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Norwich City 2-3 Chelsea, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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A tale of two halves as Chelsea win for the first time this season

First half

A very fast and open first half saw four goals scored. Chelsea took the early lead, playing off Abraham to break through Norwich’s high and aggressive pressing, before switching and using the overlap of Azpilicueta to open up the possibility to cross into the box for Abraham to finish the move off.

Norwich continued to press high and aggressively inside Chelsea’s half throughout the first half, and this placed the responsibility on Chelsea’s forwards to hold on to the ball or offer an outlet to move out of their half — which they, particularly Abraham, did well throughout. However, soon after conceding, Norwich were quick to respond and took advantage of winning the ball high up from Abraham, leading to quick passes around the box (where they attacked with numbers) and Pukki getting behind on the outside to create the chance for Cantwell to equalise.

With the ball, Norwich would build play through their central defenders and two deep central midfielders, allowing the fullbacks to move forward and wingers the freedom to move inside. With the central midfielders and defenders at the base, they could draw pressure onto the ball in midfield, before looking to find the feet of the front four or to play long switches to the far-side fullback in order to advance forward into space.

Norwich’s possession had both strengths and weaknesses, which lead to them both scoring and conceding a goal. When they were building from short goal kicks, they provided Chelsea the opportunity to push up, press the ball and force them into longer ground passes into midfield which could be intercepted and countered from — as on Chelsea’s second goal. Playing the ball back to Krul would also result problems when he was pressured, with his long diagonal passes to fullbacks having little success maintaining the ball.

However, later in the half, when Norwich were in midfield with the ball, drawing Chelsea’s pressure onto the ball would allow them to open spaces between the lines for their front four to receive the ball and combine quickly, before attacking Chelsea’s backline and finding Pukki running off the back shoulder of the defenders again to finish first-time.

Second half

Chelsea dominated the second half, controlling the game and providing Norwich with very few moments to play with the ball. Chelsea’s high pressing recovered the ball consistently, and when Norwich attempted to press them high, they would progress by getting behind on the wings to create crossing opportunities or play through the central midfielders to the frontline to combine and create shooting opportunities.

Without being able to recover the ball high and becoming exposed at the back, Norwich were forced back to defend deep inside their own half. Chelsea would go onto profit from their dominance during the second half and once again retake the lead through Abraham’s second goal of the game.

Chelsea continued to create opportunities and managed the result well for the remainder of the half, allowing them to see out the game and take their first victory of the season.

Norwich City 2-3 Chelsea: Timing chart
Understat

Conclusion

Playing through high pressure and countering by recovering the ball in midfield provided the platform for all four goals during the first half. Norwich had good moments of possession using switches and combinations between lines, while Chelsea had a few good opportunities from recovering the ball high and creating from combinations between the frontline. Chelsea dominated the majority of the second half and pushed Norwich back to defend deep inside their own half and play only in moments, taking the lead for the third time in the match — securing Lampard’s first victory as Chelsea manager.