Chelsea recorded back-to-back Premier league away wins within the space of 3 days and for the first time this season with a hard fought 2-1 triumph over Norwich City which has catapulted the Blues up to 8th place in the Barclays Premier League Table. Goals from Kenedy, the fastest so far in the league this season, and Diego Costa proved to be too much for Norwich who could only grab a consolation through a second half Nathan Redmond strike.
With the games coming thick and fast for Chelsea, Guus Hiddink made four changes from the team that beat Southampton at the weekend, in coming Kenedy, Matic, Traore and Oscar. Norwich made one change from their defeat at Leicester, bringing Wes Hoolahan in for Steven Naismith.
Before the Chelsea fans had time to get settled in their seats at Carrow Road they were already up celebrating. Eden Hazard played the ball out wide to make shift left back Kenedy, who waltzed his way through a couple of Norwich defenders and lashed the ball into the bottom corner. The goal came after 39 seconds, the quickest so far in the Premier League this year, giving Alex Neil’s side an uphill battle to contend with.
This also was the first instance Chelsea had scored an away goal in the first 10 minutes this season. The game was open early on, with Norwich responding to the setback well and Jerome inches away from meeting a Hoolahan cross. The duo combined well not long after, with Cameron Jerome’s header falling onto the top of Courtois’ net.
However after an open start, the game became scrappy. A Cesc Fabregas freekick which was kept out by Ruddy was the only real other action of note in the first half. This was until the last minute of injury time, a Bertrand Traore through ball was latched onto by the marginally offside Diego Costa who chipped the ball over the advancing John Ruddy to send the Blues into the break two goals to the good.
The London club obviously thought that with the two goal lead and the little threat of Norwich in the first half, that the three points were theirs already. But with Norwich fighting for their lives down at the wrong end of the table, the Canaries had other ideas and came flying out the traps.
Cameron Jerome had another chance to get back into the game but volleyed wide after losing Azpilicueta who was marking him tightly. But his head was soon in his hands after a miss that he will hope not to see on any TV replays anytime soon.
After Wes Hoolahan lofted a ball to the back post, the ball was headed back to Jerome, and when it looked harder to miss than score, he sent the ball flying over with the help of the crossbar. If it was not evident already, this was not to be Jerome’s night in front of goal.
However, Norwich eventually halved the deficit, Hoolahan again pulling the strings, this time playing a delightful through ball to the effervescent Nathan Redmond, who smashed the ball beyond Courtois. With Norwich now on the front foot, the sting was taken out the game when Robbie Brady and Gary O’Neil nastily clashed, adding on a hefty amount of stoppage time to the end of the game.
As Norwich looked for an equaliser, this left gaps for the Blues to exploit, with Nemanja Matic and Diego Costa both coming close to putting the game beyond doubt. Nathan Redmond came close on two occasions within the last ten minutes, but Costa’s strike on the stroke of half time proved enough to send Chelsea back to London with all 3 points ahead of Stoke City’s visit to Stamford Bridge this coming Saturday.
“Well first of all we are happy we are away from the relegation zone, though that’s not the Chelsea style.” He added, “Now with the ambition of Chelsea we must set a new target and see what can we do in the direction of Europe. We have to keep on winning.”
Total Shots: 13 – 10
On Target: 2 – 2
Off Target: 7 – 4
Blocked: 4 – 4
Possession: 47% – 53%
Norwich: Ruddy, R Bennett (Mbokani, 60), Martin, Klose, Ivo Pinto, Tettey (O’Neil, 36), Howson, Brady, Hoolahan, Redmond, Jerome
Unused Subs: Rudd, Olsson, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Jarvis
Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Kenedy (Baba Rahman, 69), Matic, Fabregas, Traore (Willian, 60), Oscar (Mikel, 60), Hazard, Costa
Unused Subs: Begovic, Loftus-Cheek, Pato, Remy