Resilient Norwich fended off a lacklustre Chelsea side to record their first clean sheet of the season, as the Blues faltering title charge took another turn for the worse in a weekend which could have been so promising. With Arsenal to face Manchester United, and Tottenham likewise Manchester City in tomorrow’s matches, it was the idea time for Chelsea to step up the gas, but the Blues failed emphatically, so much so that the gap between Norwich and Chelsea is the same more than the gap between Chelsea and getting first place.
New signing Gary Cahill was nowhere in the 18-man party, so, like the previous match against Sunderland, he sat as a spectator. Hapless duo of Bosingwa and Luiz somehow still managed to convince AVB that they deserve to start, in place of the returning Ivanovic and Englishman. Sturridge came back onto the right-wing, so Ramires sat deeper, with Torres again leading the line, looking to end his barren 16-game goalless run.
The match started encouragingly for the away side, with plenty of possession, but the first meaningful chances fell to the East Anglian side. Pilkington and Morrison both had chances, with David Luiz appearing unsure of his defensive duties, allowing them both chances. Chelsea’s attack was a lot more reserved, Torres seemed happy with waiting to score at the right time, and showed no signs of desperation at getting a goal to his name.
When the time did come, however, John Ruddy was more than capable, tipping away a fine Torres poke away for a corner at full-length.
Then we had the first injury. Frank Lampard, who has scored three goals in the last three matches, all proving to be the winning goal. Florent Malouda, a player linked away from Stamford Bridge, came on in his place, with Juan Mata seeming made more central.
Chelsea clearly wanted to end the half having drawn first blood, Mata having two shots within the closing stages of the half, but whilst the first was saved by Ruddy, the second was wayward and a much better opportunity. The frustration was shared by the manager.
The second half was much the same. Torres continued to prove fruitless, poking wide from just eight yards. Initial reaction was that it was a horrendous miss, but on closer inspection, Norwich had many defenders back, and though Torres’ shot was heading for the bottom corner, the wind diverted it on the wrong side of the post.
Sensing the away crowd’s frustration, Chelsea continued to push on. Torres was hauled off in embarrassment due to his earlier miss, with AVB seemingly trusting a teenager to get the vital goal in the last few moments, rather than a world-class striker. How Torres reacts will say a lot about his confidence and character.
Norwich began to sit deep. Chelsea found no way through the conservative side, who were more than ecstatic with a point. As for Chelsea, another massive dent into the title aspirations. A holiday to Mallorca beckons the struggling Blues, who will hope that the warm sunshine in Spain will certainly set fire to the Torres machine.
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Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech ; Bosingwa , D Luiz , Terry (c) , Cole ; Ramires , Meireles  (Essien 78 ), Lampard  (Malouda 36 ); Sturridge , Torres  (Lukaku 76), MATA .