Kepa Arrizabalaga has enjoyed life at Chelsea under Graham Potter and it’s fair to say that the Spaniard has impressed with the odds against him.
Former Chelsea and Arsenal defender William Gallas has lauded Kepa Arrizabalaga for capitalising on the opportunity Graham Potter has granted him. The 28-year-old goalkeeper impressed in the Blues’ nail-biting 2-0 win over Aston Villa, with the performance capping off a string of bright performances.
Kepa has struggled to warrant the record-breaking fee that the west Londoners paid four years ago, but after holding his own in Edouard Mendy’s absence due to injury, new boss Graham Potter has uncovered the hallmarks of the world’s most expensive shot-stopper.
He made seven saves at Villa Park to keep Chelsea in the game. Statistically speaking, Steven Gerrard’s side were expected to find the net twice, but after a triple save to deny Jacob Ramsey and jaw-dropping reflexes to keep out Danny Ings from close range, Kepa prevailed.
The Spaniard has received great praise for his recent upturn in form from Gallas. Speaking to Genting Casino, the 45-year-old said: “I have to applaud Kepa. What he’s done is unbelievable.
“As a goalkeeper, it’s really difficult to get the opportunity to play when you are second choice. It’s not like other positions, where even if you’re on the bench, you’ll always get opportunities. For the goalkeeper, it’s harder, so that shows how strong he is, and how professional he was.
“Even when you are second choice, you can’t give up. A lot of players give up when they know they are second choice. A lot of them give up. They don’t train properly, so he’s shown everyone what you have to do.
“When you play, you have to be good, don’t give the opportunity to the manager to put you on the bench. Don’t make mistakes. When you make one or two mistakes, it’s easier for the manager to put you on the bench. Unfortunately, Mendy made some mistakes, and that’s why Potter has picked Kepa over him.”
Potter has been just as impressed with Kepa as Gallas has. Speaking to Sportupdatehub, the Chelsea boss was asked whether the Spaniard is now his first-choice goalkeeper.
The 47-year-old said: “I always think it’s better to let football decide, and Kepa has done really well. He has been supported fantastically by Edouard Mendy and Marcus Bettinelli, and they’ve provided good competition.
“But Kepa’s form is really pleasing for everybody, especially him. So it’s nice we’ve got competition in that area because we need that in the team. We need to push each other, and it’s how players get better.”