Torres and Blues draw blank
Norwich keep first clean sheet since returning to Premier League
Last Updated: 21/01/12 5:11pm
Fernando Torres' recent woes in front of goal continued as Norwich secured their first clean sheet in the Premier League this season with a 0-0 draw at home to Chelsea.
The £50million striker has now gone 15 matches since finding the net against Genk back in October - the worst run of his career in England since arriving on these shores with Liverpool from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2007.
Torres, earning an extended run with the Blues with Didier Drogba away on Africa Cup of Nations duty, continues to look a shadow of the player who terrorised defences earlier in his career, with one shocking miss in the second half summing up his current fortunes.
The Spain striker came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock with a clever shot in the first period which was turned around the post by John Ruddy, but somehow contrived to fire wide from a central position eight yards out in the second period.
Paul Lambert's Canaries fully deserved a share of the spoils after keeping out their opponents at the 22nd attempt this season, with Ruddy and the back four in front of him showing great organisation and resilience throughout.
Chelsea had started well as they looked to make up ground on the top three, who all play on Sunday.
The Canaries, though, created the first opening on seven minutes as Wales striker Steve Morison got away down the right and fed Anthony Pilkington, whose shot was parried by Petr Cech before Morison's follow-up was blocked by Ramires.
Norwich carved Chelsea apart again on 10 minutes when Morison slipped a ball inside for busy captain Grant Holt, who slid past David Luiz before dragging a low shot just wide from the edge of the area.
The hosts remained dangerous on the counter, with the lively Pilkington curling an effort into the area which was headed clear before Morison smashed a long, cross-field ball from Holt into the side netting as the rain lashed down at Carrow Road.
Juan Mata danced down the Norwich left and chipped the ball through the penalty area, but it was too high for Daniel Sturridge.
Torres collected the ball on the edge of the Norwich area and turned Zak Whitbread before stabbing a shot with the outside of his boot towards the bottom left corner, which Ruddy turned away at full stretch.
Pilkington sent a deep cross from the right towards the far post, which was headed back by Holt, but Cech collected it under the bar.
There was a stoppage when Frank Lampard needed treatment for a calf injury. The England midfielder eventually was helped off and replaced by Florent Malouda on 36 minutes - just after Bradley Johnson's deflected effort had almost wrong-footed Cech.
Ruddy was out to make a brave take as Torres looked to connect with a right-wing cross into the Norwich six-yard box.
It was end-to-end stuff as suddenly Holt got in space on the right and fired in an angled shot which Cech palmed away.
Mata weaved into the Norwich penalty area in first-half stoppage-time, only to then fire over the bar.
Norwich began the second half with some purpose, as Pilkington smashed a cross through the Chelsea box and high into the Barclay Stand.
Chelsea slowly probed, with Luiz curling over from 20 yards after positive play from Malouda down the left.
On 58 minutes, Torres made space on the edge of the penalty area, only to then blaze the ball over and the Spaniard's horror moment came when he then somehow managed to stab wide from eight yards after being set up by Jose Bosingwa.
Chelsea continued to press, as Mata's angled shot was saved at the near post by Ruddy.
Referee Mark Clattenburg then missed what appeared a clear handball by Raul Meireles on the edge of the Chelsea area when he charged down Holt's flick.
With 14 minutes left, Chelsea made a change as Torres was replaced by 18-year-old Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku - much to the delight of the home crowd.
Norwich made a double substitution when Simeon Jackson came on for Morison and Wales midfielder Andrew Crofts for David Fox, with Chelsea sending on Michael Essien for Meireles.
Ashley Cole drove an angled drive across goal and wide from 25 yards as the match entered the closing stages.Norwich dug in to see out three minutes of stoppage-time to record their first clean sheet of an impressive Premier League campaign.
|Norwich City||Team Statistics||Chelsea|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||6|
|3||Shots off Target||11|
|45.8||1st Half Poss.||54.2|
|36.8||2nd Half Poss.||63.2|
Barclays Premier League
|5||West Ham United||18||31|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||18||17|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||18||17|