From a draw with Burton Albion to competing with the champions of the Premier League, a night of dogged defending and solidarity was just what the doctor ordered for the Canaries.
This will be branded as outstanding, and to a degree, the application of Daniel Farke’s game plan was. However, the lack of tempo and offensive intelligence from a second fiddle Chelsea side was also a contributing factor, this encounter was strategic for the most part.
Chelsea lacked continuity. Antonio Conte will be disappointed with the lack of tempo and the loose combination play from his side. As a coach, he will have wanted his side to stake a claim for a regular spot in the Champions line up. Those regulars who were left in London will be sitting comfortably following a poor performance from those playing at Carrow Road.
For both sides, the draw adds another gruelling fixture to an already busy schedule.
Norwich were dogged, organised and defended resolutely carrying a sporadic threat on the counter attack. Despite the match not living up to live broadcasting hype, it was a gritty encounter which lacked any clear cut chances. 23,000 took their seat in hope the cup would muster up some magic for a rip roaring third round tie.
Astutely, Farke opted to resort back to the formation he favoured throughout pre season and he resurrected the three at the back which he abandoned in the league. It appears to be Farke’s formation of choice and with the arrival of Sean Raggett, Norwich appear well covered in that area should this be the way forward.
Add to that the athleticism of Ivo Pinto and Jamal Lewis in wide areas and this formation seemingly has the ingredients required to be a success. Does it translate to the rigours of the Championship however? That remains to be seen.
Lewis is blossoming into quite the footballer. His composure technically alongside the manner in which he conducts himself is way beyond his years. Lewis has the tools to develop into a good operator and proved that on Saturday by competing well against world class talent. He didn’t look out of place against a side containing internationally recognised footballers, albeit a second fiddle one.
Norwich has some talent at their disposal. This didn’t look like a man making only his fourth appearance as a professional.
Defensively, Norwich’s defensive shape was sublime. A back three shielded by Tom Trybull and the industrious Alex Tettey who marshalled the space between the backline and midfielders which reduced the pass into the feet of the striker and forced Chelsea to push Willian and Pedro further wide in the second period.
Christoph Zimmermann was a colossus and is rapidly developing into a reliable and suitable defender for all weathers, but the trio as a whole was committed, organised and skilful. They chaperoned Michy Batushayi and defended Norwich’s final third with commitment. It was a pleasing defensive performance.
Alex Tettey was a classy operator in the middle. His experience offered Norwich added guile and he is proving all those who pre-emptively wrote off his City career. This may be his final swansong in Norfolk, but Tettey has been brilliant this term.
However, what City lacked was a clear focal point in offence.
With no Cameron Jerome and Nelson Oliveira only fit enough for the bench, City opted to start Josh Murphy in a more advanced role when in possession of the ball or defending deep. Despite Murphy operating well in this role against three physically superior centre backs. A big target man in the mould of Grant Holt would have relieved significant pressure through hold up play and winning free kicks.
Murphy’s raw material and probing threat in behind gave the Chelsea rearguard something to ponder over, and his running in behind sporadically provided Norwich with a threat. Whilst speculation around the futures of Norwich’s senior strike force remains, Murphy’s versatility could be priceless should they be short of numbers come the conclusion of the transfer window.
This is now three clean sheets in four games for the improving Canaries. However, they must harness genuine consistency if any kind of acceleration up the Championship table is to happen. Norwich’s on pitch performances has improved following a turgid run of form in form in the league. Farke’s mobile squad is capable of upward mobility.