Norwich City’s Bradley Johnson undaunted by trip to Premier League leaders Chelsea
Midfielder Bradley Johnson reckons Norwich City are undaunted by the prospect of taking on Premier League leaders Chelsea today, insisting: 'It's only 11 human beings.'
The fact that those human beings are also the reigning European champions and FA Cup holders makes it one of the Canaries' toughest outings of a season that has begun poorly with just three points from the first six league games.
But Johnson, who was in the City side beaten 3-1 at Chelsea early last season, finally sunk by two goals in the last eight minutes, believes they can give London's top club another difficult afternoon at Stamford Bridge (3pm). He said Norwich's last two performances at Tottenham, where they earned a 1-1 draw last month, and the six-goal thriller at Arsenal at the end of last season showed they could handle big occasions in the capital.
'Yes, Chelsea are a big team, European champions and for us to go there and test ourselves against them, it's great to be there,' he said.
'We've all worked hard to get in this league and play against the best players in the world. To be testing ourselves against them is what everyone wants to do. At Arsenal last season we did well and at Tottenham this season, and we can do it again at Chelsea.
'Everywhere we go we're written off but we don't look at that. We go into every game wanting to win. It's only 11 human beings on the pitch, and we're the same as them.
'We just have to stick together and work hard and anything can happen.
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'Chelsea have some great players and if we can keep those great players quiet we've got every chance of pulling off a result there.'
As for whether it was a bad time for City – beaten 5-2 at home by Liverpool last week – to face Roberto di Matteo's team, Johnson said: 'You can take it either way. We're going to go there with confidence that we're going to win the game.
'We went there last year and went down to 10 men, which was unfortunate for us and gave them the win.
'But we're not going there thinking we're going to lose. We haven't spent any time on the training pitch concentrating on them.
'It's the things we have to do – be ugly, hard to play against and get in their faces.
'We've earned the right to be there so we don't look at them in the tunnel and think we're coming up against big teams.
'They're 11 players on the pitch, we're 11 players and we've just got to do the best we can to beat them.'
Central midfield pair Johnson, 25, and former Leeds team-mate Jonny Howson have started all six of City's Premier League games so far, but they know other players are knocking on the door, with David Fox and new arrivals Alex Tettey and Jacon Butterfield yet to start a league game this season.
'I want to stay in the team each week if I put my performances in on a Saturday.
'I'm only there to please the manager and if he's happy with what I'm doing, long may it continue,' said Johnson.
'But there's great competition at this club and there are good players who can come in and do as good a job, or maybe sometimes even better. It's a long season and I know I'm not going to play every game but when I'm in the team I'm going to try my hardest to stay in the team.
'We've got Foxy, who's been out injured. He's back now and Tettey is a good signing. It's good to have competition because it keeps everyone on their toes and training has been sharp.'