Chelsea thrash Norwich but Roberto Di Matteo fears John Terry saga is overshadowing early promise
Chelsea 4 Norwich 1
Roberto Di Matteo has admitted that Chelsea have not done enough to live up to the "high standards" the club aims to set off the field. And the manager is frustrated that the aftermath of the FA investigation into accusations of racism against John Terry has overshadowed the team's best start to a season since 2006.
He suggested after Saturday's match that the media could focus more on the excellent football that his team is playing. But a 63-page report that criticised players and club officials could not be ignored, any more than the tweet from Ashley Cole on Friday that may cost him a club fine of up to £200,000. A fine will hurt Cole less than a playing suspension. That could be imposed by the FA, who will otherwise be awarding the defender his 100th cap, probably as soon as tomorrow week. The inscription on the accompanying silver salver will make interesting reading.
What else Chelsea might do to persuade their players to help improve the club's corporate image is, of course, subject to club omerta, and any Chelsea manager will have less say in the matter than, for example, Sir Alex Ferguson would at Manchester United. But Di Matteo said: "The image of the club is very important to us of course. We have rules and if anybody breaks them there is disciplinary action taken against them. We have standards. We strive to have high standards. Hopefully going forward we can be better in showing those.
"I come from Switzerland, I like rules. They are there to be respected. I wouldn't say I'm a disciplinarian but you need rules to be able to live and work together.
"As a club we try to give a good account of ourselves. You guys can help – concentrate a bit more on the football. I personally can't change that. What I can influence is what happens on the training pitch. "
The football, admittedly, is worthy of attention. Norwich did not represent the stiffest of tests, but Chelsea's midfield play was still irresistible at times. Di Matteo expects to give more games to Oriel Romeu and Marko Marin after the international break, when Chelsea face two matches every week bar one until 16 December, but his first-choice team will certainly feature Juan Mata and new arrivals Oscar and Eden Hazard baffling opponents, interpassing and interchanging positions at dizzying speed as they did on Saturday, with Frank Lampard prompting behind them and still getting forward into scoring positions.
Comparisons to Barcelona are invidious, perhaps, but inevitable. "We've signed intelligent players who seem to have a natural understanding," Di Matteo said.
"I still think we need to work on certain things, our shape and so on. But we are playing good football and it's quite exciting to watch our team."
Norwich's fate will be decided by the results of games against other clubs in the lower half of the table, but Chris Hughton, their manager, felt that his team had not made the most of opportunities to expose a weakness in the Chelsea formation. "With the movement they've got, if you're trying to challenge somebody, they're bouncing that ball around you," he said.
"But at times Mata, Hazard and Oscar will get caught forward, and we were able to break through the lines. But what they have got, of course, in any back four they put together, is real quality. The result is where we are at the moment – conceding poor goals and perhaps not clinical enough when we get the opportunities."
Chelsea: CECH 6/10; IVANOVIC 6; LUIZ 6; TERRY 6; COLE 7; MIKEL 6; LAMPARD 7; MATA 9; OSCAR 7; HAZARD 8; TORRES 6
Norwich: RUDDY 7; GARRIDO 5; BARNETT 6; BASSONG 5; MARTIN 6; JOHNSON 5; TETTEY 5; HOWSON 6; E BENNETT 5; HOOLAHAN 7; HOLT 6
Goals: Chelsea Torres 14, Lampard 22, Hazard 31, Ivanovic 76. Norwich Holt 11. Subs: Chelsea Ramires 7 (Lampard, 67), Azpilicueta (Ivanovic, 78), Romeu (Mikel, 83). Norwich Pilkington 6 (Johnson, 68), Morison (Holt, 77), R Bennett (Bassong, 78). Man of match Mata. Match rating 7/10. Poss: Chelsea 69%. Norwich 31%. Attempts on target: Chelsea 9. Norwich 2. Ref A Taylor (Manchester). Att 41,784.
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