After an exciting few days, including plenty of drama both on and off the pitch, we take a brief moment to relax and play some FA Cup football. Yeehaw!
Last season, Chelsea got as far as possible without actually winning the cup; now we’ll look to do one better. We begin this season’s FA Cup adventure in the faraway eastern reaches, in a mysterious place known as Norwich (“Narrrrrch”). If you’re actually there at the game, be sure to keep an eye for the matchday programme, which should feature a few “fun facts about Chelsea” from yours truly.
Chelsea haven’t lost a third round tie in exactly 20 years. Let’s not start now.
Date / Time: Saturday, January 6, 2018, 17:30 GMT; 12:30pm EST; 11pm IST
Venue: Carrow Road, Norwich, England
Referee: Stuart Attwell — Attwell remains the youngest ever Premier League referee, taking charge of match between Blackburn and Hull in 2008 at just age 25, though he also remains one of the few high profile demotions from Premier League to Football League level a few years later. He’s back in the Select Group as of a couple years ago, though his one and only Chelsea game remains the FA Cup third round match in 2008-09 when Chelsea slumped to a 1-1 draw against Southend United at Stamford Bridge.
Forecast: Cold, dry, windy.
On TV: BT Sport 2 (UK); Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes (USA); Sony TEN 2 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BT Sport Live (UK); Fox Soccer Match Pass (USA); Sony LIV (India)
Norwich City team news: The Canaries have spent the last few years yo-yoing between the Premier League and the Championship, finishing last season a couple spots out of the promotion playoff spots.
They haven’t shown much improvement or consistency this season however, sitting firmly in mid-table of England’s second tier, with almost as many wins and losses and goal differential of negative five. They are one of the lowest scoring teams in the division, but also one of the better defenses. Their current three-match winning streak has been a welcome respite after collecting just five points from ten games from late October through late December.
Managed by former BVB II boss Daniel Farke, Norwich have nothing to lose and everything to gain, but will be without key midfielders Harrison Reed and Marco Stiepermann and may rotate the squad to keep fresh for the Championship’s busy schedule.
“If you stick together and are brave, and give everything on the pitch, you can do something extraordinary. I like being the underdog.”
-Daniel Farke; source: Norwich City FC
Chelsea team news: Norwich took Arsenal into extra-time at the Emirates in the League Cup earlier this season, so Conte cannot simply throw caution to the wind and play every kid, backup, and fringe player. Or perhaps he can?
We should be expecting plenty of rotation, with youngsters Charly Musonda, Ethan Ampadu, Dujon Sterling, and Callum Hudson-Odoi all travelling and hopefully even featuring in some capacity. The match will come too soon for Ross Barkley to play however.
Despite Wednesday’s disappointment, Chelsea are unbeaten in seven straight and have lost just once in the last fifteen games. Draws in the FA Cup mean replays however, so let’s not add to the already busy fixture list unnecessarily.
Previously: Chelsea last lost to Norwich in 1994, in the Premier League’s early days. Our last meeting was two years ago in the Premier League, with goals by Kenedy and Diego Costa propelling Hiddink’s Chelsea to a 2-1 win. We’ve met four times in the FA Cup, including in 2006-07, with Chelsea winning 4-0 at the Bridge in the fifth round. Another one of said FA Cup meetings also blessed us with this Zola gem.