Champions they may be, but Chelsea are still up for the cup!
PUBLISHED: 07:05 06 January 2018
Chairman of Eastern Blues, ADAM ROBINSON, looks ahead to this afternoon’s FA Cup tie at Carrow Road
Q: Big day for Norwich City – is it a big day for Chelsea given the other competitions you are involved in?
A: For Chelsea, it’s the FA Cup, a competition we have a good record in and everyone wants to win. Of course, we want to win every game, but with the number of games around this time of year I’m sure the team selection will reflect this. No one wants to go out of any competition, but obviously everyone expects Chelsea to win. If Norwich pulled off an upset everyone would be talking about it! It’s not every day you get the Premier League champions come to town, so I’m sure the Norwich team will be up for it!
Q: Talking of the other competitions: Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup – what is your order of priority?
A: Looking at where we are at this stage of the season, whilst it’s not guaranteed yet, it’s hard to look past Manchester City for the Premier League. If I could choose one of the other three trophies to win it would be the Champions League, the best prize in club football. There is still a long way to go and we have a tough draw against Barcelona in the round of 16. The bookies don’t have us as one of the favourites, but then we weren’t in 2012 either – so it’s certainly achievable! A domestic cup run is always good – the FA Cup is steeped in history and is a competition every team wants to win.
Q: If City were to win, how would Chelsea fans react given the other targets?
A: We would certainly be disappointed to be knocked out. No one expects Norwich to win and I’m sure we will rest some of our key players for this fixture, but Norwich could too, who knows? Sometimes these fringe players come into the team and grab the opportunity with both hands and have the game of their lives. It’s a cup game and anything can happen on the day as we’ve seen many times in the past. A piece of silverware and top four in the Premier League would be a successful season for us, so I’m certain Antonio Conte and the squad will want to be in the fourth round draw!
Q: Is Antonio Conte the sort of manager who will make a lot of changes today, and rest his big players?
A: I think most managers in his position would be looking to give some of the youth players some game time and rest some of the bigger names, having them on the bench if needed. As he’s demonstrated in his season and half in the Premier League to date he’s an intelligent manager who will utilise his squad to get the most out of them. It’s been a busy period for both teams with the number of games over the Christmas and New Year period. We also have the League Cup semi-final first leg against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening, which I’m sure will be considered when selecting the team.
Q: Do ‘lesser teams’ tend to park the bus against you on your travels and do you expect that at Carrow Road?
A: Sometimes the ‘lesser teams’ are happy to sit back and play for the draw. Sometimes it works – if you look at our recent away game against Everton, we dominated the game, but just couldn’t score. I’m sure if you offered Daniel Farke a draw and a replay at Stamford Bridge before kick-off he would happily take it. Getting an early goal always helps and often forces the opposition to start attacking more which can open up space to be exploited.
Q: Whilst it is hard to predict either team, who do you hope Conte includes – and at whose expense?
A: It would be good to see some of the younger lads get some game time. The likes of Charlie Musonda and Ethan Ampadu – these guys have started to break into the first team squad and it would be great seeing them pick up more valuable minutes. If you look at Andreas Christensen, who’s started to attract a lot of attention with his performances since he’s come into the team, it’s always nice to produce talent from a young age and see them make a stake for a place in the first team. Whilst giving these younger players the opportunity, Antonio Conte is astute enough to rest the players who have played many minutes over the last few weeks, looking ahead to the upcoming fixtures.
Q: Norwich and Chelsea don’t play each other too often – what do you know about City and the players?
A: I have to admit, I don’t know a lot about the Norwich side, I’ve been a Chelsea fan, which has been passed down from my dad who has supported them since 1970! You have to go back a few years until the last time Norwich beat Chelsea, which was in 1994. I was at the game as an nine-year-old boy! As I said before, Norwich have no expectation to get anything from the game and I’m sure a lot of their players will relish playing against the Premier League champions.
Q: There will be dangers everywhere for City, but what will be Chelsea’s biggest strength?
A: We have a lot of quality players in the team, the likes of Eden Hazard, Alvaro Morata, Willian, Pedro are a constant threat. Cesc Fabregas can make a killer pass to open up the defence out of nothing. If the Norwich team sit back, it could take something like this to create a chance to score and open up the game.
Q: Robert Fleck and Chris Sutton played for both Norwich and Chelsea and both struggled at the Bridge – which did you prefer?
A: Both had great potential, but for me I’d have to say Robert Fleck as he attended one of our club events in Norwich a few years ago along with Frank Sinclair! Sometimes it just doesn’t work out!
Q: And after that, how about a prediction please?
A: My prediction for today is Norwich 1 Chelsea 3.
Q: Can you tell us about Eastern Blues?
A: Eastern Blues are one of the largest Official Chelsea Supporters Clubs and cover Norfolk and Suffolk. Members get priority access to match tickets, the club organise club travel to home and away matches in the UK as well as trips to European away games. We also hold club events with ex Chelsea players in the local area. Membership costs £10 a year and more details can be found on our website - www.easternblues.co.uk. We have also done some charity work, climbing Mount Snowdon in June last year, raising over £5,000 which was spilt between the East Anglian Air Ambulance and East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices.