Chelsea struggled to break down Championship side Norwich on Saturday evening and will have to play them again in an FA Cup Third Round replay after drawing 0-0 at Carrow Road.
While Antonio Conte did make a lot of changes, he still fielded a very strong side which included nine international players and saw the return of David Luiz after his seven-week sabbatical after condemning his manager’s tactics earlier in the season.
Norwich’s star striker Nelson Oliveira started on the bench amid ongoing speculation linking him to Championship leaders Wolves. The Canaries opted for a back three of Grant Hanley, Timm Klose and Christoph Zimmermann, pushing their full backs up into midfield with James Maddison starting up top.
Kenedy should have been punished for a poor challenge on Ivo Pinto early on. The Brazilian jumped up for an aerial challenge he was never going to win and ended up shouldering Pinto in the head, resulting in the Portuguese full-back needing treatment.
Luiz was almost embarrassed on his return to the Chelsea side when he nonchalantly controlled Willy Caballero’s pass in the 23rd minute and was rapidly closed down by Alex Pritchard, but thankfully for the Brazilian, the ball rolled out for a goal kick.
Neither goalkeeper had a serious save to make in the first-half but Norwich certainly stepped up to the plate and matched the Premier League champions, covering every blade of grass and giving their all.
Willian started the second-half well and sold two Norwich defenders with a fake shot before laying off Danny Drinkwater but his shot from the edge of the box went wide of the goal. The Brazilian was at it again in the 58th minute as he weaved his way through three oncoming challenges on the edge of the box but his shot was straight at Angus Gunn.
There was a moment of madness in the 69th minute from Caballero when he flapped at a corner but Josh Murphy – who was electric all game – couldn’t quite take advantage of his error.
Drinkwater had a good shot from distance in the 82nd minute but again it was comfortably collected by the on-loan Manchester City goalkeeper.
After Chelsea brought on Alvaro Morata for Michy Batshuayi – who struggled all game – Norwich responded by bringing on Oliveira as they looked to nick a late winner. It was Zappacosta who came closest to breaking the deadlock in added time with a looping volley from long range that bounced just wide of Gunn’s left-hand post.
Neither side could really fashion a substantial chance despite Chelsea’s late pressure and the game ended goalless. The two sides will face off again at Stamford Bridge in a Third Round replay – a game neither side would have wanted to happen but Norwich will certainly favour the additional financial gain.