Norwich City have had a torrid season, despite investing heavily over the summer. They boosted their strike-force with big money signings such as Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper, for a combined $20 million. Although they spent large amounts of money, Norwich have been unable to find the back of the net, sharing the unfortunate title of least goals scored this season with Crystal Palace. Unfortunately, they also have one of the leakiest defenses in the league, having conceded 60 goals this season. They are tied on points with Sunderland, who have a game in hand, so they need to pick up points somewhere. Their final two games are against Chelsea and Arsenal, games they are not expected to win. However, if they want to stay up they need to beat Chelsea this weekend.
Visiting Stamford Bridge is a daunting task for most teams, especially Norwich, who have not beaten Chelsea in their last seven meetings. This task is made harder by the fact that Chelsea are two points behind Liverpool, and need to win in order to have any chance of winning the title. They were also beaten midweek by Atletico Madrid and Jose Mourinho will demand a response from his squad. Today he questioned Eden Hazard’s desire, a psychological move to motivate one of his best players. Chelsea will be chomping at the bit to prove doubters wrong, so Norwich will need to perform at their best if they want to take anything away from this game. Having said that, of the two games left, this is a game that Norwich can win.
Chelsea have a poor record against the lower teams this season. Their undefeated home record was ruined by Sunderland, who were bottom of the table at the time. Norwich also has a couple good players that can cause Chelsea problems. Robert Snodgrass has been one of their best players this season and can be a match-winner. His set-pieces are usually exceptional and if Norwich are to win, they will need to look to him for some inspiration. The most important factor is who Neil Adams selects as his striker. Van Wolfwinkel, Norwich’s record signing, has been a flop, having only scored one goal this season, and should not start in this game. Norwich need goals and they need to start their leading scorer, Gary Hooper. Hooper has scored eight goals in all competitions and would be my selection for Sunday. If Adams decides to play two strikers then he should start Johan Elmander, the team’s leader in assists. If I were going to select the team, I would select a 4-5-1 and look to frustrate Chelsea. Chelsea have shown they are great when they counter-attack, but when they are the team with the majority of the possession, they are less dangerous.
If Norwich are going to win this game, then they need to put everything on the line. Neil Adams needs to pick 11 players who are going to play their hearts out to defend against Chelsea. He needs to utilize his pacey players, and look to frustrate Chelsea, and then hit them once they start to show that frustration. The most important thing is not conceding early, they have shown that they struggle to come back from an early goal. If Norwich can play how they played in the second-half against Liverpool, then they certainly have a chance. This weekend Norwich has the chance to completely knock Chelsea out of the title race, and increase their chances of survival.