So Norwich managed to hold the Champions of England to a stalemate last night, something that is impressive enough in itself.
However, I can`t help but think that we`ve let a great opportunity to beat Chelsea and progress in the Cup slip through our grasp.
If I`m absolutely honest with you, I thought we`d probably lose. When you look at the embarrassment of riches at Antonio Conte`s disposal and compare that with the City squad and couple it with our form this season, I think it was easy to fear the worst.
The decision by Daniel Farke to match Chelsea with a three at the back was brave but this was arguably his best chance to give the old back three another try. It was the formation he used through most of pre-season but had to abandon post Millwall to regain some defensive stability.
Jamal Lewis and Ivo Pinto look naturally suited to being wing backs and yet again, young Lewis showed he is a real talent. He comfortably dealt with Zappacosta and Willian at various junctures in the match and never looked out of place, which isn`t too shabby when you`re only eighteen and made your League debut less than a month ago.
Klose, Hanley and Zimmermann were all solid throughout and dealt with the threat of Batshuayi, Pedro and Willian fairly comfortably and that`s why I think we missed our chance.
With Hazard rested/injured, Morata on the bench and Conte making nine changes, Chelsea were wasteful in possession and lacked pace and invention going forwards in the first half. It reminded me of watching Norwich before Christmas actually. Ponderous, slow build up and not enough threat up top.
Norwich had the best of that first half and Josh Murphy in particular, looked a threat on the break. On one occasion he turned Rudiger inside out before firing a “shot” across the face of goal.
A bit more composure there and it could`ve been the difference.
Chelsea did of course improve after the break and had shots on target but only one, from Willian, was a concern to Angus Gunn.
Surrendering home advantage in the replay with a partisan crowd, as well as a probably improved opposition line-up and it`s going to be very tough to get anything at Stamford Bridge. The financial side of things will of course be very welcome and the game might even get picked for TV again, thereby maximising the income but it`s a game that neither Conte or Daniel Farke will have wanted.
Don`t get me wrong, this was an excellent tactical performance where everyone knew their job and did it well. Everyone involved should give themselves a pat on the back and resolve to take this sort of performance into the league.
Going forwards, I wonder how Farke will play from here on in?
With a virtually fully fit squad to choose from and having played his preferred three at the back to good effect in the Cup last night, I just wonder if he`ll start using it more often?
Norwich are nine points off the play-offs and that is not insurmountable (listen to me, the hopeless optimist). Something will have to change though, in attack and the business of creating/converting chances if we are to climb the table.
With just under half the season remaining, I`d like to see City really have a go and try to achieve something amazing. We`ll see.
The decision not to play Nelson Oliveira was a strange one and as I write I`m not exactly sure what the reason was.
BT Sport suggested that he had some kind of injury prior to kick off and was all set to start but then he ends up on the bench before making a late cameo appearance – very odd.
A reoccurrence of his groin/back/teeth injuries?
I did also wonder if it was a tactical decision to play without an out and out striker, the “false number nine” as it is known. I`ll have to wait and hear what Farke says about that one.
When he did come on though, Oliveira was ineffective. I wonder where his head is at and I also wonder about the absence of Cameron Jerome on the bench.
With all the speculation surrounding him in the last week, has someone offered to take Cam and his rumoured £30k per week wages off our hands? It`s an easy 2+2 to make.
If he does go, then he`ll have to be replaced because we cannot go through the rest of the season with only Nelson Oliveira – and that`s assuming he isn`t the subject of an offer we can`t refuse too.
There are plenty of questions surrounding the month of January for Norwich City, not least the calibre of opponents in the upcoming run of matches, which include Bristol City (next), Sheffield United, Middlesbrough, Fulham, Wolves and Chelsea, again.
The biggest questions though involve personnel on the playing staff such as Maddison, Pritchard, Oliveira and Jerome and whether or not they will still be our heroes on February 1st.
It`s going to be an interesting month.