The Little Yellow Birds return re-energised from their winter break, ready to astound the score prediction world with their incredible accuracy. Or at least have a good try, and everyone loves a trier. A nice easy one to ease us back in, with reigning Premier League Champions Chelsea on their way to Carrow Road for the glamour tie of the FA Cup third round. Surely it can’t be anything but a thrashing, can it?
Many Norwich fans seemed to surrender victory to Chelsea when the draw for the third round was made, let alone actually making it to the pitch. Ok, our salubrious opposition are current Champions of England, and are on course for the highly sought after ‘best behind Manchester City’ crown this season. They have fancy players, a fancy manager and play on a fancy road. The players have some of the most glorious names in football. Davide Zappacosta, Cèsar Azpilicueta...Azpilicueta...Azpilicueta. It’s like a wave gently swishing on the sea shore. Anyhooo, all these factors aside, a game of football still needs to be played and, contrary to popular belief, it's never over before it's even started.
City haven't won an FA cup game in five years, but Daniel Farke has shown this season that he takes cups a little more seriously than his predecessors, and a Carabao Cup quarter final place was only thwarted by some little dude named Eddie and a dodgy referee. That performance against Arsenal was competent. We looked at home against our Premier League opponents. Unfortunately, since that night Norwich have been pretty crap, so it’s time to put an end to that dodgy period by another great performance against superior opposition. Like bookends.
Chelsea will make changes, having played in the exceptionally good 2-2 at Arsenal midweek, and a semi final against the Gunners in the Carabao Cup next week. But even a changed Chelsea with is still a scarily strong Chelsea. Having a billionaire in charge does that for you. But, football is nothing if not surprising and Norwich have nothing to lose (apart from the actual game obvs). Whisper it...but we could actually gain something from playing Chelsea. Farke’s style suits the Premier League tempo (shame we can't actually get there because of it). The players will naturally be ‘buzzing’. The crowd might be a little more awake.
Let's go for it lads. There's magic in the FA Cup. Who knows, some might be sprinkled our way.
Chelsea became the first side to field an entirely foreign starting line up in the Premier League, against Southampton in 1999. So we can blame them for the demise of England’s national side. Not that it was ever that good in the first place.
Another fun fact, I managed to write this review without mentioning Zola’s goal.
CT: I’m feeling stupidly optimistic after our Christmas wins, and for some insane reason I can see us getting something other than beaten. We deserved to beat Arsenal, Chelsea could only draw with them last week. Ergo we are almost the same as Chelsea.
Clare Calculates: A glorious 1-1 draw. And then back to Stamford Bridge where the expected thrashing will occur instead.
RJ: Chelsea will put out a second-string side here, with maybe just a sprinkling of their top, top, top, top players. I forsee Batshuayi playing rather than Morata and Drinkwater rather than Hazard for example. However, this will still be too much for us. Plus I can see us resting Alex Tettey. Add to all that the news that the Colman’s Raven has flown the Norwich Tower and I can see City’s defensive wall crumbling.
Rich Reckons: Five years becomes six. Super Cook 0 – Russian Crook 4
ZW: We’d all be absolutely right to think we’ll get absolutely pummelled: we don’t do well in the cup, Chelsea are Chelsea, we’re not exactly looking our Hollywood best at the moment. But, this is the magic of the FA Cup and all that and, you know, anything could happen. I think we’ll lose though, I’m not a nutter.
Zoë Assumes: Norwich 1-2 Chelsea. It’ll be 1-1 going into the last five mins and we’ll concede a sloppy and heartbreaking goal.
SW: Our performance against Arsenal was more than competent -- it was our best of 2017. We were structured, effective and passionate. We were operating at Farketimum™. It just so happens that the timing of this fixture means we might see our best of 2018, too. Admittedly, a draw to Burton and a win against Millwall is hardly big competition.
Seb Foresees: A floodlit Carrow Road to be looking sexy, the scoreline less so. Norwich 0-3 Chelsea.