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Chelsea are the clear early pace setters in the Premier League this season, extending their lead at the top of the table to four points with a convincing 4-1 thrashing of Norwich City. Roberto Di Matteo will be a pleased man after his side bounced back well from an early Grant Holt goal to claim all three points with goals coming from Fernando Torres, Frank Lampard, Eden Hazard and Branislav Ivanovic. Chris Hughton, meanwhile, continues to look for an elusive win and endured a rather forgettable visit to Stamford Bridge.
The Canaries visited Stamford Bridge sitting in the relegation zone with just 3 points from 6 games. Chris Hughton was yet to taste victory in his spell as Norwich manager and an away game against Chelsea meant that his wait looked set to be extended for at least another week. Chelsea entered the match confident as table toppers and after demolishing FC Nordsjaelland 4-0 in the mid-week Champions League fixture, the Blues were expected to make easy work of the Canaries in todayâ€™s game.
John Terry continued to lead the line for Chelsea and was partnered by David Luiz in central defence. The very much in-form Juan Mata was pulling the strings in the middle of the park and had youngsters Oscar and Eden Hazard for company. Veteran Frank Lampard also made a start for the Blues after being benched in last weekâ€™s victory over Arsenal.
Experienced defender Sebastien Bassong recovered from a knock to make a return to Norwichâ€™s starting line-up. Robert Snodgrass was benched as Wes Hoolahan was handed a starting spot by Chris Hughton. Anthony Pilkington, who was also out of action after suffering a knock, was named among the subs on the night. Steve Morison also made the bench with Alexander Tettey making a rare start for the Canaries.
Norwich made a strong start to the game, going forward with confidence, but failed to open up the resolute Blues defence. Torres had the first chance to put the hosts ahead after a well-timed aerial through ball left him clear of the men in yellow, but the Spaniard dawdled on towards the goal giving Bennett the chance to dispossess the striker with ease.
The Canaries stunned Di Matteo's men by grabbing the lead in the 11th minute with a wonderful goal from Grant Holt. Hoolahan's cross to Barnett from the edge of the box was headed down beautifully into Holt's path and the striker responded well to slam the ball past a stunned Cech.
Chelsea responded almost immediately with Torres heading in the equalizer for the Blues at the 14th minute mark. Torres made a fine run into the box to meet Ivanovic's brilliant cross and Ruddy could do little to stop the point-blank effort from going into his net.
Norwich continued to threaten the Blues with Bennett and Hoolahan combining well on the right side, but Hoolahan's cross into the box was clumsily pushed back to Bennett with a mistimed header. The Canaries continued the attack but Johnson's final attempt at goal went straight into Cech's arms.
Chelsea grabbed the lead in the 21st minute through Lampard as Torres' theatrical overhead kick was blocked out by the Norwich defence. However, the incoming Chelsea veteran pounced on the loose ball to give his side a one-goal advantage.
Oscar dominated play on the wings providing a clinical cross into the box, but Cole's headed effort barely troubled Ruddy. Johnson's rough midfield tackles saw him bring down Mikel and Luiz in quick succession, but the referee chose to keep his cards in his pocket.
Hazard doubled the Blues' lead at the half hour mark after Mata carried the ball confidently from midfield to release Hazard behind the Norwich defence. The Belgian took a smart touch before shooting the ball across Ruddy to put Chelsea firmly in the driving seat. The Blues showed no signs of relenting and Cole almost got clear of the defence but Bassong stepped in line to block his attempt at goal.
The flurry of goals failed to break the Canariesâ€™ spirit and Terry had to make a diving block to stop Johnsonâ€™s decent long-range effort.Â·Mikel joined the attacking party and attempted a long-range shot at goal but only managed to put the ball well wide of the post.
Oscar grabbed possession in Norwichâ€™s half and Chelsea passed the ball around confidently before Lampard made a short pass to Oscar. The young Brazilian weaved past the hapless Norwich defence, but only managed a weak shot at goal that went straight into Ruddyâ€™s gloves.
Norwich came close to reviving their chances in the game after a looping cross into the box was headed just wide of Cechâ€™s goal by Holt. Norwich troubled the Chelsea defence considerably well throughout the first-half but were weak at the back to prevent the counter-attacks from the Blues. Chelsea stamped their authority on the game well despite falling behind and went into the break confident with a two-goal advantage.
Chelsea started the second half confidently keeping possession and showing little inclination towards attacking. Norwich, however, started on the front foot with Hoolahan's cross into the box met by Holt, but the header fell just wide of Cech's near post.
Chelsea's first attack of the half was orchestrated by Oscar, who entered Norwich's box from the wings, before laying the ball on for Cole, who slammed the ball into their prepared defence. Mata then attempted to extend Chelsea's lead and the Spaniard played a smart one-two with Oscar then Mikel, but failed to take an effective shot past Norwich's organized defence.
Chelsea had an appeal for a penalty in the 53rd minute after Leon Barnett clumsily brought down a charging Hazard inside the box, but the referee chose not to point to the spot. Mata continued his dominating form intercepting Norwich in their own half and his attempt to retain possession saw the loose ball end up with Oscar. The Brazilian star took a powerful shot from the edge of the box which Ruddy managed to keep out with a dive to his left.
The Blues continued their onslaught on the Norwich defence and Mata found himself free behind the defenders but could only do enough to poke the ball into the charging Ruddy. Hazard came in to make and effort of his own, but a decent tackle from Howson saw the Belgian down on the grass as Chelsea made a weak appeal for a penalty.
Ivanovic made a hefty contribution to the attack keeping the defenders on their toes with well-taken crosses from the wings. Di Matteo looked to add pace to his midfield, bringing on Ramires for Lampard after 67 minutes, who had put in a decent performance with a goal to boot. Meanwhile, Norwich made a switch of their own, pulling out Johnson introducing Anthony Pilkington into the attack, who made his first appearance since recovering from a knock.
Mata once again led Chelsea and combined well with Oscar to enter Norwich's box. However, the youngster's heavy lay-off to Torres ended up with Ramires, who failed to get past the determined Martin.
Torres had an opportunity to get on the scoresheet once again after a one-two with Mata left him one-on-one with Ruddy, but the Spanish striker only managed to slam the ball into the on-rushing keeper.
Chelsea destroyed Norwich's hopes of a comeback with Ivanovic reaping the rewards of his attacking prowess on the night. A heavy cross from the opposite wing flew past the right-back and Mata cleverly flicked the ball back to Ivanovic, who comfortably slammed it home to make it 4-1 after 76 minutes.
Norwich then took off Holt to put in Morison in a bid to add pace to their attack. An exhausted Bassong was also replaced by Ryan Bennett. Chelsea made good use of their advantageous position handing Cesar Azpilicueta his Premier League debut by bringing off the worn out Ivanovic. Oriol Romeu also made his first league appearance of the season, replacing Mikel in midfield.
There were no further additions to the scoreline in the last 15 minutes with the game petering out in the end.
The Blues maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a systematic demolition of Norwich City. Juan Mata played an integral role in midfield, orchestrating their attacks with considerable skill. Chelsea now have 19 points from seven matches and they sit with a comfortable 4 point lead over second placed Manchester City. Norwich, meanwhile, dropped one place to 19th and it is certainly an uphill task for Chris Hughton from here on out, whose first priority will be to stave off relegation in his first season as manager of the Canaries.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic (Azpilicueta 78â€™), Luiz, Terry, Cole, Mikel (Romeu 82â€™), Lampard (Ramires 67â€™), Mata, Oscar, Hazard, Torres.
Unused Subs: Turnbull, Moses, Cahill, Bertrand.
Norwich: Ruddy, Russell Martin, Barnett, Bassong (Ryan Bennett 78â€™), Garrido, Elliott Bennett, Howson, Hoolahan, Johnson (Pilkington 68â€™), Tettey, Holt (Morison 77â€™).
Unused Subs: Bunn, Turner, Snodgrass, Jackson.
Final Scoreline: Chelsea 4-1 Norwich City (Holt 11â€™, Torres 14â€™, Lampard 22â€™, Hazard 31â€™, Ivanovic 76â€™)
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