Olivier Giroud Secures The Three Points For Chelsea
Chelsea put their recent outing against Sheffield United behind them and put forth a dominant performance against Norwich City.
Olivier Giroud was the difference-maker for Chelsea and delivered the game winning goal.
The win secured three crucial points for the Blues, who are trying to solidify a spot into Champions League next season. Manchester United, Leicester City and Wolverhampton are all within striking distance and Chelsea cannot afford to have any slip ups.
So, what did we learn from this match?
Olivier Giroud Steps Up For Chelsea
Prior to the resumption of the league, Giroud appeared in nine league matches. Tammy Abraham was Frank Lampard’s first starter and Michy Batshuayi was the second choice to replace Abraham. This left Giroud as the third choice, which minimized his playing time.
Abraham’s recent poor form and struggles, along with Batshuayi’s poor performance against Manchester United back in February, has given Giroud his opportunity. Since the restart, he has become the number one choice and this has paid off immensely.
In their past seven matches, Giroud has scored four goals with three of them being game winners. For the first time in his career with Chelsea, he scored in three straight league starts. The striker has helped the Blues earn nine crucial points as they try to earn a spot into Champions League. Giroud, once again, put forth a superb performance.
“He is always going to give you a desire to get in there for the team [Chelsea],” Lampard said.
“He had a few half chances in the central area. That is what you have to do when he is in the team – use his attributes. He has scored important goals. He has never given me a problem, always trained well. His professionalism is always good.”
Giroud’s presence was noticeable throughout the match as he was very physical and aggressive inside the goal area. He won six aerial duels, had eight shots on goal and converted one key pass. He made countless runs towards the goal area and made it difficult for the Norwich defense. His recent play has earned the respect of Lampard and further advanced Chelsea towards their goal (Champions League).
Tim Krul Makes The Score Line Look Better
Norwich struggled to advance into Chelsea’s final third as the Canaries finished with two shots on goal. They had a possession rate of 32%, yet failed to sustain any pressure on Chelsea’s backend. It was the performance of Tim Krul who made the score line look more deceiving. The goalkeeper made hard fought saves on Giroud, Christian Pulsic and Marcos Alonso. He showed great awareness, made timely challenges and was well positioned to make key saves.
Chelsea finished with a possession rate of 68% and had 22 shots on goal. The Blues successfully converted six shots on target that came from close range and needed Krul to be firm and alert. It was a lackluster performance from Norwich, who were officially relegated after their recent loss against West Ham United. Krul has been one of the most encouraging signs in a Norwich’s frustrating season.
Marcos Alonso Delivers A Strong Performance
Chelsea’s recent 3-0 loss versus Sheffield United led Lampard to make five changes to his lineup. Alonso, who hasn’t started since July 1st versus West Ham, was reinserted into the lineup. The fullback was benched for the subsequent two matches after his poor outing against the Hammers. The decision paid off as the Spaniard put forth a quality performance.
From the start of the match, Alonso was fully engaged with his speed, movement and quick runs down the left flank. He showed good awareness and was very decisive and accurate with his delivery into the box. He converted five of seven crosses into the goal area and created scoring opportunities for the Blues. In the second half, he came close to setting up Chelsea’s second goal. The fullback delivered a pass across the box where Azpilicueta made a run with plenty of space to work with and his shot sailed just over the crossbar.
Alonso was sound and alert in the backend where he made safe decisions in clearing the ball away from danger and limited Norwich’s chances. He was tentative on both ends of the field which was encouraging to see. At a critical stage in their season, Alonso stepped up at the right time.