Football: Chelsea remain the early season pacesetters, but off-field matters continue to provide unwanted distractions.
The furore surrounding the fallout from the John Terry racism saga continues unabated and now his team-mate Ashley Cole has himself in hot water with both his club and the Football Association for his remarks about the sport’s governing body.
Chelsea, who are set to punish Cole for his offensive message on Twitter, are themselves seemingly coming under the spotlight for their involvement too. Terry, meanwhile, has until October 18 to appeal the FA ban of four matches.
As we come up to the one-year anniversary of the original incident involving Queen’s Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand it’s difficult to think how football can repair its tarnished image given the complex nature of this particular case.
Chelsea’s manager Roberto Di Matteo, however, is the one individual who has emerged with a little credit from this all despite being placed in a somewhat awkward position at times.
The Italian, whose side remain flying at the top of the league, saw his side beat a poor Norwich City with the minimum of fuss in a routine victory at Stamford Bridge.
“We’re pleased that we’re going into this international break at the top of the Premier League,” said Di Matteo, who was forced to field some tough questions about his players.
“We have so many more games to play, but we’re in a good position and have a lot of confidence.”
However, he spoke also about the challenge that his side’s rivals possess. He added: “I still think Manchester City — if you look at their squad — and Manchester United will be up there.”
Given this expensively assembled team of superstars, one would expect Chelsea to be up there with those clubs challenging for honours come the end of the season.
After going behind to an early goal from Norwich’s Grant Holt, Chelsea’s response came in three minutes when Fernando Torres headed in a cross from defender Branislav Ivanovic. Frank Lampard put his side further ahead on 21 minutes with a firm shot from the edge of the penalty area that flew past Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy.
Eden Hazard added a third with a cool finish after Juan Mata broke swiftly from his own penalty area before sliding an intelligent pass through to the Belgian playmaker. Ivanovic completed the win with a well-taken fourth goal.
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