European champions Chelsea underlined their credentials for the Premier League title with a clinical 4-1 demolition of Norwich City. The Blues, playing at home, were simply unstoppable and goals from Eden Hazard, Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic were enough to overturn Grant Holt's early opener.
Roberto Di Matteo named both John Terry and Ashley Cole in his starting 11, perhaps as a measure of his confidence in the England veterans despite Terry having been accused of racism and Cole having posted derogatory tweets about the FA.
Belgian playmaker Hazard was restored to the team after being rested for the midweek game against Nordsjaelland in the Champions League, with Nigerian winger Victor Moses dropping to the bench. Brazilian midfielder Ramires was rested, with Moses' compatriot John Mikel Obi being given the nod. Up front, Spanish striker Torres was the go-to man for Di Matteo again, despite the coach's concern he may be overworking the former Liverpool star.
Norwich started the match brightly, with Grant Holt, the league's second highest English goalscorer last season, shocking the home crowd in the 11th minute. But that was always going to be an aberration. Chelsea controlled the play from the first whistle and, in fact, Torres should have scored after only four minutes when put through on goal by Lampard. Unfortunately the forward hesitated and Norwich cleared the danger. The visitors' goal was a fortunate one, scored at a time when Terry took a knock, leaving a gap for Wes Hoolahan to cross and Holt to prod it home.
Torres made up for his earlier miss just minutes after the first goal, when he headed home Ivanovic's cross. Norwich did threaten on occasion, to be fair, and Alex Tettey could perhaps have restored their lead but they were clearly rattled by Chelsea's pressing game and made a series of defensive mistakes. One such came after 22 minutes, when they failed to clear a shot by Torres and the rebound fell kindly for Lampard, who made no mistake.
It was 2-1 to Chelsea and it was clear the Blues had more goals in them, if only because Norwich continued to defend so poorly. The third goal was a classic example. Norwich saw a corner cleared in the Chelsea half, where Juan Mata picked up the ball and ran nearly the length of the pitch before setting up Hazard for his second league goal for the club.
Norwich had half-chances all through the second half, most of them falling to Holt, but every time they lost the ball or their shape, Chelsea's attacking pace threatened goals. Mata, in particular, was having a good day. Torres was moving around well and tested goalkeeper John Ruddy on more than one occasion. The icing on the Blues' cake was a late goal from Ivanovic... the assist, yet again from Mata.
Chelsea now have 19 points from the opening seven games and, along with second place Manchester City, are the only team yet to lose a game in the league. The Blues now embark on a daunting run of matches, though. They travel to in-form Spurs on 20 October before visiting Shakhtar Donetsk for a Champions League game on 23 October and then hosting Manchester United on 28 October.
Norwich drop into the relegation zone with this result and are 19th with only three points from seven games. They are one of three sides (QPR and Reading) yet to win a game this season. The Canaries will get no respite though. They face Arsenal at the Emirates on 20 October and Spurs at Carrow Road, on 31 October.
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