Chelsea moved up into third in the Premier League and four points above Leicester and Manchester United in the race for Champions League qualification by defeating relegated Norwich on Tuesday night – although they were far from their best in their 1-0 win.
The Blues welcomed the Canaries to Stamford Bridge in the first match since the Norfolk outfit’s demotion to the Championship was confirmed.
And after Leicester and United both failed to win at the weekend, Frank Lampard’s side knew victory would serve as a fresh injection of belief in their top-four hopes in a week when it was confirmed that Chelsea must finish fourth to qualify for the Champions League next season.
The hosts dominated the first half but looked like they would be left frustrated going into the break with Olivier Giroud spurning a number of opportunities.
The Frenchman however finally got his name on the scoresheet on the cusp of the interval by heading in a Christian Pulisic cross from close range.
But Chelsea failed to pick up the pace too much in the second half, dominating the ball but not really opening up Norwich on many occasions, Giroud again firing wide with their best chances.
Yet Lampard’s men managed to earn a much-needed three points which puts the pressure on their top-four rivals ahead of a trip to champions Liverpool next week.
Here’s how Express Sport rated and slated the Champions League-chasing Londoners.
Chelsea player ratings vs Norwich – Premier League
Kepa Arrizabalaga – 6
That he played just 26 passes all game tells you all you need to know. One of the quietest games he’s ever had for Chelsea, not having to make a single save.
Cesar Azpilicueta – 7
Some great crosses from out wide for Loftus-Cheek and Giroud in the first half, though neither was capitalised upon. Curled a left-footed effort just over the bar when running on to Alonso’s cross. Another great delivery to Giroud on 72 minutes, but the striker headed over. Switched to left-back after Alonso went off.
Kurt Zouma – 6
One positive burst forward helped force a chance that saw Giroud go close but headed wide at a corner when he should’ve scored. Sometimes worrisome when in possession and unnecessarily ran himself into trouble in one instance in the second half before fouling Max Aarons moments later but also some good no-nonsense defending to help keen a clean sheet.
Antonio Rudiger – 6
Like Zouma, not always too convincing on the ball, though some good switches of play and an excellent stretching tackle to prevent Onel Hernandez going through on goal in the second half. Should’ve done better with a header at a corner.
Marcos Alonso – 7
Might’ve racked up a handful of assists had Chelsea been sharper up top. Some sublime low crosses from out wide as he was allowed to attack more with Norwich rarely threatening at the other end. Saw a header denied by Tim Krul in the second half. Surprisingly brought off with 10 minutes to go.
Mateo Kovacic – 6
Tidiest of the midfield trio. Some good balls out wide to help both Alonso and Azpilicueta cause a threat and helped give Chelsea control of the game, but can still argue he didn’t give enough creatively.
Jorginho – 5
Disappointing in possession, rarely looking for a forward pass, and looks a bit out of place under Lampard given he doesn’t offer too much off the ball either.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 5
Played almost as the fourth attacker as Chelsea put the pressure on and headed wide early on but like his midfield partners, failed to make enough risky passes. Looks short of sharpness and confidence. Brought off after 66 minutes.
Willian – 5
His worst display since the Premier League restarted. Frustrating decision-making on the ball, although he worked hard off it and won the ball back high up the pitch on a few occasions. Should’ve notched an assist with a low ball into Giroud late on and then saw a free-kick pushed away.
Christian Pulisic – 7
Chelsea’s most threatening attacker, though even he was more subdued than in some of his recent matches. Hit the side-netting with a first-time side-footer before a sublime effort to bring the ball down and strike the crossbar on the turn. Delivered a brilliant ball for Giroud to score before half time. Not as involved in the second half as he tired, but denied a goal on the volley by a good Krul stop.
Olivier Giroud – 6
A wasteful display from Giroud, who squandered several opportunities in the air and on the ground. Finally got his goal before half time but before that came after he lobbed straight into the hands of Krul before skying from an Azpilicueta cross. Headed over from another Azpilicueta ball from out wide. Good chip into Pulisic for a second-half attempt but then another wasted chance when he fired wide after bursting into the near post.