While Juan Mata’s goal was the outstanding moment in Chelsea’s first Boxing Day win since 2008, the defending in the 1-0 win at Carrow Road drew plenty of comment after the match.
Against a Norwich side that had won its five previous home league games, including victories over Manchester United and Arsenal, Petr Cech was rarely called into action, as had been the case in our pre-Christmas match against Aston Villa when another clean sheet was recorded.
Mata, after the match, paid tribute to those who kept the Canaries at bay.
‘It was important for us to keep the clean sheet,’ the playmaker told Chelsea TV. ‘We defended really well and our four defenders were good. All the team played as a compact team like Rafa wants.’
Rafael Benitez said: ‘The team was strong and kept the balance.
‘The centre-backs, the full-backs and the rest of the team did well in a tough game because there were a lot of long balls and second balls, but they were working hard and winning those second balls and trying to play.’
Gary Cahill is proving to be a defender good at being in the right place at the right time and he was informed by Chelsea TV he has been responsible for more than twice as many blocks on opposition shots as any team mate this season.
‘It is something I am pleased with and there were a few good blocks at Norwich,’ he responded.
‘Branislav [Ivanovic] produced a good one towards the end of the second half and it is important you get your body in the way. Collectively as a team we did that.
‘Sometimes coming away to places like Norwich is difficult on a wet surface and it was important when we took the lead we kept hold of it. It is credit to us how organised we were defensively.’
There is plenty more post-match reaction from Juan Mata, Rafael Benitez and Gary Cahill available now via Chelsea TV’s online access.
‘Blues News’ tonight on the channel at 6.30pm and 10pm will also be looking back at the Norwich game.