Di Matteo demands more from pace-setters Chelsea
Roberto Di Matteo insists Chelsea have plenty of room for improvement as the European champions aim to cement their position at the top of the Premier League.
The Blues face Norwich City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday unbeaten in their opening six games and sitting two points clear at the head of the table.
Last weekend’s victory at Arsenal highlighted their strengths and that result was given even more significance when Manchester United later lost to Tottenham, leaving Sir Alex Ferguson’s side four points off the pace.
The title race will take many turns in the months ahead but it will be a major surprise if Chelsea don’t at least maintain that advantage after facing a Norwich side who have yet to claim three points this season and lost 5-2 at home to Liverpool last time out.
Chelsea’s erratic performance in Denmark in the Champions League group game against FC Nordsjaelland may have highlighted some of the reasons why Di Matteo believes there is more to come for his team, but the 4-0 scoreline was emphatic enough.
Part of the reason for Chelsea’s promising start has been the way summer signings Oscar and Eden Hazard have settled into the side.
Both have made an immediate impact and their emergence has been welcomed by Ramires, who believes he is benefitting from the arrival of his Brazil international team-mate Oscar.
Ramires was on target in Denmark to claim his first goal since his memorable chip in the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona in the Nou Camp last season, with the assist provided by Oscar.
And he said: “I made a point to thank Oscar for the excellent pass he gave me and I hope our partnership will continue to work for Chelsea and the national team.” That goal came as a relief to Ramires who added: “It is not my main responsibility to score. I never go into a game thinking primarily of scoring goals, but it’s always very pleasing when they come.
“This goal had a special feel as it was my first of the season and return to scoring after that goal against Barcelona — the most important of my career.” Meanwhile, John Terry, who has yet to declare whether he will appeal against the FA charge of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, is expected to return to the Chelsea defence after being rested in midweek.
Norwich have struggled to emulate their success of last season when then manager Paul Lambert steered them to a 12th place finish after back to back promotions.
Lambert has since left for Aston Villa and his replacement Chris Hughton has struggled so far.
Striker Simeon Jackson, though, believes it was inevitable the current campaign would present more problems than last season.
“The shock factor has gone,” Jackson said. “We’re no longer the surprise package. People know what we’re about now and come up with game plans to stop us, so we just have to make sure we keep doing what we can to win as many games as possible.
“I think the ambition is still the same, which is to stay in the league. It’s paramount, so you approach games like you always have done, trying to get a result.
“A lot has been made about struggling to score goals and I don’t think we have to change too much.
“We’ve been creating chances as much as we always have done. We have to maintain that and it will turn and they will go in.” Hughton is sweating on the fitness of centre back Sebastien Bassong who missed the Liverpool match.