Norwich City Vs. Chelsea, 2012 Premier League Week 22: A Solid Test For The Blues

Steve Morison of Norwich celebrates with Grant Holt after scoring their second goal during the Barclays Premier League Match between West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, England. Norwich plays Chelsea FC on January 21, 2012. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

Chelsea and Norwich City open the round of Premier League matches with a lunchtime kickoff on Saturday.

Chelsea will be expected to win on Saturday at Carrow Road and extend the gap between them and Arsenal for fourth place, but they will be facing a stern test. With Didier Drogba gone to the Africa Cup of Nations, the pressure will be on Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres to perform. Both did so last week against Sunderland -- even if their teammates didn't -- and the Blues are in good shape if those two can find some chemistry and form.

Norwich is not considerably better at home than they are on the road, as they've performed at a mid-table level both at Carrow Road and elsewhere. They're a very disciplined team who can hold their shape and play defensive while, at the same time, playing a very impressive technical game of football. Their combination of discipline and technical skill relative to their budget will make them tough to break down.

Besides Drogba, Chelsea are also without Solomon Kalou, who joins him at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Branislav Ivanovic, who is injured. Michael Essien is not yet 90 minutes fit, while Gary Cahill will make the 18 but is unlikely to start over John Terry and David Luiz. Norwich should be able to play their strongest team, and they're coming off of a strong performance at the Hawthorns, where they defeated West Bromwich Albion 2-1 last week.

Norwich City vs. Chelsea

Game Date/Time: Saturday, 7:45 a.m. ET, 12:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Carrow Road, Norwich, England

TV: ESPN2 (USA - English), ESPN Deportes (USA - Spanish), TSN2 (Canada), Sky Sports 2 (UK)

Online: ESPN3

For more on the Blues, check out Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History.

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