Kepa Arrizabalaga divided opinion following his second half cameo in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Arsenal, as fans realised the Spaniard will become Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper ahead of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
The 26-year-old, who arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2018 from Athletic Bilbao in an eye-watering deal worth £72 million, continued his pre-season preparations coming on for Edouard Mendy with half hour to play, but conceded inside ten minutes of coming on.
Granit Xhaka levelled proceedings for the Gunners by nodding the ball in into the back of the net leaving the Spanish goalkeeper rooted to the spot, which ignited serious concern among Chelsea fans.
Blues fans took to Twitter as they expressed their scepticism regarding Thomas Tuchel’s goalkeeper situation following the realisation that the west London side will be without star man Mendy come January.
The Africa Cup of Nations’ latest instalment kicks off January 9 before its eventual conclusion on February 6, meaning the Blues will be without their Senegalese goalkeeper, and instead have to field either Kepa or newly signed Marcus Bettinelli.
With an inevitable extended break poised for Mendy either side of the tournament, the thought of the Blues without their number sixteen, who became a pillar in his side’s exceptional defensive record, sent Chelsea fans into a meltdown.
As Xhaka’s header nestled into the Blues net, Kepa was left motionless, causing Blues fans to take aim at the Spaniard for his lack of movement and guile.
One user on Twitter, @MedianoEra, said: “Kepa has been in goal for 3 minutes, at least move.”
@Dennis_officiel claimed that Chelsea would be better off starting Bettinelli, who spent last season on loan at Middlesbrough from Fulham, ahead of Kepa: “Good performance from Chelsea, but this man, Kepa Arrizabalaga, can’t save the team at least 10 points, which is a MUST for any goalkeeper playing for an EPL-winning side.
“Unless he settles for a place behind Marcus Bettinelli, he should find a new team.”
@CFCbender said: “One thing for certain is Kepa is not good enough to be our 2nd choice GK. With Mendy going away to AFCON in January we need to sign a good backup.”
Another fan, @ayowa9, unconvinced by Kepa’s eventual first-choice role said: “Kepa couldn’t even move, I swear the goal is not painful but the way he stood like a statue is a nightmare.”
However despite all the warranted, and unwarranted, criticism many Chelsea fans defended the Spaniard.
@SadiqSeeker defended Kepa, noting that he has, once again, become the scape goat: “Kepa becomes the scapegoat.”
@TOSOTC_CFC agreed: “If I see anyone blaming Kepa for that then they can seriously have a day off!!”
@Studioyosepra was in full support of the Blues number one, but suggested that Kepa doesn’t provide them with much confidence: “I don’t know man… Yes, it was 90% of the defence fault.
“But I really don’t like someone who doesn’t even try. In Kepa’s case, standing still….. yet again.”
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