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Norwich City-Chelsea Preview


STATS Football Writer

(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - League-leading Chelsea hope to maintain their recent forward momentum and heap the pressure on their title rivals Saturday when they host Norwich City at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues have reeled off four straight wins in all competitions since drawing their opening Champions League match at home to Juventus last month. Chelsea have not won five in a row since a similarly devastating run of form to start the 2010-11 season saw them rack up six wins that included consecutive 6-0 hammerings of Wigan and West Brom.

However, the Canaries (0-3-3) gave Chelsea all they could handle last season. The match at Carrow Road ended scoreless and, although the Blues ran out 3-1 winners at the Bridge, they needed late goals from Frank Lampard and Juan Mata after Grant Holt had cancelled out Jose Bosingwa's early strike.

Prior to the draw at Carrow Road last season, Chelsea (5-1-0) had won five straight against the Canaries and have not lost to Saturday's opponent since a 3-0 defeat 19 years ago. Despite the recent dominance of the London side, however, the all-time series is surprisingly close - Chelsea holds a slender advantage of 16 wins to Norwich's 14 with 16 drawn.

Blues boss Roberto Di Mateo was in the enviable position of being able to utilize his full squad for the midweek 4-0 victory over Danish side Nordsjaelland in the UEFA Champions League.

Star performers John Terry, Edin Hazard and John Obi Mikel made way for Frank Lampard, Gary Cahill and Victor Moses on Wednesday, but the team which takes the field against Norwich likely will bear closer resemblance to the one which beat Arsenal in the last league outing.

As ever with a team in form, competition for places gets fierce, and Moses is hoping his midweek play will keep him in contention for first-team play this weekend.

"I enjoyed it very much, my first Champions League game," Moses told the club website. "It was different and is something I will have to get used to. It wasn't my best game but the most important thing was we won.

"We went 1-0 up but they hit the post in the second half, but when we got the second goal they sat back off us and we kept on going, which is what we are good at."

Lampard played the 90 minutes for only the second time in five matches against the Danes after starting and scoring in the Blues' first two league games.

"I'm very happy with the start to the season," he told the club website. "I'm in a team playing very well, we're top of the league and we've a fantastic spirit."

If the Canaries are seeking solace in the fact that their opponents are returning from a tricky midweek Champions League assignment, there isn't much to be found. Chelsea won all seven matches that followed a midweek European away game last season.

Norwich have failed to win any of their opening six matches in the top flight for only the second time and have won just one of their last 11 league matches, a 2-0 home victory over Aston Villa in May. They come into the Chelsea game off a 5-2 home thrashing at the hands of Liverpool.

Sebastien Bassong and Anthony Pilkington may be available for the Canaries after missing the Liverpool match, and Wes Hoolahan is also in line for a recall after starting on the bench last week.

Updated October 4, 2012

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