Who: Norwich City FC at Chelsea FC
What: English Premier League
Where: Stamford Bridge, (Fulham, Greater London, England, UK)
When: Saturday, October 6, 2012
Weather: The Weather Channel Forecast
Time: 15:00 (3:00) p.m. GMT/10:00 a.m. ET/7:00 a.m. PT
Television: Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Deportes (USA)
Worldwide Live Streams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com link
Radio: SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 92
Referee: Anthony Taylor
3-Way Odds: Chelsea -400, Norwich City +1050, Draw +450
Total: Over 2½ -200, Under 2½ +140
Decimal Odds: Chelsea 1.25, Norwich City 11.50, Draw 5.25
Fractional Odds: Chelsea 1/4, Norwich City 21/2, Draw 9/2
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 1.60, Under 2½ 2.20
Source: sportsbook.com (Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles)
To say that Norwich City has gotten off to a slow start in the English Premier League this season probably wouldn’t be fair to the expression “slow start.”
Currently sitting in the relegation zone in 18th place (0-3-3), the Canaries are tied for the league’s worst goal differential (-9, four goals for, 13 goals against) with Queens Park Rangers and have scored just four times in six games—two of those in their last game, a 5-2 loss to Liverpool last weekend at Carrow Road in the Reds' first win of the season.
On the other end of the spectrum, European champions Chelsea still stand alone atop the EPL table with an undefeated 5-1-0 record (11 goals for, three against) and have now compiled an impressive 13-2-1 home record under manager Roberto Di Matteo.
When these two clubs met last season at Stamford Bridge, the Blues won 3-1 as Juan Mata scored in his Chelsea debut in a match that saw Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy accidentally knock Didier Drogba unconscious with his left elbow in an aerial dogfight for the ball, while in their last meeting on January 21 at Norwich City, the two sides played to a scoreless draw.
Chelsea is undefeated in its last seven games against the Canaries, with its last loss to them coming almost 18 years ago—on December 10, 1994 at Carrow Road (3-0). The Blues are 21-16-9 all-time versus Norwich City in all competitions, and are 12-8-5 against them at home in west London.
For manager Chris Hughton’s Canaries, the trick will be to try to keep the ball away from new-look Chelsea, but after losing the possession battle by a gaudy 67-33 percent to Liverpool, that plan could turn out to be an exercise in futility.
And with Norwich City having only four goals—one each by Robert Snodgrass, Grant Holt, Simeon Jackson and Steve Morison—Chelsea defenders have as many scores (Branislav Ivanović, two goals; Gary Cahill, one; Ashley Cole, one) as the entire Canaries team does heading into this contest.
Expect Norwich City goalkeeper Ruddy to be thoroughly tested by the likes of Fernando Torres (team-high three goals in the EPL), Frank Lampard (two goals), Mata (two assists, one goal) and Eden Hazard (four assists) on the Blues attack.
One guy who definitely won’t be in the Canaries starting XI versus Chelsea is 19-year-old striker Harry Kane—on loan from Tottenham Hotspur—who injured his ankle in Norwich City’s 1-0 Capital One League Cup win against Doncaster, and who is expected to be out for six weeks.
For Chelsea, goalkeeper Petr Čech has his usual brilliant self; he has registered four clean sheets in six league starts and may be in line for his fifth in this fixture on Saturday.
With just nine setbacks in its last 163 games at Stamford Bridge—a 5.5 percent loss
rate over that span—the Blues should cage the Canaries in this one and hold on tight to their first-place home in the Premiership.
With four likely tough matches all coming up on the schedule—Tottenham at White Hart Lane (October 20), Manchester United at home (October 28), Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine in the UEFA Champions League group stage (October 23) and again versus Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils in the fourth round of the Capital One League Cup at home (October 31)—securing three points and getting out of this game injury-free will be of utmost importance to Di Matteo and Chelsea.
So Torres notching another goal, Mata getting another assist or two, Victor Moses getting his first EPL tally and Čech shutting out another opponent are all distinct possibilities for the Blues who have now won four straight after Tuesday’s 4-0 Champions League win at FC Nordsjælland.
Chelsea is now 4-2-0 since their last loss, that 4-1 embarrassment to Atlético Madrid and Radamel Falcao in the UEFA Super Cup final in Monaco on August 31.
With Norwich City’s poor current form and Chelsea’s overwhelming track record at home, combined with the fear of those four challenging games coming up on the horizon later this month, expect an easy win for the Blues in this match at The Bridge.
PREDICTION: Chelsea FC 4 Norwich City FC 0
BETS: Over 2½ -200, Chelsea -400
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