Quick Paced Counter Attacks:
The game started at a frantic pace with Chelsea taking the lead after only four minutes through Tammy Abraham, in a well-executed move to create a 2v1 down Norwich’s right. Chelsea’s ability to move the ball quickly and commit numbers to a counter attack was key throughout the game, and the first goal epitomised this strategy. The image below shows Abraham winning a 1v1 in his own half, and having committed the centre half high up the pitch, this triggers a quick paced Chelsea break.
With Godfrey out of position, Lewis gets caught as to whether he holds or moves inside, creating space for Pulisic to run into to. Azpilicueta quickly capitalises on this, overlapping and creating a 2v1.
As he delivers, Chelsea have quickly committed three men into the box. Although not appearing to have overloaded the box, the speed of the attack means the defence hasn’t had the chance to reset. Abraham’s movement is also excellent, as he peels away to the back post to Aarons, where he has to be aware of onrushing midfielders as well.
Abraham finished brilliantly (an xG of 0.1), and the pace of this attack summed up Chelsea’s approach in the first half. Either looking to press early or counter quickly, the idea from Chelsea was to catch Norwich’s midfield out of position and break expose Norwich’s 4.
High Pressing and Extra Pace:
With Kante missing through injury, Chelsea had to adapt their pressing game to suit. The choice to start Abraham was key in this, as his higher work rate and extra pace compared to Giroud was fundamental to the success of the system. He was able to put Hanley and Godfrey under more pressure when Chelsea chose to press, whilst his pace created extra space for Chelsea’s front four. Godfrey and Hanley had to give Abraham an extra yard to avoid being caught out over the top, and this meant that the gap between Norwich’s defence and midfield was slightly wider. This created further space for Pulisic, Mount and Barkley, who exploited it very well. It was this extra space that also led to Chelsea’s second and third goals, particularly exposing Hanley’s lack of mobility. Mount for the second and Abraham for the third were able to run at Hanley, and as he wasn’t able to get close enough, it gave both of them plenty of space to pick their spot and score.
Chelsea’s Second Goal:
Chelsea’s Third Goal:
Attacking Down the Left:
Norwich Player Influence (90 Mins) Chelsea Player Influence (90 Mins)
Chelsea were unlucky to only score 3, and fundamental to their chance creation throughout the game were their full backs Azpilicueta, and in particular, Emerson. Although Azpilicueta provided the assist for the first goal, it was Emerson’s performance down the left that stood out, especially in the second half. Creating 4 chances all game (Barkley only higher with 5), his positioning out wide caused numerous problems for Norwich defensively.
Through being positioned so far out to the left, he was able to either occupy Aarons and create space for Barkley and Mount, or be left by Aarons and create a 2v1. Norwich’s midfield in particular struggled to cope, often opting to play narrow and allow Emerson the space, choosing to mark Mount and Barkley. However, this backfired as Emerson was able to link with the creative Mount and Barkley 18 and 19 times in the match, the two highest combinations on the pitch.
This was fundamental to further chance creation. As touched upon earlier, Barkley created five chances all game, the highest of any player on the pitch, whilst Mount created two. The pair also racked up the highest amount of shots of anyone on the pitch (five), showing how well this combination worked.
It was particularly in the second half where Chelsea had the most joy down the left hand side, and the influence maps below show why. Norwich focussed their attacks down the right and left a lot of space on the left, which Emerson (playing very high), Mount and Barkley moved into effectively.
Norwich’s 2nd Half Player Influence Chelsea’s 2nd Half Player Influence
In what was a deserved win for Chelsea, it is also worth noting their xG was 2.02 to Norwich’s 0.97. The goals that they scored equated to just 0.58 of this 2.02, meaning if they had been more clinical, a wider margin should’ve been expected.
Although there are worries at the back, it is promising for Chelsea’s attackers going forward, as they start to buy into Lampard’s methodology. Sheffield United visit Stamford Bridge next weekend, and if Chelsea can attack in a similar vain to this week, expect to see the goals flow once again.