Saturday, May 28, 2022

“It was also something he’d probably never come across before”

Kepa Arrizabalaga signed for Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao in 2018 for a record £71.6 million, making him the most expensive goalkeeper. Since then, it has been an up-and-down career for the Spanish goalkeeper.

Kepa had a decent start under former manager Maurizio Sarri. However, he was involved in a major incident when he refused to be substituted in Chelsea’s loss to Manchester City in the EFL Cup final in 2019.

After Frank Lampard came in as manager, Kepa’s performance dipped. He started making basic errors and looked underconfident in situations.

#OnThisDay in 2019…Kepa refused to leave the pitch during the Carabao Cup Final which left Sarri throwing a bottle and storming off down the tunnel 😂😂https://t.co/bGbPgNmE2B

Since Edouard Mendy joined the club in 2021, Kepa has become a second-choice keeper, featuring just 21 times. Current manager Thomas Tuchel has often praised the Spanish shot-stopper but has stuck with Mendy as his first-choice keeper.

Former Blues goalkeeper Rob Green spoke to football.london about Kepa’s struggles at Stamford Bridge under Sarri and Lampard. He said:

“Under Sarri, he came into a Chelsea side that was focused on controlling the game, controlling the ball, getting Jorginho to play 600 passes or whatever. That was the focus of the game. Like it or lump it, love it or hate it, that’s what Sarri’s game was about.

“With that, you have an element of control within the goalkeeping world that certain things are going to happen within a game. So your focus is on your own game.”

He further added:

“Frank’s game took it away from that. It was a lot more exciting, there were 5-2s with Tammy scoring hat-tricks and there being two own goals, there was a 2-2 with Valencia that I did the commentary for and we were exhausted just doing that!

“If you’re playing in games like that week in, week out while trying to also implement your own game, it’s very difficult as a goalkeeper. It was also something he’d probably never come across before.”


“He is looking back to his old self” – Rob Green on Kepa’s recent performances for Chelsea

Rob Green went on to discuss Kepa’s performances under current Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel. Edouard Mendy has been away in January for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with Senegal, which has given Kepa a chance to feature regularly.

He has kept three clean sheets in five matches in all competitions and looked solid.

Amazing the difference a new manager makes. @kepa_46 stats under Thomas Tuchel has been very good. https://t.co/9tut86CS5n

Speaking about Kepa under Tuchel, Green said:

“Now he has come back into the Chelsea side under Tuchel, who moved to a back three because it gives control, who has Jorginho back in the centre, and all of a sudden he is looking back to his old self.”

He further added:

“So there are a lot of extenuating circumstances in there. If you asked Kepa how he feels, he’d probably say exactly the same. But when the game around you is so, so different, it lends itself to a more settled and comfortable goalkeeper.”

Senegal have reached the AFCON final to be played on Sunday. Hence, Kepa can expect to play in a couple more games before Mendy is back in the team.

Tuchel, however, will be pleased to have two top goalkeepers fighting for the position as the Blues compete in every competition available to them.


Edited by Arjun Panchadar

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