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Chelsea 1-0 Norwich City, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

Breaking down Chelsea’s dominant victory

First half

Following an aggressive start to the match, Norwich dropped back to defend deep inside their own half. Rupp, initially pressing higher up, dropped to the right of Tettey to create a flat midfield five (moving up to pressure Zouma advancing, but predominantly to control Kovačić), while Drmić stayed in the space ahead of Chelsea’s central defenders (where Jorginho would play). This allowed Norwich to maintain numbers and density in the middle of the pitch (narrow defensive block) and leave the spaces on the wings to be closed down.

Chelsea’s full backs moved up early, which left the two central defenders and Jorginho to build play from midfield. Jorginho often dropped between the central defenders to split them (and to avoid Drmić, taking up the space), but the distances for him to play to the advanced midfielders were thus usually too great and effectively took the three midfielders out of the game — not dropping or receiving behind Norwich’s midfield line; only recovering second balls when played direct to Giroud.

With Chelsea’s midfield out of the game, the spaces and opportunities to play forward would fall to the central defenders. Quick movement of the ball side-to-side would find the advanced fullbacks in spaces (to play behind to runners inside) and long diagonal switches would produce the same results, although less consistently with the initial pass. The more direct option from Rüdiger into the box for Giroud or Alonso also gave Norwich a few different problems to deal with.

Chelsea were able to create problems with a number of balls into the box, Giroud often getting on the end of them. Pulisic also found spaces inside the box to get shots off, and the team also threatened consistently from corners. Kovačić dropping to collect the ball and play forward would see Chelsea get to the wings more quickly and consistently after the drinks break (along with Jorginho moving to the sides to play passes up the wings), and the sustained attacks from the wings would see Chelsea finally take the lead just before halftime.

Second half

Norwich played more aggressively in the second half, pushing up to press the ball, continuing that pressure onto Chelsea’s central defenders, and closing down the spaces to the player receiving the ball. There were moments where this led to Chelsea giving the ball away in midfield and allowing Norwich opportunities to counter, but Chelsea were able to recover in time, before Norwich could create any chances.

Chelsea continued to create problems by moving up the wings and putting crosses into the box, but were unable to find a second goal to take Norwich out of the game. This gave Chelsea a difficult situation to manage during the closing stages of the game, with Norwich bringing on fresh attackers from the bench, but Chelsea were able to keep them from registering a single shot on target and saw the game out with a one-goal lead.

Chelsea vs Norwich City xG timing chart


Norwich’s deep defensive block controlled the middle of the pitch during the first half, but allowed Chelsea to find spaces on the wings to advance with the ball and create chances from balls into the box. Chelsea managed to take the lead before halftime, and were able to endure Norwich’s more aggressive approach in the second half to see out the game with a one goal lead. An important win following defeat to Sheffield United.

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