Chelsea are still looking for the first official win of the Frank Lampard era after collecting just one point from the first two games of the Premier League season, which sandwiched a Super Cup penalty shootout loss to Liverpool. And considering that the Blues were quite lucky to hang on to that one point last weekend against Leicester City at home, some improvement will be required.
Chelsea play first this weekend (if we ignore the Friday night fixture between Aston Villa and Everton), which just means that the entire weekend could be made or ruined before Saturday afternoon.
Date / Time: Saturday, August 24, 2019, 12:30 BST; 7:30am EDT; 5pm IST
Venue: Carrow Road, Norwich, England
Referee: Martin Atkinson — Atkinson has been refereeing Chelsea games for over a dozen years; this will be No.52 for him. Last time we saw him was in the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford towards the end of last season.
Forecast: Sunny, breezy, pleasant
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBCSN (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India)
Norwich City team news: After a three-year absence, the Canaries are back in the Premier League by winning the second division for the fourth time in club history. Two of their last three stays in the top flight lasted just a single season (2004-05, 2015-16) though they did manage a three-year spell from 2011-2014.
Despite losing to Liverpool on opening day, they have shown enterprising quality and soundly beat Newcastle 3-1 last weekend. Teemu Pukki, fresh off a 30-goal season, notched a hat-trick and is tied for the league lead with Raheem Sterling on four goals already. The 29-year-old late bloomer has more goals in the last three years for Norwich and Brøndby combined (80 in 136) than in his entire journeyman career before then (64 in 236), which saw him try his luck in Spain (Seville), Germany (Schalke 04), and even Scotland (Celtic).
Former Borussia Dortmund youth coach Daniel Farke, now in his third season in East Anglia, is not shying away from the challenge of keeping the Canaries out of the Championship coal mine. Norwich have a solid mix of veteran experience and youthful enthusiasm (even if Jamal Lewis isn’t passed fit at left back) and as with any Premier League team, will provide a challenge for Chelsea — though it should be noted that Norwich dropped five points to Lampard’s Derby County last season, which included a remarkable 4-3 win for the Rams at Carrow Road (Tomori, Mount both scored; there was power failure, woodworks, madness).
Chelsea team news: As Frank Lampard pointed out last weekend, he had more things to be happy about after the 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford (60 minutes of good effort) than the 1-1 draw against Leicester City (25 minutes of good effort). Hopefully, with almost a full week’s rest and preparation, we can be happiest of all after this game.
Chelsea No.10 Willian should be ready to make his return from injury after last weekend’s cameo, while fellow injury returnee Antonio Rüdiger could also see some action after completing 90 minutes for the reserves on Monday. UPDATE: Kante has picked up an ankle problem and is doubtful, and Rüdiger isn’t expected back just yet.
Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James are only expected back after the September international break. The Blues have also shed Davide Zappacosta since the last game. The backup right back has joined AS Roma on loan until January, for now, but hopefully, for all involved, longer than that in the final accounting.
Lampard has not rotated his personnel to any significant extend so far, which took its toll in the second-half last Sunday. He often talks about the lessons the players need to learn; let’s see how he himself responds now.
Previously: Chelsea haven’t lost to Norwich since 1994, though we’ve played them only 13 times since then (9 wins, 4 draws). Two of those draws were in the FA Cup third round 18 months ago, when a 0-0 draw at Carrow Road was followed by a 1-1 draw in the replay at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea eventually progressed on penalties, and it’s a good thing we did since we would go on to win the competition under Antonio Conte. Only César Azpilicueta and one of Willian or Pedro are likely to repeat as starters from that game on Saturday.