Chelsea are drawing 0-0 with Norwich City at half time in their latest Premiership game in what has been an entertaining but fruitless first half.
The game began relatively slowly as both sides sought space in the other’s half without clear success, but Chelsea’s pressing was good in the first few minutes. Norwich won a corner that was easily dealt with and Chelsea’s passing across the middle of the pitch improved compared to previous performances.
The midfield benefited greatly from having Kenedy- starting at left-back- coming into the centre and giving support to a part of the pitch that has been porous so far this season. The first chance just before the 10th minute when Hazard ran down the left wing, beating his marker easily, and cutting the ball back from by-line for Fabregas to put it over at the near post.
A corner from Willian was the flicked wide from Terry moments later, and then the Brazil international himself had a shot on goal when given the ball by Hazard- who had made a fantastic, searing run through the centre of the pitch- but could only find Ruddy’s legs from inside the area as Chelsea began to take control of the game.
Some of those who have been well below their best looked sharper than they have done at any other point this season. Hazard’s skill complemented Willian’s usual energy as Chelsea looked brighter and were able to apply pressure for longer periods of time. For Norwich’s part, their first chance of the game came from good work across the edge of Chelsea’s box but Mbokani put the ball over the bar when he should have done better.
Brady, Norwich’s brightest player in the first half, ran into the box and looked for a moment as if he was going to fashion a clear cut chance but Zouma did well to cover his run and shepherd the ball back to Begovic. Costa should have at least got the ball on target when Pedro cut it back into the centre of the box, his international teammate putting it over the bar. Costa probably would have done better from a Hazard cross soon after had it been him a few yards out and not Willian over whom the ball just drifted over.
Despite the lack of cutting edge in the away side’s area, there was something approaching the energetic, high pressing game that was on display 12 months ago. Norwich have showed signs of ambition and were denied what they thought was a penalty when Brady fell under pressure from Willian just inside the area but both real time and replay footage showed the Canaries’ forward went down far too easily.
Chelsea were denied a penalty themselves as the game approached the break when Costa received the ball from a cutting pass into the box from Willian and fell as he tried to turn Bassong. Like Brady it was obvious that he could have stayed on his feet had he wanted to.
The game opened up even more as it approached the break with chances as first Sebastian Bassong and then Diego Costa had shots blocked- by Terry and Ruddy respectively- when both found themselves in the box with time on the ball. As it happens, the score is 0-0, but not for the want of trying from both sides. Should the game continue in this vein then there will certainly be goals in the second half.
CHELSEA: Begovic; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry (c), Kenedy; Fabrégas, Matic; Willian, Pedro, Hazard; Costa.
Subs: Blackman, Ramires, Oscar, Traore, Cahill, Remy, Azpilicueta.
Manager: José Mourinho
NORWICH: Ruddy; Wisdom, R.Bennett, Bassong, Olsson, O’Neil, Redmond, Mulumbu, Brady, Howson, Mbokani.
Subs: Rudd, Whittaker, Jerome, Dorrans, Hoolahan, Lafferty, Odjidja-Ofoe.
Manager: Alex Neil
Referee: Craig Pawson
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London, UK.