Rey (@Rey_Blues30) reflects on last night’s narrow victory over already-relegated Norwich City.
After a shocking and disappointing defeat to Sheffield United, Chelsea managed to bounce back and grab three points against Norwich to keep their top four aspirations alive.
Chelsea started off sloppy, giving the ball away easily in the middle of the park. Norwich were tight and compact in their formation and didn’t allow much space to slice through their low blocks. The Blues saw this instantly and used the change of play and tried to catch Norwich on their flanks. Chelsea saw much success in this exposing the gaps behind Daniel Farke’s midfield, especially on the left wing channels where Christian Pulisic and Marcos Alonso were operating effectively.
Norwich were able to deal with most of Chelsea’s attack as Frank Lampard’s side did not move the ball fast enough at times – making it easy for Norwich to cover. Jorginho was able to dictate the match and find our wingers out wide whenever Norwich were narrow in midfield giving the blues the opportunity to attack their fullbacks. The Italian playmaker was also able to pick out Olivier Giroud through an over the shoulder pass. The striker was able get slight contact on the ball, but the shot was ultimately awry and not strong enough breach Tim Krul.
Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso provided that outlet in the box where Chelsea players tried to make inside runs – but their service was inconsistent. Christian Pulisic did a terrific job roaming around the opposition box – confusing defenders and getting in their blind spots to create chances in dangerous areas. He eventually found Giroud hovering between the centre backs to open the scoring for the Blues. Pulisic also had an opportunity to score early in the half, turning on a half volley with his weaker left foot blasting a shot straight up the middle of the goal but was denied by Tim Krul’s quick one handed save.
This goal put Chelsea a goal up before half time, as Olivier Giroud easily outmuscled Timm Klose to score a simple header. The second half rolled in and the Blues were quick to pressure the Canaries in their own half. Chelsea did find success in the second half with quick and swift passes, but over-passed frequently to waste any goalscoring opportunity.
Lampard’s first substitution was Ross Barkley, coming in for Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Loftus-Cheek did not show that aggressive demeanour for which he’s renowned, and repeatedly played safe passes instead. It is evident that he is not yet at his best, which will more than likely come next season.
Throughout the second half, Chelsea’s attack became dull and stale as they became pragmatic at times taking the simpler and safer path instead of taking risks against their defense. In the 81st minute, Lampard made another two substitutes – taking off Christian Pulisic and Marcos Alonso for Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James.
The Blues managed to create some half chances, but nothing significant as they also they improved their defence when losing the ball in midfield. Chelsea clearly lacked that extra spark of creativity in this particular game where the opposition were compact not allowing space in midfield. Hakim Ziyech, in attendance last night, will be expected to improve this aspect next season.
Frank Lampard might not be too content in how his side wasn’t able to put the game to bed but will be more than happy to grab the essential three points that was desperately needed. Chelsea currently solidify their position in the table by creating some leeway between the clubs beneath them and staying 3rd on the standings. Chelsea’s next league game is away at Anfield against Champions Liverpool. It won’t be a easy trip but the Blues will hope they finish strong as their last two games will be difficult. Their quest for top four lies in their hands and will have to muster up one last burst of concentration to secure Champions League football.