Why Hakim Ziyech punched Romelu Lukaku as Chelsea handed important reminder against Norwich

Chelsea’s important reminder

For 45 minutes at Carrow Road, Chelsea were irrepressible. Trevoh Chalobah put the Blues ahead inside the opening four minutes and Mason Mount struck an excellent second soon after.

Norwich had very little idea how to contain Thomas Tuchel‘s side. The movement of Kai Havertz was too intelligent. The energy of Mount impossible to contain. One first-half attack that scythed through the Canaries’ defence contained just that duo, who exchanged three passes before the academy graduate volleyed over.

That Chelsea only went into the half-time interval with just a two-goal lead was frustrating. The game should’ve been over, put beyond Norwich.

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Perhaps the Blues felt it was. They started the second period without the same intensity and allowed Norwich to grow into the game. Chalobah conceded a penalty for handball that Teemu Pukki scored and suddenly the home side felt there was a chance to claim a point.

“It is never decided in the Premier League at 2-0,” Tuchel said. “We were high enough in control in the first half but the opponent changed things up and were stronger.

“They had nothing to lose, took more risks and we struggled. We conceded and it was a tight one. Everybody needs to know it is never over and you need to take care of it better.”

Chelsea’s players showed their character in the final minutes as Havertz found the net to put the game beyond Norwich. It was a goal that showcased the Blues will not crumble under the pressure they’ve been put under following the UK Government’s decision to sanction owner Roman Abramovich.

“Full credit, the team showed very good character and we can be proud that they produced performances like this under the circumstances,” Tuchel said.

“It tells us we are right to trust them, that the attitude is right, and the culture of the club is right. So we keep on going.”

Academy graduates show their support

The game at Carrow Road came just hours after Abramovich was added to the UK government’s sanction list. The 55-year-old’s assets were frozen yesterday in a move taken in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Chelsea have been allowed to continue operating under restrictions through a ‘Russia Regulation’ licence, which enables the Blues to train, play its fixtures and fulfil its obligations for the rest of the season.

That is how Chelsea were able to play and win at Carrow Road last night – and how they will continue to until the end of this season at least.

Beyond that, who knows. The only certainty for Chelsea, as has emphatically been proved over the past week, is uncertainty. Supporters are just along for the ride. It’s why any sign of emotional attachment to the club from players or staff alike will be latched onto.

For example, Mount’s celebration after his goal against Norwich. The academy graduate, who has been at the club since he was six years old, ran to the travelling supporters and kissed the badge.

Chalobah’s celebration too was one of emotion. Another academy graduate who has a connection with the club forged over several years at the club.

Why Ziyech punched Lukaku

Over the last fortnight, Havertz has established himself as Chelsea’s number nine with a series of impressive performances. And that has resulted in club-record signing Romelu Lukaku being dropped to the substitutes’ bench.

“It is not easy at the moment for him but he is a member of the team – an important member of the team,” Tuchel admitted ahead of the trip to Norwich.

“There are other players at certain times who are not happy because the biggest problem is we can only start 11 players and lot of players think – and have a reason – to feel they are regular starters for us.

“Romelu fights for it like everybody else. This is what we need. He is as positive as can be. He does not like the situation, nobody does. He handles it very professionally. I try to do my best to be respectful and supportive like for everybody else.”

Lukaku has, at least on matchdays, appears in good spirits. That was certainly the case at Carrow Road and highlighted in a playful incident before kick-off.

As the players took their places in the dugouts, Lukaku attempted to follow Antonio Rudiger into his seat but was challenged by Hakim Ziyech.

Unsurprisingly, Lukaku was able to hold off Ziyech, who with a smile on his face, reacted by throwing a few punches into the bicep of the Belgian striker. Lukaku took it in jest, burst into laughter, and then settled into watching a very impressive opening 45 minutes from Chelsea.

The 28-year-old did get on for the final four minutes at Carrow Road – and came close to getting on the scoresheet – but given the performance of Havertz in recent matches, Lukaku may have to continue to fight for his seat on the bench for some time.

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