‘Terrible... And now we have a replay we didn’t want’ – Captain laments Chelsea punishment
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
An extra game Chelsea didn't want was punishment for a flat performance at Norwich City that Gary Cahill couldn't explain away.
The defending Premier League champions won't repeat that feat this season – but still have a two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final with Arsenal this month, as well as a last 16 Champions League double-header against Barcelona come February.
No doubt some FA Cup success would be welcome too, but that desire looked in short supply as the Canaries provided stubborn resistance for their billionaire visitors – and the pair will now do it all again in under a fortnight's time.
'The mood is flat, just like the game,' said the Chelsea captain. 'The first half was terrible – I say terrible, it was not ourselves. I just felt the tempo was down, playing in it.
'Without disrespect to Norwich, I never felt we were in a huge lot of difficulty or trouble. The game just seemed to go by and it was finished.
'I have no idea why but now we have a replay we didn't want. Another game in probably the only break we could have got. So it's not ideal for us. But if we'd played in the first half like we did in the second then we probably win the game.
'A replay isn't ideal for most teams. And yes, that probably is the punishment for not performing the way we should've done.
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'The effort was there. In the second half we tried and tried. But it was just that first half felt so flat.'
While Norwich City may have missed their prime opportunity to upset their Premier League visitors, Cahill admitted adding another game to their schedule had him thinking again over English football's typical winter rigours.
'The amount of games is incredible,' added Cahill. 'We've got a ridiculous amount of games at the minute and I said the other day, it's mad because we don't have a winter break.
'Instead of having two weeks or a week on a beach, we add even more games. It is what it is. The manager made changes so we should've been fresh here.
'I've been involved in this for 10 years and it's never bothered me before. I reflected a bit more this year when the other overseas players came in and they tell you about the schedule they have over Christmas. It makes you think a little bit.
'And then last season and the one before in the Champions League, all the English teams struggled to get into the later rounds – why do you think that may be?
'It's not an excuse. It's just a factor. If you look at what do we do different, we do that different. So to come to the latter part of the season, it's not rocket science – and the boys that have come over are maybe finding that a little intense now.
'I can say that because I've been here and I've never had a winter break, so it's normal.'
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