Chelsea’s bench against Norwich City a reminder of Premier League class gap
Chris Hughton had no desire to get embroiled in the furore surrounding Ashley Cole's abusive tweet to the FA.
The Norwich City boss played a straight bat when asked to give his verdict on Cole's social media outburst on the eve of this Premier League defeat – Hughton on Cole, the world class full-back, was a different matter.
'If you're asking me to talk about him as a footballer, then for me he is certainly if not the best left-back in the world, then very close,' he said. 'His consistency in his play, the possibility he looks as if he might win his 100th cap in his next game, I think that shows the quality of player he is. It's not for me to make any comment on whether he will be remembered for other things. That is something for Roberto (Di Matteo) and the Chelsea camp to answer. I am only thinking about my team and the result today and what we need to do to turn the results in our favour.'
Hughton dismissed any notion the on-going travails of both Cole and Chelsea team mate John Terry had played any role in the hosts' initially slipping behind to Grant Holt's early strike.
'No, you're up against a top quality team with top quality players. Once they cross the line, football is the only thing that's a concern,' he said. 'We started well but with the quality that they have got you've got to keep them at bay and you've got to restrict their chances. Strangely enough in that first half period we did restrict their chances, probably apart from (Fernando) Torres' real good chance when he was through, we limited them to a few chances.
'We shot ourselves in the foot by conceding poor goals and that's always a recipe for disaster against a team of this quality.'
City's defensive frailties were once again evident against a Chelsea rearguard who have conceded the same number of goals over the whole Premier League season so far that Norwich shipped at Stamford Bridge.
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Chelsea's riches in that department were underlined by the presence of England international Gary Cahill waiting in the wings to replace John Terry –should the Blues' skipper accept his recently imposed FA ban.
'What they have in any back four they put together is real quality that can defend, and defend really well,' said Hughton. 'We're conceding poor goals. If I look at what they have at this moment, if they were to be without Terry, it seems like Cahill will be the automatic replacement and you're replacing one top-quality player with another. So I don't see them having too many problems.'