Chelsea v Norwich: Tuchel's leaders to march on without strike force

Andrew Atherley says the hosts can overcome absences up front in the top v bottom clash...

Striker shortage

Chelsea are top of the Premier League after eight matches and fresh from a 4-0 home win over Malmo in the Champions League on Wednesday night, but there are problems at Stamford Bridge.

Thomas Tuchel paid a heavy price for the midweek victory with injuries to strikers Romelu Lukaku (hamstring) and Timo Werner (ankle). Chelsea's manager said the duo are both likely to be "out for some matches".

Neither striker has been a prolific scorer this season but Tuchel said he would need "new solutions" in attack. The likely choice is Kai Havertz, who came on for Lukaku in the 23rd minute against Malmo and scored the third goal just after half-time.

Werner was replaced by Callum Hudson-Odoi, who could get a run in the side now.

With a short turnaround from Wednesday night to this Saturday lunchtime kickoff, Tuchel would have been looking at rotation in any case.

Marcos Alonso could take over Ben Chilwell on the left and Trevoh Chalobah could come in for Thiago Silva, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek is set for a midfield berth in place of N'Golo Kante.

Clean sheets for Norwich

Norwich sit bottom of the table with two points but at least they have gained a foothold after consecutive goalless draws away to Burnley and home to Brighton.

This is likely to be a backs-to-the-wall effort for Daniel Farke's side, who are now winless in 18 consecutive Premier League games going back to pre-lockdown in their 2019-20 relegation season.

Opta point out Norwich are winless in their last 16 Premier League away games (D3 L13) and without a goal in their last 10 hours and 26 minutes of play on the road.

Josh Sargent, who missed a golden chance against Brighton that would have given the Canaries a morale-boosting first win, is likely to continue as Teemu Pukki's partner in attack.

Billy Gilmour is ineligible to face his parent club, although he has not been in the starting line-up or used off the bench in the last three games.

Rock-solid platform

There have been concerns about Chelsea's attack for most of the season and they have been heightened by the injuries to Lukaku and Werner, even if neither has been in great form.

Lukaku has not scored for Chelsea in seven games after four goals in his first four matches, while Werner has found the net only twice in 10 games this season.

The overall figures do not look bad, however, with Chelsea having scored three goals in three of their four home league games (the exception was the 1-0 defeat by Manchester City).

Even when they are struggling in matches, Tuchel's side still have a rock-solid platform at the back with only three goals conceded in eight league games. Their only dropped points have been against Liverpool and Manchester City (and in the Champions League against Juventus), so it has taken a top-class side to stop them.

Norwich are nowhere near that level but they can cling to the hope that Chelsea might not be able to readjust quickly in attack.

Consecutive clean sheets will also give them some confidence, although they were only against Burnley and Brighton (who average 0.6 and 1.0 goals per game respectively) and this is a much harder test.

Farke's side have conceded at least two goals in five of their six defeats and, apart from Brighton, their games against current top-10 sides have ended 3-0 (against Liverpool), 5-0 (Manchester City) and 2-0 (Everton).

In their last Premier League campaign in the 2019-20 season, Norwich's loss rate against the top 10 was 75%, so not much has changed.

It is difficult to make a case for anything other than a comfortable Chelsea win, even with their reshaped attack. The win odds are as short as you would expect at 1.21.

Tuchel's side have still managed to win easily against limited opponents even when Lukaku and Werner have not contributed goals, a case in point being Wednesday's victory over Malmo, and their defence gives them a good chance to do that again.

The advice is to back Chelsea off -2 on the Asian handicap at 2.11. That would have been a profitable route in this season's home games when they have been short odds-on and it is worth taking again.

Goals turnaround

Last season under Tuchel, Chelsea had eight out of 10 under 2.5 goals at home but this season there has been something of a turnaround with three out of four over 2.5 goals (the exception being the tight game against Manchester City).

On form Norwich are unlikely to contribute anything to the goals tally, so much depends on how well Chelsea's attack fires without Lukaku and Werner.

Opta Stat

No side has conceded fewer goals than Chelsea in the Premier League this season (3), while Norwich have the worst attack so far (2 goals scored). However, the Canaries are looking to keep three consecutive Premier League clean sheets for the first time since November 2012, the third game of which was a 1-0 victory against league leaders Manchester United. A 1-0 upset for Norwich here is available at 42.0.

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