Chelsea were held to an unlikely goalless draw by relegation-threatened Norwich City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon. Chelsea maintain their hopes of winning the Premier League title and Norwich can still survive in the division, but both scenarios look very unlikely following the stalemate.
Unsurprisingly, Chelsea dominated the game, maintaining possession for the majority of the contest and creating plenty more chances than their opponents. However, they could not break down a well-organised and very disciplined Norwich defence.
There was a strong penalty shout for the Blues when Ryan Bennett went in recklessly on Eden Hazard, although it was turned down. Chelsea cannot feel too hard done by, though, as Norwich were also denied a spot-kick when Martin Olsson was felled by John Terry in the box.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho was not impressed with the defensive nature of Norwich’s performance. He was surprised that the visitors did not show more attacking intent given that they needed three points in their survival fight, via Sky Sports Football:
Jose Mourinho: "It was quite a day because we had one team who needed three points to survive and they did not play to win" #SuperSunday— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 4, 2014
Mourinho was also puzzled by Norwich's tactics, via The Sun:
Mourinho: "Their game plan surprised me. We waited for them to gamble and to try everything to survive but they didn’t"— The Sun - Football (@TheSunFootball) May 4, 2014
The Portuguese admitted that his side's fight for the league title is over, via the Premier League's Twitter account:
When asked about the penalty appeal of Hazard, per Rob Harris of the Associated Press, Mourinho quipped that he did not want to suffer the same fate as his assistant, Rui Faria, who is serving a suspension:
Asked about referee not awarding penalty, Mourinho: "My assitant is in jail and I don't want to comment."— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) May 4, 2014
Though Mourinho was not overly critical of his side’s performance, German forward Andre Schurrle voiced what many were thinking when he described Norwich as teams Chelsea must beat:
"We played very well against the big teams but these are the matches you have to win, especially at home" - Andre Schurrle on CHE 0-0 NOR— Premier League (@premierleague) May 4, 2014
Norwich boss Neil Adams was proud of his team’s display despite the result, meaning they are still likely to face the drop:
Much like Mourinho, Adams saw his side’s penalty claim as an excellent one, whilst not being so convinced by the appeals of the opposition:
Neil Adams: "I’m not being biased here - I don’t think the Chelsea ones were penalties but our one was a stonewall penalty"— The Sun - Football (@TheSunFootball) May 4, 2014
Adams recognises that Norwich’s survival is now out of their hands, but he would love for the relegation fight to go to the final day, rather than be put to bed before their next game:
Neil Adams: "We’re watching other games now to see if we stay alive. We just want to go into the Arsenal game next weekend with a chance"— The Sun - Football (@TheSunFootball) May 4, 2014
The unlikely point for the Canaries keeps their hopes of Premier League survival alive, although their chances are still slim at best. Norwich remain in the bottom three, now two points behind Sunderland, who are one spot ahead of them.
The final fixture of the season for Norwich is at home to Arsenal on the last game of the season, but they could be down before it comes to that. Sunderland and West Brom can still, mathematically, be relegated. But due to Norwich’s awful goal difference, it seems that the Baggies are safe and the Black Cats need just a point from their remaining two fixtures. These come at home to West Brom and Swansea, so things look pretty bleak for the Canaries.
Similarly, Chelsea can still win the title, but this looks extremely unlikely at this juncture. The Blues are just one point behind Manchester City and Liverpool, but those two teams in first and second have a game in hand on Chelsea. If City and Liverpool win their mid-week contests, then the title will be out of Jose Mourinho’s reach by the final weekend.