League success has to be the priority for Canaries at Chelsea
PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:06 16 January 2018
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Daniel Farke needs no reminding of the impact an extra-time defeat to Arsenal had on Norwich City's season, which tees up a tough team selection at Stamford Bridge.
Players like James Maddison and Nelson Oliveira will no doubt be desperate to strut their stuff on the big stage again but City’s head coach may just have to leave some players disappointed.
With one cup adventure and a memorable away day at the Emirates Stadium already enjoyed, this Saturday’s home Championship battle with Sheffield United has to take precedence over the FA Cup.
Tomorrow night’s televised FA Cup third round replay against Chelsea offers the Canaries another chance to impress against Premier League opposition with little pressure on their shoulders.
However, on the back of resurgent league form – claiming 10 points from the last 12 available – Farke’s team have hauled themselves within six points of the play-off places.
That upturn has brought an end to a barren spell which began in heartbreaking fashion, when 18-year-old striker Eddie Nketiah came off the bench and scored with virtually his first touch for Arsenal.
The youngster deflated the party atmosphere among the 9,000 travelling Canaries fans getting excited that Josh Murphy’s first-half goal was about to secure a famous League Cup victory.
Nketiah then struck again six minutes into a gruelling 30 minutes of extra-time, following on little more than 48 hours since City had won 1-0 at Ipswich.
Farke opted to stick with his strongest team, with the wind of a nine-game unbeaten run at their back – featuring a club record of five consecutive clean sheets.
The impact was immediately obvious though, losing 2-1 at home to Derby four days later, 2-0 to leaders Wolves at home and then 2-1 at bottom-of-the-table Bolton as a damaging run of one win in 11 games began.
With the German having to work so hard to get his evolving and injury-hit team back on track, the visit of sixth-placed Sheffield surely has to be the priority.
If that means some players are left on the bench for the greater good, then so be it.
• Don’t miss tomorrow’s special eight-page Pink Un previewing City’s trip to Stamford Bridge, inside your Eastern Daily Press or Norwich Evening News