Chelsea 1-0 Norwich
- Goals: Olivier Giroud (£6.7m)
- Assists: Christian Pulisic (£7.3m)
- Bonus Points: Cesar Azpilicueta x3 (£6.1m), Antonio Rüdiger x2 (£5.9m), Marcos Alonso (£6.1m)
Christian Pulisic (£7.3m) did just about enough to remain on the Fantasy radar for the remainder of the season as he assisted the only goal of Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Norwich.
It means the American still has attacking returns in all but one outing since the Premier League returned in Gameweek 30+.
Whether his 12.8% ownership believe he can continue that form into the last two games of 2019/20 remains to be seen though, considering Chelsea face Liverpool (away) and Wolves (home) in Gameweeks 37+ and 38+ respectively.
Despite Frank Lampard’s men not quite finishing off Norwich on Tuesday evening, Pulisic’s backers have probably seen enough to justify holding him for those fixtures that do appear rather difficult on paper.
The left-sided attacking midfielder did find himself crowded out at Stamford Bridge at times but managed to carve out a number of openings and, on any other day, could have come away with a double-figure haul.
In the 15th minute, he managed to drive through Norwich’s middle and into the box, denied only by a well-timed block by Ben Godfrey (£4.4m).
Nine minutes later, Marcos Alonso (£6.1m) cut the ball back from his trademark advanced position on the left, which Pulisic ran onto, curling it into the side-netting. This is a shot that the American particularly likes taking, scoring with it as recently as the Gameweek 34+ trip to Crystal Palace.
In the 35th minute, Pulisic went close again, this time chesting down an Antonio Rüdiger (£5.9m) cross from deep, juggling the ball and shooting on the swivel – denied by Tim Krul (£4.6m) tipping the effort onto the crossbar for a corner.
Pulisic finally got a deserved attacking return on the stroke of half-time as he drifted into Alonso’s area to take over the Spaniard’s crossing abilities, dropping a perfect cross onto the head of Olivier Giroud (£6.7m).
The mid-priced midfielder was less effective in the second half but still had an excellent chance to get on the scoresheet in the 74th minute. Giroud held his run and chipped a through-pass over Pulisic’s shoulder, which the American hooked towards goal with excellent technique, denied once more by a sprawling Krul save.
“I was delighted with Christian’s movement to run behind on the little angle because that’s what we weren’t doing enough of in the early stages in the game.” – Frank Lampard
Obviously, Norwich have been offering much more than other defences in the Premier League, but there is still plenty of encouragement to take from Pulisic’s latest display. Next opponents Liverpool have conceded in three of their last four, giving up the joint-third-most big chances in that time, suggesting that Pulisic may get more opportunities at Anfield.
Owners of Giroud may consider holding the Frenchman for the same reason as he really should have come out of the win over Norwich with a hatful of goals.
He was afforded eight shots at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening with Chelsea’s attack geared around getting the ball up to the front-man.
Reclaiming his starting berth from Tammy Abraham (£7.4m), Giroud went about his business relentlessly.
In the 19th minute, Jorginho‘s (£4.9m) ball over the top reached the striker following a poor headed clearance from Godfrey. With the defender still in his back, Giroud tried to lift his shot over Krul but hooked it into the goalkeeper’s arms.
Before finally getting a deserved goal on the stroke of half-time, the former Arsenal man scuffed several crosses into the box and nodded a Willian (£7.4m) corner wide of the post afterwards.
Just before coming off for Abraham in the 86th minute, Giroud put a golden chance just wide of the post. Willian got into space on the right-hand side, flashing his cross in front of goal, which the striker tucked just wide of the post.
While some will say that he should have done better to increase his conversion rate on Tuesday night, the fact that Giroud was so central to everything Chelsea did does bode well for future starts, and the possibility of further attacking returns on the quest for Champions League football.
“Oli will always be alive to those in the box. If you’re playing Olivier Giroud you want to get balls into the box, you need to play to his strengths, and he gets a really good goal. But the link-up (between Giroud and Pulisic) is good.” – Frank Lampard
Either way, the fact that Norwich’s defence allowed yet another team’s centre-forward upwards of eight chances in a match is good news for Jay Rodriguez (£5.7m) in Gameweek 37. The Burnley forward has either scored or assisted in each of his last four Premier League appearances.
Meanwhile, Willian owners may have come out of Gameweek 36+ frustrated at back-to-back blanks but, like many of his colleagues, the Brazilian was unfortunate not to get something at Stamford Bridge.
His corners were not all up to scratch but had Kurt Zouma (£4.7m) and Giroud could have produced better efforts on the end of two of them, Willian would have been looking at a pair of assists, each of them putting comfortable efforts wide or over the bar.
As already mentioned, Giroud was responsible for costing the Brazilian an assist just before he was subbed, while Willian’s direct free-kick in the 88th minute was repelled by Krul.
As the 2019/20 season winds to a close, it was encouraging to see strong Fantasy displays from two cult heroes of the game in Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.1m).
Each of them kept a clean sheet against Norwich, although that is not too much of a surprise, but they also shared in the bonus and were unlucky not to get attacking returns too.
Alonso was by far the more advanced of the two, but Azpilicueta still provided plenty of creativity overlapping with Willian on the right.
He put in several crosses for Giroud and played an exceptional switched ball over the top for Alonso at the back post in the 76th minute. The left-back was unable to steer his header either side of an advancing Krul but reminded Fantasy managers of the advanced positions he is capable of taking all night.
In the 65th minute, it was Alonso who nearly got the assist for Azpilicueta’s effort, the left-back’s cut-back whizzing past Pulisic, Giroud and Willian for his right-sided counterpart to curl a first-time effort just over the bar.
That said, investment in either of these options between now and the end of the season would be a bold decision, with Liverpool and Wolves waiting.
The clean sheet kept on Tuesday evening was just Chelsea’s second of the Premier League restart, and their 49 goals conceded this season is the worst in the top half of the Premier League table.
Chelsea XI: Kepa; Alonso (R James 80′), Rüdiger, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Loftus-Cheek (Barkley 66′), Jorginho, Kovacic; Pulisic (Hudson-Odoi 81′), Giroud (Abraham 86′), Willian.
Norwich City XI: Krul; Lewis, Klose, Godfrey, Aarons; Tettey (Stiepermann 78′), McLean; Hernández (Idah 78′), Rupp (J Martin 89′), Cantwell (Buendía 71′); Drmic (Pukki 78′).
FPL Lessons Learned From Gameweek 36+
- Chelsea 1-0 Norwich City
- Burnley 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Manchester City 2-1 Bournemouth
- Newcastle United 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur
- Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool
- Everton 1-1 Aston Villa
- Leicester City 2-0 Sheffield United
- Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United
- Southampton 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion
- West Ham United 3-1 Watford
Become a Member and get unrestricted access to our data and articles
Full-year memberships are now available for the price of £19.99. Monthly subscriptions also cost just £2.99. A FREE trial is now available during December.
Join now to get the following:
- Plot your transfer strategies using the fully interactive Season Ticker.
- Get projections for every Premier League player provided by the Rate My Team statistical model.
- Use Rate My Team throughout the season to guide your selections and transfers.
- Get access to over 150+ exclusive members articles over the season.
- Analyse our OPTA-powered statistic tables specifically tailored for Fantasy Football Managers.
- Use our exclusive tool to build custom stats tables from over 100 OPTA player and team stats.
- Enjoy our brand NEW Flat-Track Bully feature which introduces an opposition filter to your tables.
- View heatmaps and expected goals data for every player.
- Use our powerful comparison tool to analyse players head-to-head.