Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 7-0 mauling at Chelsea
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Paddy Davitt delivers his Chelsea verdict after Norwich City's 7-0 Premier League hammering.
1. Fearless? Try frightened
That pre-match rallying cry from Daniel Farke looks hollow now. His players certainly did not get the message about sticking out their chests and relishing an opportunity earned from another Championship grind last season.
If this is what a winning lottery ticket looks like, to paraphrase the late, great Brian Clough ‘throw it in the bin’. It is worthless. Norwich were every bit as compliant as they had been at Manchester City earlier this season. Then there was mitigation in a disrupted pre-season and the relatively late arrival of transfer window signings.
None of that washes for the paucity of what they served up at Stamford Bridge.
Farke’s side looked a rabble for the most part. An embarrassing ‘effort’ sealed with Ben Gibson launching himself into a wild challenge that earned a second yellow card. Not that the damage was already done by that stage.
Chelsea were in cruise control for the most part, despite being without injured frontline strikeforce Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner.
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In comparison, Norwich’s efforts were listless and lacking in any real intensity. There is a way to lose when you face the best. This is not it. Not by a long way.
It merely turns the heat fully back up again on Farke and his squad for the league games ahead, after two spirited efforts brought points against Burnley and Brighton.
Perhaps the biggest question raised from this pathetic defeat is do they really believe they belong at this level?
2. Shattered pieces
Farke will do well to scoop up all the fragments from this abject offering and stick them back together before Leeds head to Carrow Road next weekend.
Wisely, the head coach and his visibly shell-shocked players did not venture too close to the away support to clap their appreciation. The responses and hand gestures coming from the opposite direction told them what many of the travelling support thought of what they had just witnessed.
A club record-equalling top flight defeat is not the type of record Farke, or his troops, would want to own.
Farke has gone on the front foot publicly in recent weeks to defend his players and his record since arriving at the club.
His place in the pantheon of City’s managers is assured. But this is about the future, not the past. A mauling at the home of the rampant Champions League holders is not the time to allow emotion to cloud judgement.
Norwich’s Premier League fate will never be decided by what they do against the elite. That was the same in Nigel Worthington’s assault at the top flight, as it was Neil Adams or Chris Hughton.
But the manner of this reverse, and the cracks it exposes, as individuals and as a collective, will only heighten the concern the ending this time will be no different to the way they exited the Premier League under Farke first time around.
He will know better than any if this Chelsea surrender is not swiftly followed by a real fightback, there is only one outcome.
3. If looks could kill
When Callum Hudson-Odoi burst clear of Ozan Kabak to calmly sidefoot Chelsea into a 2-0 lead, at the opposite end of the pitch Teemu Pukki dropped to his haunches and shot Josh Sargent a brooding stare. Literally seconds before another devastating counter from the Blues, triggered by Mateo Kovacic, Pukki had turned and drove at last man Thiago Silva before attempting to slip in Sargent.
The US international made a one-paced attempt to collect a ball that should have brought a rare effort on Edouard Mendy’s goal. Instead it allowed Silva to snaffle the turnover and unleash the ‘blue arrows’ again.
Chelsea’s devastating counter was everything Norwich’s was not; potent, pacy and clinical. It perhaps underlined the gulf Farke had alluded to pre-match about the size of the task when top host bottom.
But in the context of the wider quest for attacking productivity it graphically illustrated again that Farke’s faith in Pukki and Sargent is yet to yield dividends at the sharp end of the pitch.
4. Centre ground
There will be many things for Farke to deconstruct when he hunkers down at Colney over the coming days with his coaching staff. Chief among them how his central midfielders were so willing to allow Jorginho and Kovacic to dictate the tempo and dominate the flow of a game which took eight minutes to start careering away from the Canaries.
Two excellent operators in their own right. Kovacic threaded the pass for Hudson-Odoi's and Ben Chilwell’s goals, while Jorginho was a link in the chain for Reece James to scoop over Tim Krul.
Given Thomas Tuchel had Spanish international Saul Niguez on the bench and was without the likes of N’Golo Kante or City loanee Billy Gilmour it does perhaps underscore the galaxy of talent in the Chelsea ranks.
Nevertheless the time and space afforded the home duo was less about class and more about a lack of drive and desire between Kenny McLean, Mathias Normann and Pierre Lees-Melou. The Frenchman made way at the interval but the game was already up.
Whether you treat this outing against one of the best in isolation or not depends how charitable you feel. But Norwich’s central trio were well off the pace and punished as a result.
5. A barrel of salt, poured
A man down, five goals down and Chelsea are awarded a penalty for handball against Normann - once the referee had been advised to consult a pitchside monitor. But Krul won his battle of wits with Mason Mount only for the spot kick to be re-taken when the assistant spotted the Dutchman had jumped off his line, as Mount prepared to make contact with the ball.
Needless to say the England international made no mistake second time around. A decision correct in law but you would have to be made of stone not to feel some sympathy for Krul. He will know he should have done better when Max Aarons diverted Hudson-Odoi's earlier second half cross, which squirmed through his body.
But there was little he could have done about the other barrage after being left so exposed by the men in front. When Gibson departed he was a one man barrier at times.
Krul was vital to those previous clean sheets at Burnley and especially Brighton. He remains an integral part of a team and a squad that is listing badly.
The fallout in the hours and days ahead will be suitably raw, but it will need players of Krul’s character and experience to lead. Few gave Norwich any hope before a ball was kicked this season. A seven-goal mauling against the leaders will only confirm what many felt was already inevitable.