FA Cup review: Chelsea 4 – 0 Norwich City (includes video)

Match reports

Sunday Telegraph, Colin Malam: “Chelsea moved comfortably into the last eight of the FA Cup without having to exert themselves unduly. Goals by Shaun Wright-Phillips, only the third of his Chelsea career, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and Andrei Shevchenko proved more than enough.”

Sunday Times, Joe Lovejoy: “Jose Mourinho was able to rest important players with one eye on the Champions League trip to his old club, Porto, on Wednesday and next Sunday’s Carling Cup final against London rivals Arsenal at the Millennium stadium and still win with plenty to spare.”

The Observer, Jamie Jackson: “The quadruple is still on. And although that feat is unprecedented and highly unlikely, Chelsea might just feel that as their bleak midwinter of form came when key figures were missing, it was timed to perfection. This was a convincing, easy win and with only Joe and Ashley Cole of their major players still absent, the prospect of winning the Premiership, Champions League, FA Cup and Carling Cup – they meet Arsenal in Cardiff next Sunday – must now excite, rather than daunt them.”

Independent on Sunday, Ronald Atkin: “Neither Abramovich nor his manager will have been over-impressed by the fashion in which Chelsea were made to battle until they scored. The pitch was a thorough mess, and it is being dug up yet again today in readiness for the home leg against Porto in the Champions’ League. As Norwich manager Peter Grant claimed, poor pitch or not, “We were always in the game and if we had scored with 10 minutes to go we could have got another”.”

Official Chelsea FC Website: “So 4-0 follows on from 3-0 and 6-1 in this cup run against the lower leagues. This time the scoreline was a little flattering on the performance, but the bottom line is Chelsea stand just two wins away from the first FA Cup Final at the new Wembley Stadium.”

The goals

The good

  1. Arjen Robben. Fantastic in every sense. Greedy, yes I’ll grant you that, but that’s what I want to see occasionally to stop us falling into the Arsenal trap of trying to create goals that are works of art. Sometimes it’s good to see a player go for the selfish glory shot. His ball control is akin to that of Gianfranco Zola, it’s almost like it’s glued to his feet at times and I’m convinced with an injury free run he’d make the cheating diver Cristiano Ronaldo look as accomplished a footballer as Peggy Mitchell.
  2. The performance. Once again it would be easy to say we didn’t shine, but that belies a spirited Norwich performance and what we did do well is control the game and let them run themselves into the ground. I call it fire blanket football. Our excellence in all areas of the pitch basically snuffed out Norwich in the end. By the end of the game they looked shattered, whilst we looked like we could play another 90 minutes.
  3. Petr Cech. What can I say about this goalkeeping phenomenon? Granted he let two past him in his return match in The Liverpool Debacle (can we make that an official name for that game?). However we were beaten before we walked onto the glorious Anfield playing surface that day. Since then 6 games, 6 clean sheets. Coincidence? I think not.
  4. John Terry. Back to his best. Scrapping, blocking, passing, tackling, shouting and marshalling. Captain Marvellous I called him after the Boro game. I got it wrong. Captain Bloody Marvellous.
  5. Another clean sheet. This just goes to show that we missed the likes of Cech and Terry desperately but survived the blip with one defeat amongst the draws. The real Chelsea is almost back in one piece. And not a moment too soon.
  6. Joe Cole. Sitting with the subs, smiling, blowing gum bubbles, grade one haircut and apparently without crutches. Hurry back Joe. Your club and your country needs you!
  7. Norwich City. Put up more fight than some of the Premiership teams we’ve seen this year. 6500 fans singing away, including the infeasibly sexy Delia Smith (yes I know… but the older I get the more Benny Hill I become). They put in a performance that belied their position in the Championship, and a score that frankly flattered us a bit but also paradoxically reflected the difference in the fitness levels needed to perform at the highest level. We never got higher than second gear, they were in top all game. I wish them well as they rebuild their team and try to get back amongst the elite.
  8. My golf. An early round this morning laden with a Guinness induced hangover and returning (much like Terry) after a long injury (gout) and I still broke 100, and beat my two mates who unsympathetically carried on playing each week despite my five-week layoff. I’ll be taking a tenner off both tomorrow for this. See… being sneaky just doesn’t pay off.

The bad

  1. The pitch. One reason to sell Stamford Bridge and build the New Stamford Bridge at Earls Court is that Killer Ken Bates’ visionary ground is not conducive to the health of the grass (the type on the pitch!). Because of this we need to relay twice a year at the minimum and this year has cost us Ashley Cole, and probably cost Norwich their goalkeeper after he had to go off after twisting his ankle due to getting caught on the crap surface. If it was a horse racing course the animal rights people would be up in arms and it’s frankly disgraceful. Only with a radical re-design on the existing ground or a complete move to a new stadium designed from scratch for access and light/rain etc. will this improve. We need our own “Emirates Stadium”… but it must always be called Stamford Bridge.
  2. The injury to Khalid Boulahrouz. He looks good, despite the fall off in performance after his taming of Ronaldinho at Stamford Bridge, and Ronaldinho’s subsequent revenge at the Nou Camp. After Norwich hit the post Boula made an interception that stopped an almost certain goal. Let’s hope his injury is not that serious.
  3. The look on Roman Abramovich’s face. Did he look happy to you? I might be wrong, and I hope I am, but he looked as if he’d rather be anywhere than Chelsea yesterday. Perhaps the divorce is affecting him. Let’s hope it’s just that.
  4. The trumpeter. Who let this clown into the ground? Is it just a lonely, sad Cup nutcase who turns up for these games? I hope to God we don’t end up with him/her as a regular. We don’t need a trumpeter, a drummer or band of any description. God help us, we don’t want to be another Sheffield Wednesday being led by an out of tune bunch of morons who’s idea of fun is probably hiking through the Trossachs singing “fol-de-ree, fol-de-dah” or whatever that damn tune is. Thanks but no thanks, go back and entertain pensioners in Worthing or something.

Man of the Match

Well, both Michael Essien and Didier Drogba could stake a claim even though neither played the whole 90 minutes. For me it’s between Lassana Diarra, Shaun Wright-Phillips or Robben, based on nothing else other than Essien and Drogba have won this too many times. SWP played well, got a good goal and maybe, just maybe I’ve been wrong about him and he really does just need a few games. Prove me wrong SWP. The award this week goes to Robben because like the great Zola he really was a huge pain in the Canary arse today. For Norwich it was the old warhorse Dion Dublin. Played superbly in central defence and kept on smiling. Described us as “quality in every department” which was very gracious of him.

Final thoughts

In less than a month the cloud of gloom has lifted and the former air of invincibility seems to be rushing back in. Even the… ahem… mercurial SWP seems caught up in the newly rediscovered climate of confidence and that showed in his display today. A professional performance which never really looked like being a thrashing, but after the blip I’ll take this. I think Jonathan described it as “third gear performance” when we beat Boro and today’s was closer to that in my view. I am especially impressed by young Diarra who for me should be the first choice ahead of Makelele from next year. But it has to be said there wasn’t a weak link anywhere today and that despite a good and feisty show by Norwich. They knew they couldn’t win, but they attacked and tried anyway. And credit to them for that. One last note, didn’t Jose Mourinho smile a lot today? He seems to be feeling and showing the relief of getting key players back and that’s good for us and the team.

Related links