Now Is The Winter…
Wednesday 17th January, Stamford Bridge – Chelsea were in turmoil, apparently. The players were tired, strikers misfiring, technical directors quitting. Rumours were swirling another popular title-winning manager would leave soon. Andy Carroll was threatening to sign on a permanent transfer.
And three consecutive goalless draws for the first time in club history. It wasn’t a bad run of results really; Chelsea had stayed in two cup competitions and gained a point under difficult circumstances in the league. But still, in turmoil by all accounts.
Well… these things happen, and successful clubs find solutions. And Chelsea’s FA Cup replay vs Norwich City was an opportunity to start implementing those solutions.
Norwich City were 13th in the EFL Championship. They’d only played one game since their draw with Chelsea: they beat Bristol City away 1 – 0, which was a pretty decent result considering Bristol were thirteen points ahead of them before their game.
Chelsea made two changes to the line-up from the first leg and Norwich City made three. Ethan Ampadu and Cesar Azpilicueta replaced Antonio Rudiger and Gary Cahill (injured). Mario Vrancic, Harrison Reed and Nelson Oliveira came in for Alex Tettey, Tom Trybull (also injured) and Alex Pritchard (transferred to Huddersfield Town).
Line-Ups & Ratings
Caballero 8.5, Zappacosta 7, Azpilicueta 7.5, Luiz 6.5, Ampadu 7.5 (Christensen 6.5), Kenedy 7.5 (Kante 7), Drinkwater 7 (Hazard 7), Bakayoko 6.5, Willian 7.5, Pedro 6.5, Batshuayi 7.5 (Morata 5.5)
Subs Eduardo, Christensen, Kante, Musonda, Sterling, Hazard, Morata
Gunn 8, Klose 7.5, Zimmermann 7, Hanley 6 (Cantwell 7, Stiepermann NR), Pinto 7.5 (Tettey 5.5), Vrancic 7, Reed 6 (Hoolahan 6), Lewis 8, Maddison 7, Murphy 7, Oliveira 7
Subs McGovern, Raggett, Husband, Hoolahan, Stiepermann, Tettey, Cantwell
…Made Glorious Summer
As expected, Chelsea controlled the first half, but also as expected couldn’t quite convert that control into goals. They did score in the second half, but true to form this season, tried unsuccessfully to close out a narrow lead. And unfortunately, match ref Graham Scott did his best to over-officiate the game into the ground.
Eight minutes in, Kenedy delivered a great corner to the near post. David Luiz headed it on across goal, but Cesar Azpilicueta could not reach the ball to apply a simple finish.
Azpilicueta took the ball up from left back into midfield, then delivered a Cesc-y lob over the defence and into the box. Willian beat the offside trap, controlled with his chest but then swiped his shot completely wide.
Halfway through the first period, Willian passed the ball back from the edge of the box, and Daniel Drinkwater rocketed in a shot from distance, but it struck the bar and came back out.
Norwich City had their first major chance on 31 minutes. Michy Batshuayi’s misplaced pass fell to opposition striker Nelson Oliveira, and he took a touch then fired a looping shot over Willy Caballero, off the bar and out for a goal kick.
Our Stern Alarums, Merry Meetings
Ten minutes into the second period, Michy scored Chelsea’s first goal in over 340 minutes of football. For quite a few games now, the crossing from Chelsea’s wing backs has been pretty poor. This game though the quality from Kenedy, Zappacosta and Pedro was much improved.
Kenedy received the ball from Willian on the left wing and drilled a low cross in for Batshuayi, who got away from Grant Hanley, and side-footed a finish over Angus Gunn at the near post for 1 – 0.
Norwich came out with purpose and almost equalized through James Maddison and Oliveira, but Chelsea’s defenders and keeper managed to hold out – until the very last minute of injury time, when Timm Klose got past Zappacosta to curl a perfect cross into the box from the left wing. David Luiz lost track of Jamal Lewis, and the young full back glanced a header in for a magical equalizer 1 – 1.
Now Are Our Brows Bound With Victorious Wreaths…
Both periods of extra time were full of incident: Chelsea laid siege to the Canaries goal, but Gunn saved shots Willian and Alvaro Morata.
Willian was tripped in the box, but the referee felt Klose’s outstretched leg was insufficient to obstruct the forward, and booked him for simulation.
Pedro had been correctly booked for diving himself in the second half, and he got a second yellow in extra time for a late tackle. Just three minutes later Morata was also booked for simulation, and then immediately booked again for dissension.
Even with nine men though, Chelsea were able to make it to penalties without conceding any more goals. Willian scored the first penalty of the shootout, and then Willy Caballero made himself the official hero of the tie by saving Oliveira’s shot.
Luiz, Azpilicueta and N’golo Kante converted their penalties, but then Maddison, Mario Vrancic and Josh Murphy held their nerve and scored as well. Finally, Eden Hazard stepped up to take the decisive penalty for Chelsea, and nonchalantly rolled the ball left as Gunn dived right.
Final Score Chelsea 1 – 1 Norwich City (5 – 3 on penalties)
Thumbnail image courtesy of: Sky Sports
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