I guess this game is what you could describe as “a free hit.”
The sort of match where we aren`t expected to win and where everyone outside of Norfolk is expecting Chelsea to just pitch up and turn us over.
From talking to various mates and work colleagues this week, heck, it seems as though a lot of the Canary nation think we`re going to get spanked too, but then this is the FA Cup and anything can happen.
With no non-league sides in the third round this season, any “upsets” will have to come from smaller teams playing Premier League clubs and as we are facing the reigning Champions of England (not that they will retain that title), we fall into that category.
Antonio Conte is going to rotate his squad, he`s said as much in his pre-match press conference and the likes of Michy Batshuayi and David Luiz, who has only played once since October, are likely to feature for the Blues.
Being blunt, we will have to hope that all our players are at ten tenths for this game and hope that the visitors have an off day.
Harrison Reed and Marco Stiepermann are both still unavailable due to injury but other than that, Daniel Farke has a fairly fit squad from which to select his team.
The extent of Conte`s squad rotation is going to be key as to what sort of chance City have in this match. As well as Luiz and Batshuayi, Charly Musonda could feature after a groin injury but the magic man, Eden Hazard has a calf injury that could keep him out of this game, as Conte keeps one eye on the Carabao Cup semi-final with Arsenal next Wednesday.
WHAT TO EXPECT
If I was Daniel Farke, I would play my strongest team. The squad have had since Monday to recover from the Millwall game and then don`t have a match until next weekend against Bristol City. What has he got to lose?
This will be an excellent chance to see how the prodigious talent that is James Maddison can perform on the biggest stage, against some top operating players and live on BT Sport too. The same can be said of Jamal Lewis and Alex Pritchard, not to mention Nelson Oliveira, who needs to give us a real big performance sooner or later.
The defence will have to all play well, as will Angus Gunn, and Tom Trybull and Alex Tettey who will be key to stemming the tide of Chelsea attacks and hopefully starting a few of our own. We are likely to have to play counter attacking football in this match, which is no bad thing. If Josh Murphy can replicate the performance of New Year`s Day then his pace and trickery will be a useful weapon on the break.
As I say, we need to be at the top of our game and hope the visitors are a little off colour to make this work for us and get a victory. A draw would be an admirable outcome but is of little use to Norwich, who realistically have one real shot at progressing to the fourth round. Home advantage will be key and I hope that the Carrow Road crowd will turn the volume up that has been so lacking of late.
Yes, the odds are stacked against us but as Greavsie used to say “it`s a funny old game.”