Nick Sellers previews the Chelsea game…
I like to think that most of my previews for the site have been, for the most part, quite coherent and well planned out entries which offer a reasonably astute outlook on the forthcoming fixture in question. Granted, I’m rarely correct with the result, and I won’t be winning any prediction leagues for guessing scores anytime soon, but more often than not I like to think they are at least a set of well structured articles that comes across quite well.
This week though I’m in something of a funk. Recent developments at City have left me in something of a disillusioned state, so the planning for this entry has gone out of the window.
Where on earth am I suppose to start when it comes to looking ahead to a game against Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge, considering the form of the respective teams? How do you expect me to put any kind of positive spin on it? They’re ripping teams at the moment, both domestically and in European competition. We’ve just been spanked 5-2 by Liverpool, we’re charging £30 a ticket for a round 4 Capital Wotsit Cup game, Paul Lambert is trying to rinse us out of £2milion and Chris Hughton insists on playing Michael Turner. Has all hell broken loose or something? No wonder I’ve been off sick this week!
Since the Lambert era first started, Canaries fans have probably forgotten what doom and gloom actually feels like. It’s been such an upward surge that winning has almost become engrossed into the local culture. But since we’re still looking for our first win after a tricky start, and the boos rung around the stands of Carrow Road at the interval and conclusion of the Liverpool game, the first time in a long, long time such boos had been directed towards the players, and Michael Turner is still under our employment, the mood has temporarily changed. That, and the inflated ticket price for a cup game. Thanks Delia. (And no, McNally, as much as I love you it isn’t in the least bit fair. Especially when the likes of Reading are only charging £15 for their tie against Arsenal.)
There are two ways you can look at the current mood and feeling amongst supporters. On the one hand, we can show understandable panic and brace ourselves for the humbling realisation that rather that our turn to have the good times is over, and the vicious football cycle dictates that other clubs get their share of the joys of the beautiful game for now. While with the rest of the public once looked at us with the same sort of affection as a plucky Blackpool, we are now looked upon as uninspiring also rans like a boring Wigan.
Or, we can look back on our time in League One and the Championship, and realise that in actual fact, to have these kind of problems in the Premier League is something you’d absolutely take ahead of having the problems we had in the lower leagues once upon a time.
There are some other positives to take out of an otherwise hapless week. Ticket price aside, we’ve at least got a home time in the last 16 of the League Cup to look forward to. That’s progress in itself considering our recent history in the competition, right? And while we were roundly trounced by the scousers and a certain Uruguayan nuisance, at least two of our own strikers went some way to addressing our problems in front of goal, especially Holt who will have been crying out for the first of his campaign.
Also, we’re going to Stamford Bridge! Think of the away trips we were experiencing not so long ago. Exeter. Brentford. Walsall. Yeovil. Doncaster. Paulton Pissing Rovers. Now we’re playing at the home of the European Champions for a second season in a row, and we actually gave them a right good go last season on our last visit and even took a point from them in the reverse.
Chelsea away could either be the best of the worst dosage of medicine for a City side that might be reeling somewhat. We could either sink catastrophically or the fact that it’s Chelsea might force them all to give each other a collective kick up the proverbial and work extra hard to turn around our fortunes.
Make no mistake, a point would be tremendous and chances are we’d be lucky to even get close to that. But as Mr.Holt pointed out in his comments this week, we pressed Chelsea hard in the Carrow Road fixture last season and if we do so again we might just get something out of it. But with the Blues in such awesome form and with a new manager in charge since then, it does look a bit on the bleak side.
The Spurs game at least showed that we can take the fight to teams of a superior class, and the news that Bassong might just be fit enough to play a part in the game is probably the best news we’ll hear all week. Five at the back might be a good option, even if it means sacrificing some of our usual creativity.
Bradley Johnson had a tough time trying to neutralize the passing threat of Steven Gerrard last weekend, so let’s hope he fares a bit better against the likes of Lampard and co, depending on who starts. Who knows, Di Matteo may even rest some of the regulars in light of their recent good form, so that could provide us with an opening of sorts. Torres in particular seems to dip in and out of form, so the actual strikeforce doesn’t worry me much, but the midfield battle will once again prove crucial.
Speaking of midfield, hopefully Hughton will make a couple more changes in this department. Alex Tetty should be in with a shout of starting and it’d be nice to welcome back David Fox into the fold.
No score prediction or result prediction from me. Let’s just pray we can restore a bit of shattered pride at the end of a week which we fans could do with some comforting in.