Melissa Rudd: Carabao Cup defeat not the most painful feeling of the week
PUBLISHED: 17:13 28 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:13 28 August 2019
A narrow 3-2 defeat to the Europa League champions only to fail to score at the home of League Two opposition three days later.
The much-maligned Carabao Cup throws up anomalies like that, especially when sides make wholesale changes like Norwich did.
Whatever your view on the importance of the competition, Daniel Farke was always going to use it as an opportunity to give players on the first-team fringes much-needed competitive playing time. News of Timm Klose's potentially season-ending injury is just sickeningly unfortunate.
While it's true that City's second string should still have been capable of beating a team 63 places below them in the football pyramid, it's the repercussions of that injury to a key member of the squad rather than the poor defeat that have left supporters hurting.
It is a sign of how far Norwich have come that much of the home support arrived at Carrow Road Saturday lunchtime confident rather than hopeful of achieving a positive result against one of the Premier League's top six.
Chelsea are still adapting to life without their former star man Eden Hazard, and injuries to Antonio Rudiger and World Cup winner N'golo Kante provided further reason to believe City could upset a team still very much finding their feet under Frank Lampard.
Yet that pre-match optimism was somewhat dampened when after three minutes Tammy Abraham took advantage of lacklustre defending to give the visitors the lead.
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In an interview with the television broadcaster before kick-off, Stuart Webber criticised 'lazy pundits' who had labelled Norwich naive for the way they conceded four goals at Anfield and cited individual errors rather than an attacking style of play as the cause.
He could say the same about all three of Chelsea's goals. Some supporters seemed to apportion blame solely to Grant Hanley, but Max Aarons' failure to mark his man for the first goal then giving the ball away and being caught out of position for the second contributed heavily.
There is a fine line between criticising a player's performance and making them a scapegoat for a defeat. Hanley is perhaps easy prey given he is deputising for Christoph Zimmerman, but while his effort levels can't be faulted, the ease at which both Mason Mount and Abraham glided past him for the second and third goals was alarming.
With such little strength in depth in central defence Farke may have no option but to trust Hanley to handle West Ham's attack on Saturday should Zimmerman not be passed fit for the trip to east London. Luckily Ben Godfrey alongside him has excelled since making the step up the season.
The 21-year-old has the pace to cover when City lose possession, and thwarted Chelsea attacks time after time on Saturday. He's also shown how competent he is with the ball at his feet, and one marauding run forced a corner from which he sent a header crashing against the crossbar.
That was one of only two chances City fashioned in the second half, when the high energy exploits of the first were beginning to tell. Mateo Kovacic bossed the midfield in the same manner Moritz Leitner had done a week prior, and Chelsea were deserving of their victory.
The never-say-die attitude which helped City gain 24 points from losing positions last season is still a core element to this team though, and if Teemu Pukki stays in such clinical form Norwich, will again be capable of turning fixtures on their head this campaign.
If they are to beat West Ham on Saturday, though, their best chance might come from unsettling a home crowd that has become well known for voicing their frustrations should things not be going their way.
Norwich's only visit to the London Stadium follows a 5-0 thrashing by Manchester City in West Ham's opening home fixture. There may be no shame in being humbled by the Premier League champions, but if Norwich create chances early on they might upset a few natives expecting a first home win of the season, and that kind of atmosphere will only favour the visitors.