Chelsea manager Frank Lampard says he “wants more” from his team but it “can wait” as their pursuit to secure a Champions League spot was given a boost by a narrow victory over relegated Norwich.
Striker Olivier Giroud guided a header past Tim Krul on the stroke of half-time after Christian Pulisic created space for the cross on the right.
The Chelsea pair almost combined again in the second half but Pulisic could not guide Giroud’s chipped ball past Krul.
Victory strengthens Chelsea’s hold on third place in the Premier League, where they sit four points above Leicester and Manchester United, who both play on Thursday.
“At this stage of the season results are critical and we didn’t concede any chances of note to let them score,” Lampard told Sky Sports.
“Where we are at as a team and where we are in the table, it is all about the result.”
Norwich, who were relegated following a 4-0 thrashing by West Ham on Saturday, failed to record a shot on target during the match.
But Lampard said his team “can improve” despite showing “a bit more personality in our game”.
“We need to move the ball quicker and be more mobile with our rotations,” he added. “We have done it in parts this season but if we want to move on, it needs to be better. But I don’t want to be too critical after a win.
“We didn’t give them anything to worry us. We had 10-15 minutes in the second half where we were slow and I didn’t like it but after that we got it back.”
Frustrated Chelsea get the job done
The first half was lacking in action as Norwich sat back and squeezed out any space available for Chelsea. The hosts just could not seem to get things clicking.
Following Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Sheffield United, Chelsea would have wanted to start brightly and they showed signs with Ruben Loftus-Cheek heading wide and Marcos Alonso firing a dangerous cross in from the left within five minutes.
But as the half wore on, Chelsea struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities – Giroud, who admitted the team was “under a bit of pressure” to win, reacted to a third scuffed shot with a roar of frustration in the box after 40 minutes.
“I missed some things that I wouldn’t miss usually but maybe I lost a bit of confidence,” Giroud told Sky Sports afterwards. “My desire to score was bigger though so I tried to stay focused.”
Pulisic had provided the best chance of the half – controlling Antonio Rudiger’s cross, turning sharply and firing it towards the roof of the net, forcing a save from Krul – before he eventually set-up Giroud’s header with a swinging cross from the right.
The goal should have been a catalyst for Chelsea to release the shackles but the fluidity never really materialised, despite them still being able to create further chances.
Giroud and Pulisic were busy but not clinical, though it didn’t prove costly as Norwich never presented any real threat.
In the end, it was a comfortable victory for Chelsea despite a lack of ruthlessness. Manager Frank Lampard will hope that clinical edge returns for a significant run of matches – they face Manchester United in an FA Cup semi-final on Sunday, visit champions Liverpool in the league next Wednesday and then finish the top-flight campaign at home to sixth-placed Wolves four days later.
Norwich fail to inspire
Norwich boss Daniel Farke said before the match he wanted his team to show a response to their relegation, have “pride” in wearing the shirt and “create good memories”.
But they did not show any spark until the second half and only 15% of the match was played in Chelsea’s third.
When they did put pressure on the ball and pushed high up the pitch, Chelsea showed nerves in a match crucial to their pursuit of Champions League qualification.
Jamal Lewis and Todd Cantwell won possession in Chelsea’s half and tempted Chelsea duo Mateo Kovacic and Kurt Zouma into rash challenges which brought them yellow cards.
Farke also introduced Adam Idah, Teemu Pukki and Emiliano Buendia as attacking substitutions in the second half but none had any impact on the game.
In the end, Norwich managed just two shots, neither on target, and one corner – and set a new club record of eight consecutive league defeats.
But Farke said he was pleased with the “commitment and desire” from his side, while they finished the match with several academy graduates on the pitch.
Man of the match – Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
‘Pleased with the reaction’ – what they said
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, speaking to Sky Sports: “It is tough one to call [on the top four]. This is the Premier League and it is not easy. Rather than give you a pointless answer, we take our three points, worry about ourselves, watch the others teams and think about the FA Cup.
On Olivier Giroud: “He is always going to give you a desire to get in there for the team. 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.”
Norwich boss Daniel Farke, speaking to Sky Sports: “On Saturday, we were relegated, so not happy days but I am pleased with the reaction of my boys.
“We were not far away from winning a point. The commitment and desire was really good. I just have compliments for my boys. On a good day we are competitive against the best teams in the world but once we are not spot on, we are not.”
The best of the stats
- Chelsea have won five consecutive home Premier League games for the first time since December 2017.
- Norwich have now lost 25 Premier League games this season – the most defeats they have ever suffered in a league campaign.
- Chelsea stopped their opponents from mustering a single first-half shot for the fourth time in the Premier League this season, more than any other side.
- Norwich have now lost eight consecutive league games for the first time in their history.
- Since his Premier League debut in August 2012, Chelsea striker Giroud has scored 31 headed goals in the competition, five more than any other player in that time.
- Giroud has scored in three successive Premier League starts for the first time since January 2017 when netting six in a row for Arsenal.
- Pulisic has registered 11 goals involvements in the Premier League this season (eight goals, three assists), the most by a USA player since Clint Dempsey in 2012-13 (also 11).
- Alexander Tettey became the ninth player to make 100 or more Premier League appearances for Norwich City.
Chelsea take on Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday, 19 July at Wembley (18:00 BST kick-off) before travelling to Anfield for their next Premier League game against champions Liverpool on Wednesday, 22 July (20:15 BST).
Norwich host Burnley on Saturday, 18 July (17:30 BST) in their next league game.