Match report and free highlights as early goals from Trevoh Chalobah and Mason Mount plus Kai Havertz's late strike move Chelsea eight points clear of Arsenal in third place; a resurgent Norwich strike back through Teemu Pukki's penalty before Havertz's third
Friday 11 March 2022 07:06, UK
Chelsea put their off-field problems behind them as goals from Trevoh Chalobah, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz gave them a 3-1 win at bottom side Norwich.
Only minutes after Thomas Tuchel had insisted he was still happy at the club despite owner Roman Abramovich being sanctioned by the UK Government on Thursday, Chalobah nodded them ahead at Carrow Road to cast aside any questions about his squad's mindset.
It was two inside a quarter of an hour as Mount fired powerfully past Tim Krul after good work from Havertz, as a feeble Norwich struggled to deal with Chelsea's intensity and were fortunate to go in at the break within two goals of their visitors.
"2-0 is always a difficult scoreline if you don't score the next goal," was Tuchel's assessment of his side's half-time lead, and so it proved from a rejuvenated Norwich.
A double change at the interval provided just the tonic they required, with Milot Rashica's raw pace and direct running, as well as a change in shape from manager Dean Smith, causing the Blues all sorts of issues after the break.
When Chalobah was penalised for handball by a VAR review, Teemu Pukki's penalty provided a richly-deserved route back into the game with 20 minutes to go, but, despite plenty of bright build-up play, the Premier League's basement side never had enough cutting edge to truly threaten an equaliser.
Instead, Chelsea put the game to bed through another increasingly common moment of Havertz magic, as the German's postage-stamp finish found the top corner from N'Golo Kante's square ball in the final minute of normal time.
The Blues' third win in a row moves them eight points clear of Arsenal and seven behind second-placed Liverpool, who have played a game less. Norwich remain rooted to the bottom of the table, five points adrift of 17th-placed Everton, but with three more games already played.
Norwich: Krul (7), Aarons (7), Hanley (6), Zimmermann (5), Kabak (6), Williams (5), Normann (5), Lees-Melou (6), McLean (6), Sargent (6), Pukki (7).
Subs: Rupp (6) Rashica (8), Rowe (n/a).
Chelsea: Mendy (6), Christensen (5), Silva (7), Chalobah (7), Azpilicueta (7), Kovacic (6), Jorginho (5), Saul (6), Havertz (8), Werner (6), Mount (8).
Subs: Loftus-Cheek (6), Kante, Lukaku (n/a).
Man of the match: Kai Havertz.
It took just two minutes and 50 seconds for Chelsea to put their off-field woes behind them as Chalobah nodded beyond a hapless Krul - one of seven Norwich players inside their own six-yard box - to give them the perfect start at Carrow Road.
Mount provided the perfect delivery for the opener and continued running the show, alongside Havertz, from then on and it was no coincidence the two combined for Chelsea's second.
Havertz, continuing his fine run of recent form, showed a quick pair of heels to Christoph Zimmermann before squaring for Mount, whose first touch took him away from Ozan Kabak, before he fired into the roof of the net with his second.
In the final minutes before half-time the Blues enjoyed near-total dominance on the level Manchester City had managed against Manchester United at the weekend - enjoying 74 per cent of the total first-half possession - without the vital third goal to end the game as a contest.
It seemed of little importance at that point given Chelsea's level of dominance and Norwich's willingness to wilt, but the introduction of Rashica and Lucas Rupp at the break, coupled to a move to a back four, revitalised Smith's side.
What they lacked in intensity before half-time they more than made up for after it, and their just rewards would follow midway through the second period. Chalobah lent into Rashica's cross with his arm, and was penalised by a VAR review with referee Martin Atkinson pointing to the spot after visiting the review monitor.
Smith was off his seat again when a free-kick from deep was nodded across goal by Kenny McLean moments later, but Edouard Mendy's diving catch put paid to Norwich's final chance of note.
Their fightback was then ended by Havertz in the 90th minute, but their spirit was undamaged. More concerning for Smith will be the 45 minutes he witnessed before his personnel and shape changes, coupled with some half-time home-truths, finally sprung them into life.
The announcement about Abramovich's sanctions could barely have come at a worse time in Chelsea's preparation ahead of Thursday's game, but Tuchel said the familiar routine of the matchday experience had helped his squad remain calm amid the "huge impact" of the news.
He told Sky Sports: "Of course, it's out there, it's big news, it has a huge impact so that's why it's big news. It's the subject in the talks, you might on a normal day talk about the Champions League games from yesterday but nobody was talking about the impact.
"But in the end, it's nice to enter a fixed schedule approaching a match, three hours before we eat, before that we have a tactical meeting, and then we have a set-piece meeting. Then we go to the stadium, so it helps you to focus because you're used to it, and we cannot influence the situation.
"Sometimes it's good to sweat it out, we tried to work hard together and sometimes that's the best way to get the focus back."
Norwich travel to Leeds on Sunday for a crucial game in the battle for Premier League survival; kick-off 2pm. Up next for Chelsea is a home match against Newcastle on the same day, live on Sky Sports; kick-off also 2pm.