Chelsea strengthened their hold on third place on the Premier League table with a 1-0 win over Norwich City, courtesy an Olivier Giroud strike.
Chelsea kept coming at Norwich City, who managed to keep them at bay and keep the scoreline intact for almost the entire first half. However, their resistance broke on the verge of half-time, with Olivier Giroud heading home a Christian Pulisic cross to put the Blues in front.
It was pretty much the same in the second period as well, with Chelsea dominating the ball and creating a few chances. However, they were unable to add to their lead. But with Norwich hardly threatening going forward, Frank Lampard’s men were able to come away with an important victory.
The result means that the Londoners have stretched their lead over Leicester City and Manchester United to four points. Here’s how we rated the performances of the Chelsea stars on the night.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 14, 2020
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 5/10
One of the most straightforward outings of Kepa’s career without a question. Hardly had anything to do in terms of saves, with Norwich barely threatening. Was a vocal presence at the back, shouting out instructions at his teammates.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 7/10
Starting at right-back, the Chelsea captain was afforded the time and space to get forward, which he did with utmost regularity and produced some dangerous crosses in the early exchanges, only for his teammates to not make the most of those. Defensively alert when he needed to be. Switched to left-back late in the second half and stayed solid.
César Azpilicueta’s game by numbers vs. Norwich City:
81% pass accuracy
5 accurate crosses
4 chances created
4 tackles won
2 big chances created
Continues to be a key creator. 🇪🇸 pic.twitter.com/42Lru3hhvJ
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) July 14, 2020
Kurt Zouma: 6/10
There were a couple of iffy moments when he was on the ball, otherwise it was a solid, no-nonsense defensive performance from the Frenchman, who dealt with whatever little that came his way with relative ease. It obviously helped that Norwich striker Josip Drmic was isolated at the top for majority of the match.
Antonio Rudiger: 6/10
Back into the starting XI, the German international put in a decent enough display against the Canaries. Did the basics well, which was enough to keep Norwich at bay. Like Zouma, though, he was not convincing enough on the ball, misplacing some of his long passes. Should have done better with his headed effort from a kick.
Marcos Alonso: 7/10
Much like his captain on the opposite flank, Alonso enjoyed a lot of freedom to get forward and cause problems to the visitors’ back-line. Came close to scoring on a couple of occasions – one of his headed efforts was saved by Tim Krul – while delivered a few dangerous crosses into the box as well. Taken off late in the game.
Mateo Kovacic: 6/10
Returning to the starting lineup, the former Real Madrid star took a while to get going, playing much of the first half in second gear. Improved after the break, showing more intent and purpose to drive forward from the middle. Tidy in possession, he played some good balls to get the full-backs involved in attack, but he lacked the creativity to unlock the Norwich defence.
Apart from an over-the-top ball to set Giroud through in the first half, the Italian international hardly offered any sort of creative essence on the day. Seemed to slow down the pace of the game each time he was on the ball, while he chose to pass sideways way too often, which was far from what Chelsea needed against the low block of Norwich.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: 5.5/10
Preferred over Mason Mount and Ross Barkley, the Chelsea academy graduate showed a few glimpses of quality, but they were few and far between. Neat and tidy when on the ball, much like Kovacic, although, he too tended to slow things down a tad too much. Headed wide from a cross by Azpilicueta in the first period. Still seems to be lacking match sharpness after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Easily the Brazilian’s worst performance since the restart of the campaign last month. Willian struggled to penetrate through the Norwich back-line, while his delivery from corners left a lot to be desired as well. However, there was no lack of effort when off the ball, as he worked hard to help out defensively when needed. Had a free-kick saved late on.
Olivier Giroud: 7/10
Back into the side in place of Tammy Abraham, the Frenchman repaid the manager’s faith scoring the only goal of the game with a brilliant headed effort on the cusp of half-time. Had been wasteful up until that point, missing a few decent chances.
Giroud had a couple more opportunities after the break, but failed to take them. His hold-up play was on point, though, while he almost got himself an assist with a lovely chipped pass to Pulisic, who was denied by Krul.
Christian Pulisic: 7/10
The liveliest player on the field, even though he was subdued for a while early on. Got going with a brilliant effort on goal, which was denied. Set Giroud up for the only goal of the game soon after with a peach of a cross. Had another effort on goal after the break, which was stopped by Krul once again. Grew tired with time and was subbed off late on.
Christian Pulisic in the Premier League since the restart:
• 506 minutes
• 3 goals
• 1 assist
Established himself as a key player in the final stretch of the season. 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/thkVxfiELQ
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) July 14, 2020
Ross Barkley: 5/10
Came on for Loftus-Cheek in the 66th minute. Showed a few nice touches, but couldn’t offer the forward impetus that was needed.
Reece James: N/A
Thrown in for Alonso for the last ten minutes. Delivered a couple of enticing crosses that his teammates failed to convert.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: N/A
Replaced Pulisic in the 80th minute. Looked bright and added pace to the Chelsea attack.
Tammy Abraham: N/A
Came on with less than five minutes left. Hardly got a touch on the ball.