Kepa: From hero to scapegoat

Since his move from Athletic Bilbao in 2018 for a fee of £72m, Kepa Arrizabalaga hasn’t convinced the fans that he was worth the money. After a solid first season with Chelsea, he hasn’t been able to build on the strong performances of last season. So it’s no wonder that some of the fans are criticizing him. Nevertheless, many supporters are very harsh and seem to forget what he is capable of.

It’s legitimate to criticize a player but fans often scapegoat him and blame him if the results aren’t going the way they should. For example, Kepa was held responsible for the last-minute goal against Newcastle or the goal against Arsenal (Bellerin), where I personally think he had no chance of saving these shots. Of course, he has made mistakes and had weak games, but this is no reason to turn against him. It appears that this season he has lost the self-confidence that he once had and the defence doesn’t help him either, especially with the frequent rotation of personnel. Obviously you can’t ignore his mistakes and I think a new goalkeeper should compete with him in the summer.

Kepa had solid first season. (image source: CTV News)

However, he has often shown his class, I remember the fantastic performance against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League Semi Final, where he was the hero or the away game against Brighton in this season, where he saved us one point. But he lacks consistency and that’s why you can understand why he is so strongly criticized. So it was no surprise that Lampard put him on the bench for a few games. Against Liverpool (FA Cup) he got the chance to make his case to Lampard for the starting spot and he took the opportunity with a great performance. He has the potential, but with the inconsistent performances, it would be no surprise if Chelsea would strengthen the goalkeeper position in the summer. With Caballero probably leaving (contract expires in summer) Kepa would be the only experienced keeper at the club. A new goalkeeper could put pressure on Kepa which could lead to his performance improving and becoming more constant. It’s up to Kepa if he has any future at Chelsea.

However, Kepa doesn’t deserve to be treated badly by the fans or to be blame for every poor result in recent months. It simply is not fair when we celebrated him last season. Constructive criticism yes, but no scapegoating.

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