Norwich City managed to earn themselves a third round replay in the FA Cup when they held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw, in what can only be described as a lacklustre game.
Chelsea made nine changes from their midweek draw with Arsenal, including the return of David Luiz and starts for Caballero, Kenedy and Batshuayi.
Fortunately for the Canaries, this new Chelsea side looked like they had other places to be and were on poor form against a spirited Norwich. But spirit was not enough for Norwich to capitalise on poor opponents, leaving them looking particularly blunt toothed.
The Canaries have averaged a measly one goal per game in the Championship this season, Chelsea are just short of double that, and you could really tell when Norwich failed to worry Cabellero to any notable degree.
Murphy, Pritchard and Maddison all tried to get past the Chelsea back line, however the closest they came to doing so was with Murphy’s volley being struck wide.
Maddison in particular seemed lively, with his quick feet on the ball often opening up some much needed space and energy into the game- drawing a foul and a yellow card from David Luiz. He is sure to be a target for other clubs this transfer window.
At the other end, the visitors also failed to test Gunn, who stood firm all game despite having little to do. The closest the Blues came was David Luiz’s trademark freekick being struck just over the bar in the second half, and David Zappacosta’s volley falling just wide late in the game.
Chelsea’s late substitutions provided promise, with Conte bringing on star striker Alvaro
Morata as well as youngsters Musonda and Sterling, who combined well to trouble the Norwich defence, but to no avail.
Norwich will consider the result a good one, with Daniel Farke saying that it “was pretty close to a celebrating day,” and after facing criticism for his tough training program and a bleak set of November results, he will be pleased that his side have improved, picking up a couple wins in December and earning this valuable replay.
Farke commented after the game saying, “I’m a bit disappointed it was not a win for us. We had an outstanding game and in the first half we dominated,” adding that “A replay is a good thing for the club. Maybe it doesn’t help us win the league but I’m a big believer in the Cup.”
This point of view will have a mixed reception from Antonio Conte, who is facing a tough fixture list of eight games in January.