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Even the most optimistic of Chelsea fans will accept that they are no longer involved in the Premier League title race, the current gap to leaders Manchester City being 16 points with two matches in hand.
Nevertheless, the Blues have been required to put together a three-match winning streak to reaffirm their hold of third spot, moving six points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United having played two games fewer.
Thomas Tuchel witnessed his team post a 4-0 victory at Burnley on Saturday, recording their third successive league clean sheet in the process, with Kai Havertz making it four goals from five games in all competitions.
With a hectic schedule in front of them ahead of the upcoming international break, Tuchel may be prepared to rotate his squad on Thursday, but most of his players can claim to be match-fit given the fixtures which have recently been played in various competitions.
Chelsea ran out 7-0 victors in the reverse game back in October, Mason Mount netting a hat-trick, and the West Londoners are currently on an 18-match unbeaten streak against their upcoming opponents.
Not only has it allowed the Bees to move clear of the relegation zone, Norwich are five points adrift of safety having played at least one more game than some of their rivals.
Dean Smith is aware that the triple-header after Thursday’s contest could prove pivotal with Leeds United, Brighton & Hove Albion and Burnley all coming in succession.
However, Norwich need to build confidence ahead of those fixtures, the pressure being on to deliver one of their best performances of the campaign against a team on a high, despite the ongoing situation regarding Roman Abramovich‘s sale of the club.
Despite returning to training, Chelsea Cesar Azpilicueta may not be risked for this contest, and the same could also apply to Marcos Alonso who has had coronavirus.
Tuchel may choose this fixture to take Thiago Silva out of the starting lineup, and the same could also apply to N’Golo Kante and Havertz, while Reece James has been ruled out with a muscular injury.
Andreas Christensen, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho and Romelu Lukaku may all be brought back into the team.
Smith will be unable to call upon Norwich midfielder Billy Gilmour, who is unable to face his parent club, but the Scot is unlikely to be the only player to drop out of the first XI.
Sam Byram, Ben Gibson and one of Milot Rashica or Josh Sargent may only feature among the replacements, with academy graduate Jonathan Rowe potentially being provided with his first Premier League start.
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Ozan Kabak will return to the backline if he recovers from injury, but Christoph Zimmermann may get the nod if no risks are taken on the Turkey international.
Norwich City possible starting lineup:
Krul; Aarons, Hanley, Zimmermann, Williams; Lees-Melou, Rupp; Sargent, Dowell, Rowe; Pukki
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger; Hudson-Odoi, Kovacic, Jorginho, Saul; Mount, Pulisic; Lukaku