it might have made some sense to give them a bit of a rest. But it didn't work, and probably shouldn't have been expected to work either.

Since Chelsea were essentially out of the title race to begin with, it's difficult to be outraged by how weak the attack was today, but it was still extraordinarily bad and that can't go uncommented on. For all of the good Mourinho's done to the team structure this season, the Blues have regressed badly going forward.

The penalty shouts are probably irrelevant -- Neil Swarbrick called the game fairly generously for both sides -- what's really strange is just how short of ideas the forwards were when Norwich sat back. We mocked Liverpool for being unable to think their way around a tight back line, but Chelsea were guilty of exactly the same mistakes. Aimless crosses to nobody and ridiculous shot selection made sure that John Ruddy was never particularly overworked, and despite the fact that we did get a bit unlucky in hitting the woodwork twice, the simple fact is that we weren't good enough.

In fact, the only spell in which Chelsea looked like creating something was between halftime and the final substitution. Having introduced Hazard and David Luiz, the Blues were forcing the issue and keeping Norwich firmly on the back foot. Had they played like that all match, a victory would have been almost certain. But, inexplicably, Mourinho decided to yank off Nemanja Matic for Fernando Torres and shift the shape to a 4-4-2 that never, ever looked like working.

It's fair to say that the inability to see off weaker teams has cost Chelsea the league this year, and while much of that is the strikers' fault, at the same time our poor decision-making reflects poorly on Mourinho. Dropping points at home to West Ham, Sunderland and Norwich in the back half of the season is completely unacceptable, and leaning on Hazard to do everything isn't always going to work.

In the 4-4-2, Chelsea completely ceded the midfield (Willian is not a central midfielder, as it turns out) and that meant that all of the pressure on Norwich's goal evaporated. Trading Matic for Torres might actually have made us worse at attacking, which is a touch obscene.

I'd be angrier about this game if I thought we had any chance of the league title, but the fact remains that if we didn't have this problem we'd be in first place and probably miles clear. Fix it next season, or we're never going to get anywhere.

As for what else happened in the game, I'm not sure there was much of anything. How Not To Attack Against Terrible Sides is interesting from a tactical point of view, but there sure isn't a great deal of spectacle.

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