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Analyzing the Grant Holt Goal

Chelsea dominated Norwich from start to finish. Yet it was the visitors that drew first blood with a Grant Holt strike. How did that happened?

Mike Hewitt - Getty Images

This was a comfortable victory for the Blues as they out-passed, out-dazzled, out-shot and, most importantly, out-scored Norwich City, 4 to 1, at Stamford Bridge. The visitors spent the majority of the game trying to deal with continuous attacking pressure by the home side, but they did manage to create a handful of chances, mainly through their target man Grant Holt, and got on the score board first. For that, the Canaries can thank Chelsea's poor defensive organization after a clearance.


It all started with an innocuous Norwich free-kick, taken from the halfway line. As the ball floated into the Chelsea box, three Norwich players were active around the danger zone -- Grant Holt, Russell Martin and Leon Barnett. These same players would be involved in the goal in a few seconds, but for now, Chelsea had seven players around the action and David Luiz would make a convincing clearance: one that sent the ball all the way back to the midway point. It was then picked up by Norwich left-back Javier Garrido.


Garrido passed forward to Wes Hoolahan before making an overlapping run down the flank. Oscar, who happened to be on the right at that point, was quick to close down Hoolahan, but the Brazilian was alone in this fight. None of his teammates joined him in pressing the other Norwich players around Hoolahan and Oscar was caught between a triangle of Hoolahan, Garrido and Bradley Johnson.

As it turned out, Hoolahan didn't even need the support available, striding past Oscar with a simple dribble as he headed toward the Chelsea box. Here, Branislav Ivanovic didn't step up to Hoolahan because doing so would free up Garrido on the flank. The Serbian held his position and waited for the right moment to intervene, which meant Hoolahan had the time and space to put in a cross into the box.

This particular defensive set back was the result of a disorganized off-the-ball movements. If Oscar had players around him pressing as he did, Chelsea could either win the ball back or push Norwich attack back. Or if Oscar just chilled out, stayed close to his defenders and waited for Hoolahan to come forward, Chelsea might have had a better chance of stopping Hoolahan from making the cross. Either way, if Chelsea could slow the development of Norwich attack down effectively, Martin (a right-back) and Barnett (a center-back) would have been retrieving back to their defense and would not have been able to do what they would do next.


As Hoolahan prepared to make his cross, Holt was hanging out at the D. Zonally, it was John Obi Mikel's duty to mark the Norwich striker. Since Terry and Cole were minding Martin and Barnett, David Luiz could at least have stepped up closer toward Holt. As it was, the Norwich number nine was totally unmarked on the edge of the box.

The final mistake in the buildup to this goal was made by Ashley Cole, who let Barnett pulled himself clear to knock the cross into the path of Holt's run. Barnett (1.85 m) was no match to Cole (1.73 m) physically, but the left-back still could have done more to put the Norwich defender off. At any rate, Holt unleashed a powerful strike, which rendered John Terry's (very typical) last ditch defensive effort fruitless.

Chelsea's outstanding attack stole the show and this defensive shamble ended up not costing the team in any way, but the organization clearly needs to be better, particularly in transitions, to prevent this from happening in the future.

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