Norwich v Chelsea – As it happened
Norwich and Chelsea both put in substandard performances as they played out an abysmal goalless draw at Carrow Road.
FULL-TIME: Norwich 0-0 Chelsea. GLORY BE! It’s finally over. That was wretched, pitiful stuff – it started out with some mild promise, but both teams were a long way from their best. Norwich will no doubt be pleased with the result, but Chelsea should be very worried about qualifying for the Champions League after serving up that muck. They failed to score against a shaky, substandard Norwich side, and allowed their opponents their fair share of chances too. There’s still much work to be done in West London. Thanks for reading. Bye.
90+2 min: That looks like being that. Chelsea have been pretty dire, and Norwich haven’t exactly set the world aflame either.
90 min: This is ridiculous! Sturridge bursts into space down the left, and cuts a cross across goal which somehow evades everyone. It’s half-cleared, and trickles out to the onrushing Malouda, begging to be leathered into the top corner. Malouda takes a swing with his right foot… out of the ground. Awful, awful effort.
89 min: What would worry me, if I were a Chelsea fan, is how there are just a couple of minutes remaining, the score is 0-0, and yet there’s a shocking lack of urgency from Chelsea. There’s none of the relentless, sustained pressure you’d see from United, Spurs, City, et al.
88 min: Another Chelsea corner – and Malouda must score! But doesn’t. The ball lands at his feet at the penalty spot, all alone, and his side-footed effort bounces off his own player. Norwich are hanging on.
86 min: Chelsea continue to push for the winner, and Sturridge plays Malouda in, very close to Ruddy’s goal. The big keeper comes flying out to deal with it, but at the expense of a corner, which comes to nothing.
83 min: Ayala – who has given his namesake a run for his money today – does well to put a Malouda cross behind for a corner. Chelsea play it short, and try to put Norwich under pressure, but they’re soon driven back. It could go either way, and there’s not long to go, but this is still poor stuff.
81 min: So close for Chelsea! Mata collects the ball in the area, and sends a pirouetting half-volley, in the Tennis sense of the phrase, just wide of Ruddy’s near post. The away side are looking the more likely to win this.
80 min: Promising for Lukaku and Chelsea. The giant Belgian marauds down the right wing, leaving the Norwich defence for dust. But Ayala is there to divert his low cross out of harm’s way.
77 min: This is getting worse. The first touch of every player on the pitch appears to have abandoned them, perhaps in a show of solidarity for Torres.
76 min: Torres is indeed taken off. That’s 15 games without a goal now – probably about the threshold I start feeling sorry for him. But only because he’s a looker.
74 min: It’s been a poor display from Torres, and it seems he’s going to be replaced by Romelu Lukaku imminently.
72 min: I’d like to revise all my earlier opinions. This really is abysmal stuff now. This has 1-0 to the Chelsea boyz written all over it.
69 min: David Luiz goes down clutching his schnozz, citing a Bradley Johnson clattering. Replays are inconclusive. Afterwards, a Norwich corner almost bears fruit, but Holt can’t get enough on it to turn it goalwards.
67 min: Chelsea are finally starting to pin Norwich down, and Malouda is the latest of their players to find himself in a good position. He elects to cross it as he moves into the left channel, but it’s not a particularly good one, and Norwich clear. Mata is the only player with any real ideas out there – and there doesn’t seem anyone to reliably put them in the net.
62 min: A novel innovation from Raul Meireles, combining a high-footed foul on Grant Holt with a blatant hand-ball, in full view of Mark Clattenburg. Nothing doing, says the referee, prompting a rousing chorus of “Same old Chelsea, always cheating.”
60 min: Great save from John Ruddy! Juan Mata bursts into the area down the left channel, and after trying a dummy, strikes the ball just inside Ruddy’s near post. The Norwich keeper guards it well though, producing a fine reflex save to tip it wide.
59 min: Oh, Fernando. After a bobbly cross finds him in the area, he’s stood no more than 8 yards out from the Norwich goal, nobody near him – but his dawdling allows to Norwich defenders to close in, and he toe-pokes it wide. That was hideous.
“Sometimes a game can be both tactically interesting and really sodding dull”, says Andi Thomas. If this is tactically interesting it’s news to me.
57 min: Torres works himself some space outside the area, and tries a shot from 25 yards. Try and guess where it ended up.
56 min: It’s getting very scrappy out there. Neither side seems able to put together a series of passes, although it’s still relatively end-to-end.
52 min: It’s fair to say that neither side has exactly come flying out of the traps for the second half. Naughton skelps in a cross to the Chelsea area, but Petr Cech collects calmly.
47 min: Bosingwa commits what is, astonishingly, the first foul of the game.
“Not a single foul? Weep for the death of English football,” harks Andi Thomas. Grant Holt’s playing!
Alright, we’re off. No changes for either side.
Here’s Silldog again: ”If the Norwich kit wasn’t so loud, I would have fallen back to sleep. They shouldn’t be allowed to wear that thing before 3pm.” It does look a bit Football League. If lower-league teams are supposed to be all cool and edgy, why do all the kits look like they were made by American Apparel – that’s something to consider.
HALF-TIME: Norwich 0-0 Chelsea. And just at the stroke of half-time, Torres bursts clear down the right channel. Right on the byline, he stands up a brilliant cross for Malouda at the far post. The Frenchman winds up and is millimetres away from making a connection with a mighty swing before Pilkington storms from off-screen, making a heroic intervention. It’s 0-0, and it’s half-time. We’ll be back in a bit, don’t go anywhere.
44 min: Having said that, I’d be rather disappointed if I was Fox and this is the game I’d chosen to be the first on free-to-air TV in the USA. But here’s Mata! Martin gives the ball away in a dangerous area, and then after eluding a pathetic tackle, Mata has a decent chance at goal – but he makes a terrible connection, and it sails over the crossbar.
42 min: I did have a particular past kickabout in mind when using that simile, and here’s Stephen Sillars, who happened to be present at the time – although is neither a stoner nor overweight. ”zzzzzz dull dull dull dull dull…… good luck on this one, Callum.” It’s not been that bad – unless you’ve just tuned in in the past five or six minutes, where nothing at all of interest has happened.
4o min: Lampard has indeed gone off to be replaced by Malouda. He’s on the bench, a bandage around his leg, looking slightly bored.
37 min: Cech, Luiz and Cole all have a collective brain-melt in the Chelsea defence, executing a series of bizarre passes like a bunch of overweight stoners having an ill-thought kickabout. Luckily for them, Norwich had dropped off slightly, or that could’ve been suicidal.
35 min: Malouda is warming up, with Lampard’s injury in mind. Bradley Johnson lets fly at the Chelsea goal, and makes a poor connection – it appears to be an easy one, but it takes a horrible deflection off John Terry. Fortunately for Chelsea, Cech remains alert to deal with it.
33 min: It’s always the first touch that goes before anything else when a player hits a patch of poor form – Torres produces a truly shocking bit of control, letting the simplest of passes bobble out of his control to end another Chelsea attack. And now Lampard appears to be struggling.
31 min: A fine series of passes allow Pilkington to spring the Chelsea offside trap, and his cross to the back post finds Grant Holt. Unfortunately for Norwich, his header back across goal is too close to Cech and Chelsea escape.
29 min: Holt gives the ball away cheaply in his own half, but Sturridge’s one-footedness proves Chelsea’s undoing, as he attempts to hit a simple pass with the outside of his foot, blowing the opportunity in the process.
26 min: Danger for Chelsea! And then danger for Norwich! Grant Holt tries a bit of keepy-up in the Chelsea box, attempting to find Pilkington before David Luiz manages to smuggle it away. Chelsea counter immediately, with Torres trying an elegant outside-of-the-foot curler into the far corner, but Ruddy is alert to push it wide.
24 min: Mata and Cole do brilliantly down the left wing, working a delicate one-two in very little space, before the former wastes it with a poor cross, dinking the ball too high for the waiting, unmarked Sturridge to get on the end of.
22 min: Grant Holt takes one in the cobblers, but moments later he’s stampeding towards the Chelsea goal, electing to try a teasing cross to Morison at the far post. It’s well-cut out by David Luiz, but Norwich maintain their momentum.
20 min: Ramires, who has been very quiet so far, bursts down the right wing and curls in a high, deep cross which almost finds Mata on the far side, but is eventually cleared by Norwich. The ebb and flow of the game is now in Chelsea’s favour, but they’re still not creating much.
17 min: It’s a very even game at the moment. Pilkington twists and turns in the Chelsea area, only to see his shot blocked by David Luiz. Moments later, Sturridge experiences much the same thing at the other end of the pitch.
14 min: “Torres reminds me of Bebe. Value in the market”, chirrups Alistair Walker. That cross certainly put one in mind of him.
12 min: Mata hits a strange pass which finds it’s way through to Torres, who bursts into the right-hand channel. He tries to cut a low cross back into the box, but scuffs it, and Norwich clear easily.
11 min: The stats show 70% possession in favour of Chelsea, but there have been only two chances so far, and both have gone to the home side.
10 min: Norwich go close again! Morison and Holt combine properly for the first time, and the latter cuts inside before dragging a decent effort just past Petr Cech’s near post, the Chelsea goalkeeper well beaten.
9 min: This is a good spell of play from Norwich, and the Chelsea defence is hardly looking watertight. After Bosingwa whacks a simple clearance out of touch, Morison produces a touch which appears to have put him in oceans of space, but it runs out of play.
7 min: John Terry goes route one, hitting a long ball for Torres, who flicks it up over his marker well, but too far away to do anything with it – Ruddy comes out of his goal and collects it with one hand, the smoothie.
6 min: But it’s Norwich who go close first! Martin’s run opens up the Chelsea midfield, and Morison is able to slip Pilkington into the Chelsea area. From the byline, he hits a low cross into the six-yard box aiming Holtwards, but Cech is alert to cut it out, and Chelsea clear before it falls to the lurking Morison.
4 min: Chelsea are continuing to pass and probe with patience, Norwich more willing to let them have the ball than you’d think, at least for now. Nonetheless, Norwich’s harrying is proving effective at keeping Chelsea from looking particularly dangerous.
3 min: Chelsea have come out and displayed some real intent, dominating possession and passing it about very smoothly indeed, though they haven’t managed to force a chance for themselves yet.
We’re off! Strap yourselves in.
With apologies to Mr Orff, I know you did more than that. Personally, I even like that lengthy German, Latin and Greek opera you did, ‘De Fine Temporum Comoedia’ – the one that ends with a Bach piece played backwards – but that’s me.
The teams are coming out as classical one-hit wonder Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana echoes around Carrow Road, a track that seems to have gained new relevance since the birth of Grant Holt.
Preamble: It’s been an odd week for Andre Villas-Boas. After criticising English football’s general youth setup, demanding the right to oust football league teams with Chelsea B, he also signed Gary Cahill to continue his revolutionary tactical masterplan. Torres doesn’t score goals, so Luiz and Cahill can take care of that. Luiz and Cahill can’t defend, so Torres can take care of that. There’s a method to all of this – but for today, they have a very difficult game against Paul Lambert’s Norwich City, so, overawed by Steve Morison and chums, John Terry starts with Luiz, with Cahill not in the squad.
Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Whitbread, Ayala, Naughton, Fox, Johnson, Pilkington, Surman, Morison, Holt. Bench: Steer, Drury, Crofts, Jackson, Hoolahan, Bennett, Wilbraham.
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Lampard, Meireles, Sturridge, Torres, Mata. Bench: Turnbull, Ivanovic, Essien, Romeu, Malouda, Lukaku, Bertrand.
Photo courtesy of WellOffside.com