Kepa Arrizabalaga has been promised a ‘new start’ by Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, beginning at Burnley in the fifth round of the FA Cup – live on talkSPORT tonight.
The Spaniard, 26, fell out of favour under former boss Frank Lampard following a number of high-profile errors, which occurred continuously since his record-breaking £71million move in 2018.
Kepa has impressed Tuchel in trainingGetty Images – Getty
Even in Lampard’s final match against Luton, Kepa allowed the Championship side a route back into the game by failing to stop Jordan Clark’s tame effort.
Edouard Mendy, signed from Rennes for £27m last summer, has kept numerous clean sheets since his arrival at Stamford Bridge and it’s no wonder Tuchel has stuck with the Frenchman as his first-choice between the sticks so far.
But ahead of the trip to Burnley, Tuchel insists Kepa can still become a success for Chelsea.
“The situation for Kepa is the situation he finds right now,” Tuchel said. “We didn’t make a change in the first games and Edou was strong in the moment.
Mendy has quickly established himself as first choice under TuchelAFP
“From the outside he had maybe some difficulties on the sporting side, and maybe also the circumstances of his transfer were a little bit on his shoulders. That was the impression from outside.
“From inside I see a nice guy, I see a nice personality, an open personality, a hard-working guy, with obviously a lot of quality.
“So the good thing for him is that we start new, it’s a new start for him. I don’t have a history with him and I hope there will be no difficulties, because I don’t see them coming.
“He’s a clear guy, an open guy. He does everything to impress in training. Kepa has a chance tomorrow and I hope he can show what he shows in training.
“No matter if we bought them for crazy money, if they come through the academy, or they were a free agent, it is our job to push every player to the limit; this is what counts.”
Tuchel gets a chance to see his fringe players in action on Thursday nightGetty Images – Getty
If Tuchel wants to play devil’s advocate, there is an argument to suggest that while Mendy has kept plenty of clean sheets, the Chelsea goalkeeper hasn’t actually faced that many shots.
When called upon, the 28-year-old has faced his own problems and was responsible for the 1-0 defeat at Everton which began Lampard’s downward spiral.
For all the questions over Kepa, he is excellent with the ball at his feet, and that could be crucial for Tuchel’s possession-based philosophy.
Even still, the following stats make grim reading for Kepa, and passing is the only area he has relatively outperformed Mendy at Chelsea.
Kepa at Chelsea (all competitions)
Mins per goal conceded: 78.5
Saves per game: 2
Percentage of shots saved: 63.7 per cent
Passing accuracy: 82 per cent
Mendy at Chelsea (all competitions)
Mins per goal conceded: 132.4
Saves per game: 2
Save percentage: 75 per cent
Passing accuracy: 80 per cent