Chelsea v Norwich reaction

Chelsea v Norwich reaction

Published Oct. 7, 2012 7:15 a.m. ET

Roberto Di Matteo hailed his Chelsea players for "blanking out" off-field issues in their 4-1 victory over Norwich at Stamford Bridge.

The European champions made it 19 points from 21 this season - their best start since 2006 - as they put the John Terry and Ashley Cole saga out of their minds for 90 minutes.

Chelsea have had plenty of experience playing amid off-field controversy during Terry and Cole's time at the club - but rarely when both have been at the centre of it.

That was exactly what they had to do today after the damning verdict of an independent Football Association regulatory commission on Terry's racist abuse case and Cole's subsequent foul-mouthed Twitter outburst.


Di Matteo said: "I think the results are telling us that we are able to blank things out surrounding us externally and that we could focus on what is our aim and target and job, to win football games.

"It's proven how professional the group is and how well they respond to it."

The Italian denied a siege mentality had taken hold at Stamford Bridge, where Terry and Cole were predictably feted as heroes.

"No, I don't think so," he said.

"That's not what we feel or what is happening with us.

"We concentrate on our strength and we try to win games with the players that we have and with a football philosophy that we're aiming to play.

"At the moment, the team is a healthy form, we are creating lots of chances, we are scoring lots of goals, and with different goalscorers as well.

"We don't rely on just one player, so it's a team that is in good shape."

Asked whether his players saw football as a "release", he added: "I don't know but it seems that, at the moment, they are enjoying playing football.

"It's what they love doing and they are also lucky people to be able to do this as a job.

"We can only try to continue to keep this momentum and form going for ourselves and I think that will help everybody involved going forward."

Di Matteo refused to get carried away with Chelsea's start, despite it being their second best ever in the Premier League.

"We're pleased that we're going into this international break at the top of the Premier League," he said.

"We've only played 10 games and have so many more games to play but we're in a good position and have a lot of confidence.

"As long as we don't have many injuries, we'll keep chipping away and try to win as many games and points as we can.

"I still think Manchester City - if you look at their squad - and Manchester United will be up there."

Chelsea ultimately rolled over a poor Norwich side, who took the lead but were 3-1 down 20 minutes later, looking every inch a team that had not won a league game this season.

Canaries boss Chris Hughton, who was certain the Blues would be "right up there" in the title mix, said: "I was probably more annoyed and disappointed at half-time than I was at the end of the game because, after taking the lead, we certainly needed to be in the game for longer.

"When you come here, particularly with the quality that they have got - the offensive quality they've got now - you know it's going to be a tough ask.

"But, when you score so early, you need to stay in the game longer.

"At the moment, as a team, we're not defending well enough."

Hughton was satisfied with the attacking threat of his players and, despite Norwich now having the worst goal difference in the table of -12, was adamant his squad was strong enough to avoid the drop.

"Yes I am," he said.

"We're on the back of two very poor games for us.

"We were guilty in the four games before that of playing well enough to win games but not being clinical enough.

"It's important that everybody pulls in the right direction to get back to, perhaps, the form we showed before the Liverpool game."