Focus: How Norwich's Robbie Brady could help extend Chelsea's miserable run
There is little evidence to suggest that Chelsea’s catastrophic free-fall is nearing an end. Jose Mourinho’s departure may not be inevitable, but the chances of a mid-season revival look increasingly slim. The visit of Norwich – one point and one place above the champions – might look like the perfect opportunity to restore some pride, but the threat of Robbie Brady’s crosses could cause further discomfort at Stamford Bridge.
Six of Norwich’s 16 goals this season have come from set-pieces, the highest ratio in the division (37.5%), and although they scored freely against Bournemouth and Sunderland in the early weeks of the season, eight of their last nine goals have come via crosses from out wide (33% of which were from corner-kicks).
Robbie Brady, recently moved to the left wing, is the architect more often than not. Only four Premier League players complete more crosses per match than Brady’s 2.0, and although he technically has no assists to his name, Norwich frequently score from the goalmouth scrambles that ensue after he fires balls into the box. He may play as a left wing-back on Saturday if Alex Neil utilises the 5-4-1 system employed against Manchester City, but either way his battle with Chelsea’s right-back could be crucial.
Branislav Ivanovic is fit for selection once again, and despite his poor form Mourinho has shown little intention of dropping the Serbian international. Baba Rahman has struggled to adapt to life in England, further enhancing the likelihood of Ivanovic being tasked with stopping the Brady cross. He has been dribbled past 1.4 times per match this season and is caught out of position – or flat-footed – frequently. If Norwich are brave, they can certainly ruffle the feathers of this cagey and fragile Chelsea team.