Off the pitch it’s turmoil but on it Chelsea cruise to 3-1 win at Norwich
Chelsea could not have asked for more accommodating opponents to take their minds off the turmoil that is surrounding the football club right now as Thomas Tuchel’s men registered a comfortable 3-1 win on an eventful night against Norwich City at Carrow Road.
While the supporters showed Roman Abramovich their unconditional support and gratitude by singing his name from the outset, which attracted the ire of the home fans, Kai Havertz and Mason Mount combined to devastating effect in the final third as Chelsea scored twice inside 14 minutes to put Norwich to the sword.
Goals from Trevoh Chalobah and Mount did the job in spectacular fashion for the Blues against the erratic and low-on-confidence Canaries who are starring down the barrel of yet another relegation from the top-flight following the one in 2020 despite a spirited second-half display from which they can take heart for the remaining 10 fixtures.
Such was Chelsea’s supremacy in the opening 30 minutes that the reigning World and European champions could even afford to drop mainstays N’Golo Kante, Antonio Rudiger and the resurgent Hakim Ziyech to the bench while not even needing to get out of third gear to seal all three points.
But it didn’t come without being forced to dig deep and show some resilience in the second period.
With Norwich retreating and struggling to get out of their own half, Chelsea failed to close the game out and Dean Smith’s men reduced the arrears on 69 minutes when Teemu Pukki nonchalantly sent Edouard Mendy the wrong way from twelve yards.
But Havertz settled his side’s nerves, finding the top corner with an emphatic curled finish inside the box in injury-time.
If at Burnley it took Chelsea 47 minutes to get into their stride, here they were in the ascendant from minute one and barring the occasional long-range attempt their goal was never real threatened in the first 45 minutes.
Tuchel's flamboyant men laid down an early marker and Chalobah got in between two defenders to flick home a point-blank header from Mount’s well-worked corner after less than three minutes.
Any game could be the last of Roman Abramovich’s trophy-laden reign in West London and the players wanted to make sure that their beloved chairman was leaving on a high.
Norwich were all over the place and keeper Tim Krul somehow managed to keep Havertz’s effort out with his boot.
And on 13 minutes, ex-Bayer Leverkusen star Havertz, teed up by Mount with a superbly weighted ball, failed to beat the Dutchman after unleashing a central shot on the turn.
Mount, who netted a hat-trick in the reverse fixture, then found the top corner with a well-executed effort following an immaculate cutback from Havertz as the rampant Blues ran riot.
There was a real energy and urgency about Chelsea’s play, which hinted at yet another rout following the impressive 7-0 demolition at Stamford Bridge in October.
But their inability to kill off the game despite a flurry of clear-cut chances before the interval allowed Norwich a route back into the game after the restart.
After 20 minutes, Norwich showed a reaction as Christoph Zimmermann broke forward and feinted past Jorginho with ease but his deflected shot off Thiago Silva was easily stopped by Mendy.
Goal-hero Mount could have had another one after a lovely one-two with the Havertz, with the German being given the nod ahead of Romelu Lukaku again, but his effort floated just over the crossbar.
Barcelona-bound defender Andreas Christensen then planted a header into the side-netting shortly before the half-hour mark after superbly meeting a corner on the near post.
Mount could have settled the contest four minutes into the second half but ex-Newcastle stopper Krul did well to keep his effort out with his boot.
On their return from the dressing room, the bottom side had another spring in their step and could have even equalised as Chelsea's intensity, speed and desire on show in the first half had waned.
Chalobah stuck out his arm from a low cross, and after reviewing the pitchside monitor, the referee pointed to the spot.
Pukki clinically tucked it away and Kenny MacLean could have even cancelled Chelsea’s lead out but his header seconds later lacked power.
And after withstanding a brief onslaught, the visitors started to create chances again.
In the final ten minutes, Mount rolled the ball in the box from the right but partner in crime Havertz failed to apply the finishing touch at the back post before Lukaku saw his effort flick off a Norwich defender in the box minutes later.
But the irrepressible Havertz sealed the win with a flourish in injury-time to send the Canaries a step closer to the Championship and Chelsea within seven points of second-placed Liverpool.
1 Tim Krul- 2 Max Aarons – 5 Grant Hanley- 6 Christoph Zimmermann- 15 Ozan Kabak- 16 Mathias Normann- 20 Pierre Lees-Melou- 21 Brandon Williams- 22 Teemu Pukki- 23 Kenny McLean- 24 Joshua Sargent
28 Angus Gunn- 4 Ben Gibson- 7 Lukas Rupp-10 Kieran Dowell- 11 Pezemyslaw Placheta- 17 Milot Rashica- 19 Jacob Sorensen- 30 Dimitris Giannoulis- 46 Jonathan Rowe
16 Edouard Mendy- 4 Andreas Christensen- 5 Jorginho- 6 Thiago Silva- 8 Mateo Kovacic- 11 Timo Werner- 14 Trevoh Chalobah- 17 Saul Niguez- 19 Mason MOUNT- 28 Cesea Azpilicueta- 29 Kai Havertz
1 Kepa Arrizabalaga- 2 Antonio Rudiger- 7 N’Golo Kante- 9 Romelu Lukaku – 12 Ruben Loftus-Cheek- 22 Hakim Ziyech- 23 Kenedy- 31 Malang Sarr- 68 Harvey Vale