CHELSEA WERE PRETTY COMFORTABLE for the most part in their 1-0 victory over Norwich City, but it could all have gone horribly wrong during the second half injury time had Sebastien Bassong directed his header better from a corner. Here's how it went down.
Rafa Benitez has a reputation for favoring zonal defending, but Chelsea were man-marking this corner. I've highlighted the two areas that were active during this set-piece. Right down the middle, Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic were minding Bassong and Russell Martin. Bassong in particular is very dangerous from set-pieces, scoring 3 goals this season from this kind of situation. It was not clear from the video who's marking who, but I'm guessing it was Lampard marking Martin and Ivanovic marking Bassong.
Closer to the back post, Gary Cahill stayed tight to Michael Turner while Cesar Azpilicueta marked substitute Steve Morison.
As the corner was taken, Turner ran toward the center and Cahill followed the Norwich defender. In the central zone, Martin pushed ahead, closer to the goal and Lampard, while Bassong held his ground. When the corner was crossed, Ivanovic had his eyes on the ball and his back to Bassong. The Serbian watched as the ball flew over his head to the back post where Bassong was totally unmarked. The Norwich defender did the right thing, heading the ball downward, but, fortunately for Chelsea, it bounced over the crossbar.
On a different day, in a different game, this might well have been a late equalizer that robs Chelsea of 2 precious points. We got away with it this time. How one would sign blame for this poor defending depends on how you see the defensive set-up. If Lampard and Ivanovic were simply marking the zone, then both were responsible. If they were man-marking, the blame would go to whoever was supposed to be marking Bassong. As I said above, I think Bassong was Ivanovic's problem.
We know what we are...