On a sunny afternoon in East Anglia, Chelsea beat Norwich 2-3 in a thrilling game.
The match was open and end-to-end from first whistle to the last with both sides giving their all. What did we learn?
1. Oh Tammy Tammy
After a pretty rough start to the season which included missing a penalty, the decisive penalty, in the UEFA Super Cup shootout – one could have forgiven Tammy Abraham if he took a few games to really get going. This is especially true given how much he struggled in his last spell in the Premier League with Swansea, but Tammy was having none of it.
The young Englishman played well against Norwich. He linked well with his team-mates, distributing the ball and acting as a quality figurehead for the Chelsea side. But that’s the stuff we expected he could do, what he did against Norwich that fills the heart with hope was the ruthless nature in which he took his chances.
Tammy Abraham's game by numbers vs. Norwich:
2 shots on target
Finding that clinical touch. pic.twitter.com/Gadn75HJza
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 24, 2019
His first goal was a stunning half-volley, burying Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross and giving Chelsea the lead. And the control, dribbling, pose and anticipation on display when he blasted Chelsea into the lead in the second half was the kind of deadly finishing that Abraham himself had to wonder if he was capable of in the Premier League. Well, he is, and now Chelsea will feel so much better about this season.
2. Todd CANwell
Whilst everyone (rightly) fawns over the Chelsea youngsters, there was a young man in a Norwich shirt who shone just as brightly as any of them. Todd Cantwell had already shown his excellence this season but today he also showed his potency. His normal great play was boosted by a cutting edge as he dashed forward to meet a Teemu Pukki cross and neatly smack Norwich level.
He wasn’t at his creative best today, but he made up for that by putting an immense shift in despite the heat. Cantwell pressed, denying Chelsea space and time on the ball in midfield, he tracked back and got stuck in and then drove the ball forward as best he could. And again, the fearless way he took his chance, making an amazingly timed run and capping it with a nerveless finish, bodes so well.
3. Mason Mounting the Premier League
Frank Lampard was one hell of a footballer. He wasn’t the quickest nor the most skilful but he had a fantastic ability to discover space and then use his skill to dash into it. So much of his game was in his head that he always seemed to find goalscoring positions and then when he was there, he was lethal. His shooting ability was off the charts.
Now Lampard is Chelsea manager, he has Mason Mount playing the same kind of role he used to. And Mason Mount is basically just Frank Lampard but with a bit more pace. Watching him is ridiculous because you often wonder just how he always seems to find himself in space, but he does it so consistently you can only hold your hands up and admire the skill.
The change of direction Mount used to leave the Norwich defence for dead was absolutely top-class. It took your breath away because at first you though “oh they’ve got him here” and then a second later you’re thinking “wait what how’d he do that?” and the finish… oh my, the finish. Mount lashed the ball in, scoring him his second Premier League goal of the season. And then we have to remember his incredible pressing and defensive work, too! Duck and cover folks because this kid is taking to the top flight like a duck to water.
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4. Norwich will be just fine
This result was not the best for the Canaries with a 2-3 home defeat, and the performance favoured Chelsea quite heavily as well. The Blues had the better of the game and created more chances, often pinning Norwich back and either forcing blocks from Chelsea defenders or getting the shots through and testing Tim Krul.
But after getting over the sting of defeat, Daniel Farke will feel nothing but confidence for the coming season. His Norwich are just three games into their Premier League lives and whilst they have only won once, Teemu Pukki has shown an incredible goalscoring edge (with five goals in his first three Premier League games) and the way Norwich have played in all their games so far has been exemplary
Norwich gave Liverpool and Chelsea as good as they got and whilst their defence was overmatched by the two big six sides they handily dispatched Newcastle – and that will be their gameplan this season. They will play the same way every time secure in the knowledge that they have the ability and conviction to dominate and beat both the sides around them and even some mid-table outfits enough to ensure their survival. They may suffer against the big boys but they were never going to get anything there anyway.
5. Confusing Chelsea
Are Chelsea good? Or are they bad? It’s really hard to tell. They have had moments of incredible creativity so far this season, including against Norwich where they sliced them open. But then there was the ease with which United destroyed them on the break, or the way Liverpool smashed them when they really pressed and Leicester pulled a goal back out of nothing.
Chelsea did play well against Norwich and they did do well in the second half to gain a measure of control in an end-to-end game. The starting XI was the youngest Chelsea have put out for 25 years and how can you not enjoy that? But there’s definitely room for the side to improve, especially at the back where they look about as secure as a screen door on a submarine.
Looking forward, how will they do? Honestly, it’s going to be a week-to-week diagnosis because you just can’t tell.