By Tim Harrison
The Blues travel to Norwich for the 5.30pm FA Cup third round game on Saturday, with Norwich buoyed by a 2-1 win against Millwall at the start of the week, a result which leaves the Canaries comfortably in mid-table in the Championship.
Tony Conte’s team selection will be intriguing; he will field a strong side, but not the strongest. Michy Batshuayi is hoping to start up front, for instance.
Cup action dots the new year fixture list. Arsenal, who Chelsea faced in midweek at the Emirates, return to the Bridge on Wednesday for the first leg of the league cup semi-final, and Conte is having to currently balance squads on three fronts.
The bonus is Danny Drinkwater. Back to match fitness, the versatile midfielder proved he is one of the most appreciated characters in the dressing room by scoring an excellent half-volley during the 5-0 rout of Stoke at the weekend.
His debut goal for the Blues came after nine minutes, and he was enveloped in warmth and genuine affection by his team-mates, emphasising his understated popularity among the squad. He may not be the noisiest man on the team coach to Stamford Bridge, but the ex-Man U academy youngster – who turns 28 in two months – is proving a surprisingly mature mentor to some of the younger stars.
Conte is still experimenting to find his best central midfield pairing, and believes that the N’Golo Kante/Drinkwater partnership, so effective in Leicester’s title-winning season, could yet eclipse the Kante/Nemanja Matic combo.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
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