Match Report: David Luiz carries off Frank Lampard impression with aplomb in Chelsea's victory at Norwich

Norwich City 0 Chelsea 1

Carrow Road

The conversion of David Luiz from an error-prone central defender to a free-running midfielder capable of causing, and preying on, others’ errors may prove as valuable a part of Rafael Benitez’s achievement for Chelsea as the much-vaunted restoration of Fernando Torres’s powers as a striker.

It may also be a crucial factor in a change less to the taste of Chelsea’s fans, namely the ending of Frank Lampard’s days in their colours.

Torres, perhaps cowed by suggestions of David Villa’s possible arrival as competition for his place, was so ineffective at Norwich yesterday that one had to check the team sheet at half-time to confirm that he was indeed on it. His strike partner and fellow Spaniard Juan Mata, meanwhile, scored a splendid winning goal, while Luiz, doing much vital ball-winning in advanced areas, ran the show – though his shooting needs a lot of work before it comes near the Lampard class.

Interim manager Benitez is not ready to write off Lampard just yet, despite the midfielder seeming to be on his way in the January transfer window. “He’s under contract, he’s a good player; his future is a matter between him and the club. I will use him [and Ashley Cole, whose contract is also up in the summer] as I see fit as long as they are available,” Benitez said. “It’s important to have different players, different types of player, to give us different options.”

If one of those options proves to be a move to bring in Villa from Barcelona, then Benitez is not letting on. “We don’t talk about these things,” he said. “It’s important for any team to do these things in private.” Asked whether he was confident of improving the Chelsea team, he replied: “Yes. There are a lot of ways to improve a team [other than signing new players].”

Chelsea emerged to chants from their followers of “Super Frankie Lampard” – the 34-year-old, reduced to bench duty, did not appear in person until the 73rd minute – and it was not long before they were regaled with a lengthy chorus of “There’s only one Di Matteo” in reference to their former manager. Benitez has more to do yet to win the fans’ favour even after the eight-goal show against Aston Villa that preceded this more down-to-earth victory – one that seldom looked in doubt, though as Benitez said, “at 1-0 a quick counter-attack can always make a difference”.

The Spaniard added: “We were working hard. We have another clean sheet and we showed we could manage, we could control, against a good team. We’re in a good position but we can improve.”

Though the Londoners showed plenty of endeavour, mostly in the cause of closing down any Norwich player in possession or potential possession, it was 19 minutes before they produced a real shot, and that attempt from Luiz went closer to clearing the stadium roof than troubling Mark Bunn in the City goal. It was Luiz, however, given free rein by Benitez to venture forward at will – into Lampard’s place, you might say – who created the first clear chance in the 30th minute, robbing Wes Hoolahan to set up Mata, who found the side-netting from close range. But an increase in pressure by Benitez’s side was rewarded in the 38th minute with a finish of high class from Mata, whose shot from the edge of the penalty arc left Bunn flailing at fresh air as it lodged in the far corner of his net.

The strike impressed the Norwich City manager, Chris Hughton, who said: “That’s why clubs like Chelsea pay the amounts of money they do for offensive players. It was probably the one moment of real quality in the game.”

It was hard, after it, to see Norwich gaining anything from a game in which they had worked hard but been able to create little, and their loss might have been heavier but for Bunn, who made good second-half saves from Victor Moses – who also shot just wide after bringing down a cross superbly on his chest – and from Mata’s attempt to deceive him with a quickly-taken free-kick.

“If the team’s playing well, a clever player like Mata can make the difference,” Benitez said. Quite.

Suggested Topics
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat