The scoreline didn’t suggest there was a massive gulf in class between Chelsea and Norwich, but the Blues did dominate the game and thanks to a Diego Costa goal, they managed their first win in the Premier League since defeating Aston Villa in the middle of October.
Jose Mourinho was back in the dugout leading his men after serving a stadium ban in Chelsea’s last game, a 1-0 loss away to Stoke. Chelsea started with Eden Hazard playing in a free role behind Diego Costa and he was the man making a difference for Chelsea.
The Belgian hasn’t hit the heights which saw him tear apart defences last season, but his clever movement, runs and through balls gave the Norwich back four a torrid time and had there been more Chelsea players taking up positions in the Norwich penalty box, Chelsea could have been two or three up.
The Blues will have to be happy with the 1-0 win, as Jose Mourinho stated after the game
“The only thing we didn’t do was score more from the chances we had. We should have scored at least two and breathed easier, but it is difficult for us to score goals and to keep a clean sheet against a team who plays defensively and then has a try in the final few minutes because they had nothing to lose.”
Certainly Norwich didn’t do much to trouble the Chelsea defence, they only had 35% of possession, but that would be expected when playing against the Premier League Champions. Chelsea dominated possession and this was the one stat that popped out, this was the highest in a league match for Chelsea since December 2014.
For all the possession, Chelsea did muster up 21 shots on goal with 7 on target. Costa sure should have scored more, but he missed a couple of gilt-edged chances but atoned by scoring the only goal of the game. Costa, who had stormed to 20 goals last season has seen better days, but the goal should give him confidence, this was his fourth goal of the season and hopefully he can score more in the upcoming games.
Are Chelsea back to their best?
Playing against a side which has come to defend, you would expect much more from Chelsea. Had Costa not scored the goal, a lot of heat would have been put on Mourinho and his team, but the win does give him some breathing space.
While Willian was at his best, working his socks off for the team, the limelight would have been on Eden Hazard who showed glimpses of what he actually is capable of doing. Chelsea though were barely troubled and this game shouldn’t be seen as a barometer if they are back to their best or not.
In their last four games, including this one, Chelsea had only ended one without the majority of possession; this was against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, a game which ended 3-1 in the favour of the Reds.
Chelsea had dominated possession against Stoke City a couple of weeks ago; they had 19 shots on goal with four on target, pretty similar to the case against Norwich. The same story is played out in their 2-1 loss against West Ham with the Blues doing well but not being able to get the result thanks to a red card for Matic.
Chelsea have an away trip to Israel for their Champions League game against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the Blues then face Tottenham in a London derby, that will be the real test if Chelsea have been able to turn things around. The Blues aren’t close to a top four position and with them still languishing in 15th place in the league, this victory only has put paper over the cracks but should the Blues get a positive result at White Hart Lane next week, we could well see a resurgent Chelsea who could still qualify for European competition next season.