It’s still early in the season, but Chelsea’s match against Norwich on Saturday has the feel of a must-win game for the Blues.
Chelsea have yet to record a win this season, and though there have been positive signs in Chelsea’s play, they’ve lost their first two fixtures of the season, piling pressure on manager Frank Lampard to guide them to their first win.
It might be different for Chelsea if they could manage to put together a good performance for a full 90 minutes.
Against both Manchester United and Leicester, Chelsea’s attack showed excellent pace and an ability to create chances. But at times, their focus on attack has left the midfield and defence horribly exposed to counter attacks, in addition to individual mistakes, particularly in the second half of games, leading to goals.
It was particularly noticeable against Leicester last week. Chelsea dominated most of the play in the first half, getting a goal from Mason Mount being sharper and more alert than Wilfried Ndidi.
But Chelsea have shown a vulnerability at set pieces, and a combination of Kurt Zouma missing the initial header and Cesar Azpilicueta failing to track his runner allowed Ndidi to atone for his mistake.
More worrisome is that from that point, Chelsea looked very flat and Leicester took advantage of space in the midfield to create a number of chances that they failed to convert.
Norwich provide an interesting conundrum in that they’re also a side that prefers to attack.
In winning promotion, Norwich played a pretty adventurous style of football and has maintained that style so far this season.
It led to at hat trick for Teemu Pukki last week against Newcastle United and should feel confident that they can score against a Chelsea team with clear weaknesses in defence.
To add to Chelsea’s concerns, N’Golo Kante is carrying an injury and will need to be assessed before the match. Without Kante, Chelsea’s midfield has looked less solid defensively with Mateo Kovacic deputising for the Frenchman.
But on the positive, Mason Mount has shown over two games that he’s capable of impacting Premier League games, and it would be a surprise to see Ross Barkley start over him against Norwich.
Willian made his return as a substitute last week and could make his first start of the season ahead of either Pedro or Christian Pulisic. Pulisic played well against Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup but had little impact against Leicester last week.
Regardless, Chelsea have to be wary of the Norwich attack at Carrow Road, and a draw or a defeat on Saturday will begin to heap more pressure on the manager.