There has been a lot of speculation recently about the Spaniard’s future at the club. Chelsea signed Kepa Arrizabalaga from Atletico Bilbao for the world record fee of £71.6 million. Fortunately, Kepa had a very good first season and it appeared that the price Chelsea paid for him was justifiable. But, this has not been the case so far this season. Many of Kepa’s weaknesses were made apparent last year, but the Spaniard has been (rightly) criticised for not fixing those issues. We live in a world where players are judged off stats, and the stats do not lie. Kepa has the worst save percentage in the league, as he has managed to save only 55 percent of the shots he faced. Lampard even made a statement about his subpar performances, and dropped the Spanish international in the crucial match against Leicester City. Obviously, you cannot blame everything on the goal keeper and the defense has to come into question; there is no denying that some of Chelsea’s defending has been absolutely amateurish this season. But ultimately, there have been situations where Kepa could have done a lot better. One particular mistake was against Everton a few months ago, where his weak attempt to distribute set up an Everton goal and caused us to concede in the dying minutes. Another incident was when Chelsea faced Newcastle away, losing in the dying minutes (again), after Hayden’s shot (that looked easy enough to save) slipped under Kepa’s grasp.
Is this just a dip in form or is Kepa simply not good enough? These are questions a lot of Chelsea fans have been thinking about lately. And the reality is, Chelsea paid a lot of money for the young keeper and he is simply not living up to standards. Genuine fear surfaces when Kepa faces a shot, and many fans have become convinced that the ball will end up in the back of the net every time. This lack of confidence has even fueled rumours that Chelsea are looking to replace the Spaniard with Sheffield’s Dean Henderson (who has been outstanding this season). Other names being thrown in include Ajax’s Andre Onana and Burnley’s Nick Pope.
In all honesty, yes, Kepa has been very poor, but Chelsea must give him another chance. While there is undoubtedly room for improvement, we did see his talent and potential last season when he made some clutch saves and proved quite proficient at stopping penalties. I feel if Chelsea get rid of Kepa, it will be a decision they will regret in the future. Instead of simply giving up on him, why not afford the young keeper some time and a more stable defensive back line? The Blues have a lot of big games coming up (and no doubt Kepa must prove himself), but I believe he will be a key component in Chelsea finishing top four and securing a spot in Champions League. Patience is key, and if Chelsea manage to keep the faith I am confident Kepa will reach his potential.