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Well that was one way of progressing to the fourth round. Impotent Chelsea contrived to deliver only one goal in two hours at home to mediocre Norwich City and consequently were subjected to the ordeal of penalty kicks, when they ought to have put the contest to bed long before. It's not that the hosts were woeful, because they were not. However, the visitors produced another well-marshalled display of packing their defence and proving troublesome on the counter. In fact, the home team were receiving a dose of their own medicine. Frankly speaking, Norwich deserved that last-gasp equaliser, because they made a big contribution to a compelling contest.
The outgoing champions of England have now contrived to draw no fewer than four matches in succession. In fact the current incompetents have set a new club record of three goalless draws in the space of seven days. Tis scarcely the kind of milestone that the team ought to be seeking. Regrettably not only have the goals dried up, but there appears to be a lack of inspiration, and consequently there is a dearth of chances created. It may be clutching at straws, but the Chelsea faithful will be hoping that the imminent first team introduction for the prodigal Ross Barkley just might inject some creativity into this clueless unit. Perhaps David Luiz needs to be upgraded to a starting place. Maybe the boss should finally play Batshuayi and Morata together up top. Or alternatively the club should seriously consider taking a punt on one of the following English strikers: Andy Carroll, Dean Sturridge, or Theo Walcott.
In Conte's highly successful league campaign of last year, his team rarely drew a match. However, in this last week he has had to make do with three very different but frustrating draws in three different competitions at three different venues. The chief source of these stalemates, mate, is an absence of free-scoring from the English champions. The Blues pressed against a largely subdued Arsenic last night, but the final killer pass was missing and any attempts at goal were either inaccurate or a bit weak. It seems that another back-up striker is called for. It might be worth taking a punt on a big target man like Andy Carroll. On the evidence of the Norwich visit, young Kenedy , the human tattoo, also needs a spell out on loan.
A Bore Draw In Norfolk
A much-changed Chelsea team got little change out of a well-drilled Norwich City defence. In the end, a draw was all the visitors deserved, and a replay was what the home team deserved. The away team clearly missed the guile of Fabregas, the skill of Hazard, and the energy of Kante, and it showed. Pedro and Zappacosta are not afraid to pull the trigger and shoot, both are blessed with pace, but unfortunately neither could dribble the ball past a lamppost. Willian buzzed around and occasionally flickered - but to no avail. We looked to the recalled David Luiz for moments of inspiration. Meanwhile poor Batshuayi could not get on the end of anything. Oh well. At least we are in 'the hat' for the fourth round, although Conte will be less than happy with this extra fixture commitment. Hopefully our rested troops will return with some gusto when they confront little Arsenil in the cup semi final on Wednesday night. Bring it on!
A Dramatic Emirates Visit
Well that was the game that was! Chelsea made a far better fist of visiting Arsenic than they did the last time. However, Antonio Conte was left to rue more dropped points in a London derby. The Blues had to cope with some typically eye-catching Arsenil attacks, and were grateful to the fine form of big Courtois who did his very best to keep their goals down to the two. However, the away team were gifted an array of openings and opportunities, and not for the first time this season, the champions proved themselves very good at missing the target when it would have been easier to score.
Stoke City famously were Chelsea's bogey team, foiling us in the League Cup two or three times and even winning six-two at the Bridge in the mid-seventies. Happily this year, the Blues have thrice defeated Stoke, demolishing the relegation strugglers with a nine-nil aggregate from this season alone. Unfortunately not every team is as weak as yesterday's visitors, but the Chelsea faithful can draw much satisfaction for now overtaking the decomposing Manchester Yawnited corpse. Above all, it was great to take a match by the scruff of the neck and deliver two knockout blows inside the first ten minutes.
Alonso And Morata On Target
After a listless first half performance, the champions came to life after the interval courtesy of their Spanish Armada. Yet again Cesar Azpilicueta delivered an exquisite cross from the right flank for big Alvaro Morata to head home from close range. Then Cesc Fabregas swung over a corner from the left and big Marcos Alonso diverted the ball into the net via his head too. It's difficult to complain about the eventual result. Brighton offered little but that is not Chelsea's fault. The hosts won by a couple of clear goals and kept a clean sheet. Struggling Stoke City visit us next, on Saturday afternoon. The Chelsea faithful will settle for more of the same - please.
Another Merseyside Stalemate
Chelsea recorded only their third draw of the current league campaign, their second on Merseyside and their second scoreless draw. The word scoreless is very apt because the champions have actually failed to score more than once in ten of their league encounters. Yesterday in the absence of a recognised centre forward, the Blues huffed and puffed but couldn't blow the Everton house down. In fact it was a telling moment that the closest that Chelsea came to scoring was courtesy of an Everton header which hit their own woodwork. Otherwise, a very well organised home defence and excellent goalkeeping from Pickford managed to restrict the visitors to no goals and a solitary point.
Chelsea Sneak To Victory
The Blues squeezed home into a last four rendezvous avec our beloved Arsenil, after another thoroughly unconvincing display, this time against struggling Bournemouth. The hosts are seemingly making a habit of scratching out wins. It remains doubtful whether they can actually win anything this season, so in the possible absence of any silverware, it would be a consolation if the team actually played some sexy football, but even that seems to be beyond them.
Alonso Ensures Maximum Points
A crafty direct free kick strike by Marcos Alonso was the difference between one point and three points, as the Spanish maestro curled a low shot around the wall and just inside the post with the last kick of the first half. This was goal-shy Chelsea's fourth 1-0 win in the last couple of months. Keeping clean sheets is a brilliant step in the right direction, but the champions need to score more goals to avoid being mugged by a late equaliser. While some of our rivals are free-scoring, it's disappointing that our goalscoring frailties are jeopardising our quest for glory in this season. Hopefully some of Alonso's team mates might find the back of the net when we do battle with struggling Bournemouth in a cup quarter final on Wednesday evening.